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Taking a break from Adult Children


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#1 footballmom

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 02:05 PM

Well it is that time of year again, if family is going to get hurt feelings, now is the time.

As most of you know I have 3 sisters that all live close to us, between the 4 of us, we have 14 children. All are married except our kids and there are 31 grandchildren total. So we are a huge family in a small town type area, everyone except my kids live within a 20 minute drive to everyone else. Everybody gets along well except for one DIL, she is nice to everyone but refuses to be involved in family activities of any type, her husband does bring their daughter around.

My sister #3, the one closest to me in age, called last night wanting to know if she and her husband could join us for T'giving. I was pretty surprised and ask about her kids. Well her daughter will be spending the day at her ILs, the oldest son will also be at his ILs and the youngest son and his wife have been uninvited to family functions for a while. OH BOY, was I surprised. She (sister #3) told me that every event for the last 2 years has had a problem and she was just tired of the drama. (some of you will remember the ornament drama from last year).Anyway, sister told her son this week that she thought it would be best if they all took a break from each other for a while. He wanted an explination and she just laid it on the line. He acknowledged that yes, there had been a problem at every gathering for a while but he was hurt that his Mom was not "willing to overlook" these little things in order to see him and his family at holidays. His feeling are hurt, BAD and she is standing her ground. Her reasoning is there are 8 adults in their family and only 1 has a problem that she insist on airing at every gathering.

I am thinking that she has done the right thing, stopping the crazies before they get worse, taking a break and being up front and honest about the reason.

Is it OK to take a break from your adult kids, because the on-going drama is making you sad and uncomfortable in your own home?

#2 Motherof1

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 02:34 PM

Why not? Children can put the parents in a TO. parents should be able to
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#3 skipped

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 02:43 PM

I hope she really can't take it anymore because she just declared war.
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#4 footballmom

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 02:55 PM

Yep, skipped, that is what I was thinking also. Not sure where this one will end.

#5 SueSTx

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 03:01 PM

I see no reason why a parent can't tell an adult child that they have other plans this year for a holiday. AC get to make their own plans for holidays why shouldn't their parents?

I deal with a DD who chooses to be in conflict with her DB. I hate to be involved in her drama which he seems to know nothing about. At the same time, I refuse to tell him he can't come for Sunday lunch because she has 'called in' first. Both families have an open invite for whenever they can take the time to come. I will not call DD at bedtime to say that DS is planning on coming so she can decide not to at the last minute.

I also had rather have other plans for a holiday than DD be rude to me because they are part of this family also. She is in her 30's. She should grow up. Everything in life isn't about them.

#6 KHA2012

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 03:08 PM

i do agree with Motherof1 us adult children put parents in TO it shoudl be the same. however i do agree with skipped as long as she is ready for the consequence as well. i dont think anyone really just wakes up one day and say "you know im going to put my DS or DH or parent in TO" something gets you to that point. in your sister's case, she may have reached her point.

#7 mrsslant

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 03:10 PM

You know, I'm inclined to think she has every right to do this. Actually it sounds very similar to many situations we read on here slightly reversed. I think she is right. Doesn't mean there won't be consequences, though. And I do agree with Skipped, that she did sort of declare war, but that is the unfortunate situation with the reverse roles. It kind of sheds some light on the idea that the DIL "Holds all the cards." If a DIl makes this stance of "I am tired of the drama I am taking a break." Sure, there is family issues with that. Yeah, her MIl will be mad and she will likely hear about it for a while. She still gets to see her kids, though. MIL does not have this kind of "Power". It might have been better for her to simply say "I've made other plans for this year." and leaving it at that.
However, then again, if the situation were reversed we may very well advise the DIL in question to tell the reason why so as to address the problem. Man, these issues are just so much more complicated if you reverse them.
Bottom Line: I definately don't fault your sister for deciding to do something different this year. And I agree with PP who said if AC can put their parents or Inlaws in a TO, it should work both ways. I just worry what the fall out will look like.

