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In-Law Family Drama

The In-Law Tug of War, Continued

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,

I read your response to The In-Law Tug of War recently and I’m hoping you can help me on a related subject. My son and daughter-in-law have been married for four years and they have an 8 month old son – our first beautiful grandbaby! We have a very good relationship – get along really well…have fun together! My husband and I live very close to them (literally around the corner) and her family lives about a three hour drive away. Our two families are very similar – we are blessed that there is much love to share.

The quality time we get to spend with my son’s family is pretty much limited to the weekends – because of the distance for her family and because my husband and I work full time. Because of our close proximity my husband and I are very conscious to not constantly drop-by uninvited. I know young couples need and deserve their space. My daughter-in-law is the social planner in their home.

What I need help with is that they are so very inequitable when it comes to family time. They literally spend three times the amount of time with her family as they do with ours – even though we live around the corner! I am not exaggerating even a little. Here are a couple of examples: over the past seven weekends they have spent five with her family and the other two with their friends – we were invited over one afternoon but her family was there also. I host a family pool party every summer, and knowing their weekends book up fast, I asked them in early May what weekend they would be available. They told me that every weekend of the summer was booked until late August! Most of those weekends were plans with her family. They have missed several of our family’s important family gatherings (80th birthday parties for great-grandparents), something that my daughter-in-law would not even think of missing if it were her family. They make plans with her family regularly, but only when I reach out are plans made with ours (and when I do…9 out of 10 times they are already booked). I could go on and on.

I have talked with them on three separate occasions about my concern – asking for the family time to be more equally divided between her family and ours. Our extended family (also in close proximity) rarely sees our grandson. I’ve even asked my son to represent and be the advocate for our side of the family. I’ve had both emotional and unemotional conversations with my daughter-in-law about it…asking to be more frequently worked into the family time rotation. They tell me they understand and they will try to be better, but so far not much has changed at all. I understand that my daughter-in-law is very close to her mother & family and I’m happy about that…but I am just as close to my son and in the area of family time he allows her to call the shots (especially since their son was born). So yes, I blame my daughter-in-law for this issue. We are very hurt over this and not sure what else to do.

I do not like the fact that I am now oversensitive on the subject and even becoming resentful. I even find myself  “keeping score” and I’m sure this is not healthy for our relationship. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

I get a lot of in-law related questions, as you’ve probably noticed. This is one of the first ones, however, written from “the other side.” Daughters-in-law of the world, unite and read. And then stare down at your toes in shame for a little bit, if any of these details seem familiar. (Or roll your eyes so hard you sprain something, if having the “problem” of a close-by MIL who respects your boundaries, goes out of her way to accommodate your schedule and just wants to spend time with your baby sounds like a dreamy dream from dreamland, because IF ONLY.)

I wish I had a sure-fire solution to your dilemma, OP. I wish I could hand you the password and secret handshake to the Good Daughter-in-Law Club or at least a sample script that will get your point across in a non-passive-aggressive, non-blamey way that will get immediate results. But it sounds like even if I could do that, your son and daughter-in-law will nod and smile and say yes, yes, they understand and then change absolutely nothing.

Personally, their life sounds downright EXHAUSTING to me. Making a three-hour drive practically every single weekend? For months and months on end? I get being close to your family but wow. I might be overreaching here but…how would you say your DIL is adjusting to motherhood, overall? Did she have a difficult pregnancy, birth, postpartum experience that you know of? Just because going home to Mom (or having Mom visit) five weekends out of seven — not to mention committing to six hours in the car with a small baby! — does indeed strike me as a tad excessive for a young, otherwise independent couple. (We live three hours away from both of our families and even the one-two both-sides visit punch that we can pack while there isn’t enough to tempt us to make the trip more than five times in a damn year, because it’s a lot to take on with young kids.)

I know it’s awful that I’m all suspicious of a close mother/daughter relationship, but hey, you wrote the letter and she didn’t. Let the wild speculation commence! When you see her with her mom, would you say it’s a nice friendly relaxed sort of relationship or is your DIL maybe a bit too dependent on her mom’s help and input for everything baby related? Do they both retreat to change diapers or do things “together” that really only require one person, or does your DIL simply cede the primary caretaking role to her mother altogether when she’s around?

Even further wild speculation: Does your son really enjoy hanging with his wife’s family every single blessed weekend? I wonder if your conversations with him went nowhere because this is already a sore spot in their marriage. She makes the plans and steamrolls him into going along with them, and then hearing it from YOU just feels like a pile-on/reminder that 1) he doesn’t really get a say in any of this, and 2) his wife would much rather be with “her” family rather than his. Or with him! (BOOM.)

