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RoseRed135

S/O of "Defining Toxic": How is it done?

45 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

In "Defining Toxic," I suggested to Tricia that she might need to cut MIL out of her life, though DH, of course, could continue a relationship w/ her. (While I usually prefer LC or VLC to COs, in this case, I'm not sure merely lowering contact would help). But thinking about it some more, I'm wondering, how does anyone do that? Even if you (general) only wish to remove MIL (or FIL) from your own life and not your spouse's, it would mean, I surmise, that MIL can't come to your home anymore or that you would have to leave if she were coming. How do you tell your DH (or DW), "Your mother can't come here ever again" or "You can have your mother over, but I won't be here?"

How do you say these things to DH w/o hurting him deeply and perhaps causing a rift in your marriage? I can't imagine having ever said that to DH about his mom (granted, his mom was never as disrespectful and abusive to me as Tricia's MIL has been to her)! But I know some people do, and often successfully. How is it done?

Thoughts? Experiences? Observations?

Edited by RoseRed135

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I went VVLC with my IL's a couple years ago, and it can be done.   I think what is most important is getting honest with your DH as to the whys even if it is difficult for him to hear.  It was difficult for me to experience his parents for the many years I was involved with them, so we share in that.   Then I think it is important to come to an agreement with your DH on boundaries going forward Re: whether MIL will be invited over again or whether going forward DH will visit with her in a restaurant or in her home, etc.   I think it is normal for things to be awkward at first, while these new boundaries are in place.  I think that is a sign that change is underway so acknowledge these feelings and know they will pass.   I do check in from time to time with DH about my VVLC state with my IL's as through the passage of time, I get more perspective and can see more clearly what happened with my failed IL relations.   DH understands and supports my decision and in the end that along with peace of mind is what is important. 

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In our situation, my indefinite break works because I work a lot of weekends which allows DH to see her without me around and without me being forced to leave the house. DH isn't thrilled I said no to him taking the kids to her home without me but understands why I said it (it has nothing to do with MIL). 

I know my DH is hurt by the fact that things are strained between me and MIL, but it is what it is. He's accepted it for now, and hasn't pushed about seeing her anytime soon and hopefully that continues for a good long time.

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12 hours ago, BSW said:

most important is getting honest with your DH as to the whys even if it is difficult for him to hear.  It was difficult for me to experience his parents for the many years I was involved with them, so we share in that.  

I agree. I've always told my husband what I think about everything. Many time to his early morning distress, he likes quiet  ;)

I can't imagine not saying, in a nice way, what I want, need, care about on any topic - my husband's tiny nutty family included. He does the same. I may not wanna hear that my mom lacked judgement in her adoration of my ridiculous, or my dad was pushy, but I'm a big girl - I can certainly listen with my heart and ears and my husband can too.

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Open a new book about your life and begin reading the same page.

Anonymous poster hash: e4647...4ab

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On 8/31/2017 at 11:04 AM, BSW said:

I went VVLC with my IL's a couple years ago, and it can be done.   I think what is most important is getting honest with your DH as to the whys even if it is difficult for him to hear.  It was difficult for me to experience his parents for the many years I was involved with them, so we share in that.   Then I think it is important to come to an agreement with your DH on boundaries going forward Re: whether MIL will be invited over again or whether going forward DH will visit with her in a restaurant or in her home, etc.   I think it is normal for things to be awkward at first, while these new boundaries are in place.  I think that is a sign that change is underway so acknowledge these feelings and know they will pass.   I do check in from time to time with DH about my VVLC state with my IL's as through the passage of time, I get more perspective and can see more clearly what happened with my failed IL relations.   DH understands and supports my decision and in the end that along with peace of mind is what is important. 

