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Anyone Else Not Speaking to Parents?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Well today of all days you know what hit the fan and it looks like we won't be speaking to my FIL anymore. After years of being given the cold shoulder by FIL and his wife we finally spoke up and it didn't go well. The whole family lives really close and they lavish attention, money etc. on the other sibling and grand-kids and treat us like we hardly exist. I even got involved and asked why we don't ever get invited to things, why they don't make any attempt at a relationship with our kids and why they never return our phone calls. Between being yelled at and hung up on I gathered that FIL is really mad at dh for a decision he made  7 years ago and just can't be around him anymore. He never showed ANY signs of being upset about this thing and actually supported dh with this decision in the beginning.  


He told me that our kids are out of control and that the other grand-kids are easy. The ONE time they took our kids it didn't go well but that was two years ago and they have just written them off ever since. Mind you the kids were 4 and 2 at the time. Then FIL listed all the things that are going wrong in his life (we have been being as supportive as can be, phone calls, cards, invites to dinner & camping etc.) and acted like it grants him the right to be rude to us. How dare we say anything to him about his treatment of us when xyz has happened to him. I tried explaining that our lives are no picnic either but he wouldn't ever know that because he NEVER picks up the phone to call us or returns our calls either. I kept trying to reiterate that it's fine if he feels the way he feels but we can't take anymore of the cold shoulder, he can be open with us and we won't be mad we just want to know. We do feel he is being a little insensitive especially toward me and our kids who have done nothing but be kind and nice to him.


So what I finally did was leave him a message because he wouldn't pick up the phone and told him that we love him and we understand if he doesn't want us in his life - that's ok he can just let us know. I told him that we have tried to show him we love him and care and that we think he is an awesome person and would love to have him in our life but the ball is in his court and he can call us when he is ready.


We are feeling SO hurt and the kids are old enough to get what's going on too. Where do we go from here? Anybody else in a similar situation?  What do we do about birthdays and holidays? Right now we feel like we really need our space.

post #2 of 17

hug2.gifI'm sorry that everything happened the way it did.


 We don't speak with the ILs, haven't this time in 3 years, and prior to that, it was an on and off again relationship ever since DH and I got together 11 years ago. They used to live near us and did move away during this last cycle. Holidays and birthdays weren't a big issue because BIL didn't live here so it wasn't a choice we had to make, miss the holiday and not see everyone because of the ILs. We just ignored that side of the family for everything during those periods. It wasn't always easy, DH missed his family, and still does, but has really come to realize that it is better for our family if there is no contact. 

post #3 of 17

I have no contact with my biological family, and it is a very good thing.  I hope you find peace with this situation.

post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks, this hurts so much but I think eventually we will reach a point where the pain isn't so crippling. In a way it is comforting to know what he really thinks of us and to have it confirmed that he doesn't want to be around us. So for all our years of knowing this deep down but still trying with him and being rejected time and time again and having this awkward fake relationship with him we can relax about it and STOP putting forth the effort.


He blames us 100% and cannot see any fault of his own. He feels justified in whatever he dishes out to us and completely victimized when we stand up for ourselves and try to work on the issues at hand. He would rather hold onto his anger and resentment than attempt to work this out and have a realtionship with our family. Our kids never did anything to him other than dd having a horrible tantrum at his house 2 years ago which he totally holds both of my kids accountable for to this day. So much so that they don't deserve a second chance. The kids were 2 and 4 at the time.


We are all so close it is going to be awkward. If you live close how do you deal with family gatherings? We tried yesterday and let him know we would like a relationship but the ball is in his court. For the past two years we have done all the calling & reaching out with constant rejection so I feel like we need to leave it up to him to contact us. But what do we do when it's time for a birthday party for one of the kids?

post #5 of 17

We invite our friends and chosen family and have a wonderful, drama free time.  It's great.

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

Yeah I guess you are right. I'm just worried that he didn't listen to my message about us wanting him in our lives but that we are going to leave the ball in his court. Emotionally I just don't think I can attempt pursuing him anymore.

post #7 of 17

What I am hearing... and feel free to tell me to shut up or back off or I am wrong or any thing else you want... is that you still feel like you still need to let him know that you like him and you want him to like you.  


It is more important that you like you than this bozo.  Seriously.  You can't be what he wants and trying will just make you feel bad and you don't deserve to feel bad.  If he will shame your daughter for two years for a temper tantrum he isn't worth knowing.  

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

Wow - you are extremely insightful! Your post brought me to tears. I guess I thought that as long as we were good enough then he would want us in his life even though he has this huge issue with dh and a difficult time with the kids. He's so passive aggressive that I feel he is going to really make us look horrid if we don't call him and invite him to things that involve the whole family.  But for the past two years I have been going above and beyond to have a relationship with him partially out of fear that he'll gripe to everyone else in the family that we are excluding him. But heck he excludes us from things all the time (as long as they don't involve the entire family and even at these events he is cold to us) and he rejects all of our invites that don't involve the entire family. Get the picture? I feel like he only deals with us when he absolutely has to. 


