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sthomp0291

Asking in-laws for help and feel ashamed

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Hello everyone. My name is Lauren and I was widowed on January 1, 2017 when my husband was killed in a car accident. I was 26 at the time, with a 10-month-old daughter. I'm now 29 and my daughter is 3. I am asking for advice and/or support over the issue of asking family, specifically my lovely in-laws, for help, and the feelings of shame and anxiety involved. 

 

As I've been widowed for 2.5 years, I am BAG and feel like I'm doing as well as anyone can be at this point. I have always been very independent, and although I have an amazing, loving relationship with my in-laws, I've done all the "big things" (moving, continuing education, therapy, etc.) on my own with their and my family's emotional support. 

 

My issue right now is that my mother is getting too old to continue to watch my daughter while I work (teacher) and so I need to get her back in daycare/preschool for next year at least 3 days a week. Obviously, as a single parent now, that's a real financial burden. My parents do all they can to help, but have their own financial issues and cannot help me with this one besides continuing to keep her 2 days a week to.keep costs down. My in-laws, on the other hand, are very well off, but I've never been comfortable asking them for financial help beyond help putting up a fence and accepting gifts for my DD. 

 

I called my MIL yesterday to vent my frustration over the cost of childcare in my new city and the low quality of the ones I've seen in my price range. I have found an amazing school that DD would thrive at...... for $850 a month to go 3 days.... I can only afford no more than $400. I am considering asking my in-laws if they would be able or willing to help with this cost, only because it could be instrumental in helping DD (their only GD, my DH was an only child) get a great head start. But I am feeling IMMENSE shame and anxiety about asking. These lovely people basically adopted me as their own  when we married, and even more so after DH's death. I dont want to risk tainting their opinion of me or our relationship by involving money. They were already saddened last year when I chose to move back to my hometown to be near my large family support network, although I make sure DD sees them at least twice a month. 

 

Any words of advice or wisdom in this issue? I feel like becoming so self-sufficient, getting my Master's, fighting to get my own new home and stability for myself and DD became my driving force and my identity as a widow. The thought of being dependent or seen as a moocher repulses me, and I'm so conflicted on this....

 

Thank you for any thoughts you could share.

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Hi Lauren, thanks for sharing your story. I am sorry you are in this position and to what happened to your husband. It sounds like you are doing a great job. It also sounds like you have a great relationship with your in laws. It sounds like a tough decision, but I say to ask them. Maybe allow more time with them and your daughter to be together. Not sure how far you live from them. But they sound like they love you and your daughter very much. Good luck. Not sure I helped much but I believe I would ask.

Take care,

Melissa

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Hi Melissa, thank you for replying. They live about 2.5-3 hours away, depending on traffic, so twice a month is about all I can handle, unfortunately :(

 

I worry a lot about them feeling like I "chose" my own family over them by moving, but they travel constantly and I needed more constant, present support, as well as wanting my DD to get all the benefits of the better schools and life here (old town was a really country, backwater, somewhat casually racist area, and I didn't want her growing up there). Its just so awkward to ask when it's not in my mindset to ever do so and it feels icky....

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I'm sorry you're dealing with this.  My father in law - who is on a fixed income - would do literally ANYTHING for his only grandchild, my daughter.  I am grateful I've never had to ask him for help with something major but if I was in a situation like yours, I would probably pose it like a problem I am having, reaching out to them to discuss it or talk it over with them, see if they have any ideas, rather than asking for the money outright.  It might just be a good way to open up the lines of communication about this.  Does that make sense?  

 

Also, my husband was a teacher and I was a college professor, and we had childcare issues for a few years.  When our daughter turned three or four we realized (much to our surprise) that she could go to a local private school that was actually far less expensive than daycare because we qualified for a "scholarship" based on our income.  She's been in public school for years now (and as public school teachers that's where we wanted her to be) but it did solve a dilemma (including all day kindergarten) for us at that time before 1st grade.  It was not free but it was an option we never considered because we figured it would be out of reach.  Might be worth looking into?  

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So sorry to hear of the passing of your late husband.

 

Wow, lots to unpack here. As background, I had four sons when their mother passed - two of them a bit older than your D, but still needing before/afterschool care. I traveled out of town for work, every week, so child care was the top item on my list to take care of. 

