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Alter_Ego's avatar

Help! I don't want to be one of "THOSE" mother in laws!

Asked by Alter_Ego (71points) September 11th, 2010

My son has been dating a girl who seemed very nice for the first year. Then, she overdosed on his medication (zyprexa, an anti psychotic, he’s bi-polar) and almost died.
When she got out of the hospital she acted like nothing happened.
My son left her once, and said she was physically abusive to him.
She is one of those right wing radicals who drives me crazy with her judgemental attitude.
Now she has been judgemental towards all of our family (except my husband, the rest of us are women) and has pretty much alienated us from my son.
Today my son informs us that she is pregnant.
They’re not getting married right away, but I’m sure it’s in their future.
I never envisioned being “that” mother in law, who didn’t like her daughter in law, but this girl can find drama in the ABC song.
How do I go about being kind, but not a pushover, and being available but not manipulated, and protect myself and avoid being abused in the process?
I want a relationship with my grandchild, but I can already tell that this poor child will be a pawn in her drama manipulation games.
Any ideas??

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13 Answers

Deja_vu's avatar

Just be one of those mother in laws! My brother married a girl he knocked up. Now he’s going through a divorce from hell. Just do what you feel is right.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Be sincere and authentic with her. What else can you do longterm? Support your son and give this girl a chance. At the same time, do not allow her to walk over your family.

nebule's avatar

Yes, support her and them as much as you can, without being interfering or judgemental. The father and mother of my son’s father hated me for getting pregnant with his child out of wedlock and have ostracised themselves from us. She’s probably so entrenched in drama because of some pain that she has been through in her life and perhaps can only deal with life when it is full of drama. I’d get to know her a bit more and find out how you can help and be a friend…not that mother-in-law.

stardust's avatar

I agree with the above comments. I think sincerity is important. This dramatic approach she takes to life is obviously serving her in some way and most likely the result of some terrible pain she’s carrying. However, that doesn’t make it okay or justify her behaviour.
I think the most important thing is to look after yourself in this because it could be a rocky road.
Don’t allow yourself to become sucked into her drama, as that’s what fuels her behaviour. I think it’d be helpful to not be available to them all of the time.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I have found that the adage about catching more flies with honey than vinegar works in many situations with adult children, and works with who they’re dating, too. Perhaps try to start a relationship with her without your son. Think of it as trying to forge a better relationship with a younger coworker. Resist the temptation to parent the situation. Try to find in the young woman what attracts your son to her.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I’ve watched my mother staunchly support two of my sibling’s marriages that ended in divorce. When they were over, she once confided in me that she saw the writing on the wall before they married, but that her children had their own lives to lead. Both ex in-laws are still in regular contact with her.

BarnacleBill ^ offers good advice in attempting to develop a relationship with her. And if that poses a challenge, at least treat her as you do your own children. After all, she will be the mother of your grandchild. Surely you don’t want to lose the opportunity to be in the child’s life.

Cruiser's avatar

I would not sell out your core beliefs even for a potential DIL. Tell how you feel our be one of those MIL who is made miserable by bitchy DIL’S

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Maybe you should stop judging so much. But I’m just one of ‘those liberal leftist’ kinds.

perspicacious's avatar

First I’ll mention the plural is mothers-in-law.

Don’t make a plan. That’s so disingenuous. Treat your DIL the way you think you should. If she behaves in a way you think she shouldn’t, then respond appropriately. But to think you know what details will fill your relationship with someone a year and a pregnancy down the road is just premature, and frankly a little stupid.

YARNLADY's avatar

When I was having a similar question with a family member, I visited a psychologist for a few sessions, and we explored ways to approach the problem. She had some excellent tips and ideas on how to avoid being confrontational. Now that the years have passed, I am glad i was able to work it out with her help.

Alter_Ego's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir ; I usually am not judgmental, it’s just that she has been so blatantly judgemental of me, and I’m feeling attacked. That’s what I hate about this whole thing. I’m feeling feelings that I really don’t want to feel and it seems like she is trying to cause drama where none exists.
@perspicacious ; I never claimed to be an English Major, but I understand how those sorts of mistakes are like nails on a chalkboard to some. Sorry. I think your advice to just see how it plays out is probably good. I pray that I am over reacting. I wrote this right after I found out about the pregnancy. Both my son and this girl are not models of mental health and I am worried about the baby.
@YARNLADY, Can you share some of those tops and ideas? I feel that is EXACTLY what I need right now.
By the way, my son’s in law think I’m a great MIL. I also think that they’re pretty terrific.
I sent them a baby present too. I never let them know about my worry and have been putting on my smily face.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Alter_Ego Listen to what they want to say, and do not give your opinion of the past issues at all. Use only stock phrases like “how are you today?” “What did you do this week?” and respond to the answers by saying “So how did you feel about that?”. Never, never bring up your disapproval or ask about the issues that could lead to disagreement.

I promise you, over time the issues that seem so important right now will fade away.

Alter_Ego's avatar

Thanks @YARNLADY . Those are wise answers that I will heed.

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