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I'm Being Guilted Back Into The Toxic Family Sludge

Should I Forgive (or Just Forget) My Terrible In-Laws?

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

I have questions about what to do about my in-laws.

My husband and I are expecting our first child. The problem is from when his parents came to visit. Before they arrived, my husband told them about me and by all accounts, they loved me. The day I met them, I brought them gifts, and we went out together. It seemed to be going well, despite the communication barrier (they are from another country. Husband translated).

During the outing, they suddenly didn’t stand near me anymore, didn’t look at me, and then decided to leave. My husband told me they were tired, but we found out later it was because they had seen my scar.

I had minor surgery many years ago and I am perfectly fine now, but they “researched” my condition and flipped out. Demanded he break up with me, yelled at him for wanting to see me (I could hear them full volume screaming when he picked up a phone call) and were just generally rude and awful. They left early.

He now no longer really speaks to his parents. For how they treated me/us, I have always said I never wanted to see them again, and I would only do so if they apologized. As far as I know, they do not acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Now that you have context, I guess my question is this: based on what I have heard they are excellent grandparents to his sibling’s children. It seems unfair to prevent my kid from ever seeing them, even if I think they are harshly judgmental.

Do I go back on my decision or does this just seem like opening a floodgate of craziness and criticism? Do I forego the benefits of their culture and language? Especially given that my own mother lives in another city and doesn’t seem like she’ll really be a grandma to my baby? Do I sound like I am being unreasonable?

I really don’t know what to do. I don’t want to stubborn my baby out of possible great relationship with them, but I also want to protect them from (potential) crazy.

Thanks

Based on what you’ve “heard,” they are excellent grandparents. But before you met them, “by all accounts” they loved you.

And look how true THAT turned out to be.

So I personally wouldn’t put too much stock in their reputation as good grandparents, and continue to make in-law related decisions based on your own first-hand knowledge and experiences with them. All of which points to: These are not nice people! These are crazy people! They are rude and scream-y and believe you are “unworthy” of their son because…you had minor surgery one time?

If I could type what my face looks like right now it would basically be just: DA FUQ and ?????????????????

God forbid you ever make a parenting decision they disagree with. God forbid your child ever makes a decision they disagree with.

(Or ever requires minor surgery! The horror!)

(And all this x 1,00,000 if there’s any genetic component to the condition that required your surgery in the first place, and perhaps fed into their freakout.)

You’d be walking on eggshells around them all the time, just waiting for the next inevitable blow-up. (And wondering what they’re saying about you anytime your husband isn’t around to translate, which seems like a special kind of crazy-making.) I wouldn’t open this box of in-law worms with a 10-foot pole of worm poison without a very, very compelling reason. Like a formal and heartfelt apology from them for their earlier behavior, complete with promises of change and declarations of love and maybe the downpayment for a mansion.

You don’t have any of that. All you’ve got is what you’ve “heard.”

So I’d reframe your thinking here. YOU are not denying your child anything. His/her grandparents created this estrangement mess and ALSO (from what you’ve heard) refuse to acknowledge any bad behavior on their part. And don’t seem to care very much, since there’s nothing in your letter to indicate that they’re at all interested in mending the relationship on behalf of their grandchild. If THEY aren’t willing to do that, there is no reason YOU should feel compelled to do so either.

Your husband speaks their language and comes from their culture. He sounds like a good egg who stood up for you and supports your decision to not deal with these people ever again. You can 100% embrace the culture you married into and incorporate as much or as little as you and your husband choose to into your child’s life your own selves. Spend some pregnancy nesting energy on learning some of the language yourself. Add some foreign language baby books to your baby registry.

Instead of viewing this mess as denying your child a relationship with his/her grandparents, realize you are indeed protecting him/her from a potentially toxic relationship with some very cruel people. That’s what’s really important here.

Find more advice articles on grandparent relationships here:

 

 

 

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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