Sure, it could also be that there’s some reason they don’t want to hang with you guys but also don’t have the guts to say it to you, even when confronted directly about the visit disparity. I suspect you’ve already started to wander down this road of paranoia and resentment, and probably know that it’s a very bad, ugly place to be. You mention getting invited over when her parents are there so it sounds like you all get along — any big cultural/social/personality differences? One side drinks and the other side abstains? Super religious vs. curse-like-a-sailor heathens? Politics, bad Facebook behavior, a church wedding that resembled the two sides of the aisles in My Big Fat Greek Wedding?

Or the other, other possibility is that your DIL is a clueless, pushy dolt who doesn’t give a crap about your feelings, or at least not enough to have her change her precious weekend plans. And your son just doesn’t want to deal with it because he’s got a long, established track record of Not Dealing With It that’s working for him. If that’s the case, then you probably aren’t going to change them. And like I’ve said to countless DILs who aren’t going to change their MILs, you’re going to have to focus on the changes you can make to YOU.

DON’T keep score. Don’t count. Don’t start seeing us vs. them sides every time you look at last month’s calendar. It’s hard, but it’s only going to damage the relationship even more and make it SUPER difficult to bite your tongue around her. Thus upping the odds that you’ll say something you regret. (Hi! I have done this. Believe me, however sweet it might feel to just let that snarky, biting opinion out for once is NOT WORTH the bitter, awkward aftertaste of realizing that You Should Have Not Said That.)

I know you really want family togetherness (and for them to choose TEAM MIL), but since you’re getting angry and resentful at her anyway, how about just focusing on grandbaby time for now? (Think back to high school and your mom asking you why do you even WANT to be friends with those mean girls anyway?) Will they let you babysit? Have him over after work during the week for a little bit? Take him to your house for breakfast while they pack and load up the car for Visit #2404582?

He might be a little young for all that right now, but as he gets older YOU’LL be the grandparents with the real opportunity to be a big part of his life. (Provided you don’t, you know, pick a huge fight with them over missing the summer pool party of 2013.) You’ll be the ones who can always be there for preschool graduations and soccer games and whatnot. You’ll be the school emergency contact and be the ones who get called on in a pinch. You’ll know his friends in the neighborhood and keep an eye on him out the front window while he learns to ride a bike. Your proximity will, at some point, give you all kinds of advantages over her family. Mmmm, justice!

Maybe your DIL realizes that and is just crazy overcompensating for it right now. She might be so overly determined that her son bonds with HER family that it really hasn’t sunk in that you’re there, feeling downright shunned from just around the corner. I hope it does, and I hope you can keep the (one-sided) peace here. It takes two to play tug-of-war, and I’d suggest letting go and taking the pacifist, baby-centric route before things get really ugly.

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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LMo
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LMo

Ugh. Their life does sound exhausting! But, that being said, it’s really not your place to say anything else. I am of the opinion that you may have overstepped having an “emotional” discussion with your son and asking him to “advocate” for your side of the family. Ultimately, the way they spend their time is entirely up to them. You’ve expressed yourself, and Amy is right–there’s nothing more to be done. Time to step back. They know the score, and if they are happy to leave things as they are, that’s it. Sowing the seeds of discord between yourself and… Read more »

Anne
Guest
Anne

I have to disagree. I actually would prefer my MIL to have more honest discussions with my husband about what it is that she wants. He is in a great position, knowing both of us so well, to mediate any conflicts. It’s not like the conflict just goes away is the MIL doesn’t bring it up with anyone; they’re going to sense the discord.

-k-
Guest
-k-

Totally agreed. This MIL actually seems, on the whole, super reasonable and considerate. But that point is the exception. I find that it’s really easy for ILs to paint the spouse as the one that’s “calling the shots” when their son or daughter is acting differently than s/he used to or differently than they think is ideal, without realizing how offensive it is to strip the now-adult child of all autonomy. Presumably the son is a capable adult who understands the situation from both sides; what he and his wife do as a family reflects choices *he’s* making as part… Read more »

Christina
Guest
Christina

YES. Agree. Time she zip it and give this couple a break.

K
Guest
K

Hey, Awesome Mother-in-Law, just chiming in about that last paragraph of Amalah’s.  We recently moved so we could bring up our baby near extended family.  We had to basically choose between two different sides of the country, and so we’re now an hour away from my MIL and a two day drive away from my mother.  And it hurts a lot.  I’m excited that he’ll grow up knowing his grandmother and aunt and cousins closely — I grew up far, far away from all my extended family — and, yet, it just stings that he won’t know my mom that… Read more »

Kerry
Guest
Kerry

Your daughter-in-law sounds like my sister-in-law, kind of. Or at least, she would depending on the answer to this question…with all the family events they have to attend, it sounds like she has A LOT of family 3 hours away. Is she possibly the first or one of the only people in her extended family to dare moving away from home? My sister-in-law comes from a very close knit Italian family that have all lived in the same city for generations. We don’t think it’s just random chance that she decided to break that trend and move about three hours… Read more »