#8 kerijo77

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 03:13 PM

Absolutely! She is well within her rights to want to enjoy her holiday without unnecessary drama!

#9 SueSTx

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 03:20 PM

Is the fact that it is Sister#3's DIL who causes the drama at holiday gatherings any different than the fact that it is my DD?

I wait until the AC tell me what their plans are then I make plans. When would a DIL especially wait for her MIL to make plans before she made plans with her FOO.

As MILs we are always told to wait for an invitation...why didn't this DS wait until his mother extended an invitation. If he didn't get one, he wasn't invited.

And yes, as a parent to adult children, I do feel like there is a double standard. It is our 'job' to extend invites...why? I understand that my AC have two families to make plans with, but parents also have several families plus their own FOO to make plans with.

#10 Motherof1

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 03:27 PM

Sue, I see no difference between who it is. Regardless of who is cut off, there will be consequences. There will be drama. There will be fall out

#11 SueSTx

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 03:31 PM

And sometimes those consequences are more welcome that all the drama.

Surely Sister#3 has given this lots of thought. I don't think this is a dicision she made spur of the moment.
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#12 footballmom

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 03:49 PM

Yes, she has been thinking about it for a while, Easter was the bending point, Forth of July was the breaking point.

DIL told S#3 that she did not want her doing GD an Easter Basket at her house. S#3 always has done a small basket that the kids get at Easter Lunch after church, usually books, a summer type toy but no candy at all. So when S#3 told her DD and her other DIL that there would be no Easter Baskets, they both were not happy. Their kids are older than the complaining DIL/DSs child and they said their kids loved getting the baskets, it was tradition and why was everything being changed to fit one person. S#3 worked out a solution, she had a light breakfast before Church that she did not include YDS/DIL in to give the other GC their baskets, which were then put in the parents car and taken away. That way when everybody got to Easter lunch there were no baskets. Well, when complaining DIL saw pictures on FB of the breakfast and the baskets, there was trouble. S#3/BIL were playing favorites by not inviting them to a family function. Husband stood down and never said a word to his MOm about anything. Then 4th of July, S#3 along with S#2 had arrainged to have a tent and food at a local political rally where there were fireworks to finish off the night. Everyone was invited, there were no surprises, no secrets, the event was advertised in every paper/TV station. Complaining DIL and DH came and brought the baby, when the fireworks started, baby freaked out. Now this is S#3's fault. Why would she invite a baby to something that would scare her? Why did she not plan something that her baby would be safe at? Again, DH stood down and said nothing to either woman.

S#3, has just given up. She has tried to work around the request, she has invited, included DILs family (she is an only child). But she is tired of her other 2 kids complaining to her about this DS/DIL, so she just stopped this T'giving. She knows it is going to be said that she is not having T'giving because the other 2 kids are out of town and because this DS/DIL have no where to go (her parents are going to be visiting family out of town). She (S#3) said "they have a stove, they can cook and eat that day, not like they are going to starve if I do not cook for them". She did tell me that the next step will be nephew calling me to see if they can come here. I am watching my caller ID very closely. Have no idea what I will say.

#13 WhichWayU

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 04:02 PM

First my thoughts, then a question. I think sometimes Time Outs can be really good for tense family relationships. Taking a break can prevent more scenes, such as what your Sister3 was aiming for. TOs can prevent blow outs and Cut Offs. A little distance can give lots of perspective. In a situation like your Sister3's, I am thinking the unsaid kind of TO might have had less potential for drama. Such as where Sister3 would just decline invitations, lie low, and avoid them for a while. Especially since Sister3 wasn't hosting a TG dinner to invite DS/DILto anyway.

