How would you handle...

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Nomad, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    I saw an older post in which someone discussed their daughter marrying into an abusive-cultish family. This post involves my son and it’s not the same or as severe, but it made me ponder my situation. I have a three part question.

    Our son’s in law family is very jealous and competing, particularly with us. Lots of silliness and strangeness. The mom is particularly problematic and has gotten a bad rep. of being unhelpful, jealous and narcissistic. Interestingly, her two daughters go way out of their way to build up their mother’s reputation and make her out to be the greatest woman on earth. The mom is constantly worried that our mutual grandchildren will “like us best.” Sometimes odd things happen we think largely if not completely irelated to this competition and jealousy.

    Question 1: If we ask our son anything that might be related to odd behaviors of our in laws or their family he flies off the handle. He is normal, appropriate and even kind otherwise. But with this...he goes insane. Why? I suspect I can not and will not ever mention anything if this nature again.

    Some things are more concerning than others. For example...we were babysitting our grandson for a few days. The other GPs had him for the mornings. We would pick up around 12:15 and take him to lunch, watch him and return him when the parents came home from work. Our grand loves hamburgers.* When he is at our house, we have a few places we like to go. He always makes a big fuss over it and thanks us. So, we pick him up one day after the other GPs and say something like “Guess what...we’ve decided to go to your favorite burger (not really burger) place today!” He was quiet. Then he started whispering something and I couldn’t hear him. I asked him to speak up. Then he almost started to cry. He said he no longer liked hamburgers and wasn’t sure if he ever wanted them again.
    I asked if he was sure and he started whimpering like someone who had been abused.

    *for a little anonymity I changed the food item.its not hamburgers. It is a food kids love.

    By coincidence, our son called just then. I told him what just happened and said we were concerned. (We we’re actually freaked out). Son started to fly off the handle and I dropped it. A week later he told me he spoke with grandson about it and the boy said he just didn’t want hamburgers that particular day.

    But, the truth is many times grand tells us he would rather have one thing over another or one restaurant over another. He NEVER EVER cries, whispers, whimpers etc. He is very forthright. Not shy at all. in my humble opinion this was very suspicious and abnormal behavior.

    Found out later, the other grandpa had plans to make homemade hamburgers later in the week and invite them all over.

    We suspect the other grandparents somehow said something to cause the child GREAT anxiety re having this food with us

    Question 2:
    Is it plausible the other grands said something to cause him anxiety about this ?.
    I don’t think this is abuse may have been something subtle. As a side note...there was secrecy involved too as he never explained himself and could not/would not talk about it. How could hamburgers turn into such a stressful and weird thing?
    Question 3: Do you think just simply ignoring this craziness the best way to extinguish it?

    To make matters creepier, I am almost forbidden to discuss these oddities with my son. It’s been uncomfortable for me to be in the midst of such strange behaviors, and this goes double when it might involve my grandson and it must go unspoken. I doubly hate the secrecy. Why not just say “If it’s ok, please don’t go for hamburgers for a few days, because we are making some .”

    PS Today, the child once again loves “hamburgers”.

    I am slowly coming to terms with this “unusual” family. Please be patient with me. Thank you.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Your son is making clear to you that HE DOES NOT WANT TO BE IN THE MIDDLE. Your son and his wife are trying to make it work with two sets of in laws. He seems to go nuts when you complain or criticize this family.

    I would try the best I can NOT to go there with him. You risk alienating your daughter in law and maybe even your son. I would really, really try to keep my mouth shut no matter how bizarrely they act. You will be the loser, I fear.
    You have no control what so ever about the behavior of these people. And your son will blame you if you continue to make it an issue. He has made this clear. It could be affecting his relationship with his wife.

    While I commiserate with you very much, if such a thing happens again I would stay silent.
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    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  3. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I personally go out of my way to not get into anything, any drama with my grown kids and would never get into it with their in laws. Not directly or indirectly. I had a very contentious family of origin, learned that most little stuff isnt worth even addressing and am very easy going about people being odd. Maybe because I am a bit odd :)

    I definitely would not even blink about the hamburger. It wouldnt even bother me. If my kid wants the grand to be an all out vegan, which would limit where I could take him, I would just think that they are the parents and their decisions stand, no explanations from them necessary. I would and do just go along with things.

    Princess has a very odd SO, the father of my grand, and he comes up with some doozies but I am not willing to make trouble over the doozies so I just go along with whatever. They really arent harmful to me and my hub. This attitude allows us to all get along and be comfortable together. Plus we don't add drama to my daughter's life. She is in a long term committed relationship with a man who can be difficult and I am not going to cause her angst.

    In general I have no to little contact with my girls in laws. If one is jealous of us, I would just be pleasant and not sweat it. This angst is theirs to resolve. I dont get into it with my girls at all over their in laws and Jumpers future motjer in law rewrote the entire wedding to.add her entire family, including relatives both kids dont really know.