Lydia
Guest
Lydia

Yes to dropping the score keeping.  My MIL does this and it feels so so so unfair. I see her probably just as much as my own mother, which makes me more annoyed by it.  However, it tends to make me want to dig in my heels and be less flexible about some things, which is NOT the reaction she wants.  Be loving, be available when they need/want you, and don’t talk any trash about her family to her or your son.  She can sense the tension and any side comments coming from you and it is most likely raising… Read more »

Brooke
Guest
Brooke

Lydia, this was also my reaction. This MIL sounds so much more reasonable than mine on every level. My MIL used to throw fits when she saw us literally 2 times a week and my parents (who were 12 hours away for years) only saw us once every 2-3 months or so. Each and every time she threw a fit or confronted me about some perceived slight (usually surrounding a holiday) I felt attacked, annoyed, and it made me much less likely to want to spend time with her. It became a huge wedge in our relationship that has increasingly… Read more »

Annabelle
Guest
Annabelle

This sounds like my husband’s brother and his wife. BIL has not spent a Christmas with his family since he started dating this woman. I honestly don’t think he ever will. This year they told us that they are booked from 12/20-12/30. DH and I are driving 10 hours to see everyone for Christmas but BIL and SIL are too busy with her local family to see us.

This pains my MIL and my husband. But the wife is selfish and my BIL is a doormat. We can’t change them. I’ve just accepted that my kids won’t know those cousins.

Diana
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Diana

Love the idea of offering weeknight babysitting at your place or theirs. That way you can see baby without getting into it about their crazy weekend schedule.

Anne
Guest
Anne

Agree. I’ll give the letter writer the benefit of the doubt that she’s not as annoying as my mother in law, but even I’m always happy to leave my kiddo with my intensely passive aggressive MIL, even if I don’t want to spend a ton of quality time with her. On that topic, it might be helpful to ask your son, point blank, if anything about your behavior annoys your DIL. And be prepared not to take that information personally. (Easier said than done, I know.) It’s totally possible that your families are less alike than you think. While I’m… Read more »

Erin
Guest
Erin

I grew up with an uncle (mother’s brother) and aunt who did similar things. We all lived close enough that we could have seen each other all the time, but they just…never came over. When I was very small, I have memories of playing with my cousins, but not many. And when my grandmother passed away right before my 10th birthday, that was pretty much the end of seeing them at all–and I mean that almost literally. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen them since then (and that was 1990). I haven’t seen my… Read more »

Erin
Guest
Erin

Blergh! This comment should have gone with the previous comment (about the BIL & SIL who can’t make time to see the commenter’s family)! Technology, man…

JenVegas
Guest
JenVegas

Ugh this sounds….terribly frustrating. I’m sorry. While I agree with Amy on all of this I will say that it is totally within your rights to poke at your son about all of this. As a D-I-L myself I am constantly asking my husband to take a little more ownership of planning to see his family. They are way, way across country and I just don’t have the energy to plan visits/outings with MY family and work, and take care of The Kid and keep the house clean blah blah blah AND also coordinate with husband’s family on when to… Read more »

Christina
Guest
Christina

Oh I disagree with this. The MIL bringing this up AGAIN does not seem like a good idea to me. And trying to “help” her son handle his own marriage — to essentially push his mom’s agenda? No way. Boundaries are needed here in my opinion or the situation won’t improve.

LL
Guest
LL

Just for another view on this, I’m a D-i-L who struggles to see my in-laws as much as my own mum, despite them both living relatively close (within like, an hour’s drive). And we have missed the occasional family event, one just this weekend (though that would have involved more driving/been further away). The reason? It’s not that I hate my in-laws, or even that I don’t want to go. It’s that my husband is AWFUL at getting himself organised, and I’ve reached the stage where I refuse to do it for him. Visiting my family? Yep, okay, i’ll run… Read more »

Kh53
Guest
Kh53

Hi awesome mil. I live equal distance from my parents and Inlaws. 3 miles from each. I see my mom a few times a week and my Inlaws about 3x a month. Here’s something that was touched on but warrants another look. I can ask my mom to help with anything, and actually,ni don’t have to, but when my mil comes over no matter how awesome she is – the house, my self and my child need to be presentable. That’s just how I am. Do I want my Inlaws to know I’ve got issues with that? Nope! It’s the… Read more »

Crystal
Guest
Crystal

I’ve got to agree with that. I’m about 5 minutes from my family’s house (mom actually moved 45 minutes closer after my son was born to help me care for him as free childcare) and about 7-10 minutes away from my husband’s family (his mom, dad, aunt, sister and grandma all live seperately but their houses are within a 5 mile radius). My family watches my son every week day, so I am over visiting them every day when I pick him up. They run errands for us when we need help. If they make dinner they have an open… Read more »

