Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christine's Christmas Complaint

Dear Babs

I know this has been said before but I have thought long and hard before writing to you. However, I am at the end of my tether so my feeling is even if you can't help I'll have got it off my chest. The thing is I don't get on with my daughter in law. My husband thinks she's ok but that appears to be based upon the fact that she keeps the house clean and looks after their two children. I on the other hand think they are unsuited and sooner or later there will be trouble. My son is very quiet but my daughter in law is very vocal. My son had several girl friends before he met his wife but they seemed to start off strong and fizzle out. With his wife he met her and they were married within a year. I have tried to make her one of the family but just she seems to think I'm interfering and once or twice she has been quite irritable and I think rude! I've tried to talk to my son about my feelings but he changes the subject and my husband keeps telling me to back off and things will work out. I really wanted to see them on Christmas Day but my son said they wanted to spend the day on there own but said we welcome on Boxing Day. This is just not how I envisaged things would be. I expected that we would all be together. I am heartbroken at the thought of not seeing my grandsons on Christmas morning. Do you think I should accept things as they are or should I speak out? 

Dear Christine

My immediate thought was whether you feel as if you've tried to make your daughter in law part of the family or not, it sounds as if you've unwittingly gone to war and you're on the losing side? I am sorry you're unhappy but it sounds as if you could get a lot unhappier. My advice would be to listen to your husband and back off. Your son's relationship is his and not yours and the life they live is their choice. It's OK to be concerned but if you get over involved I fear matters will get worse. If you are to play a bigger part in their lives then you need to make friends with your daughter in law and not antagonise her. 

I do empathise with you. I think one of the most difficult things women have to deal with is letting go of their offspring and ceasing to know best. However, I feel you must let go if you wish to retain or improve your relationship with the couple. I don't doubt that you have acted with the best intentions but clearly something has gone awry. I'm not sure now is the best time to speak out. Perhaps if you visit on Boxing Day and do your best to be a good guest and show your enjoyment and appreciation then that would start to pave the way to a better relationship and more invitations? Perhaps in the New Year you could suggest to your daughter in law that you and she could spend some time together. Perhaps by letting go of your son a little and attaching more to her you could become friends. After all you have something in common - you both love the same man.

I do realise that this is a complex situation. There are four of you all with different responses and I'm sure you're all trying to do your best. What is one person's helping is another's interfering. the only way to find out is by asking? I think sometimes it's politic to sacrifice being right for the greater good. In my opinion this is one of those occasions.


  1. This is always a sticky subject and I've had to bite my tongue many a time, but the reason I do this is because my in-laws interfered with my marriage and I hated it!
    So I bit my tongue and even when a marriage went wrong I stood back and was there for a shoulder to cry on from either side, I have a few ex-daughter in laws but because I didn't take sides (my sons are no angels) I have the opportunity to see the grandchildren and share time with them.
    Stand back and let them make their own mistakes and that way you will always be able to share in your grandchildren's lives.

  2. It's always heartening to hear of someone learning from their experience. Thanks Pat for your input. I do hope Christine feels encouraged that she too can have a good enough relationship with her daughter in law.

  3. I have a step daughter who I have found difficult to get along with over the years. She has chosen not to be part of the family and I haven't always agreed with the way she has treated her dad (my hubby) but have held my tongue - after all she is still his daughter. As the years have gone on I have been able to accept that she is like she is and to go with the flow. People come in all shapes and sizes and everyone is very different. But it's a true saying you can pick your friends but you can't pick your family - so what you have to do is make the best of it.

  4. I feel so bad for both sides of this. I've been on both sides. I remember wanting that "just our family" Christmas. I wanted to cook, celebrate and start our own rituals. It's really hard to let go as my own children do the same. I now know how my mom felt. I learned something truly valuable from her though, I keep my mouth shut. Hard and I mean HARD. Good luck Christine!

  5. thank you for your input Suzie as usual it smacks of self awareness and veracity :)

  6. I don't think it sounds too bad. OK so you're not there Christmas Day, but you're invited on Boxing Day. Treat it as a fresh start: offer help when she's under pressure in the kitchen but don't criticise: keep the grandchildren amused and try to keep the atmosphere light and jolly. Maybe next year she will invite you for the big day. If not, find some friends and have a fab knees up at a hotel.