Our step-daughter-in-law has always been needy and constantly seeks attention.
She has the answer for everything, because she “knows and has done it all.”
Since she became pregnant, those traits have gone from bad to worse.
While at our place, she helps herself from the fridge and naps on the couch (where we’re watching TV), without asking if that’s acceptable.
We’ve put up with her bad manners to keep family harmony.
Recently, at our house, she wanted to see a particular TV show, while the rest of us wanted to watch something else.
She was offered a TV in another room but insisted on her choice.
We all ended up watching her program. We find this disrespectful, inconsiderate, and rude.
How do we prevent similar occurrences while still maintaining family peace?
The first answer is that you say, “Unfortunately, you’re outvoted.”
Then you get her a tray holding a pregnancy-friendly snack you know she’ll enjoy, walk her into the other TV room with it, and say you hope she enjoys her show.
But that’s been hard for you to do, not only because she’s rude, but also because any parent who calls their daughter-in-law their “step-daughter-in-law” already has some attitude towards her.
Truly, I do understand that her attention-seeking and know-it-all attitude are hard to take. But it’s connected to her knowing that she’s not fully accepted.
I suspect that this non-acceptance relates to the circumstances that brought her into your life:
A divorce or loss of one of her parents, re-marriage of the other, and becoming part of a family before welcome and trust were developed.
Well, my second answer is positive news that all this tension and rudeness can improve.
A baby is the perfect opportunity for you as older, wiser parents to show that welcome she needs.
You’ve already had better intentions, trying to keep family harmony so far.
Keep doing that, with greater understanding and empathy. There’s a baby coming who’ll love you for it.
My mother separated from my father when I was 12, because of his controlling ways.
After their divorce, my father read up on psychology and spoke openly about the damaging effects of shame, having grown up in a shame-filled household.
He remarried a woman who embraced this way of thought.
Twenty years later, I see him scolding and shaming his wife with damaging criticisms and complaints.
He blames her for everything and tells her that she’s stupid, unproductive, doing everything wrong, etc.
I only see them occasionally, but it hurts to see, and makes others in the room uncomfortable.
My sister has brought it up to me, as she also disapproves of his behaviour toward his wife.
Is it within my right to stand up for her and point out to him when he’s out of line?
She doesn't do much defending of herself against him.
Talk to her privately first, asking if he’s ever physically abusive or threatening, since you don’t want to put her in worse danger.
If yes, discuss a plan with her for safety, instead of accepting his behaviour.
If she’s not fearful, then see him privately and tell him he’s reverted to being the “shaming” enemy he suffered when young and learned to abhor.
Insist that he have a medical and mental health check to see that there’s no condition that’s affected him.
If not, be blunt. You’ll not visit him again, but you’ll support his wife’s response, if he doesn’t make positive changes.
My husband witnessed a violent crime in progress, happening not far from where he stood.
He spoke to the police about it a day after the incident had passed, and the perpetrator had been caught and charged.
He’s told a few people about it, always very tersely, as he’d never before heard and seen weapons up close.
I’m worried about the possibility of his having Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but he dismisses my concerns.
Any dramatic event involving a life-and-death conflict is a trauma.
Some witnesses to violence may be able to see it as apart from themselves, but many others experience feelings of anxiety – whether right away or over time.
Encourage him to talk to a counsellor about this sooner rather than later, even if he feels he’s not been deeply affected.
If cost is an issue, the police or court system might provide access to a PTSD therapist.
Tip of the day:
Family harmony’s more reachable if you show welcome to the newcomers.