Christy
Guest
Christy

My advice is… just wait. Different ages, especially with a first born, will bring about a big tilt in how a couple spends their time. Babies are portable for the most part so perhaps they are getting their time with her family in now. Toddlers however, can be much harder to contain {baby-proofing and naps become MUCH trickier} causing a major cutback to those weekend trips. My in-laws often just call out of the blue letting us know they are open for the weekend and if we’d like to go out without the kids {8,6,1} they’d be happy to take… Read more »

JMH
Guest
JMH

Totally agree! As the kids get older..or more children join the family, it will get MUCH more difficult to travel 3 hours every weekend. Living close will win out in the end. 🙂

L
Guest
L

One thing that I felt was unclear from the letter – was this a big change from the pre-baby days? Maybe its a matter of grandparent expectations.  If they son and DIL have always spent more time with her family, and the OP just assumed that with a baby things would change that is a different situation than if things were pretty equitable before and now with a baby suddenly on the DIL’s family gets to see the kid.   That being said, I love the idea of taking the baby while they pack, or on a week night after… Read more »

Karen
Guest
Karen

Here’s the red flag for me. “my husband and I are very conscious to not constantly drop-by uninvited. I know young couples need and deserve their space.” I love my MIL. She is very kind and warm-hearted, but she constantly refers to us as “young people” and “young couples” in contexts that usually make me seem like I’m a naive, recent college grad, not in my late 30’s, with a successful career, mortgage, and family. And as much as I love my MIL, (who lives a 6 hour drive away), if she dropped in just once uninvited, it would be… Read more »

MR
Guest
MR

Yes, I actually raised my eye at that too. Even a single drop by uninvited or unannounced is too much!

kim c.
Guest
kim c.

I agree. My own MIL had to be put in her place about that one a few times.

Flic
Guest
Flic

“My guess is that your DIL probably feels suffocated by having people other than her own immediate family be such a big part of her family.”
I’m sorry, but SHE MARRIED ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. Therefore, it is not just about HER and HER family. If thats how she feels, she should have married someone whose parents are dead.
And man. 3 hours each way most weekends? I struggled with half that on my own. I cannot imagine with a small child too.

Lrj
Guest
Lrj

This has me kind of raising an eye brow… I am sure my own experiences are coloring this of course BUT… My MIL LOVES to blame me for the fact that we don’t spend time with her. We have a 5 year old and are expecting a baby in Feb (her first biological grandchild). She has a drinking and pill habit that make her horrific to be around. After endless talks and pleading we finally stopped all contact telling her we will not have any till she is sober. However if you ask HER you get the whole “My DIL… Read more »

MR
Guest
MR

Just another chime in to say, “Patience, Grasshopper!” In a few more months when baby starts to get more mobile and less happy sitting in the car for 6 hours every weekend, this all might change. That’s what happened with us. Travelling with an infant who slept a lot was pretty easy. But, once they got down to being able to move, being strapped in a car seat for hours was most unpleasant for all of us. My family is about 4 hours away, and pretty much all visits switched to them coming here. And then you will be the… Read more »

Jessica
Guest
Jessica

Or maybe she feels like the weekends are reserved for her family since they are a 3 hour drive away, whereas you guys, she could literally see anytime. I know you don’t want to impose, but maybe consider gently investigating weekday possibilities?

Nikki
Guest
Nikki

This letter made me sad! I’m going to be more conscious of making time to see both my mom and my MIL.  I think at this point it’s a good idea to ask your son or DIL if there is something you do that bothers them or leads to them not wanting to spend much time with you. I think you should just refer to spending “more time together,”.. be wary of calling it “less time than you spend with DIL’s family,” because that’s not going to get you anywhere positive. Also, love the idea of weeknight babysitting and breakfasts… Read more »

Maree
Guest
Maree

I sympathise because in-law relations are tricky on all sides. I did want to raise a couple of questions. The OP says ” I understand that my daughter-in-law is very close to her mother & family and I’m happy about that…but I am just as close to my son ‘Is this true? DIL is making a LOT of effort to spend time with her family but your son isn’t even dropping over after work for an hour for a visit? I feel that you could be placing the blame on the wrong person. Is it possible that the problem is… Read more »

LMR
Guest
LMR

Yep, this was my thought too. My husband and I don’t have kids, so luckily we’re spared that extra bit of drama, but he just doesn’t always care to spend a ton of time with his family; in a lot of ways he seems to prefer hanging out with my family. It’s entirely possible that this woman’s relationship with her son isn’t as good as she thinks it is – I’m sure my husband’s mother thinks they have a great relationship!