Sister3, as she knows, took a risk in telling DS the truth that she (and perhaps it would be inferred by DS/DIL that other family members too) had a problem with DIL's behavior at family events. You know how they say the person who cares least has the most power. Usually in this group I think we read about MILs who care "more" about their seeing sons more often than DILs care about seeing their MILs more often. Your Sister3 might have gotten to the point that she cares less about how much time DS/DIL/GC spends with her than they care about being at her events. If DS/DIL care a lot, if its important to DS/DIL to be invited to her events, then the ideal situation would be if they become willing to make the minor tweak of working out their issues with folks before or after the celebrations. Who knows if the ideal situation will happen. People who like to make scenes at other people's events might care more about making scenes that resolving issues. However, sometimes laying it on the line does work.

My question is what about events that Sister3 isn't hosting herself? Like if you or Sister2 or Sister4 host something, are DS/DIL supposed to be blackballed by the entire group because his mom said she doesn't want them there? While I'm sure no one else appreciates the DIL's drama either, some may be able to ignore it better than others, or some may not feel comfortable excluding some of the 31. So are the sisters and cousins all expected to TO as well at group functions? (Maybe this doesn't apply and Sister3 is usually the hostess for all).

Added - Just saw this update:

She did tell me that the next step will be nephew calling me to see if they can come here. I am watching my caller ID very closely. Have no idea what I will say.



#14 BlueEyedGirl

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 04:07 PM

You know - even if she DID declare war - I think if its her "hill to die on" she did the right thing. I have a set of cousins - there are 4 siblings - they fight like nothing I have ever seen. At any given time - one of them is in absolute raging fights with the other three. It makes family gatherings incredibly miserable. It's become a running family joke - "Whose turn is it?" Their father passed away a couple of years ago and their mother - who for the longest time put up with the fighting because their father insisted that family should ALWAYS come together no matter what - and I do mean it literally when I say fighting it came to physical blows a number of times over the years - she finally put her foot down. Whichever one is "on the outs" isn't welcome. If they can't get their "crap together" (LOL her words - and she's in her 80s - she got it from her great grands) long enough to put their differences aside for a meal - she doesn't want them in her house. So each year when we have our big extended family get togethers - we all make joke bets on which one of the "kids" won't be there. (now remember these cousins are my mom's age - their "kids" are my age and their grandchildren are my kids ages.)

#15 SueSTx

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 04:12 PM

FBM..so sorry that you will probably be put in the middle of this squabble. Also it does seem like your S#3 might have issued a self-invite which we are always telling the MILs to refrain from. This issue does hit me close to home and indeed it is time for all the holiday drama to begin.

As a DIL with a horribly mean MIL, and a parent of AC with a DD than can cause her own drama, I really do understand S#3 perdictament.

As MILs on this site, we see many of the issues the young DILs are encountering. As a young DIL, I encountered many those and more. I do know how it feels on their side of the fence, BUT there is no way they can ever know how it rips a MILs heart in two when she feels uncomfortable inviting all her AC back for a family dinner. I usually feel that the MIL is the older adult and has had more years acting like one, but there are just some times that even as an older adult we have to say enough IS enough.

When a DIL and her hubby finally decide to instigate a TO or even a complete CO...they are disconnected from the MIL and they don't see her hurt feelings. Has a war been declared...well no, BUT if a MIL has finally had enough and the last straw wasn't mere cracker crumbs, but the fall out is now affecting her relationship with the rest of her AC and their families...she has declared war.

And as a DIL, I did finally CO my MIL but only after many last straws and my 15 yr old son cut her out of his life first. It sure seemed like it was very easy for him, and there was no fall out. If there was fall out when I followed in his steps...so what...wasn't what I was after her disappearing from my life. I can't imagine any MIL wanting her AS and his children disappearing from her life because of a rude DIL...what more can she do? She deserves peaceful holidays also.

#16 WhichWayU

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 04:12 PM

Armchair Monday Morning Quarterbacking here - After reading about DIL's Easter and July 4 complaints, I am wondering if a better approach would have been for S#3 to phrase it in the positive for DIL. Such as "since DIL is never pleased with the kind of celebrations we have, we have decided to give her a break for a while." Well honey, she was upset about our giving Easter baskets, she was upset when we didn't give baskets and gave others baskets, she was upset when we invited her for fireworks, and I don't want to risk upsetting her anymore.
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#17 SueSTx

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 04:19 PM

I well remember the incident with the 'first' ornament, but it sure sounds to me like this DIL is one of those rare people that is never satisfied with anything. Honestly, how is Sister#3 ever gonna do anything right? This deffinately sounds like one of those cases where she is "danged is she does and danged is she doesn't".

