Should I Question My Son?

Updated on November 19, 2018
J.N. asks from Lubbock, TX
13 answers

I invited our son and daughter-in-law over for dinner while my husband was working. We had a nice time and our son said that we should do it every week.

I thought it was a great idea. We get busy and go months without seeing each other even though we live in the same town.

They came over the next week. My husband and younger son were out of town. That night they invited me over to their house next time. In the middle of the week, I texted to let them know that we would all be able to come and to let me know if something had come up and I asked for a suggestion for what they wanted me to bring.

I didn’t hear from them so I texted the next morning and then called that night. My son said that he needed to talk to his wife. They said that they had gotten busy and apologized and cancelled our plans.

I’m not sure if they canceled to avoid my husband, because they want to see me because they feel sorry for me being alone so much, or because they really did get too busy.

I enjoy their company but I am fine alone. I need time to rest and recuperate after a busy week, so I don’t want them to see me as a charitable act.

I know that they have invited me out alone for my Birthday and Mother’s Day. I’m not sure if that is to save money or to avoid dad.

My husband can be a bit overbearing. Our son has only had one yelling argument and dad is the one our son goes to if he ever has a problem. Our son generally only tells me the good things.

I’m not sure that it is worth a confrontation. If he is avoiding dad, I’m sure a pattern will emerge. What do you think?

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So What Happened?

On Thanksgiving, they made the big announcement that they are expecting a baby. My son explained that they canceled dinner because his wife wasn’t feeling well.

I have more reason to think that they aren’t feeling really close to dad though - the big announcement, which they had planned and tried to catch on film, was made while he was in the restroom.

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answers from Washington DC on

I think you're over thinking this and really need to stop and just enjoy the time you get. Make memories and share laughs.

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answers from Wausau on

I think they just got busy and there is nothing more to it. I know we would not be able to commit to a weekly dinner with anyone, and we're not nearly as busy as some other families we know. It's a nice thought in the moment, but probably not realistic.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think taking you out for your birthday or Mother's Day - to spend time just with you - is kind of nice. I think my husband tried doing that with his mother (bit of a different scenario). I did not go, because my husband was trying to spend some quality time with his mom, and I think his sibling went (for Mother's Day) - before the day, for lunch.

As for wanting to avoid dad, if he goes to him with his problems.. then it is highly doubtful he's trying to avoid him. As you say, a pattern may emerge. I wouldn't worry about it now. If there is one, it's not really for you to concern yourself with (it would be for your husband to be concerned with).

As for 'family dinners', maybe they prefer not hosting big dinners - maybe have those at your home, and if they do like just having you over, that's fine. I would just not think about it. If they do want to have you when you are on your own - I wouldn't think of that as 'pity'. We often include my mom on trips, etc. She's a widow. We don't think of it as pity. We just honestly enjoy her company and it works out well.

Perhaps your DIL enjoys the dynamic. Who knows. It's working and unless there's a problem, I wouldn't worry about it. I would not have a 'confrontation' as you put it. People do get busy and so far, you say it's really just the one time.

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answers from Washington DC on

i wasn't expecting this! i thought it would be a teenager lying or stealing or something.

even if your husband is 'a bit overbearing', if your son goes to him for problems and has only ever had one big blowup, it sounds pretty okay to me.

i'd just enjoy the times you get to enjoy their company.

'questioning' your son sounds pretty pushy. keep the door open so if there is an issue he'll feel comfortable coming to you, but why go looking for trouble?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think it's sad that family members know so little about each other that they can't figure out the dynamics, and that they get so busy all the time that they cannot make plans to get together. Whatever you're doing instead of seeing your son and DIL, and whatever they're doing to keep them from you - well, those are the things you all feel are more important.

Maybe the reason the dinners with just you were pleasant because your husband is overbearing - no way to know. But your son enjoys spending time with you, and he seeks out time with his father too, so that's good. Maybe you are better separately than together? And maybe the "every week" plan was too ambitious to begin with - maybe your son thought it was a good idea at the time, but then it became too much for them to want to commit to, especially when you added in your husband and other son and started offering to bring something. While that's nice, maybe it started to turn into a bigger deal with too much arranging, and maybe your son or your DIL felt they shouldn't start this expectation if they couldn't sustain it.