z
Guest
z

It seems like you are blaming your DIL for a problem for which your son is also responsible.  You say she is the “social planner” like that’s some immutable fact of nature, but is anything really stopping him from planning a visit with you?  It must be really painful to raise these issues with your own son and have him not do anything about it, but he is a grown man and makes his own choices.  It’s not her responsibility to compensate for his shortcomings as a family member.  Scapegoating your DIL is not the answer!  If she knows you… Read more »

Andrea
Guest
Andrea

Baby is young yet, OP. I second the patience is a virtue crowd. My FIL lives around the corner, and has been taking my two oldest (5 and 2) for dinner once a week since each was able to eat independently. They LOVE their grandpa because of the frequent contact. They don’t spend much time together on the weekends, though he does come to soccer and school events. Start by offering your son a gift certificate to a restaurant and free babysitting. Tell him to take the mother of your precious grandbaby out for dinner, you will hang out at… Read more »

Oh Crap
Guest
Oh Crap

I wonder about the dynamics of her family vs yours. Is her family full of siblings who have kids and therefore lots of aunts and cousins for their baby, while yours is not quite as full and fun for them and the baby? I know I would make a huge effort to see the side of the family with more babies, for lots of reasons. I also agree with all the commenters who question the perfectness of this MIL. I don’t mean to offend you, original letter writer, but there may be more to your conflicts than you’ve shared. There… Read more »

Lauren
Guest

I think Amy may have hit the nail on the head when she asked if pregnancy/birth/post-partum was traumatic for DIL.  I love my ILs and we spend a lot of time with Them under normal circumstances.  However, this summer/fall was a different story.  I was really sick (and pregnant) and I avoided even the weekly Skype dates with the ILs.  However I welcomed the visits from my mom to help out.  I knew she would take care of everything, and I could just be real, no brave “everything is okay” face necessary.  When we found out that our younger son… Read more »

kim c.
Guest
kim c.

I’m so sorry for your loss. I just went through a stillbirth myself in January at almost 30 weeks. I asked my sister to stay because I had a c-section and I was down for a week, while having 2 children at home (ages 1 and 5). I didn’t want to see my in-laws or anyone really except my extremely close family, but didn’t stop my husband from seeing his family separately (and he went up almost every day I think- we are neighbors with his parents). …. That’s why I think something else may be going on in the… Read more »

JMH
Guest
JMH

This makes me sad to think that one no matter what I do, one day someone is going to be griping about what a horrible MIL I am…:(

Jay
Guest
Jay

Me too.  It sounds like a lot of these commenters expect the MIL-DIL relationship to be difficult and fraught with tension, and they make any reality confirm to that expectation.  I feel like practically every other letter-writer gets to be taken at face value, but this poor MIL is getting to be a punching bag for everyone to take out her own MIL drama. One question I don’t think anyone has asked – how is the MIL’s relationship with the rest of the DIL’s family?  Friendly?  Polite?  Non-existent?  Extending yourself to those people might be a way to build more… Read more »

leslie
Guest
leslie

I agree. While we will never know all of the details, this woman sounds pretty reasonable and understanding of boundaries. To be told in May that they are booked through the end of August? That’s just awful. I cannot ever imagine doing that to my MIL and FIL. Folks, this is her granchild. Her FIRST and ONLY grandchild. It is not unreasonable at all for her to want to see him and have a relationship with him. My heart goes out to LW. Fwiw, not everyone disklikes their MIL. While there are certain things about mine that drive me nuts,… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

I have friends like this! Honestly, they go to the wife’s family at least once a month – if not 2 or 3 times – and they live 6 hours away! We never get to see them on weekends (we’re an hour away) because they are always going to D’s ‘home’.  I don’t think she even realizes, because she’s just *that close* to her parents. Her husband is just now beginning to realize the inequity in it and is trying to cut back some on the trips to her ‘home’ but it’s still a lot of trips they make. No… Read more »

Hannna
Guest
Hannna

I know we spend more time with my family but there is a good reason. My MIL has literally said she doesn’t consider me family (married to her son for 10 years, dated for 6 years before that. My only boyfriend!) and that hopefully someday she’ll love me too. Ouch. And she’s said these things many times. The final straw was when I flew out for a family baby shower, by myself with my colicky 6mo old, only to have MIL and SIL badmouth my solo first-baby parenting via baby monitor. It was like a bad sitcom. My solution? (Other… Read more »

MR
Guest
MR

Ouch! I am so sorry. That’s truly horrible!!