I hope you are right and that it can be done. Our DIL told DS a couple of years ago that she "has nothing in common" with DH and myself. I was sad to hear she felt that way, but she has made her distaste for us very clear and we all now accept it. To say she is not good at dissembling around us is an understatement, and I guess being very clear has its own virtues.  It was obvious before they were married four years ago that she didn't much like spending time with us. We recognize she has good qualities that endear her to DS and don't criticize her, we try to be complimentary about her without being obviously insincere and I think he appreciates it. I feel badly because I know it has caused stress for DS, but he loves us and makes sure we don't feel left out of his life. She travels out of state fairly often, which has made it easy for us to see him regularly. The new element is their new baby, less than a month old and adorable, and DIL will probably be staying closer to home. So we will see how that goes. My hope is that we can continue to have a close relationship with DS and recognize that as unwelcome paternal grandparents in the eyes of DIL, our access to the baby will likely be limited, and that will have to be okay. She is very close to her parents, and I understand that as the mother she gets the say in what happens, which I feel pretty certain DS agrees, so (fingers crossed) it will be okay. 

So both your husband and my son are in the difficult "man in the middle" role. I'd be curious about  advice you have for MILs about making that position as easy as possible for these guys. We don't criticize her, we don't offer advice, but I know he still feels sad about this and would like it to change. But I think he is recognizing she is not going to be able to relax around us in the foreseeable future.

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23 minutes ago, JuliaArmstrong said:

I hope you are right and that it can be done. Our DIL told DS a couple of years ago that she "has nothing in common" with DH and myself. I was sad to hear she felt that way, but she has made her distaste for us very clear and we all now accept it. To say she is not good at dissembling around us is an understatement, and I guess being very clear has its own virtues.  It was obvious before they were married four years ago that she didn't much like spending time with us. We recognize she has good qualities that endear her to DS and don't criticize her, we try to be complimentary about her without being obviously insincere and I think he appreciates it. I feel badly because I know it has caused stress for DS, but he loves us and makes sure we don't feel left out of his life. She travels out of state fairly often, which has made it easy for us to see him regularly. The new element is their new baby, less than a month old and adorable, and DIL will probably be staying closer to home. So we will see how that goes. My hope is that we can continue to have a close relationship with DS and recognize that as unwelcome paternal grandparents in the eyes of DIL, our access to the baby will likely be limited, and that will have to be okay. She is very close to her parents, and I understand that as the mother she gets the say in what happens, which I feel pretty certain DS agrees, so (fingers crossed) it will be okay. 

So both your husband and my son are in the difficult "man in the middle" role. I'd be curious about  advice you have for MILs about making that position as easy as possible for these guys. We don't criticize her, we don't offer advice, but I know he still feels sad about this and would like it to change. But I think he is recognizing she is not going to be able to relax around us in the foreseeable future.

Honestly, I think you're doing what you can. You're pleasant, cordial, respectful. That's really all you can do.

I'm sorry that things haven't worked out better, but I think you've done your part.

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@JuliaArmstrong - I liked your post in spite of the unfortunate situation b/c, like Imp, I think "you're doing what you can." IMO, it's very wise and reasonable of you to accept the situation as it is and continue to be pleasant and polite, etc. I also think it's wise of you to recognize that your time w/ your new GS will probably be limited. And that you chose to seek suggestions here.

In one of your other posts, I see that you've had the chance to be w/ GS and his parents and even to hold him. Maybe this will continue. If not, then, going forward, I imagine DS will bring GS to you, occasionally, w/o DIL present. I certainly hope so, and I trust you'll accept the fact that she doesn't join you. I'm so very sorry things haven't worked out better, but I hope you continue to make the best of it. If you greet GS joyfully whenever you see them and focus on enjoying your time w/ them and DS, perhaps DS' feelings about the situation will ease. IDK, of course.

Best wishes! :)

Edited by RoseRed135

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As I've read over these comments, I feel I am in a similar situation, although I am not CO or TO from my ILs, our relationship is more limited than I think it could be.  @JuliaArmstrong I know there are definitely people who just don't get along in this world, I've met a few in my life, my ILs are not on that list, but I also wouldn't want to force a fake relationship if that's how I felt about them.  Maybe over time, you can find some common ground with DIL, through GS possibly, and your relationship can shift to more involved, being a mom may soften her a bit to her DH family.  I think your current approach of being respectful and pleasant as Impsih said is the best you can do in the unfortunate situation.  I hope regardless of your relationship with DIL, you are able to enjoy DS and GS. 