 

I'm going to get right to it - as you'll see, I'm a pretty blunt talker. It seems unreasonable to me to ask your ILs to help with the daycare bills in this circumstance. It sounds like you have looked around and made your decision as to what is a good/safe/whatever place for DD but the cost is beyond your means. The solution at the top of your list is to ask for financial help from others. Not optimal in my book - here's why: ILs or any other folks really that you ask for financial help from had no input into the choice yet, you want an outside party to pay for your choice(s). In my world and circle of family and friends, that's not a path to success. You state you want 'DD to get all the benefits of the better schools and life here' without having the means to accomplish it. So, you are making choices that you cannot currently afford. In my view, this is an unreasonable outlook - you're 30 yrs old - while it will be very difficult to pull this all together, you can do it and your daughter, and you!, will be better for it. 

 

I had many of the same issues and concerns you do but, my response to this crappy state of affairs was to cut all of my personal expenses to the very bone; and work my ass off to stitch together a patchwork of decent care for my boys while I had to be at work. I gave up my advanced schooling and continued to live in the shithole home I was in because money was tight. All my family (seven sibs and all four grandparents) lived far away and could not help out. 

 

I wouldn't have dreamed to ask anyone to help pay my way out of that mess. Hard work, self-reliance and persistence is the way to beat this. My children grew up to be well balanced, well adjusted, responsible, hard working young men. 

 

Just one man's opinion. 

 

Good luck. 

 

Mike

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Mike, you seem to be implying that Lauren isn't already applying "hard work, self-reliance, and persistence." I very much doubt that is the case, my bet is that she is. It seems to me like she's doing everything you can to make a difficult situation work. You make her sound wilful and feckless in her choices; lets remember, she was widowed. She moved to be nearer to family. You have no idea where that actually is, what the cost of housing is there, what the cost of childcare is there. You make it sound like there's shame in a loving family helping each other out. Your suggestion that because they had no input they can't be asked monetises family relationships. Your "patchwork of decent care" sounds very much like you were relying on others at times. We've all had to. I didn't have to ask for financial support from my in-laws because my children were a little older, my hours were pretty flexible, and, most of all, I was very well paid - doesn't make me a better person.

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Wow, Mike, if I had known that coming to this message board to get some advice was going to result in a grown man thinking he could try to scold me (a grown woman), I would've stayed away. This is supposed to be a place where we come for help, support, and to commiserate. If you want to say that you vote a no on reaching out to the in laws for help,  then say that. But don't you DARE condescend to tell me that I lack resilience, a work ethic, or personal character. Allow me to address some of your false assumptions about me (the person you've never met):

 

1. You claim that the option at the "top of my list" was to go running to others for money. If that was true, why on Earth would I be anxiety ridden and asking for ideas and support on here? I would just go do it. Obviously, my first choice is to find a safe childcare option that I can afford, but with only one income now, that's almost impossible. Daycares around here, even the crappy ones, are $600 a month or more. That was a struggle to afford when my husband (a corrections officer) was alive and bringing in money. Now, it's impossible. 

 

2. You attack me for making the choice to leave a racist, nowhere town to get back to a better civilization for better schools like my daughter doesn't deserve them. You seem to be operating under the false assumption that I meant better daycares. I didn't- I was talking about the much better PUBLIC SCHOOLS several years down the road. She had a great daycare in my old town..... FOR $750 A MONTH. When my husband was alive, we scraped it together, but now he is NOT and I literally cannot scrape it together from my pitiful teacher's salary.

 

3. You talk about abandoning your higher education as if it's some sort of badge of honor and noble sacrifice,  and maybe in your case it was. Maybe the time commitment and cost didnt add up to paying off in the end for your career. But guess what? My finishing my Master's (which only added about $10 a month to my already existing student loan payment) and moving to a higher paying district in my hometown are the only reasons WHY I was able to try to get her into daycare for next year. That pay raise gets me another $250 a month, so I can MAYBE afford it now, and spare my poor mother a heart attack from trying to chase after my 3 year old when she's in no condition to. I made a very SMART financial decision in pursuing my move and my degree, because without this pay raise, my daughter and I would have lost our house! But thanks for seeing my year and a half of staying up until 2 am every night studying and working (AFTER a full work day as a high school teacher and mom) as some kind of luxury cruise I indulged in. I assure you, it was just as much a sacrifice as your choice  NOT to pursue it.