Kat
Guest
Kat

This is tough – without more information it’s really hard to say what the problem could be. I do second that it may not be as much DIL’s influence as you think. We see my family regularly and probably just a tad more than my husband’s family, and my husband actually prefers it that way. He loves his family, but there are issues that he has with them (that have not impacted my relationship with them, but we do have some pretty defined boundaries with some of his family members). BUT – my husband likes to spend time with my… Read more »

kim
Guest
kim

Same here. My parents are more open, honest, make dirty jokes, and don’t have a problem with my husband’s habits. His parents do have a problem with smokers and when we go to their house, it is boring. We just sit there while MIL shows off what she’s bought our kids to keep at her house or talks to the kids (sometimes while we are talking to her which is annoying. She even allows our daughter to interrupt adult conversations- which is something we don’t allow and so that causes an issue). We’d rather just let her take the kids… Read more »

Christina
Guest
Christina

The OP is totally right thay she should be able to see her grandson. That issue is 100% her son’s responsibility. I have a 5 month old (I am up at 3:30 AM nursing, in fact). My husband ans I live one town over from his Dad and 2 hours from his sister and her kids. We moved here to be closer to them. We never see them. That is entirely because my husband never organizes a time to see them. In our marriage, and all the marriages of everyone we know, each spouse is responsible for dealing with their… Read more »

Cait
Guest
Cait

“(Or roll your eyes so hard you sprain something, if having the “problem” of a close-by MIL who respects your boundaries, goes out of her way to accommodate your schedule and just wants to spend time with your baby sounds like a dreamy dream from dreamland, because IF ONLY.)” DING DING DING! I kinda wish I had this problem. For the past 4 years I have lived 20 minutes from my in laws and 8 hours from my parents but GOD FORBID I actually choose to do anything with MY parents. It’s always a guilt trip and I’m more then… Read more »

Diane
Guest
Diane

OP, you sound like you are very reasonable and have a legitimate concern.  Of course you should have time with your son, his wife and your grandson.   I echo previous commenters who suggested mid week get togethers.  Invite them for dinner at your home, a trip to the park after work when he is a little older or perhaps a Sunday night movie night on a weekend when they are home.   Keep inviting them over, and keep asking when they will be available.  I would also suggest that important family occasions such as 80th birthdays be discussed as… Read more »

Rachel
Guest
Rachel

I wouldn’t necessarily hold my breath on the long trips becoming less frequent as baby gets older. When I was a child, we lived in the same town as my father’s parents and a six-hour drive from my mother’s parents. We still saw my mother’s parents WAY more often. I think this was because a) my father would have been the one to set things like this up and he never did and b) because my mother’s parents were a lot easier to be around. But unless there’s background we’re not hearing about, the OP sounds pretty reasonable to me.… Read more »

Margaret
Guest
Margaret

I would agree that I think these long car rides will get less frequent as the baby grows. I live four hours from my family and we live in the next town over from my husband’s entire family…his parents are divorced but both live in the same town, and he has a sister and two brothers. We see my FIL almost daily, and my MIL every few months. I see my family on major holidays and make sure that we go out in the summer a few weekends so that my children can meet their (2nd) cousins. We see my… Read more »

Kristin
Guest
Kristin

Dear MIL, It is lovely to read about a grandmother who is so appreciative of her family and so eager to spend time with them. There is a lot of positive intentions in your letter and I am sure that, over time, things will work themselves out. Patience and peace to you and your family, patience and peace to your son’s family. You say that lately you feel resentful towards your son (more directly, towards his wife). Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that lately you are becoming more and more aware of your resentment. If you have… Read more »

kim c.
Guest
kim c.

I accidentally replied to the post below when I meant to reply to yours. You had an incredible, sensitive post to all mothers who will someday have to accept their children have grown and are no longer completely dependent on them. It’s time for their love to grow with other people at some point and for them to experience other levels of love with a spouse and their own children themselves. I completely agree and I will have to face this myself someday. I hope OP reads your comment.

Laura
Guest
Laura

I would suggest talking with your son and DIL about finding some way to be involved in their lives in a help with baby way.  I don’t know what your and their schedules are like or if baby takes a bottle, but you could babysit one day or evening per week, cook dinner and bring it to their house regularly, come over on the Saturday mornings they are home at 6:30 am (or whatever early hour baby wakes up) and take her on your morning walk while they sleep in, or something else that helps them out.  That takes the… Read more »

kim c.
Guest
kim c.

Very well written. Very nice and considerate. I, too, will have to face the loss that I won’t be my sons whole world someday. It will be very hard. But every mother goes through it with her child. I hope the OP reads your comment.

