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RoseRed135

The MAIN cause of family rifts - Is the verdict in?

151 posts in this topic

I agree, Sue, DD is a big one for asking my opinion. I usually first ask her what her DH said. If hasn't talked it over with him (yet), I tell her to start there. They are very different, sometimes I think she wants my opinion just to bolster her own position going in. 

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To quote from rose's OP...A British study claims that MIL/DIL conflict is the cause of the majority of estrangements in families

So according to our discussion, maybe it isn't really the in-law after all but the AC not advocating for the CIL instead?  What "blame" does the AC hold in all of this?  IS it basically a marriage or spouse problem and not an InLaw problem (though I've had my share or those).

When I talk about 'getting on the same page', I am not advocating for one spouse to hold anything over the others head, but for the two of them to have a discussion and come to a compromise on what/how they might handle this situation so it is no longer an issue.  If the compromise doesn't correct an issue, there needs to be another discussion and try something else next.

When one party or the other is not toxic, there should be a reasonable solution. 

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12 minutes ago, ImpishMom said:

Because there seems to be an assumption that the DIL is to blame for the conflict. Even if it's by refusing to tolerate clearly negative behaviour.

I certainly never tell my AC what to do or give my opinions. I assume they have to compromise with their spouse, without me yapping in their ear. I have to compromise with my husband on all sort of topics, why wouldn't our kids do the same?

Why would there be "blame" when our AC do what they want?  Maybe assessing "blame" over stuff is what causes problems.

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2 minutes ago, JanelleK said:

I certainly never tell my AC what to do or give my opinions. I assume they have to compromise with their spouse, without me yapping in their ear. I have to compromise with my husband on all sort of topics, why wouldn't our kids do the same?

Why would there be "blame" when our AC do what they want?  Maybe assessing "blame" over stuff is what causes problems.

No doubt. I think for some folks, it's something of a self defence mechanism. ie, their AC says they're not coming for Christmas. Parents feel hurt, possibly even rejected. It's *easier* to place blame on CIL than think that their AC would willingly choose not to see them at Christmas.

Again, it's very personality dependant. Some folks (no matter who they are, be it AC/CIL/Parent/PIL/boss/coworker/friend) will take you making a different choice than they do as a personal rejection.

My mother once started yelling at me over a hypothetical one-day-in-the-distant-future vacation. I said we'd love to take the kids to the Carribbean. She completely flipped out, yelling that we HAD to take them to Disney. A hypothetical vacation. That wasn't even seriously planned, b/c it was at least 10 yrs off before I figured we could afford it.

And no, she'd never taken us kids to Disney. But she'd always WANTED to. So, therefore, I must do it, if I can afford a vacation.

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2 hours ago, SueSTx said:

To quote from rose's OP...A British study claims that MIL/DIL conflict is the cause of the majority of estrangements in families

So according to our discussion, maybe it isn't really the in-law after all but the AC not advocating for the CIL instead?  What "blame" does the AC hold in all of this?  IS it basically a marriage or spouse problem and not an InLaw problem (though I've had my share or those).

When I talk about 'getting on the same page', I am not advocating for one spouse to hold anything over the others head, but for the two of them to have a discussion and come to a compromise on what/how they might handle this situation so it is no longer an issue.  If the compromise doesn't correct an issue, there needs to be another discussion and try something else next.

When one party or the other is not toxic, there should be a reasonable solution. 

I remember early on when I first starting posting here, someone posting the concept of being an ambassador between your spouse and family. I think a lot of IL situations can be attributed to that (not the abusive/personality disordered/mental illness/addiction situations). The AC speaks the language of both their FOO and their spouse. They shouldn't be setting up either side to fail, and need to be careful about what they say about one to the other. Don't throw your spouse under the bus for a decision that was made together. Don't complain about your parents all the time and then wonder why your spouse thinks those negative things about them.  

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45 minutes ago, NewMama said:

I remember early on when I first starting posting here, someone posting the concept of being an ambassador between your spouse and family. I think a lot of IL situations can be attributed to that (not the abusive/personality disordered/mental illness/addiction situations). The AC speaks the language of both their FOO and their spouse. They shouldn't be setting up either side to fail, and need to be careful about what they say about one to the other. Don't throw your spouse under the bus for a decision that was made together. Don't complain about your parents all the time and then wonder why your spouse thinks those negative things about them.  

I was just thinking about this, not as succinctly, but same idea.