As @rosered135 originally posted, "how do you say these things to DH w/o hurting him deeply?" my thoughts are that it should come as no surprise to DH if DW is ready to cut his mother off.  As long as this position is taken as a last resort, there has to have been some discussion of ongoing issues between the MIL/DIL over time.    Again, I am no where near the need to C/O or T/O with my ILs but DH and I do have ongoing conversations about their disrespectful behavior and how we can approach the situation to try and resolve the issues as they arise.  If we ever got to that point, I think DH would understand the need for the space as we have tried to resolve the issues to no avail. 

The advice I would give to GP or ILs is to take a step back and see if there is anything you're doing that could be interpreted as disrespectful, or crossing boundaries, or anything at all that could be contributing to the unsettled relationship.  Maybe its not something readily apparent to you, but it could be a major issue to DIL.  In my situation with ILs, they assert their wants over ours.  For instance, they come to town to visit, (we live 2 hrs south) we ask they show up after 9am, they come at 8 and laugh about our request.  They are in town for a visit, we have overnight guests and they ask to do breakfast.  We oblige, agree to meet them at the restaurant, and they show up at the house while houseguests are still sleeping in guest room on main floor (8:30 am so its not unreasonably late).  We invite them down for ball game of DS and lunch, they announce they're staying the night (Valentine's day weekend, we had plans), and expect the rest of our day/evening, and time the next morning.  Because of this repetitive behavior that DH has tried to address in a suggestive manner (the way his family handles things), and they have not adjusted their approach, DH is far less likely to include them in events or invite them for a visit.   

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12 hours ago, JuliaArmstrong said:

I hope you are right and that it can be done. Our DIL told DS a couple of years ago that she "has nothing in common" with DH and myself. I was sad to hear she felt that way, but she has made her distaste for us very clear and we all now accept it. To say she is not good at dissembling around us is an understatement, and I guess being very clear has its own virtues.  It was obvious before they were married four years ago that she didn't much like spending time with us. We recognize she has good qualities that endear her to DS and don't criticize her, we try to be complimentary about her without being obviously insincere and I think he appreciates it. I feel badly because I know it has caused stress for DS, but he loves us and makes sure we don't feel left out of his life. She travels out of state fairly often, which has made it easy for us to see him regularly. The new element is their new baby, less than a month old and adorable, and DIL will probably be staying closer to home. So we will see how that goes. My hope is that we can continue to have a close relationship with DS and recognize that as unwelcome paternal grandparents in the eyes of DIL, our access to the baby will likely be limited, and that will have to be okay. She is very close to her parents, and I understand that as the mother she gets the say in what happens, which I feel pretty certain DS agrees, so (fingers crossed) it will be okay. 

So both your husband and my son are in the difficult "man in the middle" role. I'd be curious about  advice you have for MILs about making that position as easy as possible for these guys. We don't criticize her, we don't offer advice, but I know he still feels sad about this and would like it to change. But I think he is recognizing she is not going to be able to relax around us in the foreseeable future.

At least you had the time to realize what your relationship with your DIL would be before they had children. You are right and there isn't anything more than what you are already doing within your power. As to how much you see your grandchild, that's up to DS to work out and it would be reasonable to expect that to be limited, especially at first. At least that's how it was for me. However as the child grows older and you continue to be positive and loving towards the couple and make the most of the visits you do get with your grandbaby, then maybe your DIL will see her own DS or DD loving you and soften a bit towards you. Also something I have experienced. You may not get any more time with them but the time you get may become more relaxed. Maybe your DS and DIL will even work out some arrangement between themselves over time that DS brings the children to visit you between the family visits. Take the long view and accept the sadness that comes from such a situation but don't let it ruin what you do have. It sounds to me like you have already figured that out.

Edited by missmm
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12 hours ago, JuliaArmstrong said:

.....Our DIL told DS a couple of years ago that she "has nothing in common" with DH and myself..... I guess being very clear has its own virtues.  It was obvious before they were married four years ago that she didn't much like spending time with us. We recognize she has good qualities that endear her to DS and don't criticize her... I think many people wouldn't choose their dil or mil or fil for a friend. We wouldn't choose our dils, but they are perfect in our sons' eyes - who are we to get in a fuss? My pils certainly wouldn't have selected me, they wanted their son in the Priesthood - not married to someone they had nothing in common with. We did have in common that we are all wildly in love with the same man, and it all worked fine, because of that fact.

