I am struggling with a terrible daughter-in-law. I was a great mom to my oldest son. We were always close until he started dating his now wife. I have always tried to be a good MIL, respecting their boundaries and being supportive, but my DIL is a nightmare. She takes advantage of my generosity and then is incredibly rude to me.
As an example, I recently flew in for my grandson’s 1st birthday. This is their third child. When I arrived, I asked what she would like me to get the baby for a present. Her response was to ask me to foot the catering bill for the party. I told her that wasn’t what I had in mind. I wanted to get my grandson something he could enjoy.
She then proceeded to ignore me for the rest of my visit and I haven’t even heard from my son since. That was 3 weeks ago. I have left several messages at the house for the entire family. I’d like to speak to my older grandchildren on the phone every so often.
My son always sides with her and now she’s managed to drive a wedge between us. He doesn’t even speak with his brothers regularly anymore.
How do I get through to my son that my daughter-in-law’s behavior is not acceptable.
Sincerely, Discarded Mom
Dear Discarded Mom,
Let’s start with a little tough love. You acknowledge respecting boundaries, and that’s great. But you also mention having been close to your son. You’re not supposed to be anymore. It is the natural and appropriate transition that his girlfriend/wife usurped your role as the woman in his life. As a result, he is being a dutiful husband by supporting his wife.
BUT… we’ll say what you were too polite to say in your letter; your DIL is a cold, money grubbing witch.
You are now charged with repairing this relationship so that you get what you need out of it. We understand that you are a plane ride away but we suggest having a conversation with both of them in person. Here are the points you need to make:
- You love your son. Certainly now being a mother herself, your DIL can appreciate how a mother feels towards her child. But that you and she are not at odds over the love of your son.
- You acknowledge that as his wife, she is and should be the most important woman in his life and that you are proud of him for putting her at the center of his world.
- The love you have for your son extends to her and the grandchildren regardless of the stress in the relationship because that’s just the way it goes.
- Having them all as a consistent part of your life is of paramount importance to you. This includes regular phone calls at least once a week.
- You need her to see more value in you than just a checkbook.
- Remind her that one day, she will be someone’s MIL and she may be well served to ask herself if she would be satisfied with being treated the way she treats you.
Then ask them what changes they need from you in order that they would happily want to talk to you and have you visit. This may be tough to hear. From experience, we know there’s usually two sides to the story and you had the advantage of just filling us in on your feelings.
Hopefully, this conversation will clear the air and give you all a path to move forward.
Xo, Your Sages