 

4. You claim I am asking for help in this choice without giving my in laws any choice or say. Idk how you managed to extrapolate that little gem from my very limited response, but, once again, you're wrong. I am wanting to ask for their HELP, not just their wallet. I want some HELP in deciding which option is best, in terms of finances, location, quality, etc. One of the worst parts of sudden widowhood is the sudden realization that EVERY decision falls to you, and every consequence as well, and having my much loved family AND in laws in this discussion further cements their feeling as being involved with their beloved GD and me. Whether they can help me financially or not, I know they appreciate that I've made them part of the conversation,  that I've continued to include them.

 

5. You try to portray yourself as someone who just magically managed to manifest childcare for your kids without providing any specifics beyond "stitch together a patchwork of decent care." How, Mike? Pleeeaassee let us all in on your magic secret patchwork you had that apparently didnt involve any assistance from anyone else. Did your job offer you work from home flexibility? Oops, teacher, remember? Not an option.  Did you have other young parent friends around who created a co-OP? Tried it. They all prefer daycare and have 2 incomes :D Did your job pay you well enough to cover daycare costs even on one income, although you had to cut back to do it? Mine just doesn't. Sorry. As another poster said, sounds an awfully lot like you accepted some help to make that patchwork there, but. Idk what your "patchwork" consisted of, but I'm afraid the quilt it made doesn't extend all the way here from your time (back in the day of my dad, I'm assuming, since your kids are grown, where the economy boomed and my dad, a high school dropout working as a manager in a grocery store could support a family of 4 and buy a nice house). Welcome to 2019, hon. Cost of living and childcare have gone up exponentially since this was your concern, and I suggest you calculate what the percentage of your take home was going to childcare in that day and then calculate it today on a teacher's salary. I bet you'll get a surprise.

 

I'm not even going to address your snarky implication that I haven't already "cut expenses to the bare bone". Apparently, you already decided (again, without ever having met me or had more than a 3 paragraph glimpse into my life) that apparently I'm just whiny, spoiled girl who isn't willing to give up her yacht or her nail appointments or something to make it work. Like I haven't busted my ass for everything, like we all do. In response to that,  I just say shame on you. We come here so maybe, just maybe, we can feel like we're not so alone in this. Like maybe every choice in front of us isn't a crappy one for once. Like maybe we can avoid the judgment for the many hard choices we have to make alone now, but apparently that's not how you see or use this site. 

 

You can try to excuse your tone-deaf rudeness with "you see, I'm a blunt-talker" all you want...... that's code for being a self-righteous jerk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by sthomp0291
Misspelling
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Adb: thank you for the reply. Hopefully I addressed some of his nonsense in my post above. 

 

As an interesting update to the situation, as I said, my in laws like to feel involved in my daughter's life and care, and wanted me to share with them some of the places I was looking. I texted them the link to the only option I was able to afford (a zoo, basically) and they researched it with me, where we found several concerning citations on their business and were all dismayed. They are now doing their own independent research on daycares within 10 miles of me and sending me info, Haha. I have not broached any discussion over finances other than to point out when several of them were ones I had found but could not afford. They told me, "if it's right for baby, we can all work it out and make it right."

 

This is why Iove these people so much. They are very giving and love my daughter and myself very much, and when they COULD choose to point out how I moved away from their help, instead they want me to succeed, and support me and my daughter.  

 

I refuse to be ashamed of asking for support from the loving support network God saw fit to gift to me and my daughter. We all need help sometimes. 

 

Thank you to those who had helpful and compassionate responses. Mike, I hope you gave yourself the pat on the back you so clearly feel you deserve.

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Good for you Lauren, for doing everything you can to do the best for your daughter. And good for you for giving Mike some home truths. I'm just sorry you're having to deal with any of this, with or without the judgement. 