She travels out of state fairly often, which has made it easy for us to see him regularly. Wonderful. We see our sons and daughter (the one who has a spouse) often sans spouses as well, no problem with that, is there?

The new element is their new baby, less than a month old and adorable, and DIL will probably be staying closer to home. So we will see how that goes. My hope is that we can continue to have a close relationship with DS and recognize that as unwelcome paternal grandparents in the eyes of DIL, our access to the baby will likely be limited, and that will have to be okay. This seems to be a bit melodramatic, you have met the baby, held the baby and fed the baby - in less than a month since birth. We always meet our GC in the hospital and then our kids do exactly as we did years ago, hunkered down with their babies, alone, at home, integrating the new family member and enjoying/recovering. Can you articulate what more you want? I'd say be happy, all things baby sound good. Don't worry without something to worry about.

 

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13 hours ago, JuliaArmstrong said:

So both your husband and my son are in the difficult "man in the middle" role. I'd be curious about  advice you have for MILs about making that position as easy as possible for these guys. We don't criticize her, we don't offer advice, but I know he still feels sad about this and would like it to change. But I think he is recognizing she is not going to be able to relax around us in the foreseeable future.

I think you are doing fine under the circumstances.  Your DIL's estrangement happened early on, which is different than my situation as I did it 20 years into my marriage.  Also, you did not have a long history of meddling and fighting for your son's loyalty and you haven't said nasty things about your DIL or your DS/DIL's' marriage/parenting which is different than my situation.  You also appear to be mentally well with a good emotional/social IQ. 

You have a DS who loves you and wants to spend time with you, which is what I would focus on.  That it didn't work out with your DIL is unfortunate, but I don't think this is unique.  This happens a lot with IL relations.  Already it is such a tenuous relationship with no foundation, and I don't think it takes much for it to not work out or for a person to need distance, etc.   I think the lucky ones are those who build loving, respectful relationship with their IL's.  

I disagree with your statement that only a mom has a say in what happens to a baby.  Certainly if mom is breastfeeding, the baby needs to be near her.  But, dads have their say too - at least that was my experience with my DH.  I think you have such a good foundation with your DS that it will lend itself to the GK actively being in your life and from there a foundation can be built with your GK.  I would take each day as it comes, practice patience especially right now when DS/DIL are in the throws of new parenthood and all the change that happens with that; and appreciate the people who are in your life like your DS.   You are blessed to have such a loving son!

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22 hours ago, JuliaArmstrong said:

I hope you are right and that it can be done. Our DIL told DS a couple of years ago that she "has nothing in common" with DH and myself. I was sad to hear she felt that way, but she has made her distaste for us very clear and we all now accept it. To say she is not good at dissembling around us is an understatement, and I guess being very clear has its own virtues.  It was obvious before they were married four years ago that she didn't much like spending time with us. We recognize she has good qualities that endear her to DS and don't criticize her, we try to be complimentary about her without being obviously insincere and I think he appreciates it. I feel badly because I know it has caused stress for DS, but he loves us and makes sure we don't feel left out of his life. She travels out of state fairly often, which has made it easy for us to see him regularly. The new element is their new baby, less than a month old and adorable, and DIL will probably be staying closer to home. So we will see how that goes. My hope is that we can continue to have a close relationship with DS and recognize that as unwelcome paternal grandparents in the eyes of DIL, our access to the baby will likely be limited, and that will have to be okay. She is very close to her parents, and I understand that as the mother she gets the say in what happens, which I feel pretty certain DS agrees, so (fingers crossed) it will be okay. 

So both your husband and my son are in the difficult "man in the middle" role. I'd be curious about  advice you have for MILs about making that position as easy as possible for these guys. We don't criticize her, we don't offer advice, but I know he still feels sad about this and would like it to change. But I think he is recognizing she is not going to be able to relax around us in the foreseeable future.

My life would probably be a lot easier if my MIL would've taken the approach you did. I don't think there's anything else you can do, and I think you've handled it as well as you can.

I always caution people though from approaching a new grandchild with the attitude of "we're the PGPs so we're going to get slighted" because you're going to start seeing slight in every little thing, even where there is none. I had no intention of excluding my own MIL when my oldest was born, but that attitude is what started making me step back from her a bit. No amount of reassurance and accommodating her ever made her happy, and I gave up trying. Long story, and several years later I'm taking and indefinite TO from her.  