People really need to communicate with the person they are talking with - in their mutual language, My husband and brother have a shared set of friends, activities, hobbies, a collection, jokes and they speak their own language.

My husband called my brother to ask him to do one of their shared activities tomorrow afternoon, no notice. My brother doesn't typically work Thursday afternoon and my SisIL sometimes does work all day Thursday. No harm in asking. My brother laughed and said "I'm on my honeymoon, ask next year". My husband's response? "Well played year, you lucky duck". Now, all my brother really did was set my husband up to not get his feelings hurt over being turned down, not ask any more questions, and just accept the joke for whatever it means in their own language. My brother is a master at keeping people happy and avoiding conflict. Words matter.

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14 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

Hmmm... There's a difference, I think, between not liking something, feeling "it isn't right" and realizing "it isn't... normal." I can see where a kid growing up w abuse wouldn't like it. I can see where they might even decide on their own that it isn't right. But how would they know it isn't "normal"/that the average parent doesn't treat their kids that way? Some might just have a gut-level feeling about it, I suppose. But I doubt many know early on. Especially if it's emotional abuse. Some may figure out that it isn't normal earlier than others, I guess. But realizing it "from the onset?" Maybe, but it would surprise me.

I think what's normal varies from one household to the next- But abuse is never normal in any given situation and I think children have the ability to realize this in age appropriate ways as you have described above- Not all children, of course, because some think they are at fault -- but far from all- Children are quite insightful-

Abuse is one origin of rifts- Also rigid family dynamics can lead to lack of appreciation for individuality and eventually lead to rifts- When people refuse to negotiate, to communicate or truly listen to anyone or consider a different perspective they aren't going to appreciate what anyone has to say -- except those with the same view-

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15 hours ago, ImpishMom said:

How would a child born into an abusive family, know it's abnormal unless/until they see other families that aren't? And the bigger thing? How does the child learn that it's NOT their fault? Abused children often truly believe it when their parents blame them for being abused. "If I was a good girl, Mommy wouldn't hurt me. I have to be a good girl." You're seeming to overlook that there's a huge amount of psychological programming that goes into child abuse. Children first learn of the world as taught by their parents. Young children believe their parents are infallible. There's a whole whack of damage abusive parents can do, long before a child's 5th birthday, that has lasting impact.

Parents teach their children what is normal. It's not until the child is interacting with others that they might start to click that things aren't normal. B/c there's nothing else to compare it to.

A child born into a cult isn't going to know it's a cult. It's normal for them.

Abusive families are very much like mini cults.

If a child is born into an exclusively French speaking family, in a French speaking community, only exposed to French language media, the idea that other people speak English wouldn't be a blip on your radar until you stumbled across it.

If you're born into an abusive family, you don't realize it's not normal until you stumble across others who aren't abusive.

Children have the ability to distinguish joy from pain- I think that's the greatest comparison they can make at such an early age- I'm not overlooking the psychological programming- I know many adults who were abused as children and teens, the majority of which didn't believe they were to blame or viewed their parents as infallible- Nonetheless, the common thread was damage that had lasting impact-

I think most families display some cult like behaviors-

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13 hours ago, agnurse said:

I read "Toxic Parents" some time ago. (Not for my own personal issues; my parents are pretty good, as are MIL and SFIL. FIL is now CO.) The author explained that sometimes it's hard for people to acknowledge the abuse because as a child, our whole sense of security and safety is tied into believing that our parents are doing a good job looking out for us. When you examine Maslow's hierarchy of needs, safety and security needs are at the bottom, literally just above food, water, and shelter. For a child to admit that abuse is wrong is literally for them to admit that the people who were supposed to be ensuring their safety weren't really doing their job, and that they were never really safe in the first place.

Believe me, I have witnessed this first hand. FIL, as I mentioned, is CO. (Hubby's choice, not mine. I agree with him, though.) FIL insists that his father was a great man and that he misses him a lot. GFIL took advantage of FIL for years. *Trigger* GFIL sexually molested his own daughter over the course of a number of years. *End Trigger* FIL just says, "Well, I never saw that side of him." We do know that GFIL was extremely emotionally abusive and to an extent physically abusive as well (he used to spank the kids with his army belt). FIL also has narcissistic tendencies. Thankfully, GFIL is no longer living and had passed away when Hubby was a teenager. If he were still alive, we would NOT be going to see him.