Erica
Guest
Erica

I finally had a serious sit down with my MIL over my lack of ability to schedule and invite because I recognize that this is an issue for me and my husband wasn’t stepping up to get her over to see the grandbaby! So we agreed that she would have one night each week (she picked Monday) when she would be expected to be in my house for dinner and grandbabying. She was very happy to have the standing invitation and it really worked for us. Some weeks there were conflicts, but generally, she was guaranteed to be part of… Read more »

Kay
Guest
Kay

As a young person and a new mom-to-be, I have to say I don’t think that there is “fair” or “unfair” when it comes to where people spend their time. People do what they want to do, what is pleasant for them, what makes them happy, what is easy, what is worth their time and effort. At some point in being a grown up, you stop living to please others. That includes not thinking, one weekend for you, one weekend for X, one for you, one for X. If someone (in this case your SON–and his wife) does not want… Read more »

AmyRenee
Guest
AmyRenee

I totally agree with the suggestion to try to see them on weeknights for right now. Personally, if I were DIL I’d be slightly annoyed if my MIL only suggested seeing them on the weekends when they were close enough to see anytime. Other things to consider: -If her extended family is large or has lots of traditions, they may very well be booked up for months in advance. In my family we plan Christmas events at the family reunion in July, and “save the date” emails for picnics and birthday parties 4-8 months out are common. Also,they may be… Read more »

kim c.
Guest
kim c.

The only thing I disagree with as a DIL in this situation is don’t drop by. Don’t! We had to flat out be mean to my mil about her coming when she wanted to. We both constantly had anxiety and annoyance of if we didn’t answer her call, would she be pulling in (and sometimes she did). I still get that anxiety even though she quit doing it after her son basically yelled at her to stop (hints and calmly telling her wasn’t enough). Its an invasion of privacy and puts stress on everyone. However, making plans through the week… Read more »

Natalie
Guest
Natalie

I wish my MIL was like you! My in laws live literally around the corner but spend every waking moment with the “other” grand baby (my niece/BIL and SIL’s child). My family lives several hours away yet I find myself visiting as often as I can because its nice to spend time with people who truly want to see their grandbaby and don’t play favorites among the children. I’d recommend MIL speaking to her DIL directly. Men have a tendency to not understand these sort of issues 🙂

Laura-Lise Jeanine Wong
Guest
Laura-Lise Jeanine Wong

Yep that is exactly how my in laws are. My family lives far away and my kids have seen them more often than they have seen my in laws who live in the same city!!!

S
Guest
S

My brother and sil are always “busy.” Their friends come first. However also consider that the events may not be the same people. We have events with my mothers family on different sides, so we can be busy multiple weekends in a row. We just schedule the best we can. We have seen both in laws and parents on week days for a quick meal or playtime. Keep inviting nicely, have your son involved in the conversation in a non busy time like march.  Find out the breakdown. Has your son always had difficulty scheduling events, planning ahead, communicating. The… Read more »

Sara
Guest
Sara

I find it amusing that the MIL here states that DIL is calling all the shots (cause heaven forbid her son surly wouldn’t want to miss all those events, oh no, not her son). I would like to say that my MIL thinks I’m the horrible DIL who calls all the shots and won’t let her see her grandchild at the drop of a hat, when in fact it is my husband, her son, who asks that I don’t go see her alone. He knows how controlling and manipulative she is not to mention she has told two lies on… Read more »

Tonnie
Guest
Tonnie

I think you should back off and allow your son and his wife to figure things out with how they want to involve you in their busy schedule. It sounds to me that you are putting way to much pressure on how, when and where they spend their time. Sometimes MIL’s only focus on what suits them instead of realizing its not your place to do or say certain things and that is what make DIL’s shun you away and not even be bothered. You have to realize that if you put her in a position where she feels her… Read more »

Kristy
Guest
Kristy

It’s quite unfair of you to blame the DIL in this instance. You don’t know the circumstances under why they visit more often. Your son most likely has a 50/50 say in how they spend their free time. Not sure why MIL’s have a tendency to decide that the DIL controls every aspect of the son’s life. My husband makes his own decisions – he’s a big boy. If he has no problem visiting her family so often, who are you to say anything different? Besides, being a DIL and new mom myself, I found myself much more comfortable with… Read more »

Sheri
Guest
Sheri

I sure do see a lot of “new” moms and comments from young women on here. Some of them being rather self centered. When you marry your husband, you are incorporating your life into another family. But more importantly, just because you have started a family of your “own”, does not constitute your husband giving up their family; and certainly not to replace them with yours. I have always encouraged my daughter to be sure to make an effort to be part of her in laws lives. Just try to keep this in mind…..all children grow up, yours will as… Read more »

SteveO
Guest
SteveO

I can see where the OP is coming from from a different perspective. In this case I’m in (or was in) her son’s situation. Both my wife’s parents and my parent live close by (so thats different) but wife’s parents would always drop by (way too much) and also we spent most weekends with her parents and rarely saw mine. If we didnt spend time with my wife’s mum she would make my wife feel guilty (despite my wife not working and spending EVERY day during the week with her mum). I was always up for doing things with her… Read more »