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8 hours ago, BSW said:

I disagree with your statement that only a mom has a say in what happens to a baby.  Certainly if mom is breastfeeding, the baby needs to be near her.  But, dads have their say too - at least that was my experience with my DH.  

ITA. 

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On 9/20/2017 at 9:03 PM, NewMama said:

My life would probably be a lot easier if my MIL would've taken the approach you did. I don't think there's anything else you can do, and I think you've handled it as well as you can.

I always caution people though from approaching a new grandchild with the attitude of "we're the PGPs so we're going to get slighted" because you're going to start seeing slight in every little thing, even where there is none. I had no intention of excluding my own MIL when my oldest was born, but that attitude is what started making me step back from her a bit. No amount of reassurance and accommodating her ever made her happy, and I gave up trying. Long story, and several years later I'm taking and indefinite TO from her.  

The bolded can also lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, IMO

However, I think Julia's attitude regarding GS is based on more than just the fact that she and DH are the PGPs. It's also, it seems to me, a by-product of how DIL has acted towards them over time. She "doesn't much like spending time with (them),", so it's doubtful that she'll want to spend any more time w/ them now that GS is here. I don't see any reason to think they'd be CO from GS. But chances are, they won't see him as much as they'd like, unless DS and DIL can work something out where DS brings GS to his parents fairly regularly.

Then again, Julia, as a PP said, being a mom  may soften DIL's heart towards you and DH. :)

Edited by RoseRed135
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10 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

....(DIL) "doesn't much like spending time with (them),", so it's doubtful that she'll want to spend any more time w/ them now that GS is here. I don't see any reason to think they'd be CO from GS. But chances are, they won't see him as much as they'd like, unless DS and DIL can work something out where DS brings GS to his parents fairly regularly.

  Seems to me, whether cil tolerates the ils or not, the burden of visits falls on the ac. Beings Julia's son gets along with her, he'll visit Julia with gs as much as under any other circumstance, in my opinion and experience.

ETA: maybe the real problem is deciding to accept seeing GS as much as his dad brings him round, because it's a gift of time and one doesn't get to demand a certain amount of time. We have no problem accepting what our kids give, but I guess that's in how one was raised/modeled? Mom and MIL happily accepted our time-gifts.

Edited by JanelleK
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Part of the original question was..."You can have your mother over, but I won't be here?"

I used plain English..."Sure, I'll cook Thanksgiving dinner, what would you like?   ...BUT...   when you leave to go get your mother I will be leaving 30 minutes later and come home when you take her back."  The kids said they would be right behind me.

I did cook Thanksgiving dinner for the four of us, His mother was never invited after all...no buffer?  Who knows.

Personally, I think it can be done if you've stood by what you've said in the past and are believed, but I don't suggest hollow threats.

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6 hours ago, JanelleK said:

ETA: maybe the real problem is deciding to accept seeing GS as much as his dad brings him round, because it's a gift of time and one doesn't get to demand a certain amount of time. We have no problem accepting what our kids give, but I guess that's in how one was raised/modeled? Mom and MIL happily accepted our time-gifts.

I often wonder if this is part of the problem or maybe what people's thought processes are with this. We initially made a genuine, good faith effort to visit MIL and include her. But it wasn't the amount she wanted and that's all we heard about. So I stepped back, and DH does make a genuine effort to make time for her, but it's still not the amount she wants. But it's less than when I was in on it too. Giving up my weekends off with my family to see her, to only hear for hours about how we don't see her made me crazy. 

I wish I saw my niece and nephew more, I love them to bits. But I believe my DB and SIL make an effort in the relationship, so I am just happy when I see them instead of focusing on the "I wish I could see them more" part. Why sink the relationship when we're all trying? 

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Maybe the ILs don't see the trying part. 

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4 hours ago, skipped said:

Maybe the ILs don't see the trying part. 

So, what would you suggest as the solution?

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2 minutes ago, ImpishMom said:

So, what would you suggest as the solution?