Absolutely- Difficult for an adult to admit, too- Difficult to admit but a part of the healing process-

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On 9/6/2017 at 3:34 PM, SueSTx said:

To quote from rose's OP...A British study claims that MIL/DIL conflict is the cause of the majority of estrangements in families

So according to our discussion, maybe it isn't really the in-law after all but the AC not advocating for the CIL instead?  What "blame" does the AC hold in all of this?  IS it basically a marriage or spouse problem and not an InLaw problem (though I've had my share or those).

When I talk about 'getting on the same page', I am not advocating for one spouse to hold anything over the others head, but for the two of them to have a discussion and come to a compromise on what/how they might handle this situation so it is no longer an issue.  If the compromise doesn't correct an issue, there needs to be another discussion and try something else next.

When one party or the other is not toxic, there should be a reasonable solution. 

I think this is key here and really the root of a lot of in-law issues. Husband and wife need to be on the same page and if one is unsure about an issue then they need to tell their parents "let me speak to hubby/wife first." This shows the parents that the spouse is important in all decisions and also that they decide things together. So really i think having a strong marriage is key, because if your spouse does not respect you and put you first you are going to run into in law problems. 

My in laws weigh in on everything and it has only become worse with time. It's become so bad that we have started withholding information because mil will not only give an opinion she will tell us what to do and if we disagree she gets upset or will turn to my husband and ask if this is really what he wants.... it's annoying. My husband sees this and knows she won't stop so his solution is to withhold information that's important to us (such as baby's medical information, car decisions, vacations.) 

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3 hours ago, Knovel said:

 

My in laws weigh in on everything and it has only become worse with time. It's become so bad that we have started withholding information because mil will not only give an opinion she will tell us what to do and if we disagree she gets upset or will turn to my husband and ask if this is really what he wants.... it's annoying. My husband sees this and knows she won't stop so his solution is to withhold information that's important to us (such as baby's medical information, car decisions, vacations.) 

Your DH's solution is very wise, IMO. In fact, it is just what many posters advise here if problems arise when you (general) share information.. It's often referred to as "stopping the info train."

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9 hours ago, Knovel said:

I think this is key here and really the root of a lot of in-law issues. Husband and wife need to be on the same page and if one is unsure about an issue then they need to tell their parents "let me speak to hubby/wife first." This shows the parents that the spouse is important in all decisions and also that they decide things together. So really i think having a strong marriage is key, because if your spouse does not respect you and put you first you are going to run into in law problems. 

My in laws weigh in on everything and it has only become worse with time. It's become so bad that we have started withholding information because mil will not only give an opinion she will tell us what to do and if we disagree she gets upset or will turn to my husband and ask if this is really what he wants.... it's annoying. My husband sees this and knows she won't stop so his solution is to withhold information that's important to us (such as baby's medical information, car decisions, vacations.) 

Early on in DH and I's relationship, my mom would often start with telling me what we should, shouldn't do when there were decisions to be made. She got the same answer - DH and I would figure out, and the subject got changed. Eventually, it changed to questions - "What are the two of you going to do?" "What did you find out about that?" and she'd listen to what I said. It's hard, but drawing that line sometimes can work if the person you're dealing with is reasonable.

DH withholds information from his mom a lot because she freaks out so bad he ends up talking her down when he's the one that needs support. I rarely answer the phone when MIL calls, but the last time I did was when DH had a car accident. I had already spoken to him and knew he was ok so I wasn't worried. He said he wouldn't have told her, except he was supposed to meet her for lunch so he had to. She was hysterical and I was kicking myself for answering the phone....

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I think I am one of those "worry wart" MILs.  Mothers.  But....I also really want to know only what I need to know.   Just remember though you shouldn't  get mad at me when I don't have all the information.  Example- my son and DIL out of the blue announced they were adopting a baby.  I had no idea that they even wanted children.  And then when I sat there shocked and didn't say anything, I think they were upset for a while that "I didn't ask any questions".  Well give me a little time to let the concept sink in.

I am a worrier.   But a big BUT---- I don't expect my kids to "fix" my worrying.  I don't know how I said it but  once said to my son that it isn't is job to fix my worrying that that was something I had to deal with. 

For all of you DILs/ daughters out there that have mothers that worry.  That's what some mothers do.  I'm sure I'm not the only one.  (I don't get hysterical though).  IMO it's not your job to fix their worrying.  Distance yourself from it.  You can't fix it and it isn't your problem.

