Problem Daughter-in-law

Updated on December 16, 2011
B.B. asks from Farmington, MI
17 answers

dil is a big problem, very self-centered and most likely other problems OCD, phobias, controlling, etc.
they have 3 children, 2 of them twins. They do not take the twins anywhere. People, including children, have asked why this is.

This year they were going to bring them to the holiday party. A few days after dil said she was depressed and probably wouldn't attend the party. Now we get an e-mail saying the twins will not come (3 yrs. old), but the rest of them are.
I am so sick of her always changing her mind and stirring up problems with the family.

any answers on how to deal with her? Our son goes along with anything she says and does.

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answers from Grand Forks on

i am a young mom of 3 so i know how hard it can be. I also have mild ocd/anxiety so that makes it much harder. It can be very overwhelming to take kids out in public, so having a supportive spouse or other family is key. My hubby knows how my moods fluctuate and he responds by helping more or less or seeing me about to have a melt down and jumps in to help. Im a great mom but at times i come across "lazy" because of the mental issues. The thing that helps me is telling myself that i can do it and it can be done instead of saying oh screw it lets stay home where its "easy". I would say support is key.

6 moms found this helpful

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answers from Minneapolis on

Accept that she and the twins aren't coming and go on with the show. Truly, there is no reason her lack of attendance is cause for frustration or disappointment, unless YOU want it to be. They are not necessary to have your holiday celebration, and if she's as weird and problematic as you say, it's probably best that she's not there.

As for the twins, let me tell you, they can be a doozey to handle. You have no way of knowing if there is a problem with the kids. Perhaps they don't do well in large crowds with lots of stimuli and excitement. I had a child like this and my in-laws were totally unsympathetic and when I did relent and bring my highly excitable toddler to celebrations they were the first to get totally bent out of joint and attack me for having bad parenting skills if he had a melt down or started acting out inappropriately. That kid only did well at small intimate gatherings with no loud noise, smells, lights and craziness. Too many faces and voices sent this kid over the edge. It wasn't until he was older I discovered he had a sensory disorder and I was rightful to avoid bringing him to stuff like that. Nonetheless, my in-laws refused to accept the kid did not do well at stuff like that nor did they even care that it could take him days to recover (emotionally speaking). Instead they chose to take it personally and make it an occasion for blame and to accuse me of "ruining" their life, plans and family celebrations.

I use the word choose because I tried to tell them my reasons for my actions but they wanted to believe what they wanted to believe and suffer at their own hands. It's all a state of mind and perception, I say. If you want to let your daughter-in-law's choice to keep the twins home to be cause for a miserable holiday, that's your choosing...not hers. She's only being a parent and parenting in the way she sees fit. You don't have a right to foist your way of doing things on her, when it comes to raising her children. She's the mom and you need to respect that. If she were really trying to ruin your holiday or be difficult, she wouldn't bother sending any of the children to celebrate with you or worse, would bring the whole clan even if it means actually and truly "ruining" your event because someone isn't up for the activity.

Do not be negative. Be more understanding and patient. It isn't worth ruining and breaking up your family over mere perceptions and assumptions. You can never really know a persons motives, and 90 percent of the time, people aren't purposefully working to spite others. Each person has their own challenges and burdens and is doing the best they can to function the best they can while helping and accommodating others. To me, it sounds like at this stage of your dil's life, she feels it important to keep the twins home. I say respect that. It isn't worth wrecking the family over it.

I speak from mil...the one who didn't get it about our son pissed my husband off to the point where HE doesn't want to come home anymore and hasn't. I never saw this coming...I expected years of having to tolerate my extremely sensitive mil who thought I was purposely trying to ruin her life...and instead she wound up ruining her relationship with her own her own choice.

I don't mean to preach, but I share this as food for thought.

17 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'd like to just offer you the perspective that although OCD and "phobias/control issues" generally are perceived as being "self-centered" these are actually anxiety based mental health issues that are typically reactive to feeling completely out of control and like you can't please ANYONE. So, although you perceive her as being self-centered she is actually WAY TOO focused on her external environment and the people around her. it just manifests itsself via OCD / phobias / control issues.

Perhaps she doesn't come around because she feels like she is not welcome? Perhaps she doesn't come around because she has a lower threshold for her children's behavior than she is comfortable with and feels like she will be "judged" and it's just too much for her.

If I were you, I would completely change your attitde with your daughter in law to one of acceptance and understanding - even though the things that she deals with you would deal with differently.

I don't see how changing her mind about coming to a party is "stirring things up with the family" - unless there are things going on that you don't mention in your post.

Lastly - your son SHOULD go along with everything she does. That's called supporting your wife. Bravo for your son, who stands by the mother of his children.

Good Luck.

15 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

There really isn't anything you can do. It's up to her whether she wants to take the twins out. Maybe she doesn't because they are still very young and hard to handle out in public or at private functions. She is probably visualizing an evening of doing nothing but having to watch her kids like a hawk to be sure they behave and that really does not sound like a whole bunch of fun. I have to say that if they were mine, I'd probably stay home most of the time too just because it's so difficult to go out with that many kids, especially when you have more than one three year old. I agree with other posters; if you want to spend time with them, why don't you ask if you can come pick them up and bring them to your house for a while to visit. She may welcome the break.

If you're not doing anything to help her, don't complain. She's probably doing the best she can with no help from family!

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Hmmm, knowing me, instead of lashing out at her, I'd probably REACH out to her. Sounds like she's got some issues. Bet she wishes she had a sympathetic family member to lend an ear. Especially this time of the year.

I'm sure there's more to this story, but it's been my experience a mom could always do with a little empathy, especially a DEPRESSED mom! Especially at Christmas time.


10 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

The kids/twins are probably a handful and your son probably doesn't help with them.

