Our son and his partner of seven years have two wonderful children.
My wife had often butted heads with him in his youth.
We were very pleased years ago when we saw how his partner took care of him while he was studying.
When she became pregnant, we did question the relationship as he’d never once told us that he loved her.
We can only visit them once a year, and she's always very distant with us. She never joins us on special outings.
Even bringing nice gifts to their home doesn’t elicit thanks.
She’s almost always “out” or tied up when we Skype.
My wife recently wrote a story-book with the kids’ photos as characters for a birthday gift and sent them a few copies.
We asked our son’s permission to publish it online (his wife was out... again) and he said yes, with the exception of one photo.
But now they have “second thoughts.” We know his wife put the end to this.
We feel she tries to stop us at every turn from showing our joy in their children and goes out of her way to avoid us.
What can we do?
Keep your relationship with your grandchildren as enjoyable as possible.
Skype with them, read the books they’re reading so you can talk about them, stay connected at their level.
Do NOT criticize or complain about his wife to your son.
That’s a sure way to distance him, too.
Your gifts should mostly be for the children. Give out of generosity, not for expressed appreciation.
Your admitted surprise when she became pregnant, may’ve affected her cool attitude to you in return.
Adult children are busy and preoccupied with their own lives. It’s their own relationship and those with their friends that matter most to them.
Grandparents who live distantly are not always seen as a priority.
That’s clearly the reality here, and in many similar extended family situations.
My husband's younger sister has been very mean, cruel, and rude to me.
She said aloud that I was dumpy-looking, too short, and that I should try growing taller to become attractive.
This happened at my in-law’s party in front of several people I’d never met.
She treated it like a hilarious joke, and has never apologized.
Another time, she and their younger brother told my husband that no family spouses were allowed at a family gathering.
However, when my husband arrived he saw some spouses at the party.
I don't speak to my SIL anymore and will never go to her house again, period.
My husband and his older sister have spoken many times to this younger sister, about her behaviour, with little success.
Any feedback/observations/suggestions for me?
You already have the answer: Avoid your sister-in-law.
Your husband and other sister-in-law know her nasty nature and have tried (maybe not hard enough) to get her to change, at least in public.
But there’s some odd and unpleasant history in that family, since her younger brother goes along with her mean manipulations and exclusions.
Your husband could go further, and make sure there’s no acceptance of this behaviour by his parents.
If they look the other way when she’s so openly rude, there’s an unhealthy family dynamic that these people have put up with for a long time.
You and he can set a new family standard by being gracious and hospitable to those who appreciate it, while ignoring the rest.
FEEDBACK Regarding the wife who’s ashamed of her “slob” husband’s messy ways (April 28):
Reader – “While he could just be a simple slob - except for his wonderful devotion to his family as she describes - there could be another answer to his messiness and inability to take care of the family’s cars:
“He could have ADD/ADHD (attention deficit disorder, often combined with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
“I was diagnosed in my mid-50s, although I was sure I had this challenge after perusing self-help books more than a decade earlier.
“Three (!!!) professionals pooh-poohed the idea before I found the right doctor who did extensive testing.
“I’m only now finding some order in my life, now that I know what my problem really is.”
Ellie – ADHD is the broad term currently used regarding physical hyperactivity or excessive restlessness and inattentiveness. The condition can vary from person to person. Accurate professional diagnosis is essential for treatment.
Tip of the day:
It’s often up to the grandparents to work at staying connected to their grandkids.