Jump to content

Young Widow Forum

Register to view blogs.

Captains wife

The Guilt from Inlaws

Recommended Posts

I am a single mum to a young boy and live about an hour from my ex in-laws. We never had a great relationship (even when I was married) as my MIL can be quite difficult and domineering but I really felt I needed to do the right thing after my husband died suddenly. So I stayed put (even though I was very isolated and my direct family is in Canada) and I try and take my son to visit as much as possible and keep in touch with my mother in law in particular so she can see my son growing up and she feels she is part of his life. Ive asked for her advice on numerous things related to my son. She and my BIL do have a nice relationship with my son and I try to foster that. Because my MIL was ill for a while I needed to drive my son an hour to her house (which meant me driving 2+ hours - there and back - and if it was a Friday evening it was more like 3.5hrs total), then repeat on Sunday. Plus she just prefers being at her house and having my son visit her. I try and accommodate her and the family so he sees them 1-2 times a month (for the weekend) and he will call periodically + we send cards, flowers etc on special occasions. I have also recently tentatively agreed to drive my son 6 hours (one way) so he can attend a wedding on her family side as she wants him there. (I don't like her driving my son on the freeway as she has heart issues + isn't a great driver). I have told her and my brother in law on numerous occasions that since I have a 3 hour commute a day for work that all this driving to her house was wearing on me, and my already jam-packed schedule. I have asked them to be understanding because I am stressed out already with everything on my place. I have asked them meet me half way on occasions (for driving) or told them they are feel free to visit our house (particularly as my MIL is feeling better). Plus I only see my son in the evenings from M-T and I too want to spend some quality time with him plus I am trying to expand his activities and social circle so many weekends are booked up with activities, or play dates. I am dating someone with a young boy close to my son's age and we like to get them together at least once a month (and its a date for us too!) Also, on top of this, a lot of time he is at his grandma's he is on an ipad, watching TV and I really am working on cutting back his screen time.


I really feel I am doing the best I can and already feeling tapped out. I get a call last night from her (and I am feeling particularly tapped out recently, just exhausted with everything on my plate) and she asks when my son is coming up. I reply that right now I don't know as I don't have my next several weeks fully planned as I have a few medical things and household things on my plate. I told her that she was welcome to come visit (my BIL could drive her). (My son was actually at her house the weekend before last - from Friday to Sunday). And the reply was - "You don't want me to come to your house". So my reply "When did I say this, you guys are always welcome - we just need to plan in advance". Her reply, "Its a gut feeling I get from you..." I was so upset, I just said - "I'm really offended by what you just said - you are always welcome and I have always told you that" and my son came into the room at that point so I handed the phone over so they could have a catch up. After he hung up - I just cried...I'm really trying my best and feel unsupported and that nothing I've said has meant anything - and that all my actions are not appreciated. My son loves his grandma and his uncle and I want them to maintain a relationship - but I just feel defeated right now. I feel guilty though too that I haven't done enough. Has anyone else dealt with difficult inlaws ? Any advice on how to deal with it? Ive tried talking to them before but its not getting through.

Edited by Captains wife
  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post

First, it is difficult!  Don’t be too hard on yourself.  You have bent over backwards it appears to maintain a family relationship but others will never think it is enough most of the time.  I applaud you for all you have done. You are an only parent, widowed young, taking care of your son and working full time!  That is incredible to maintain!


Yes, I have in laws but really just granny.   The whole family is great but you have to go to them.  Granny is in poor health due to a hard life style and poor choices.  My LH convinced her to move to us before we had a son.  It was his duty to care for her, as he was an only child.  Large family but just the two of them for yrs. 


Move forward and LH dies in a car accident.  Granny starts preparing my son to care for her. Nope, not his job.  Not his job to take care of me.  I started dating 4 yrs out and moved last yr which Iead to her move back home.  Lots of family (over 25 nieces and nephews to step up and they do.)


My son loves her dearly but we are 3 hrs apart, and I am working like you, only parent, new life and busy.  My son is now 15 so he has his own life.  Weekends are full of his choices of activities, and it is good.  She has accepted it.  It is a good life he has.  But she can still say things that make me feel guilty.  It is hard.  We didn’t ask for this but relationships change permanently over time.  She now tells him he can drive to see her next yr.  well, we will see. Same as you. Sit on his phone or watch tv as that is what she can do.  An overnight is enough and that’s what WE do, not just him.  She drove herself to the hospital when having a stroke so I don’t let her drive him.  She told two doctors she’d do it again. Nope, not with my kid.  I ended up setting boundaries she didn’t like.   She communicates with him mostly but he can’t make arrangements so he directs her to me then. She can come visit any time, and I’ll drive her around here.  She has twice. Feels like a divorce sometimes.  

Saw her this weekend at my kid’s band competition in our former town. She chose to stay in our former town than drive and stay with us.  Asked him when he was coming for Christmas.  Specifically “ Am I gonna get to see you at Christmas?”  Guilt him?  I told her it wasn’t November yet.  Let’s get through thanksgiving.  We will get up there. 


Raising you up.  I hope you figure out something that works. It is just another collateral damage snowball of loss.  You have done a lot!  

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post

It's not your job to bend over backwards to get along with the ILs.


Talking, as you mentioned hasn't done it. It won't . MIL is difficult - also as you have mentioned. You can't make her, or anyone else, act like a human. It appears you have been very accommodating regarding visits and such - that's wonderful but if you are tapped out as you say, pull out of this nonsense. If you end up grumpy, tired and just plain whipped trying to fix MIL, your relationship with your boy will suffer. So don't try.


She doesn't give a damn about your constraints or concerns. She made this messy bed - she should get to lay in it.


Good luck - Mike  

  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post

I have always been like you, bending over backwards to keep everyone else happy and it is just plain exhausting.  You have done so much to foster this relationship between your son and his grandmother, my guess is that if your husband was alive she's would have even less time with him because you would be focused on family time and your DH would've set the limits.

Try to do only what you are comfortable with and continue to invite her to come see you sometimes.  Then it's up to her.  You have NOTHING to feel guilty about.  

  • Like 4

Share this post

Link to post

I am totally on the same boat as Trying. You cannot please everyone and you shouldn't have to at this point. I too had to understand that and embrace it. But you have to put yourself and your kid first and they need to grow up and learn to understand that the world doesn't revolve around your inlaws and it doesn't give them the right to overstep your set boundaries and run you ragged. Also lifting you up today! Don't let their guilt get you. 

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post

I have felt the same way as you, although I was blessed to have a very loving relationship with my in-laws, and still do. But if it helps to hear, it can be the same feeling even with a strong relationship. I moved about 2.5 hours away back to my hometown and family a year after my husband's death.  I make sure my DD (3yo) gets up to see them at least twice a month, but it is exhausting. They do want me to come all the way to their town more often, when I would prefer to meet in the middle. I jokingly but sometimes frustratedly call it the "custody exchange." It is so hard to balance out our desire to care for the emotional needs of everyone who was impacted by our spouse's death, and it is yet another burden sometimes. Take comfort in the fact that you have worked hard to keep you IL involved and continue to do so as much as you REASONABLY can, but also try to.be at peace with the ball being in her court to come to you sometimes. If it means so much to her, she will make it work.

Share this post

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.