If you can't ask your son a simple question about what he would prefer and what's workable, without it turning into an investigation, that's a shame. But if he only discusses good things with you and never anything of controversy or difficulty, maybe he feels you cannot handle problems? Maybe getting together too often was turning into a problem of arranging things, or maybe he feels you are perhaps too needy? Again, I don't know - I'm just suggesting questions to ask yourself.

Instead of weekly dinners, but as an improvement on the current pattern of going months and months without seeing each other, why not schedule a monthly dinner (even pot luck) or an outing (museum, nature trail, anything) or a movie/pizza date you all would enjoy?

And if you are alone a lot and think your son pities you, maybe you should find an activity you enjoy to fill your empty hours? It would give you something fun to talk about when you do get together, and he wouldn't worry about you so much and do things out of guilt.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Whether he's just really busy and had to cancel or there's another reason that he doesn't want to share, the best thing you can do is accept what he tells you at face value. if there's more to it and he chooses to share that with you at another time, ok, be willing to listen at that time. But accept what he is telling you now and just believe that. If you approach him with, "Honey is there more going on? Are you trying to avoid your father?" you are just going to cause trouble.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

You are reading too much into this.
Stop worrying and just enjoy yourself.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Maybe planning a dinner and coordinating which dishes to bring or make once a week is a bit much. Perhaps you could scale it back to once a month? That gives your busy son and daughter-in-law more free time, and it gives you more time to relax alone.

Perhaps the thought of an entire family dinner every week was a little overwhelming for your son and daughter-in-law.

So maybe you could just let them know that once a month or so is ok. No pressure. When your husband is working, invite your son and wife over for a casual dinner. Take-out is ok, pizza is ok, or if you love to cook, make a real meal. Just keep the lines of communication open, don't press them for an explanation, simplify your plans and have a nice supper together. Tell them you may have gotten carried away with a weekly planned dinner and ask them if it's ok to just make it less structured and more relaxed.

Just call and say "hey, it's been awhile since we got together, Dad's away on business, and I feel like making a chicken pot pie (or whatever), so do you two want to come over for supper?" Do that every 4 weeks or so.

It's nice that your son can approach his dad if there's a problem. Your son is a grown man now with his own family, and so I don't think it's the same as if a 10 year old boy was refusing to interact with his dad. Relax and don't push the situation into something uncomfortable.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

He's your son. Why are you so uncomfortable taking to him?
Families should be able to talk about anything and everything. You say your husband is over bearing .... do you mean verbally abusive? Is this why your son doesn't want to spend time with him?

You need to talk this out with your son.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I think it's too soon to tell. I would take it at face value for now and move on. Keep trying to arrange weekly (or almost weekly) dinners. If it really is a pattern, then yes, I think you will figure it out quickly. If he avoids plans for a few weeks or months, then I think you should question him.

You don't mention if they have small children, but it can be so hard to do something every weekend with small kids involved who might have practices, games, etc.

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answers from Los Angeles on

You're wondering whether your son actually got busy or it's an excuse to avoid your husband/cancel dinner plans? You're overanalyzing.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

You are over-thinking this. People get busy and have to cancel plans sometimes. Let it go.

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answers from Portland on

This morning I realize I misread your post. This is a new post.

I agree that you are overthinking this and so was I with my first post.

I wonder why you are anxious to know why your son may be avoiding his father. His relationship with his father is his business and your husbands business. I wonder if you feel that you need to fix it for them? Each person is responsible for only their own happiness. When we rely on others' happiness to keep us happy, we're in a codependent relationship. I suggest you look it's meaning up on the Internet. There are also many good books.

We can let go of trying to manage others once we accept responsibility for our own decisions and our own happiness. Let others be responsible for their own happiness.

Clear communication helps all of us be happier. Accept what others tell us. Consider that they're telling the truth. If they want us to know differently they will tell us. When we question their answer, we are over stepping their boundaries.

1 mom found this helpful
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