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Just popping in to add: I’m not sure where you all are at geographically, but $850/month for childcare is not exorbitant where I am, and I’m not in a major metropolitan area. I wouldn’t want to put my kid somewhere cheaper. Childcare is probably THE thing to splurge on, even when we can’t afford it, as we literally put their lives in someone else’s hands. 

 

Angered to see that someone who frontloaded that they’re struggling with feelings of shame was shamed here and that unkindness and judgy, uninformed moral self-righteousness was passed off as bluntness. Did you think that was helpful? Was kind?

 

 It takes a friggin’ village. I’m not even a single mom (a widower and I have a kid together) and it’s hard and requires assistance. In my view, if the family I raise doesn’t see that helping one another when we can is love, I’ve failed.

 

 

Edited by Mizpah
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In my world, among my family and friends, grandparents help - with joy in their hearts that they can contribute towards making a better world for their grandchildren- whether that be with money, moral support, or physical action. 

 

Widowhood has taught me that it is important to ask others for help, and to accept the help that is offered, because it allows the other person to feel good about themselves and their place in this world. A feeling of usefulness is important. This world is hard enough as it is, what is so wrong with asking others to help ease our burdens and to in turn help ease others? Of course, this will sometimes end in disappointments or embarrassment- but that is also a lesson. 

 

But yeah, money talk can be super awkward. I hope that all of you can get through it gracefully. Who knows? Perhaps they are worried about offending your ‘dignity’ by offering to help pay? You all sound lovely and loving towards one another so I feel you will be able to successfully work at continuing the relationships whatever their answer. Good luck. 

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While Mike may have made some assumptions and presented his opinion in a way that offended you, I do agree it is important to make sure you have reviewed all your other household expenses to see if there are ways you can cut back on anything that is not essential so the financial help provided by your in-laws is at a minimum.  My in-laws help me with many things that are not financial because of the love of their granddaughter and would help financially if I need them to.  Your child will have to grow up without her father, which is very unfair to her, I don't think you should feel bad for accepting help where your in-laws are willing and able.

As a side note, I think it is unfair for everyone here to attack Mike for his opinion.  He was honest about his view and past experience even though he made some assumptions that weren't accurate. I feel this forum would be less helpful if everyone told us what they thought we wanted to hear, instead of giving honest feedback. The internet allows us all to personally attack each other without consequences, but it doesn't make any of us better people for having done so.  Treating everyone with respect when giving honest opinions and when reacting to honest opinions makes this a better forum for us all in my opinion.  

My wife passed away 3 years ago, so I am on a similar timeline as yourself STHOMP0291, hang in there, being a solo parent can be very tough.  Take care

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Thank you for your reply, Paul. What you detailed is basically my thinking as well. The reason why I am only seeking for her to go part time is to keep costs down (although 85% of the preschools I've called don't offer part time) and I have thoroughly slashed out all non essentials. Unfortunately, as the only real unnecessary spending items were things like 12.99 a month for Netflix (I don't have cable or satellite),  canceling my Washington Post subscription of 3.99 a month, and our occasional treats of going to Kangaroo Jax for some $20 fun every now and again, it didn't help that much. My thoughts are that maybe my in laws could redirect some of the not insignificant monies they already spend on sending my DD presents and clothes towards her schooling, and I can cover up to $400 of it. The reality is, she doesn't need any more clothes or toys, they've sent way more than she can use already. She needs a good preschool.

I wish that Mike had expressed his thoughts on slashing budget, keeping cost down, etc. in a respectful and compassionate manner, as you did. I appreciate that. But I have worked too hard and know my worth enough not to let a grown man speak to me in a tone that sounds like scolding whilst simultaneously making all kinds of rude and unkind assumptions about me, my intentions, and my circumstances. Not on a message board meant to be a place for support and compassionate advice.

 

Thank you for the reply. 

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On 7/24/2019 at 10:18 PM, PaulZ said:

While Mike may have made some assumptions and presented his opinion in a way that offended you, I do agree it is important to make sure you have reviewed all your other household expenses to see if there are ways you can cut back on anything that is not essential so the financial help provided by your in-laws is at a minimum.  My in-laws help me with many things that are not financial because of the love of their granddaughter and would help financially if I need them to.  Your child will have to grow up without her father, which is very unfair to her, I don't think you should feel bad for accepting help where your in-laws are willing and able.