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34 minutes ago, skipped said:

I think I am one of those "worry wart" MILs.  Mothers.  But....I also really want to know only what I need to know.   Just remember though you shouldn't  get mad at me when I don't have all the information.  Example- my son and DIL out of the blue announced they were adopting a baby.  I had no idea that they even wanted children.  And then when I sat there shocked and didn't say anything, I think they were upset for a while that "I didn't ask any questions".  Well give me a little time to let the concept sink in.

I am a worrier.   But a big BUT---- I don't expect my kids to "fix" my worrying.  I don't know how I said it but  once said to my son that it isn't is job to fix my worrying that that was something I had to deal with. 

For all of you DILs/ daughters out there that have mothers that worry.  That's what some mothers do.  I'm sure I'm not the only one.  (I don't get hysterical though).  IMO it's not your job to fix their worrying.  Distance yourself from it.  You can't fix it and it isn't your problem.

I'm not a worrier. I wouldn't have been able to live with DH job if I worried. Regardless, I agree with the idea that neither mil nor mom should be burdened with yakkety yak. I don't think chatter builds or nurtures relationships. 

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When did men lose the ability to communicate? DH communicated from SE Asia and the sandbox with DM. Men aren't dullards...unless they prove to be. 

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5 hours ago, PattyGram said:

When did men lose the ability to communicate? DH communicated from SE Asia and the sandbox with DM. Men aren't dullards...unless they prove to be. 

Cause it's wimmens work, according to some.

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On 8/27/2017 at 9:20 AM, RoseRed135 said:

A British study claims that MIL/DIL conflict is the cause of the majority of estrangements in families

I think that blaming the ACIL is an easy jumping off position (however unfair and generally false), but given a day or two - I always realize that the problem is my own relationship with our AC, not an easy fix.

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This morning DD called to tell me that #1GS thinks she's the meanest mom ever....she said she learned from the best....So Proud today...

The kid is 13 and doing the normal annoying 13yo nonsense because he thinks he can...She just tells him she invented that move and since she didn't get away with it, neither will he...good karms

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We live in a very very small rural community and I told my kids IF I wasn't the meanest Mom in town, I'd try harder.  They knew I wouldn't let any bad behavior slid, yet they also knew that I trusted them and often let them make their own choices with my guidance if I thought there were way off base.  Sometimes teens need to make iffy choices while still living at home when the parents can guide them through their consequences.  Consequences can be a good learning tool.

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Absent a personality disorder or severe mental illness, or other dysfunction, in my opinion the cause is the relationship with the adult child. When the relationship with the adult child is solid, that carries over to the in-law relationship. I have always gotten along fine with my in-laws. We've had our differences, but we generally get along and enjoy each other's company. My husband has always been close to his parents. His brother's relationship was a bit more fractious, and this affects how they relate to BIL's wife, who is a perfectly lovely person as far as I'm concerned. We are both introverted types, but in me my in-laws see that as a cute quirk, whereas in my SIL it's that she's standoffish, a little stuck up (she's really not.) The same dynamic happens in my FOO, where my parents have a harder time connecting with the husband of my older sister than mine, not because of any flaw in him, but because it's filtered through the delicate relationship thy have with her.

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Good to see that you have such a good relationship w/ both your parents and your ILs, Oceanisland44. I agree that the relationship w/ a CIL is often an offshoot of that w/ the AC.

But people, some parents claim that they had a "good/close relationship" w/ their AC before the CIL came into the picture. What does  that say?

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10 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

Good to see that you have such a good relationship w/ both your parents and your ILs, Oceanisland44. I agree that the relationship w/ a CIL is often an offshoot of that w/ the AC.

But people, some parents claim that they had a "good/close relationship" w/ their AC before the CIL came into the picture. What does  that say?

I think it says that things change. For example, many AC, before they're in a serious relationship/married, head home for Christmas/major holidays, even to the point of hopping a plane to do so. Once a serious relationship happens, heading home may not happen as frequently for holidays, if at all, b/c priorities shift, *especially* if a marriage happens, and/or children, b/c there's now a spouse, spouse's family, and a whole host of other folks to consider. The touchstones, or hallmarks, of what a parent might consider representative of a 'close relationship' no longer happen as they used to.