What DIL woulld try to ease the MILs feelings if things were reversed?

#18 WhichWayU

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 04:24 PM

She did tell me that the next step will be nephew calling me to see if they can come here. I am watching my caller ID very closely. Have no idea what I will say.


Your S#3 probably invites you to a lot of her stuff. And you talk to her a lot, so her self-invitation while not proper, is probably within the kind of context where if you weren't comfortable accomodating her self-invite for whatever reason, you could tell her and tell her why. And she would understand and wouldn't have any problem with it.

When was the last time nephew invited you to anything of his? His wife is a rude guest. He might just be rude enough to self-invite himself. If you don't want them there, I'm wondering if you'd be comfortable with the standard "thanks so much for asking, but sorry, but that won't work for us" response.

#19 footballmom

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 04:38 PM

If nephew calls and wants to come for T'giving, I will say yes, I just want a day or two to get my thoughts together and even more to let the sting for him go away. The last thing I will do is talk to him about his Mom. None of us (the 4 sisters) would cut off a niece or nephew over something like this, I do not know what would happen if there was a case of abuse or something. I do not think S#3 would care if DS/DIL/GC were here, she just is not going to open herself up for complaints about her or to her.

Our T'giving was going to be small and easy this year. ODS is not coming home, YDS may or may not come in, I have told him it is not a big deal, it is a long drive right before exams. We were going to have the elderly couple from down the street come over and have a very small meal. Now we will be moving from the kitchen table to the dining room, which means getting the linens out, ironing them all, finding the T'giving serving dishes and expanding the menu. My other sisters are doing their own thing. S#2 has 4 kids, they worked out the holiday thing between themselves, they all do Christmas one year together and no T'giving and reverse the next year. It leaves S#2/BIL alone one holiday a year, but she has no problem with it, this is her T'giving off and I think she is glad. S#1 will have all 5 of her kids and their families this year, would not get into that for anything.

This nephew and his wife have never had anyone over for anything, but that is not a problem for me, if they want to come, they can. Their little girl will be the only child here and that might work out well.

I have NO problem what-so-ever with S#3 calling to see if they could come for T'giving. We all have that type of relationship, we can ask anything, and we can also say no and no one gets mad or hurt.

just a note: FBD called a few minutes ago and wanted to know what was going on with nephew (they work in same office suite) he said nephew came in his office this morning asking what our plans were, came back a hour later wanting to know if we had seen his parents in the last few day and then just a few minutes ago ask if I was home today. This nephew is really one of my favorites, he is sweet and funny. He and ODS are only a few months apart in age so I was around him much when he was growing up. He and ODS are still very close and stay in touch. I am sorta worried about what he is feeling right now.

Also S#3 is pretty laid back until she has had enough, it is her personality to just remove herself from drama or friction. If this was oldest sister, it would be world war 3, with her trying to drag us all into it. S#2 would have never let it get this far, she would have told them long ago that they were messing with her mind and she refuses to upset. I an the other had would probably have worried and worried trying to figure out a way to "make" DIL like me and sending an engraved invitation for her to come run over me again. S#3 is probably the most sane one of us all.

#20 WhichWayU

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 04:59 PM

If nephew calls and wants to come for T'giving, I will say yes, I just want a day or two to get my thoughts together and even more to let the sting for him go away. The last thing I will do is talk to him about his Mom. None of us (the 4 sisters) would cut off a niece or nephew over something like this, I do not know what would happen if there was a case of abuse or something. I do not think S#3 would care if DS/DIL/GC were here, she just is not going to open herself up for complaints about her or to her.


:)