As a side note, I think it is unfair for everyone here to attack Mike for his opinion.  He was honest about his view and past experience even though he made some assumptions that weren't accurate. I feel this forum would be less helpful if everyone told us what they thought we wanted to hear, instead of giving honest feedback.

I don''t know exactly what Portside said, because I have him blocked, for exactly this type of thing, but there is a huge difference between giving honest feedback and shaming people about something they already feel turmoil over. This is why I hardly  ever come here anymore, not because of Portside's posts, which i can easily block, but because of all the posts that defend his bullying behavior, so perfectly described by Mizpah as "uninformed moral self-righteousness." Stop dressing this up as bluntness. You can be blunt while being compassionate. To choose not to when dealing with people who've suffered profound loss can't be described as anything other than cruel.  It's my understanding that this is intended to be a place to support and seek support. This may be just my understanding of the nature of the site, but it is not the place to promote your political beliefs, or to make yourself feel superior because of how you think you've handled grief, loss, and life in general better than everyone else, or to take out all your unresolved issues on people who are already suffering. If you are not here to provide support, and you have everything figured out, then what are you doing here?

 

OP, I have been where you are, and ultimately asked and received money from the ILs. I never regretted it, because the awkwardness just faded away, but the benefits to my kid was real and long lasting.

 

Quote

 

 

Edited by MrsDan
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I agree with Mike and Paulz on this one...   

sthomp0291- this is a place to come and get advise and opinions but they are not always going to be what we want to hear.  Take what is helpful for you from the response and let go of the rest.  You might take offense to it now but maybe later on in life that same advise/opinion will help you.  I am a little more further out than you (5 years) and I too have asked questions and gotten different opinions and because these people are often blunt they make me see different angels of the situation that maybe I was not seeing.  I think this is a place where we should be free to say how we really feel and if we are always telling each other that everything is ok and good.....well we all know that's not real.    

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I never said we should tell each other everything is okay and good. I never said we shouldn't have different opinions. I simply said we should offer our thoughts with kindness and compassion. Bluntness for the sake of helping someone make informed decisions is one thing. Using a grief site as your own personal playground to condescend, belittle, and bully people, advance your outdated and narrow-minded belief system, and take out your unprocessed anger on vulnerable people are very different things. It's my contention that is what he is doing. I don't believe there is anything close to an altruistic motive here. That's not what this is at all, and I'm tired of it to the point that it has pretty much driven me away from this site.

 

I'm pretty far out myself, 7 years, and the nature of my husband's death mean I have faced very hard truths every day since. I have no problem doing that. I do have a problem with cruelty. 

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I don't think @Portside meant to be rude but I do understand why @Sthomp0291 felt the way she did. I would feel the same. But at the same time Mike only expressed his opinion to which he is completely entitled to. He surely could have worded it differently and in a (much) less patronising way - I know from my experience how much more sensitive I have become after I lost Ken and how easily offended you can be in the first months/ years after the loss. But he worded it the way he did and I am sure the backlash got to him too.

 

Let's all move on and don't forget that every single one of us is grieving and we all grieve differently. Sometimes we all say crude things that we later regret, no need to dwell on them. If I read responses I don't like here, I too get upset but quickly let go. After the greatest loss of my life I am not going to waste my energy on some strangers' remarks and opinions. And no disrespect to anyone here xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unfortunately, I have watched portside drive off several wids from this site with his shaming  ‘home truths’. I mean, sometimes he does give very helpful advice-  but when you touch on something that is...triggering?...for him, then it is heart-breaking and infuriating to watch his completely tone-deaf response. I was afraid it was going to happen yet again in this thread, but fortunately OP was able to stand up for herself. I felt such relief.

 

I’m not advocating we stifle our opinions when asked, I just think that there are ways of expressing our opinions while also remaining respectful and loving towards our fellow wids. 

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4 hours ago, Bunny said:

I’m not advocating we stifle our opinions when asked, I just think that there are ways of expressing our opinions while also remaining respectful and loving towards our fellow wids. 

 

True, and everyone’s definition of ‘respectful and loving’ will be different.

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