She is allowed to change her mind ya know, just like anyone else. Why would this cause problems? Your not being very specific about WHY she is a problem.

ETA - I would like to point out that lotsogrands said
"MOST LIKELY other problems OCD, phobias, controlling, etc."
SHe doesn't even know if the DIL has any of these issues. According to her post the only thing she knows for sure is she said she was depressed.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Naples on

You are just going to have to be supportive and pleasant toward her, or you are going to drive her away even more.
They're her kids - she can take them out to parties or keep them home if she wants to, it's her perogative.
Of course your son is going to go along with what she says and does - she's his wife.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

You're not giving us enough info. Have you ever liked her? Did she get like this once she started having children? Have you ever tried to understand why she is the way she is? Simple personality differences?

After I had my baby, I kept him away from environments that made me feel uncomfortable because I just didn't want to drag him into the BS that I had to deal with. I don't expose him to people I don't like or who do not treat me well. Maybe she's doing something along those lines.

How do you know that your son is just going along? Maybe they are on the same page about it. Because my husband rarely speaks against anything--and I have little to no problem speaking up and out--his family members sometimes blame me when things don't happen as they think they should. They think that I'm the one controlling the situation, when my husband and I are on the same page.

Maybe she's not so self-centered. Maybe she's just got an idea of how she wants to raise her children that differs from what you and some others have in mind. Maybe she feels like she has to fight for her right to be comfortable in your presence because you have been so critical of her for so long....

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Could there be another side to the story? When my twins were little, my anxiety was really challenging, too. I really hated to take them was tough keeping them safe; when they were toddlers, I was terrified someone would snatch one of them or they'd get hurt and when you are at someone else's house, things aren't always child-proofed, etc.

I still fight depression and crowds and holidays are exhausting. Crowds are overwhelming/expectations are high and she may feel like she can't meet the standard and be tough on herself.

Can you reach out to her a little? Could you offer to take the kids for the day/for the party, etc and let her have some alone time? Could you let her know you'd love to see her and you'd be happy to keep an eye on the kids so she can enjoy the party (have some non-anxious time)? Maybe there's a way you can all win...

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

Wow, that one is tough! I don't know how fed up you are with her in particular, but is it possible to try and confront her from the position of 'how can you help?' or 'We all really miss the kiddos dearly and would love to babysit so we can spend time with them!' From an honest standpoint, I know you don't want to come between a child and their spouse, but would it be possible to communicate with your son to come up with a resolution? Just thoughts....

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Maybe she has social anxiety, or just has a rough time taking her kids out. Perhaps she is a homebody and just doesn't like going out much. Maybe you can kindly offer to pick her twins up so she can have a relaxing evening at home. It could be anything really. I often have a hard time taking my kids out, the thought of going to the park or anywhere with them overwhelms me. I have friends and family who will offer to take my kids out for me because they know I have a hard time. Perhaps simply letting her know you care and miss the kiddos and would love to take them on a day out would be helpful. Her twins may be hard to deal with and she would rather not mess with taking them out. Or, maybe she has issues with your family or rules or something...? Just continue to be kind and generous.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Why can't your son bring them and let her stay home if she is not feeling well?

seems like there is more going on - at age 3 they should be ok in public especially at a family function where no one is going to be upset if they misbehave.

I'd ask if you could come pick them up (if hubby won't bring them) so she can get the rest she needs

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Do you guys have very different house rules? for instance, is she a no sugary treats kind of person, and there will be loads of cookies and no holds barred at grandma's house? sometimes the hesitation isn't about the kids, but its about the situation.

Good luck to you and yours,

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Maybe marriage issues. Try and get some one on one with her.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

You don't say how old the twin are. Are there health concerns that would make taking the twins out too much (like immunity issues where they shouldn't be around a large group or too much medical supplies etc). Just checking. If not, I am wondering if they don't like taking them places because they are young and keeping up with them is too much for DIL to handle?

***Although she does take the twins out, it doesn't mean she is preventing anyone (including grandparents) from seeing them...go visit them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Probably going against the grain here but DIL's need get with the program!! If your MIL is fairly normal and pleasant what the hell is wrong with them being able to see their granchildren. I think it is very manipulative to use children as weapons because DIL's have issues. If her OCD issue is causing this then she can stay home while her husband takes the kids over to GP's house to have a good time at the party.

While husbands need to support their wives I do think that there should be some balance. Sounds like this woman needs therapy big time! I am sorry you are having to go through this. All you can do is express genuine dissappointment and keep doing your best to support her and your son so you can maintain a relationship and see the kids.

How sad that you are experiencing this. I dealt with anxiety issues and took meds and got counseling. Why is she not addressing this??? I just say to you Moms of son's is this what you want when your boys get married and you don't get to see your grandkids? If you have issues with your MIL how are you going to handle it when you become a MIL? Don't tell me you won't be disappointed, frustrated or sad!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My cousin's going through this very thing. Her son doesn't have kids yet, but he is burdened with a OCD, ADHD girlfriend. And he doesn't stand up for himself either. Just goes along with the destructiveness of his girlfriend. He's alienated himself from his mom and girlfriend's ;parents are his 'adopted' parents.
Does your son know she's got these disorders? I can appreciate standing by her, but I can't understand why he doesn't compensate. He should be stepping up to the plate and allowing his kids a life! Not just what she says. He needs to understand how destructive your dil's condition can be and be someone who picks up the slack. For the sake of their kids! That's wht's important. They'll otherwise end up victims of the disorders. Being able to socialize with people, enjoy life, etc is important. Her disorders are preventing that and it's being weilded like a loaded gun.
You aren't able to do anything tho. Just hope and pray that your son will see the light and do something positive for their kids. It's a killer on your part, but I don't think there's anything you can do.

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