Lee
Guest
Lee

Sadly, this could have been written by my mother-in-law, with the exception of specific distances.  The important information left out for us would be that my husband does not feel close to his mother and prefers to be around her quite rarely.  Of course, she will never accept or admit that, but would make herself appear just as fair and loving as this MIL.  Sometimes, there is just more to the story…

Selena Gonzalez
Guest
Selena Gonzalez

I’m in the same boat. My husband rarely wants to see his parents. We have a two year old son and I’m sure they would like to spend more time with him. We still make sure to see them for holidays (they live 30 minutes away). But his parents bicker, they’re rude to wait staff and every time we see them it feels like we are being critically graded on our parenting. Neither of his parents are fond of their own parents or siblings. My husband get’s excited about spending time with my side of the family, as we get… Read more »

Tamica
Guest
Tamica

I will never understand why MIL make every issue about the DIL, yet I never hear about FIL’s concocting issues with their SIL’s. Didn’t you raise an independent man who can think for himself? And now you want your son to tell his wife “My mom says we’re not spending enough time with them.” It’s time to look inward and adjust the expectations YOU have set for SOMEONE ELSE and how they spend their time. I have a son and a daughter. Of course I hope that when the time comes my husband and I will get ample time to… Read more »

Vicky Chittester Kapp
Guest
Vicky Chittester Kapp

I am a wife of 36 years, a mother of 3 sons and a MIL of 3 DILs and a grandmother of 1 granddaughter and 6 grandsons!!!! I have seen both sides of the MIL and DIL, dilemma!!! This is nothing new, it has been going on for ever! Women are different than men and more controlling! The issue is CONTROL!!! Once a MIL and DIL can get past that issue, then, and only then, there can be peace, happiness and unity! I only give my thoughts, opinions and advice, when I am asked! I would rather be happy, than… Read more »

kim c.
Guest
kim c.

I have to agree with the ones that say maybe its you or that your child has developed a close tie with his new family. My husbands parents live 2 minutes away on foot and when he wants to see them, he does and takes his kids. Me? Not so much. However there are times when he prefers my family and he’s closer with some of my family members than his parents so it may seem like I’m making plans for my family, keeping his away when in reality he’s making plans with my brother or nephew himself and doesn’t… Read more »

kim c.
Guest
kim c.

Just wanted to add… Also considering you all live so close and he never even brings the kid around by himself, according to you (the woman who wrote in). Doesnt sound like a DIL problem. 

kim c.
Guest
kim c.

And if you ever drop by unannounced, that could be it too. Why would they make an effort to include you when you push yourself on them? They may be making plans on purpose to not be home (been there, done that til mil got told very harshly after not listening to calm talking by her own son to stop coming if we didn’t answer the phone and uninvited as we’d both had about enough of our privacy being compromised).

Christina
Guest
Christina

Its too bad most grandmas forget what it was like when they had their own kids. You cannot guilt fully grown adults into your wishes anymore. You also cant guilt you daughter in law for seeing her mom. Remember just like you felt YOUR son was YOURS when he was born…so it goes with her. Not to mention the absolute childishness of fighting over time. Sorry but if its about the baby… (its not about you) then reality will bite because the fact of the matter is the only people the baby actually NEEDS when they are first born is… Read more »

Elaine Murphy Donoho
Guest
Elaine Murphy Donoho

This sounds all too familiar! My oldest granddaughter is now 18 and leaving for college-our relationship with her has pretty much become nonexistent except for what we buy her and we don’t always get thanked for that-we go to all school and other activities that we know about and dil’s parents are not always there(even though they also live in same town)but it is like we are strangers to our son and dil and oldest granddaughter-now their youngest(who has been very close to us and a joy in our lives) is becoming more distant from us-everytime I suggest something dil… Read more »

RosiePosieJ
Guest
RosiePosieJ

I wish my MIL respected my boundaries like you!! I said she could come round anytime just let me know first so I’m there (and not in my pjs) well she threw a fit!! “Oh no thats fine I won’t call round then” and she hasn’t?! Then she tells everyone I won’t let her round to see her grandchild?! It’s insane. I can’t go to her as they live a 20 min drive away & I can’t drive. She’s more than welcome round just give a little notice..?

RosiePosieJ
Guest
RosiePosieJ

I wish my MIL respected my boundaries like you!! I said she could come round anytime just let me know first so I’m there (and not in my pjs) well she threw a fit!! “Oh no thats fine I won’t call round then” and she hasn’t?! Then she tells everyone I won’t let her round to see her grandchild?! It’s insane. I can’t go to her as they live a 20 min drive away & I don’t have a car and I can’t drive. She’s more than welcome round just give a little notice..? Also she goes against anything I… Read more »