M Son and Daughter-inlaw Always Puts Her Family First for Holidays.

Updated on March 14, 2017
M.F. asks from Bradenton, FL
24 answers

my sons and daughter in laws always puts their the girls family first for Holidays, this really upsets me. they do not seem to care. the girls families do not have any extra money to help out when needed so the boys always come to us. it seems to be the only time we see them is when they need something from us, money, help, cars ect. I have suggested alternating holidays but this seems to be a no, no with the girls. it seems so unfair to me, that during these special times, it really hurts my feelings even through I try to not let it. I don not think this will ever change

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answers from Boston on

When you them to the next Christmas dinner tell them that their envelopes will be given to them after you all enjoy the delicious dinner. Do not tell them, but if they don't come to dinner, no envelopes. Tough but it gets you what you want.

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answers from Dallas on

How many sons and DIL's do you have? Seems weird that they would ALL avoid you during the holidays. What type of relationship did you have with your sons as you raised them? Do they have children? Do you have a relationship with grandchildren? What is the travel distance between you and DIL families? Have you communicated with your sons and DIL's about your concern?

I do believe in most cases, a DIL's family is the one favored. Personally, I did not know my in-laws and there was never a relationship. I met my FIL just before he died and never met MIL. We don't have close relationships with siblings and their families as well.

We both had drama mama mama's and we chose NOT to live with the drama. Therefore, we moved a plane ticket away from everyone and raised our daughter ourselves. My mom wanted me to come for every holiday but when I had my daughter, I wanted to establish MY family traditions, etc I know that sounds harsh but our parents brought that on themselves.

They will no know your feelings are hurt and you feel used unless you communicate with them.

If my child's only contact with me was to get money, benefits, etc then I would stop being the back up bank..... ESPECIALLY if I did not get to have a relationship with my grandchildren. You are being used and only you can stop people from using you.

I am sorry you are hurt but look within yourself to see if there may be something you can do yourself to establish a better relationship with the DIL's. Get counseling if you have to so that you can enjoy your children as they grow older and have their own families.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I only have one married child but I try to figure out the holidays around her schedule with her in laws. They choose to have the holidays here. It isn't because her mother in law is awful, frankly I think she is nicer than I am. It is just she has four sons and they are all over this country. Rather than make it a struggle she has her holiday either before or after the real holiday because that way she has all her sons and their families there every time.

I suppose this works because as parents we put having all our kids with us to celebrate above some date. My husband is one of three brothers, guess what, his family is the same. We usually go up there the week before and only hit the big family holidays.

So you can keep getting your nose out of joint or just work around their schedule and actually spend time with your sons.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Two thoughts:
1) You don't have to step up when they ask for money. If you feel used, say, "I'm sorry; I can't help out right now." That should be the end of it. They shouldn't push & you don't need to say you feel used. You can just stop doing the things that leave you feeling used. You have that right. We all do. No one needs to justify that.

2) This reads like it's a problem with more than one son. If so, the issue is with your sons, not your daughters-in-law. It may help if you start seeing it that way. If your sons try to say it's their wives....well, personally I'd still be wary if all of my sons told me this. Either they all chose the same kind of woman for a reason (maybe they chose someone like me and it's not a great thing for me) or they've all learned to shrug responsibility off to someone else to avoid direct communication. Regardless, your sons should make decisions about holidays with their wives and they should take responsibility for communicating with you. They ought not tell you the decision about where to spend holidays is their wives. They are grown ups. If their wives are entrenched, they need to take that on (and leave you out of it). If there's an issue with you, they need to take that on (and leave their wives out of it).

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Juggling multiple sets of families is hard. My mom graciously and expertly solved this when my 1st sibling married by declaring the Saturday 2 weeks before Christmas as our extended family's holiday. All the families gather at her house on that day and we celebrate just as if it's Christmas day with gifts, a big dinner, etc. It is fantastic because we all get to see each other and she totally eliminated any in-law holiday drama for all of us. It is a really wonderful gift that she had given to all her kids.

Instead of taking the situation personally, I hope you can understand that your kids feel caught in the middle, and I strongly urge you to make lemonade from lemons and do something similar to what my mom has done.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

I suggest you close the Bank of Mom. Not because of the holiday thing, but because grown up married people should not be in the habit of relying on others to cover their financial woes. Asking a parent for help once in an emergency situation is normal. Doing it repeatedly is not. You need to stop enabling them because as long as they have you as a fallback they will not pursue other options and reconsider some choices.

For whatever reason, your sons have decided to spend the holidays with their wives' families. You can try talking to your sons about it, but without knowing the reasons I can't offer any specific suggestions.

One thing I can tell you from my own experience with holidays is that we rarely see people on the actual date of a holiday. For example, if Christmas/Dec 25th falls on a Wednesday, we're probably going to see people on the weekend before or after. Sometimes it is hard to coordinate with siblings and such, so it can be a date even farther out, like mid-January. If you tend to put a lot of importance on the calendar date, try a more flexible approach. The date doesn't matter, only the results. :-)

When my mother-in-law retired, she moved quite far away from her old home and into a more remote area. She does not like to travel in the winter and doesn't host holidays. What she does is volunteer and/or attends community holiday dinners and gatherings in her area. If there is no compromising with your kids, consider creating all-new holiday traditions for your husband and yourself. Something enjoyable and fulfilling.

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answers from Portland on

Can relate to what the moms wrote below.

My husband and his mother have a strained relationship.

It may not be the case with you - but my MIL is in woe-is-me mode. The 'everyone uses me', 'no one shows me love or appreciation' mode. Is there a chance that could be you? Because we have no interest in spending holidays with them for that reason. It's negative. Especially now we have kids, we want our traditions and memories to be upbeat. So we either spend them on our own as a family, with friends or with my family.

We do see my husband's family over the holidays - usually the day before or after.

Some people try to alternate each year or different holidays. Sometimes with kids that can be a real pain. Are you willing to go there? (not sure where your family lives in relation to you). My mom was always flexible. She'd pack up and travel if she was invited, and she's 15 years older than my MIL. My mom got it was about us (her kids and grandkids) not so much about her. She didn't expect to be included - she was honored to be included. My MIL is the complete opposite.

I have no idea if that's the case with your sons and DIL's. Blaming DIL is not the way to go. My MIL did that and underneath it all, it was my husband who had no interest in the holidays with his side, I was the one who was more willing to.

I'd look at your relationship with them and what you have to offer. If they are using you for financial assistance, you can always say no. Take charge of what you can control - how you treat them and what you allow. Be warm and supportive but have boundaries.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

It's not easy to schedule holidays with everyone. My husband's sister used to live close to their parents and their brother, so we always went there for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My brother and his wife spend those days with her family. My parents have been wonderful about having Thanksgiving on the Saturday after and doing Christmas Eve. As the kids get older and busier it gets a little bit more complicated, but we try to find a time to get together.

It's time to broaden your concept of "holiday." You can't get locked into Christmas Day or Easter morning. The priority needs to be simply finding a time to get together so you can celebrate with everyone.

Invite them all over on a Saturday or Sunday. Or better yet, call them all individually, give them 3 dates and ask them which works best for them. (If you can't find a consensus on 3 dates, offer some more). Once you find a date that works for everyone, let them know when to come over and be prepare to host.

Make sure you let them know that you would really like to see everyone and spend time together. Let them know they are wanted.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I don't feel like there is enough information here to know what's really going on.

That said, you don't need to be there for the kids 'in a pinch' if they don't make time to spend with you. You aren't a bank, you are parents. Maybe let them grow up and don't bail them out?

I don't know your family dynamic with your sons and daughters in law. You might be really kind and they are being rude and horrible, or you might be overbearing. My husband and I don't do Christmas with my family, ever, because they made it so awful one year, I just decided 'never again'. I'm sure they think that we like my husband's friends more, who we spend some holidays with. Guess what? We do. There's no extra helping of guilt served during the meal, no weird expectations.

Ultimately, you can't control what other people do, only how you react to it. I've learned to have very low expectations of my family and it works well. I'm rarely disappointed. Likewise, I've also let myself off the hook on having to live up to their expectations. Works better that way for everyone. Find a way to have a good, contented day without them.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

Regarding the "alternating holidays", I think this is pretty common. My MIL had 5 sons and said this is the "way it is". This doesn't happen with us though, we figure out a good time and usually alternate Christmas and Thanksgiving. It doesn't really matter WHEN they come, it's just important that they come. Make it work!

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answers from Boston on

I'm sorry. That must really be hurtful. Not knowing your family's relationships I cannot offer anything helpful, but you have my concern. Please try to separate the holiday issues from the money issues, because they really aren't related, other than you feel upset.

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answers from Boston on

I agree with Elyse and also with a number of other points made by others.

This is between you and your sons. Don't blame your daughters-in-law, and don't allow your sons to shift the responsibility to their wives. If they had equal marriages with equal say, then there's a bigger problem afoot here. If they don't have any say in their marriages, you have to ask yourself why.

I have no idea why they don't want to see you. I think you should dig deeper. Please get some counseling to find out more and develop a strategy for dealing with it.

I also think you could find other occasions, at least to start. Your birthday, perhaps? A random weekend?

You can also say no to the money. You cannot buy their attention, and I think you should stop being grateful for any contact at all so much that you meet their financial demands. Say you're sorry, that you don't have any extra money right now. If you raised them to stand on their own two feet, remind them of that.

Beyond that, with no info on your family and no perspective on your viewpoints (since this is your first visit to Mamapedia, it's hard for me to be more specific or helpful.

I'm sorry because I understand the pain of family estrangements - we have some in our family, as others do below. What we have done is create a family out of like-minded and loving people, and our holiday tables and birthdays always have warm and giving folks around them. We don't worry so much about the DNA anymore.

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answers from Norfolk on

It might never change.
Seeing as you can't change them and your own opinion is all you can control - try being less available - go on a trip for some holidays - and don't be afraid to tell them 'no' every so often (or more often than not) when they ask for favors.
You earned your money - so enjoy it.
Get tee shirts that read "I'm spending my kids inheritance" and let them buy their own vehicles with no help from you.
The bank of Mom and Dad is closed.
It's not that I'd tie appreciation/affection from them to your bank account - but sheesh, a little bending in their rigid holiday schedule every once in awhile would go a long way to thawing things out.
Never mind what they're doing or with who - you set up trips to where ever you want to go - and send them a post card.
Hang out with people you enjoy who enjoy being with YOU.

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answers from Philadelphia on

So you obviously can't buy love. Make your own plans and don't come off as needy or demanding. Best of luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

I am sorry you are having these feelings. I remember prior to our marriage, my future MIL made the comment "A daughter is a daughter all of her life, a son is a son until he takes a wife." I had never heard that phrase before and it hurt my feelings at the time, thinking she saw me as someone taking her son away from her. But I have seen in many families, the phrase seems to be true.

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answers from Anchorage on

You can not control where they go for holidays, but you can control how much you let them take advantage of you while not seeming to consider you or your feelings at other times. If you push you may push them further away, most men just want to keep the peace with their wives and therefor may not fight for what would be more fair. But, you don't have to keep bailing them out of trouble or giving them cash if you feel taken advantage of.

If you decided to speak with your boys about this do so privately and in a non-accusioty way, don't pit them against their spouse, just let them know you miss them and would enjoy having a few holidays with them here and there.

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answers from Seattle on

There is no where near enough information in what you typed for me to answer.
Do you live close to your sons and their wive's families live far?
How often do you see them?
Can you do what LOTS of other families do and celebrate one day before or after?
What have they said to you when you bring it up?
Who cares if the other family has money or not? My husband's family has NO money...we send them money...that doesn't mean they love my kids any less!
What is your relationship with your sons and their wives? Are you always bickering? Telling them what to do? overly involved with them? Making it so that the family actually thinks it's more stressful to have you around during the holidays?
There's more to this story then what you have shared.

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answers from Washington DC on


Welcome to mamapedia!

This is life, you know that right? Tell us how **YOU** did Holiday's when YOU married your husband....if it's much the same? Stop.

What exactly is your question?
What do you want to change?

If you don't want to be an ATM anymore? Then say NO. It's really easy. No. I'm sorry we can't give you money again. We're still trying to put back in savings what we gave you last time you asked.

Holidays? How can you fix this? You can have a family meeting and suggest that each family take turns. One family gets Thanksgiving this year and the other gets Christmas and next year you switch. That's how we've done it in our family. My sister, brother and we do this. Now that my mom is dead and both of my husband's parents are dead, it's not an issue.

How FAR do you live from your son and daughters-in-law? If the ladies families are a quick drive and you're hours away? It makes sense.

How much time do you get to see them throughout the year? If it's more than once a month? You're fine. Stop being high-maintenance.

Are you a needy mother-in-law?
Are you critical of your daughter's-in-laws?

As you can see I have more questions than answers. I'd love to hear their side of the story!

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answers from Santa Fe on

Honestly, I'm not really that in to holidays and instead I would try to get together with them at other times of the year. Work on having close relationships with your DILs. Over x years time you will hopefully become closer to them. In the future again tell them (and your sons) again about how you wish to spend every other Christmas with them. About the wanting cars and money...that is just wrong. We have never once asked any of our parents for money, help, cars. Neither of our siblings has done this either. I personally would find that extremely embarrassing. This is strange to me how in some families the adult kids do this. Once you are done with college you support yourself. If you are an adult you support yourself. You get a job. You manage your money. You don't live over your means. I suggest you tell your sons this. Please stop giving them money, cars, whatever. It is time for them to start treating you in life.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Then you need to write them a letter. Stating that you have helped them over and over. Explain that you will expect them to alternate from this time forward and on even years they go to their girl's families and on odd years they come to you for the whole day. If you don't put "the whole day" they could come for an hour then leave and go to the other family.

This includes Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. (IF they live near you). If they live out of town then you have to decide which Holidays you expect them to be there. Tell them IF they miss any of their designated holiday time with you that you will suspend any and all help the entire next year.

Another thing is how much do you see them throughout the week/month. Do you see them all the time? Do the girl's families live out of town/state? If so then it would be quite normal for them to want to travel out of town for the holidays.

I would think if they travel out of town/state only on Thanksgiving/Christmas and spend a lot of time with you the rest of the year then I think you are being pretty petty. I celebrated holidays with my family but I lived next door to my in-laws. So I literally saw them every day of the year. If my mother in law had said something like this I would have looked at her like she'd grown 2 heads.

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answers from Phoenix on

What is your question?

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answers from Denver on

I'm so sorry, this is obviously really hard for you, and I can see why! I've heard the saying that 4LittleOnes mentioned as well, about a son being a son until he takes a wife. Of course not true for everyone, but it became a saying for a reason!

I have two sisters and a brother. I will say that my brother's wife has definitely set the tone for what they will do, which is always give preferential treatment to her family for everything. He doesn't even have the same friends he did before meeting her, she really phased everyone out that she doesn't 'own.' For holidays, we always hear "we'll let you know what we're doing with (insert SIL family member here) and then let you know what we can do. It really hurts my mom's feelings, too. I don't see it changing, and it does make them seem very selfish.

I do try to point out to my mom that it may not be healthy for her to focus on this one thing, that in the grand scheme of things they do treat her well. It irks me because they lean on my mom a LOT for babysitting- she has to go to them (such a 'hassle' for them to drive) and stay later than is good for a 70+ lady. I've mentioned this to my mom but she feels like if she stops babysitting for them, she'll never see her grandchild. Again, lame on my brother's part, but how it is. Mom does enjoy her time with her granddaughter so I've let it go.

I agree with those who say that if you become demanding or needy this won't help your cause. My advice is to focus less on holidays and more on regular days. Plan dinners or outings where the likelihood of them coming is good, and enjoy them then! Hopefully it will carry over, but if not, enjoy what you have. I asked on here a while back how I could keep my relationship with my teen daughter strong, the best advice I got was that if I want her to be interested, I need to be interesting! This can be modified to fit you, I think. I hope things get better and that you can enjoy your boys and their wives. Good luck!

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answers from Atlanta on

I just want to make sure you are not maybe making holidays unpleasant? I love my parents, but they use holidays as an opportunity to nag. If seeing you is stressful, they are going to avoid it even if you are able to help them out financially when needed. I don't know if this is the case, but it is something to consider. Is seeing you fun for them, or could it maybe be stressful?


answers from Lake Charles on

It is very unfair to not alternate holidays. We alternate with our parents because of this very reason... feelings get hurt. I would not stop helping them financially. I hope I can help my children as they get older like our parents have helped us when we needed it. However, I would pre-invite them for the holidays long before they even think about going to the other parents home. Talk to the daughter in law instead of the son. Let them know how much you would appreciate bringing the family over for Thanksgiving, Easter...whatever holiday it is. It is very inconsiderate of the daughter in laws and I sorry you have to go through with it.

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