Once a spouse comes along, it introduces a lot of changes, and it's often far easier to make changes when you've got someone backing you up. And, getting married/having children changes people to a degree. Things that might have been 'meh' before are now a problem. Or even simpler, A is what 'is always done' but AC discovers B is more enjoyable to A. Or, 'that's just the way it is' no longer applies, b/c there are more options, valid options, and a chance to really figure out and decide what you want and don't.

The problem sometimes arises with 'Acts of Service' (to use a Love Languages term). If someone puts great value in visits, phone calls, chores, following/adhering to traditions, and those things go down in frequency, or are even broken (traditions), then the parent feels like they've been rejected to a degree, rather than realizing and accepting that it's a normal 'leave and cleave' situation, that relationships are supposed to evolve over time, not stay static.

 

 

Edited by ImpishMom
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18 hours ago, ImpishMom said:

I think it says that things change. For example, many AC, before they're in a serious relationship/married, head home for Christmas/major holidays, even to the point of hopping a plane to do so. Once a serious relationship happens, heading home may not happen as frequently for holidays, if at all, b/c priorities shift, *especially* if a marriage happens, and/or children, b/c there's now a spouse, spouse's family, and a whole host of other folks to consider. The touchstones, or hallmarks, of what a parent might consider representative of a 'close relationship' no longer happen as they used to.

Once a spouse comes along, it introduces a lot of changes, and it's often far easier to make changes when you've got someone backing you up. And, getting married/having children changes people to a degree. Things that might have been 'meh' before are now a problem. Or even simpler, A is what 'is always done' but AC discovers B is more enjoyable to A. Or, 'that's just the way it is' no longer applies, b/c there are more options, valid options, and a chance to really figure out and decide what you want and don't.

The problem sometimes arises with 'Acts of Service' (to use a Love Languages term). If someone puts great value in visits, phone calls, chores, following/adhering to traditions, and those things go down in frequency, or are even broken (traditions), then the parent feels like they've been rejected to a degree, rather than realizing and accepting that it's a normal 'leave and cleave' situation, that relationships are supposed to evolve over time, not stay static.

 

 

I agree with this so much and really have just figured out this is what’s causing such a huge problem between my in laws and myself (hubby too). Everything was easy before our first daughter came along because we just went with the flow, but as our daughter has become older our needs and wants have changed. This has caused some disagreements and tension between us and our in laws. My Mil needs to be needed, but I am naturally very independent especially when it comes to making any financial decisions and raising kids. My husband and his brothers would go (his brothers still do) to their parents about everything, job advice, loans, budgets, help with taxes and basically do as their parents suggested. When problems arose they needed their parents help, even something simple like getting the oil changed or making a doctor appointment. And their mom would be more than happy to do it, which I recently saw when my husband didn’t want to iron his shirt and his mom was practically giddy to do it (fine by me since I would make the shirt even worse if I ironed it). This is something that seriously irked me when we got married because we are adults and could handle all of this on our own and it’s something I had to ask my husband to not do. It has taken a lot of time but I think his confidence has really grown because of it, he doesn’t need his parents approval to make good decisions. 

So while this has been better for our marriage it has been rough on our relationship with his parents, but I think it will just take time to adjust. I know with the holidays coming up and a new baby on the way we won’t be doing their normal family traditions but starting some of our own. Hopefully it goes over well. 

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On 8/27/2017 at 11:20 AM, RoseRed135 said:

A British study claims that MIL/DIL conflict is the cause of the majority of estrangements in families (google "drama between wife, mother-in-law at the center of most family rifts" to find the article). Yet, though many IL conflicts discussed here are MIL/DIL, we've seen, it seems to me, an increasing number of DM/DD issues, etc. And very often, the GVR cases posted about here involve estranged parents/PILs/GPs and their DD/SIL.

How do you make sense of all this? Or do you?

I can believe it! Never thought I'd be in the same boat, but I am and I really don't know why this is the reality for so many people. I did not get along with my MIL and always thought once I had DIL's I would get along with them, no problem. Well, I really liked older son's ex wife, but I do not get along with younger son's wife at all, which has made me re-evaluate the whole issue.

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Welcome ConstanceS.  I understand what you mean about different relationship with different people.

My DIL has called me twice last night and again twice this morning already.  My DD called the middle of week before last and again on Saturday evening.  I try my best to treat them all with equal respect but some people just have different wishes than others.

It's hard to how to approach each individual and still try to be "fair" which has a different meaning to different folks.

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