Communication seems to be my answer. Why would someone feel left out?  Does a DIL/ son honestly analyze what it is THEY are doing that would make their ILs think they are not trying?  That seems to be the response of DILs on this site when a MIL states  her DIL/son have problems with them.    Just how much effort are you HONESTLY putting into this relationship.  Normal people have feelings like this for a reason. 

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And what if the effort is genuine, and it's still not enough? I saw my DH in tears more than once because he felt stretched to the limit with work and having a family and maintaining a household, and my MIL was guilting him incessantly about not seeing us enough. He literally felt like he had not one spare minute left to give and he was trying his hardest to see her. And then was made to feel awful about how hard he was trying. 

My MIL is not local to us, and her expectation was that we see her like she lived around the corner. Not remotely realistic. So, at the time, we were trying as hard as we could. But she's a bottomless pit of neediness so nothing will ever be enough. 

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17 minutes ago, skipped said:

Communication seems to be my answer. Why would someone feel left out?  Does a DIL/ son honestly analyze what it is THEY are doing that would make their ILs think they are not trying?  That seems to be the response of DILs on this site when a MIL states  her DIL/son have problems with them.    Just how much effort are you HONESTLY putting into this relationship.  Normal people have feelings like this for a reason. 

Seems to me, if you're seeing anyone at all, then they're trying. It may not be the frequency you'd prefer, but it's still trying, b/c if they weren't, you wouldn't see/hear from them at all.

So, is that what needs to be said? "Mom and Dad, we've visited. We've invited you over. That's us making an effort to have a relationship with you."

The problem is, some folks, good folks, want more than others are able to happily give. For example, if folks think a weekly visit is appropriate, are they stepping back and seeing the big picture? Work, house chores, school schedules, baby schedules, life...and if both sets (sometimes more than two, in cases of divorce and remarriage) expect the same once a week visit, that's pretty much impossible to accomplish. And even at once a month, if you're dealing w/4 sets of grandparents, that's 50% of the weekends. I don't know many families that could manage that, especially if both parents are working.

Sometimes folks get caught up in what they want that they forget to look at what the other party's needs are...and that there's usually more than just two parties involved in any equation when it comes to extended family stuff.

Edited by ImpishMom
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21 minutes ago, ImpishMom said:

Sometimes folks get caught up in what they want that they forget to look at what the other party's needs are.

I went thru this when DH was ill..My mom kept trying to guilt me into seeing after her more, didn't matter she lived 7 hours away and her AH was just that, a jackhat who did every thing he could to make any communication miserable. "well, I saw to an aging parent"...yes, she did, my GM lived 20 minutes away, DM didn't work and DF was still living, healthy and working...I was working, managing DH's care (at his request), dealing with GK births (the #3 was born with a congenital heart defect, first surgery at 5 days)...yet I was supposed to drop everything and see to her...really? No wonder I went on VLC....

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20 minutes ago, Mame925 said:

I went thru this when DH was ill..My mom kept trying to guilt me into seeing after her more, didn't matter she lived 7 hours away and her AH was just that, a jackhat who did every thing he could to make any communication miserable. "well, I saw to an aging parent"...yes, she did, my GM lived 20 minutes away, DM didn't work and DF was still living, healthy and working...I was working, managing DH's care (at his request), dealing with GK births (the #3 was born with a congenital heart defect, first surgery at 5 days)...yet I was supposed to drop everything and see to her...really? No wonder I went on VLC....

I think, sometimes, we all get blinded by our own experiences.

"Well, I had four kids, and I...."

But the other person isn't you. Their children aren't yours. Their spouse (if applicable) isn't yours. Their job, their house, their life, their priorities, their decisions, aren't yours. Looking back on how you did something 20, 30, 40 years ago is a completely unrealistic comparison. One, memory fades. The day to day grind of raising kids fades, and with it, the intensity of all the different stressors that go with it. (ETA: that's not to say that once kids are grown and flown you're done w/stress. It's simply different) Two, it's a different world, in many ways now. When I was a kid, it was still considered safe for kids to roam at will. Now, you can be reported for kids playing alone in their own yard (read a news story on that one). Many things have changed, some good, some bad.

I wonder if that's not one of the pieces of the puzzle, when it comes to extended family/inlaws. Folks applying their expectations based on what they/their FOO did, and not considering that the other party is dealing with a completely different *everything* than them.

 

Edited by ImpishMom
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