Dear Annie: My son and daughter-in-law have been married for about three years. She used to be a very nice girl when dating my son. When they told me they were getting married, it was just so that she could be put on my son’s health insurance because she couldn’t work anymore. I was still happy. She sold her house and moved into his house.
I live five hours away, so when I visit, I usually stay four days and play with my granddaughter, who is 9 years old. I was kidding around one day when my son was leaving for work and I said, “Aren’t you going to kiss your wife goodbye?” She yelled, “We don’t have that kind of relationship!” I quickly shut my mouth.
When I used to go down, I would ask if I could take my granddaughter for a walk, but now she always says no. She says she doesn’t trust me. She accuses me of all kinds of things that are not true. When I tell my son what she says to me, he always answers that’s just how she is. Once my son and his wife went to a ballgame, her mother was babysitting at her house because I can’t be trusted. I had nothing to do, so I vacuumed the house. When they came home, she had a fit. She considers that I’m saying she’s dirty.
When she got pregnant again, I was not allowed to know until my son called months later and told me they were having twins. That’s why they were telling me — because he said it wasn’t a good time to come down, instead of just telling me she is pregnant (everyone else knew). He said there would never have been all that arguing. My daughter-in-law and I have not spoken since she became pregnant nine months ago. She started messaging me nasty things, saying it wasn’t any of my business why I couldn’t come down. She states, “STAY UP WHERE YOU ARE NOBODY LIKES YOU DOWN HERE ANYWAY.” So we started arguing back and forth on Messenger.
I was talking with my doctor about this, and he says to stay away from her. What do I do if I’m invited to birthdays or the twins’ christening? She took away my bonding time with my granddaughter. I don’t want to be around her, but I want to see my grandchildren. — Shut-Out Grandma
Dear Shut-Out Grandma: Your daughter-in-law does sound unstable, or certainly like she believes you cannot be trusted. That must be so hurtful for you as a grandmother, and I’m sorry you are going through this. Grandparents are a gift to children, so let’s try and find a way for you to be back in their lives. You should attend events if you are invited. Birthdays and christenings are memorable days that you don’t want to miss. When you’re there, focus on the love you have for your grandchildren and your son. If you can take it a step further, send your daughter-in-law some love. Clearly, she is hurting deeply. Have an open and honest conversation with your son about your feelings. Tell him you are willing to go to family counseling or do whatever it takes to have a relationship with him and your grandchildren. Don’t give up on them.
How someone treats you is a statement about who they are as a human being, not a statement about you. How you respond is a statement about you. When you are with them, it’s probably best to avoid making any comments whatsoever about their marriage. Of course, you were right in your comment about a kiss goodbye, but that makes her even angrier.
If she says hurtful things again, don’t engage in an argument on Messenger. Remember she is hurting and that is why she is acting out. Act with compassion, and keep being there for your son and grandchildren.
View prior ‘Dear Annie’ columns
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]
COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM