I want to love my daughter-in-law, but she makes it difficult. She’s 32, married to my son for nine years, and we have yet to build a relaxed relationship.
She’s not that close to her own mother either.
I’m not a needy mother-in-law since I own a store and am busy running it.
However, though I invite her and my son for dinner – about once a month - and buy her nice gifts for her birthday and Christmas, she never engages in a full conversation with me, nor seems very enthused about the gifts.
My son works full-time while she spends most of her time at home on social media.
She has degrees in two different fields but during the time I’ve known her she’s never had jobs in those pursuits, only some sporadic part-time jobs.
My son adores her. He’s acknowledged that she frustrates him occasionally but he’s totally committed to her, which I respect.
I want to feel that we’re part of the same family.
They don’t have any children. I don’t know if they ever will and don’t feel I should ask about it in case it’d be too sensitive and hurtful a topic, unless she’s the one who raises it.
I’m at a loss as to how to develop a closer relationship. Does she just feel that I’m not a good mother-in-law?
There’s no point going for the worst interpretation of her behaviour since she’s not giving verbal messages. Her main signals are her actions: She attends your monthly family dinners, accepts your gifts, has her own interests which are different from yours, and maintains your son’s adoration for her.
Also, she’s not argumentative with you, and you don’t mention any overt rifts.
It’s not the relationship you want, but it’s clearly the one she wants.
You’re wise not to raise the potentially-sensitive topic of pregnancy with her.
Instead, try asking about her interests, even about what she finds most interesting on social media.
Most important: Accept your daughter-in-law as she is.
The couple next door each have a son from a previous marriage. We see this family a lot because the boys are in middle school and some sports programs with our kids.
I’m upset about how harshly the stepmom talks to her husband’s son, while she’s always soft and supportive with her own son.
Her husband doesn’t seem to realize that he’s not helping his son. If his wife makes a sarcastic remark about the boy, the father will try to joke about it, e.g. “he’s just like me when I was his age.” The boy just looks hurt.
Is there anything I can say or do to help him?
Sorry for the Stepson
He desperately needs people like you who genuinely care about him.
Be a steadily positive presence for him, whenever possible. But don’t go up against his stepmother in a way that might cause her to isolate him from her.
And do pay attention to the other boy as well.
If you see the father on his own, mention that his son often looks hurt after something his stepmom said (she criticizes him publicly so it shouldn’t be a surprise).
ALERT: If you believe that the boy is being emotionally abused and that his father is ignoring/accepting it, then in many jurisdictions you have a duty in law to report this as child abuse to child welfare authorities.
A man I met at a professional symposium, asked for my card.
I didn’t hesitate when he suggested a lunch meeting to discuss mutual work issues.
We had an interesting discussion over lunch. Then he suggested dinner together several days later. I was caught off guard and agreed, though I usually don’t “date” someone I’ve only just met.
He came to pick me up for our date but tripped on my apartment door mat, and something fell out of his pocket when he bent to retrieve it.
What fell was a condom! He actually blushed and mumbled something about always being prepared.
I shut the door on him, but wonder if you’d advise a response, like a group email to other women in our symposium group.
Never send a group email that can be turned against you by hackers or be legally termed slander. Since nothing happened, only warn any co-workers who mention a future date with him.
Tip of the day:
You can’t always have an ideal in-law relationship, but you can try to adjust to a different relationship that’s mutually acceptable.