What Am I Doing Wrong

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“I have a son, 29 who is married to our former German exchange student. During their courtship things were rocky in our relationship (my son, the German student, and myself).

After they married, it didn’t get better. In fact, I got the call the day of the ceremony to let me know. They were in Arkansas and I was in Pennsylvania. He told me that it was “spur of the moment “ but had invited his father and step mother a day or two before and the marriage license was purchased 2 days prior.

Flash forward – now they have a child. My first grandchild. When the baby was born, I got a text. That’s it. Nothing but a text after the fact and no information. Friday, he did call from Germany to say the christening is Sunday – in Germany.

My son and family live in Arkansas. We have been there twice in the last year. Once before the baby was born to help prep meals, paint the nursery (my husband painted a beautiful mural) and to build a changing table. Most recently we went to meet our grandchild.

We have been excluded from most things that are important to families. We have tried and tried to bridge whatever gap is causing the issues. I’m a Christian so I obviously pray about it and humble myself to them for the scraps I get. They say we teach people how to treat us. I don’t recall teaching my son how to hurt me. My husband and I have a great relationship and do not model anything but love, kindness, sacrifice and forgiveness.

The pain is almost unbearable now. I have looked forward to being a grandmother for so long. What am I doing wrong? I know the issue is my daughter in law’s contempt of me. I know she’d rather me be completely out of the way. When I asked my son privately what I could do, he said I just needed to give her time. It’s been many years and I feel like I’m the only one making any effort. Please help me. What am I doing wrong? My heart is completely broken…” -Anonymous

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39 thoughts on “What Am I Doing Wrong”

  1. People can be mean on social media, and so I don’t want to be that person. But I’m the bad daughter in law. My mother in law is not a nice person. A hard, harsh, controlling and manipulative person. They moved to another state 25 years ago and it probably saved my marriage. She didn’t care if she saw my kids or me—but would ask to see her son. So he has went to many family gatherings without us, which then caused strife between us. I think I’m just injecting my side, not because I think all those responding are bad mother in laws but just to add, that the pain to have a bad mother in law is equally as harmful and damaging. I’m breaking the cycle by trying to be as good as gold to my new daughter in law. But it’s a learning curve, for sure. Thanks for all of you being honest.

  2. It is more hurtful than death to have children who have grown and moved on to new lives without you. I have said this time and time again, they will never know until they are put in the same position and it happens to them. I have a sister who is going through similar situations and just seems to have the worst of the worst happen to her. She made bad choices in her life, lived a rough life and raised her kids from 2 different fathers on her own pretty much. Her kids have had relationship problems. Her son’s have children out of wedlock and the mothers of these kids rule! She has been hurt over and over and Her Heart has turned cold! I pray for God to enter her heart, because in this world we live in there is nothing else that is going to help.

  3. You need to confront your son.
    It would be best to write to him so you can get your thoughts in order.
    Start by telling him how much you love him & his wife & your grand child & that having a relationship with them is very important to you.
    Then you need to tell him, that the way You are being Excluded from his life, Excluded from Family Events & Celebrations is Hurting you deeply, you are heart sick that he seems to be angry with you & holding a grudge which is making him cruel in his actions. To organise His wedding & invite you with full knowledge that you would not have time to get there, that’s cruel.
    Tell him you don’t believe you have done anything that warrants being excluded from his life but if he believes you have he needs to tell you what it is so that you can make amends & repair the relationship.

    1. I’m sorry but I think confrontation in this situation will only make things worse. The son will always choose the wife over the mother, and so he should.
      I think the lady who posted is already doing everything she can and should do, and on no account should she confront her son.

  4. I am so sorry that you are going through this. I am sorry that so many people have issues with their children an families. When my daughter was 16 she shut me out of her life. We recovered from this and discussed everything in great detail. Counseling helped me a lot at this time. It’s important to keep lines of communication open so that you don’t become completely estranged. Now 10 years later, unfortunately, things have gone south again. She is hurting badly because I left her with her wonderful Father, who gave her the best life ever. We haven’t been physically together but have spent meant many hours on the phone in very close contact. I cannot change the past, nobody can and she continues to punish me. I am heart broken, I know I have hurt her but I can only do my best.

  5. I was in a similar situation as others. When my son told us they were expecting a baby I was thrilled but unfortunately my husband was told the same week he had cancer and only had a few weeks left to live. When the baby was born my younger son and I bought the present which we asked what they wanted and loads of clothes of a larger size (3-6 months). But we were frozen out. Had to accept it. Never said anything to them. 5 years later they broke up. He sees his son every fortnight for 2 days as he has moved out of the area. He is with another lady now and she has made me welcome and I see my grandson 5 or 6 times a year. Patience it may never happen but perhaps one day you will be able to see your family again. Men usually do anything for a quiet life. I took a back seat and hoped. That’s all I can say is perhaps. Wishing you a happy outcome one day.

  6. I’m sorry you are having to walk through this. Have you tried to have a honest (and difficult) conversation with your son with or without his wife ? If nothing else, it may clear the air and lead to more dialogue. I married my husband 9 years ago, and his oldest daughter (39 years old) is finally realizing I am not a terrible person. Of course, your sons 1st priority is his wife and child, but you do have a right to be heard. Good luck.

  7. Oh boy.
    This is almost exactly my story.
    But, my son and family lives 5 miles from me.
    I met my granddaughter when she was two!!!!
    I’ve seen her probably twenty times since then and she just turned 7. I haven’t seen her in a year.
    As a Christian, you want to do the right thing. It still hurts. I think jealousy is an issue with the daughter-in-law’s.
    That’s something they have to grow out of but they have no clue as to how they are damaging family in this phase they are going through. But they may also have issues too. I don’t know.
    I’m at the point to where all I can do is pray. And leave it at the feet of Jesus. He knows what he is doing in the big scheme of things. And it’s hard, trust me I know, just waiting, but in the mean time, be writing a journal to your grandchild. Keep a book and write day to day or when you feel like it, your thoughts to your grandchild, so one day you can give it to them.
    Also, I find sending random cards in the mail helps too.

  8. It’s not just sons my daughter treats me the same way, and now my youngest is starting. I SWEAR to you I’ve done nothing wrong to these girls. They have shut me out of their lives for no reason. I too have been told it’s due to jealousy of their partners because we were all so close and I did not want them with these people they’re with, and for valid reasons (they are abusive). All I can do is pray for them and I’m seeking counseling.

  9. I am weary of hearing & reading about parents having difficult or no relationship with family members. It is WRONG for either spouse to be that controlling and disrespectful of their spouses and family. NO MATTER WHAT! Some women are, at the very core, jealous, vengeful and downright mean!
    Being a Christian does NOT make me perfect or sinless. It makes me want to be a better person, do good things, think better thoughts, but the goal of Christianity is to Worship GOD. IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU! It is not about you. And there lies the issue….
    I am a mother-in-law. I am a Christian. I am also observant. Many, not, all, daughters-in-law expect, demand and will do what ever it takes to be the lead dog. They have no respect for what parents sacrifice, plan, endure to raise their child in this world. They have no recognition or respect for the fact that the person they fell in love with, the person they want to spend the rest of their life with was raised by those in-laws. These adults do NOT become orphans the day they mutter I DO! Their parent still love them, want to be a part of their lives and SHOULD be.
    I have witnessed many women trying to extract their spouse away from their family. They are so subtle, the spouse can’t believe their partner capable of it. They become blind. Some use religion as an excuse.
    The only explanation is sheer jealousy and at times, hatred of anyone or anything that does not give them supreme authority.
    A married couple should have space from family to grow as a couple. They should develop their own traditions. Contrary to popular beliefs this can be accomplished without causing trouble, or family separation!! It takes respect, love and honesty.
    I have a sister- in- law that I have known since middle school. She is talented, intelligent and is jealous every breath that I take. She does not dislike…she has a deep hatred and loathing for most of our family. She uses God as her guide. She believes and constantly tells my brother that we do-not, nor have we ever really respected or loved him! It is so ironic, when we three siblings are together, we laugh about him being the favorite & could do anything growing up!
    According to the words from her mouth, Specifically “I” am so evil. “I” am the boss of everyone, yet she can not name one instance where I have told or demanded anything from her family.
    Our Precious Mother has dementia and is completely dependent in all aspects of her daily living. I asked my brother to help us care for her…he had to go home to discuss this with his wife!? She told me, to my face, that God has not laid it on their heart to do that. She explained their family dynamics as on a higher plain than us & further that “I” an the cause of any and all the discourse in our family. She told my brother that Mom & Dad were rude & mean to her! She has NEVER been with them alone, so, I asked for further explanation. She said they have no use for me.
    I am really tired of the family world revolving around their needs, desires only. We have celebrations when it is convenient for her. We are not invited to any function of them or their children..actually told we are not welcome, their children are loved by them and by us. All of their children are precious & communicate with our family. Much to the anger of their Mother. My brother quotes scripture as to why he would never discuss this with his wife. In fact, it is my fault she feels this way. I should be better to her. When I ask what I have ever, ever in our entire life, done…. he does not know…that is between her & me.when they were dating she went every where we went. She practically lived at our house. Loved everybody in our family….until Bob said “I Do”
    The bottom line, there is no explanation for some human behavior. I try to have a good life, be a kind, considerate, helpful person. I stopped trying to cater to others. I love every single person in my family. I will bend over backwards for them. I will no longer allow any form of disrespect, verbal abuse or just plain evil behavior.
    Does it hurt? Absolutely, to de deepest part of my soul. I am not responsible for any behavior but my own.

  10. I am weary of hearing & reading about parents having difficult or no relationship with family members. It is WRONG for either spouse to be that controlling and disrespectful of their spouses and family. NO MATTER WHAT! Some women are, at the very core, jealous, vengeful and downright mean!
    Being a Christian does NOT make me perfect or sinless. It makes me want to be a better person, do good things, think better thoughts, but the goal of Christianity is to Worship GOD. IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU! It is not about you. And there lies the issue….
    I am a mother-in-law. I am a Christian. I am also observant. Many, not, all, daughters-in-law expect, demand and will do what ever it takes to be the lead dog. They have no respect for what parents sacrifice, plan, endure to raise their child in this world. They have no recognition or respect for the fact that the person they fell in love with, the person they want to spend the rest of their life with was raised by those in-laws. These adults do NOT become orphans the day they mutter I DO! Their parent still love them, want to be a part of their lives and SHOULD be.
    I have witnessed many women trying to extract their spouse away from their family. They are so subtle, the spouse can’t believe their partner capable of it. They become blind.
    The only explanation is sheer jealousy and at times, hatred of anyone or anything that does not give them supreme authority.
    A married couple should have space from family to grow as a couple. They should develop their own traditions. Contrary to popular beliefs this can be accomplished without causing trouble, or family separation!! It takes respect, love and honesty.
    I have a sister- in- law that I have known since middle school. She is talented, intelligent and is jealous every breath that I take. She does not dislike…she has a deep hatred and loathing for most of our family. She uses God as her guide. She believes and constantly tells my brother that we do-not, nor have we ever really respected or loved him! It is so ironic, when we three siblings are together, we laugh about him being the favorite & could do anything growing up!
    According to the words from her mouth, Specifically “I” am so evil. “I” am the boss of everyone, yet she can not name one instance where I have told or demanded anything from her family.
    Our Precious Mother has dementia and is completely dependent in all aspects of her daily living. I asked my brother to help us care for her…he had to go home to discuss this with his wife!? She told me, to my face, that God has not laid it on their heart to do that. She explained their family dynamics as on a higher plain than us & further that “I” an the cause of any and all the discourse in our family. She told my brother that Mom & Dad were rude & mean to her! She has NEVER been with them alone, so, I asked for further explanation. She said they have no use for me.
    I am really tired of the family world revolving around their needs, desires only. We have celebrations when it is convenient for her. We are not invited to any function of them or their children..actually told we are not welcome, their children are loved by them and by us. All of their children are precious & communicate with our family. Much to the anger of their Mother. My brother quotes scripture as to why he would never discuss this with his wife. In fact, it is my fault she feels this way. I should be better to her. When I ask what I have ever, ever in our entire life, done…. he does not know…that is between her & me.when they were dating she went every where we went. She practically lived at our house. Loved everybody in our family….until Bob said “I DO”
    The bottom line, there is no explanation for some human behavior. I try to have a good life, be a kind, considerate, helpful person. I stopped trying to cater to others. I love every single person in my family. I will bend over backwards for them. I will no longer allow any form of disrespect, verbal abuse or just plain evil behavior.
    Does it hurt? Absolutely, to de deepest part of my soul. I am not responsible for any behavior but my own.

  11. It could be that your daughter in law is jealous of you and the bond with your son and afraid of the bond with the grandchild. She wants to be the center and sole recipient of their love. New mothers seem to get very closed when it comes to sharing the affection. And giving advice is out of the question even if you do know best about certain things, that’s when the animosity really rears it’s head. I know how badly this hurts . Hopefully when the grandchild is a little older and weaned then the daughter in law will open up a little more.

  12. It sounds, from Your narrative, that You have done nothing wrong and been nothing but loving, kind, and gracious…how convenient that it’s all HER fault. Perhaps You need to look more closely and clearly at Your judgements, condemnations, and accusations against her and your son. Perhaps then You will see a path to mending the relationships and be able to be the “grandmother” You’ve always dreamed of being.

  13. I am so saddened to hear of so much dysfunction in
    Families today, including mine. Each is of their own choices and decisions and no matter how hard you tried to be a good parent, we all make mistakes along the way as they will, but no one has to suffer life long punishment from it. I have tried very hard to be a good mother to both my daughters, being there when they have needed me.
    Unfortunately they both hardly want anything to do with me. The hurt and pain is horrible. I just try my best to make the best of my life and go on. Those that are close to me see what goes on and are in shock, that there is so little care or concern for me. I leave it with the Lord, as it’s all in his plan. Prayers to all of you who are going threw
    Pain and situations of this nature.

  14. Our children theses days marry and have children in scenarios completely complicated compared to many years ago….blended families,etc. feelings are going to be surfaced several times in events….I have one thing to say, that’s helped me. DONT CHANGE WHO YOU ARE FOR NO ONE, THATS INCLUDING DAUGHTER IN-LAWS!!! because they come and go….Sons are with you forever. They know your heart best , it’s the first heart they learned for 9 months….Remember that ladies….Just love them and nurture. God will guide you…..Have faith. & pray a lot…

  15. It sounds to me like the rocky period at the beginning of their relationship has left lasting hurt feelings, and has caused them to erect a wall between you. A heartfelt, calm, non-judgemental conversation(s) may be in order.

  16. I have a Christian mother in law. She never does anything un-Christlike, either. She is also one of the most controlling, manipulative people I know, and has a hateful, gossipy tongue. But she defly hides these things behind her Christian front and never deals with them.

    I have serious mental health issues which have also made relationship very difficult between us. All of this is ongoing for many years.

    The problems can come in many forms and from both sides. My problems are very obvious; hers are very subtle. Getting into therapy was one of the best things I ever did, but my MIL doesn’t need counseling because all the problems come from me, and doesn’t everyone understand that?

    Entrance of a new family member is bound to shake the status quo and stir up the resting dysfunction. Daughters-in-law are very good at seeing through their MIL’s behaviors! They haven’t been raised and trained to accept them.

    New family members will also bring their own dysfunction into the mix, like in my case. No one guessed what they were really dealing with, with me and my issues, because they couldn’t see into my processes or understand the trauma they came from.

    Family dynamics are complex. I recommend family therapy, and having courage and honesty to explore what’s going on and why.

  17. Sons need to Step-up and Not allow this type of treatment of their mothers! I have blended family. My own son just let this happen to me. My step sons would Never allow this! Just becuase you are Not the girls mother,doesn’t mean you are less than her mother. Sons step up!

    1. Well said you, my son has disowned me during my husbands illness then death two years ago. If I asked to see him and his new family which included my two lovely grandsons from his marriage, they were always too busy.
      I never felt welcome in their home, the time when I need him the most he’s not there. I’m over being hurt and angry now just very sad.
      I’ve never interfered and we were once close. X

      1. I feel your pain….my oldest son has basically pushed me away too… 1 of 4 children….so I know ….basically the same scenario…. praying helps….God has a plan I do believe!! Have faith sweetie! Pray for change of ❤️

    2. What if the mother is controlling, narcissistic, or unbalanced? What if she was and is neglectful to the son? What if she she is abusive? What if she allowed abuse of the son during childhood, and continues to push the son into abusive family situations even though he is an adult? What if daughter-in-law is seeing and abusive situation for what it is and is trying to help pull son out of it?

      Should the son still rise up and “protect” his mother?

      Your reply seems very one-sided to me.

      1. When you have a narcissist for a wife and I speak from experience this is happened to my husband and I. My son met a girl with 4 kids and she got pregnant with his child. We were so excited. It was his first. They got married, she had our grandson and slowly the games began. We did anything they asked, money babysitting and fixing their home. Then she made it that we saw less and less our grandson. She started making herself the victim to my son. Long story short, we never had problems with our son until he married her. Haven’t seen my son or grandson for 9 months. We are banned from their home and were told that they would call the cops if we showed up. They also installed a ring doorbell with the sensors outside. She has brain washed our son. We are so heart broken. Lies upon lies about what we did to her. She is a narcissist.

  18. Dear friend: after reading your letter, I conclude that you are pushing too hard. A therapist scenario would be an even further disaster. I see this played out with sons and mothers repeatedly. My own MIL thought I was “peculiar” mainly because I refused to be her fall girl, which she repeatedly tried to label me. This, while she had so so relations with both son and daughter with issues of their own due to their narcissistic mother.
    Stop begging. Walk away and live your own life. Nature will certainly take care of itself.

  19. I know it’s hard and I’ve been in the same situation but you have to remember you are the parent and you need to smile keep your head up and go along with the program as it is right now Hopefully it will get better.

  20. My children & I wasn’t close for a long time because of some of the choices I made. I did as you did when I realized that it was my fault. I went to each one of them & confessed everything I could remember that I had done to them that had hurt them & ask their forgiveness. Thank God each one has forgiven me. & we are all pretty close now. My children not the inlaws. Your son is the important one get things right with him & then let God work on his heart you’re his mom. I’m sure deep down inside he loves you.

  21. First and foremost,you are a great person. You have tried almost everything to heal a riff,you know nothing about. I believe society,retail companies are to blame. We are fed the perception that we all have to get along,be accepted,and play nice.
    No!!!! It does not work that way.
    We are Hunan,we hate,we loathe,we are sore losers. Not everything is hunky dory. Life is Life.
    Simple.

  22. I don’t think that you are doing anything wrong, based on what you have described. Nevertheless, you may have to be the one to make an effort to try to heal the relationship. I would ask for a meeting with your son and his wife, perhaps with a family therapist . In a safe, neutral and professional environment, perhaps the core issues can come out and be repaired.

  23. As hard as it maybe I would give your daughter in law a heartfelt apology for things you may have said and done. The goal is to see your Grandchild.

    1. Don’t apologize if you didn’t do anything! I’m so sick of hearing women telling other women to apologize for something they’re not responsible for ‘just in case’! Give them a couple of hears to grow up. Send the baby bday cards and gifts and let the parents figure things out for themselves

  24. Nothing. Absolutely nothing is wrong with you. I suffer agonies of spirit too, and what helped me begin to recover last year was a book called, ‘Done with the Crying’ by Sheri McGregor. I am gutted to say it’s based on her own sorrow and 9,000 other parents. You WILL heal. You WILL be happy again. Xx

    1. I think sons and daughters are different in their growth in their own adult family lives. Girls marry, have children and have so many questions that they continue(most cases) a close and personal relationship with mom. Sons are sent out into the world to provide and support their family. Their new own family. The new daughter-in-law depends on her mom. Your son is respecting his wife need for her mother. I too, sometimes take it personally. But I am working on that. I invite them here often and am grateful when they are here and enjoy my grands.

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