Q. I have only one child, my son, who got married a couple of years ago to his girlfriend who was pregnant at the time. I’ve never talked to him about it but I think he only married her because she was going to have his baby. I’ve always thought I had a good relationship with my son. For many years I was a single mom so it was just me and him for a long time.
I’ve never really liked my daughter-in-law. She is a manipulative and spoiled person. A few weeks ago I was at their house to babysit my granddaughter. I took her to the mall for an icecream and got her a haircut – she’s about a year and a half, and really needed a hair cut with summer coming. My daughter-in-law was very upset when she saw her daughter and since then I have not been invited back to their house. I think she is overreacting. I am a Grandma, shouldn’t I be able to take my granddaughter for icecream and a haircut? I’ve called my son many times to talk to him about this and he says that his wife is upset and that I just need to stay away for a while. He has not been to see me and I am broken-hearted.
I am so hurt, all I want to do is see my grandchild.
A. First things first, you did do something wrong. You took an eighteen-month-old baby for a haircut (I only hope that it wasn’t her first) without checking with her mother first. You were disrespectful to the child’s mother, you did not recognize that she is the one who decides where her baby goes, and the activities her baby engages in. Not the grandmother. Whether you intended to or not, by your actions you dismissed her as a mother. You behaved badly and now you are being punished. And what you need to do now is graciously accept the consequences of your behavior. Apologize to your daughter-in-law, but don’t push for an immediate invitation back into their lives. Be patient. She needs to see that you respect her as your son’s wife and as the mother of your grandchild.
I realize that your intention was not to be deliberately mean. You were just enjoying time with your granddaughter. But the fact is that you don’t like your daughter-in-law, and she must know that. We all know when someone does not like us. And not liking your daughter-in-law is not a smart move. She is the gatekeeper that you have to go through to see your grandchild. So what if she is a little immature? She is a new mother, and don’t we all behave territorially and a little bit insecurely as we try to find our footing as parents? You have more life experience and parenting experience than she does, so why don’t you use it and act with compassion and patience.
As for your son, you have put him in a very difficult position. You should be proud of his response to this difficult situation. He is acting like a husband/father first and as a son second. His primary allegiance should be to his wife and child and not to you, as his mother. I know that is hard to hear, but if he was running to your house trying to make you feel better about the situation he would undermine seriously his position in his marriage and his wife’s trust in him.
The bottom line is that you must accept your daughter-in-law’s status even if you don’t particularly like her. Do that and everything else will fall into place.
Good luck to you.