    To be fair, they are picking up the entire extra cost of having 250 at the wedding orher wise we would have to politely say no. But fortunately they are taking on the cost so its fine. On the good side of this, the folks love Jumper and the kids will collect a windfall having so many guests. And Jumper is a bit miffed but wants no trouble. I am not about to say a word. It is not my place. My place is to make sure my daughter has a wonderful time on her special day by being excited for her and agreeable to all.

    Nomad, I let most things go if they are potential problems and I dont complain to my kids. Thus I have a really good relationship with my kids. Honestly, even Bart.

    There are some things I really dont agree with regarding how my grands are being raised, but telling my kids what to do is no longer my place. I made my.own parental decisions and they can make there own. Grown kids dont like to have Mom causing drama and I really never have. I don't interfer.

    Everyone is different and you will get varying advice but I highly recommend letting the small things just not matter. If you can, detach from son's inlaws. They are part of his life but don't have to be yours. I dont know of any parents whp hang out a lot with their kids in laws. Cooperate with things loke grandkid drop offs, yes. Holiday together, no.

    You are sensitive and loving. Big hugs!!
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    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  4. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Our grandson seem to have this strange reaction immediately after a visit with the other grands.

    I actually agree about staying quiet. Our daughter in law pushes for all of us to do things together. But it usually ends up very weird. Of course I hope they (the other grands) don’t try to manipulate our grandson in any way. We never do.

    I won’t be sharing any of this or anything re in law family with our son or anyone in the family. No matter how strange.

    But, it is annoying as heck.
    Thank you for listening. and getting it off my chest is very helpful. :)
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  5. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    I guess you will just have to make small talk with them, the weather...compliment them on small stuff...then when grandson is in the car you can ask where he would like to eat, etc. then when dropping him off, just say you enjoyed your time with GS. Let him decide what he wants to share.

    For sure, ask his parents about specific activities and permission. But just try not to give the grandparents any ammunition.

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  6. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I sort of avoid uncomfortable situations. I am not telling you to do the same thing but while I would not interfer with choices anyone makes I do get to decide not to hang around with my daughters in laws. I am not one who is good at direct confrontation. I get tongue tied and say the wrong things and have started realizing that as I dont make my kids defend themselves or their other families or what they do, i dont have to defend myself either.

    I think I would cheerfully plan to be out of town for the holidays. I am very uncomfortable with people I dont know well, even if they are nice, and would avoid the group holiday thing. You can find ways to avoid it too. Sounds like its more trouble than its worth. Not telling you to actually do this, just reminding you that its an option.

    This family is causing you much angst that you don't need. They had holidays without you before you moved. They can do it now too. I do all I can for my kids and can do ALOT for the two who live right near me. But I would take care of me too. in my opinion your son has no business telling you who to spend your time with, and has no right to yell at you if you decide not to enmesh yourself wirh HIS inlaws. There are ways around it without causing blow ups.

    Have a peaceful, calm day.

    All is well.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Yes, it’s very annoying (think of work situations) when someone asks you to do something (my daughter in law in this case/ have group family events) and you try to help them out and oblige, but it ends up most peculiar, stressful , weird as heck and then you aren’t even allowed to ask what in the world is going on ? (Son). BUT, although I have made a decision to keep quiet and most things are no longer bothering me, it is harder (but I will) to let go the notion that they (other grands) might be at times manipulating our grandson and causing him stress. I do suspect that if they are doing this, the parents (our daughter in law and son) would not approve. They are kind, good parents. Our son (actually both) might take awhile to pick up on such a thing IF it is happening, but should it be happening, eventually they would see it and he would speak up. I absolutely will let it go myself. I have no choice.
    It’s all been an odd experience. Thank you for listening. :)
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  8. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    I think our adult kids can be weird at times too.

    We have three boys: Husband's who is 32 and engaged. Mine who is 31 and getting married July 27 and ours, he's 23 and the reason I'm here for those new to the board.

    Anyway my stepson's fiancee has only been around 2 years. They met, moved in together and got engaged. She is a year older than him, never married and a very strong woman. He is on the quiet side. Her name is Jen.

    They spent last Father's Day with HER family in Wisconsin (as they do ALL holidays) whatever! but he had a cookout for his dad/us during the week after Father's Day. Yes we were moving out of state soon so it would be our last one in Chicago for who knows how long. She also invited my son and his fiancee. Jen did not talk to any of us at all the entire time we were there. She was making her work lunch when we walked in and did not even look up or offer us a cold drink after an hour drive. He had done all the cooking as he is a trained chef. I was never so uncomfortable in my life or felt so unwelcome. My son's fiancee (Julia) later said the same thing. It was horrible. I felt sorry for my stepson also.

    A little background was that a dinner before that with the six of us at our home, my husband drank too much wine and was kind of an ass but not anything terrible. In fact I even asked my son and his fiancee if they were offended and they said no. My husband has a strong personality also.

    So I was very angry and confused after we left the cookout. We talked about it in the car and really had no idea what was going on. That following weekend JEN texted us saying they were near our house having martinis and did we want to join them. HUH WHAT??? We were just at the house and she was the rudest person I ever met. I was on my way to a wedding shower so husband responded no that I wasn't home blah blah.

    Long story short, next time she was back to normal and friendly. I left it alone. MY SON was like get over it, forget about it, one thing and you hold onto it forever!!!

    What I'm saying is that I could not believe how my son acted over me wondering what happened. So it goes under the rug and we'll never bring it up again I guess.

    Moral of story: you are not alone!
  9. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Having boys, Bart who had been married, and two girls i think the woman usually runs things and that the girl's family benefits. In our family both girls, especially Jumper, are in control and her hub to be kind of goes along with her. Princess is less in charge but when it comes to us and holidays she is definitely the final say. Barts ex ruled the roost and we rarely saw out Grandson. Bart is sorry now but in most areas Bart let her make decisions.

    It is unfair to the male's parents and I am sure there are some couples that are different but this to me seems to be a common.pattern....the man does not want to upset the woman. They are in my opinion more apt to side with the wife if the parents jump in.

    Jumper on the other hand has very vocally told us and I am sure Hunter has heard that she would never.marry a man who isnt nice to her family. He is a good guy anyway but she spelled it out. And she is good to his family but we are never left out. This is the same with Princess. Princess actually doesnt like her mother in law and there is drama there because her son is mad at her often too.

    I think there are gender differences in who makes marital decisions. I love my boys to death but I really prefer girls now that the kids are grown. I feel it is easier to hang out with daughters, do girl things etc. than to hang with the boys, not that I dont enjoy Sonic a lot and Bart when he is in a calm mood. Just that I have more in common with the girls.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  10. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    I’ve heard of this before. I guess since my daughter in law is pleasant and we get along fairly well, I didn’t see this coming. But when we all moved to the same area...yikes! She is still nice...BUT ...she is overly enmeshed with her folks and disturbingly protective. My son, interestingly did speak up about some very strange oddities that negatively influenced him. But, oddities that influence us...he would rather we didn’t mention.
    Yes, my friends who have grown daughters (assuming we are talking about healthy kids) seem to have it a little easier, especially after those daughter’s marry. Moving was difficult all around. Missing old friends. Finding new doctors. Unexpected expenses. BUT...I did not see this WEIRDNESS coming. And, it’s another thing not easily discussed with just anybody and I’m not free to discuss with my son at all. Thank you guys. :)
  11. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Discuss away

    I think it comes down to men not wanting drama or crying wives. Also with grands although it isnt fair that this matters, the woman gives birth or initiates adoption and often breastfeeds and becomes primary caregiver even if she works, so she takes charge of who sees the kids, where the family gathers, what the rules are ...etc. Many if not most men find they have a back seat. Or willingly take a back seat. Until recently divorce court almost always gave primary custody to women. This is finally changing to 50/50. Many men dont even know of new laws.

    For now, in relationships, in my opinion women are more apt to be in charge of the kids, like in the old days. The men do the yardwork more and bring home often more $$$ and the woman is still more apt to take care of the children and inside of the house. And I do think this often benefits the parents on the woman's side.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  12. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    You have heard that old saying: a son is a son till he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for all of her life, right?

    There is a reason for that saying—it’s the truth.
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  13. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    I would handle the situation by staying totally out of it. You can’t win.
  14. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and making me understand I’m not alone.

    True. I can’t win. I will stay out of it. Wise.

    We have found that young people sometimes sort of engage in a sort of “test the waters “ behavior after doing something that might be inappropriate.

    Back to the crux of is not easy being the parents of married children...but it seems parents of the husband tend to get a bit short changed.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  15. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Here's my 2 cents. Focus only on your grandchildren.

    I suspect you are correct that there may be some jealousy going on with the other grandparents. That's very sad for them but it's their problem. I would not discuss any of it with your son or daughter in law.

    Be the very best grandparents you can be. Do the things you love to do. Go eat those "hamburgers" and if your grandson ever says he no longer likes hamburgers, be gently with him. Tell him something like "I'm sorry to hear that because I know how much you loved them in the past. We can eat something else but if you ever want "hamburgers" again just tell me and we will go."
    It very well may be that the other grandparents are telling him things but you will never know for sure and it really doesn't matter.
    As long as you make the time you spend with your grandson as special as you can, he will hold onto that as he grows. If he feels safe and loved with you, he will hold onto that as he grows and as he grows he will come to realize some truths on his own.

    I always find it sad when grandparents become jealous over other grandparents. They are thinking of themselves and not the child. The more love a child can have the better.
    My grands live 2000 miles away and my former daughter in law is remarried to a wonderful man. His parents have accepted the kids as their grandchildren and I couldn't be happier. My grands see them more than they see me and that's okay. They are truly loved and that's all that matters.
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