He probably heard the message and hopefully it sunk in that he is the one who has the problem with us and that we want him in our life, that's why we were upset and said something to him about how he ignores us. You are probably thinking why do I care? And I am wondering the same thing! I just want peace and the family to get along and I don't want to do anything that can be viewed as hurting him. I just want to do the right thing. But, at the same time I am tired of bending over backwards! I feel like it's time he made some effort with us - but I know he won't see it that way. He'll think: "they say they want me in their life then they stop calling me and now they don't even invite me to the kids b-days, what jerks, I don't deserve this!"


So would it be better to cut off all contact but out of respect still invite him to the big family events and send him a card to acknowledge his b-day etc? Or just totally cut out ALL contact and let him make the first move? What should we do when we are invited to gatherings with family where he will be in attendance? Sorry to go on and on but I would love to have some input on these issues. Thanks!       

post #9 of 17


Originally Posted by springmama View Post

So would it be better to cut off all contact but out of respect still invite him to the big family events and send him a card to acknowledge his b-day etc? Or just totally cut out ALL contact and let him make the first move? What should we do when we are invited to gatherings with family where he will be in attendance?

I think it depends on how doing the above would make you feel.  If you continue to try and include him and his response to those actions will some how be negative on your life, don't do it.  If you truly are feeling healthy enough that any action on your part would be good will and his reaction won't bother you at all, going ahead.  If his reactions are going to continue to pick at this wound for you, just don't do it.  Leave it alone until you feel like the wound is healed enough that it truly is a non-issue. 


Does that make sense?


post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 

Yes, that does make some sense. I think I also need to stop worrying about what everyone else in the family is going to think and I need to stop trying to please everyone. As the day wears on and this eats away at me I can't help but fret over every little thing. You're right dh and I will just have to see how it feels at the time.  

post #11 of 17

Bully's/abusers are always going to make it look like someone else is the bad guy.  That's part of their sparkly magical powers.  That doesn't make it true.  You know how hard you have tried.  Do you really have to prove it to anyone else?  


I'll tell you, I've been in your position and it sucks.  I have 0 contact at this point with any blood relatives because of abuse issues.  They all talk about how awful I am.  I can let that ruin my life or I can go off and be a happy and healthy person without their toxic shit bringing me down.  I'd rather be happy.

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

Rightkindofme you keep hitting the nail on the head. Thank you! All this drama has shown me that I have a lot I need to work on within myself, I've got to learn to be happy and ok with me and see myself and my little family for what we really are and not what others think of us. We're not perfect but we aren't the monsters that he's making us out to be. If he wants to hate dh and let that ripple down to the kids and me then there is NOTHING we can do to stop it. That concept is finally sinking in for me. I kept thinking if only we call this much and invite him to this then he'll love us!


I think it's time for us to circle the wagons so to speak, get some space from the family and work on healing and loving ourselves. The source of our well being has to come from within not from what others think of us. I never realized how my whole life I have always based the level of my self esteem on what others think of me. I'll look at this as a blessing and a huge life lesson from now on, a chance to better myself and my family. It's going to be hard but a hell of a lot more productive than worrying over being hated and doing contortionist moves to try and get his approval.


What types of things helped you guys move on and begin the healing process? Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your thoughtful responses. You guys seriously helped me get through this day.  



post #13 of 17

I haven't been in contact with my bioparents (my choice) or brother (his choice when I cut them off) since my oldest was a few weeks old. Like you, I persevered for a really long time thinking that if I could just somehow be good enough, or somehow make them understand that they were hurting me and I'm really not a bad person and would actually be pretty cool to have in their lives, things would be okay. But you can't make anyone understand anything; they either see it or they don't. They want you in their lives or they don't.


When it comes to abusers, you have to understand that the main reason they keep you around is because they get something out of abusing you. Hurting you, neglecting you, bullying you, tearing you down--it fills some gaping, bottomless need they have. They don't view you as a sovereign human being with your own valid thoughts and feelings. You're just an object to be used as they like to meet their own needs. This is the tragic nature of their dysfunction. They typically have little or no empathy and will never put someone else's feelings over their own desire to inflict pain. When you decide that you're not going to let them hurt you anymore, they quickly find that they have no more use for you. It's awful, unconscionable, unfathomable to those of us who aren't abusive, but it's what makes them what they are. Often they have a large network of enmeshed enablers (the extended family) who participate in this dysfunctional abusive cycle along with the abuser(s). It's enough to make you feel crazy--they can't all be that sick, can they?--until you really step away from the whole mess, get some clarity, and realize that it really wasn't you. After that, you may come to understand, with some horror, that these are not people who should have access to your children anyway.


I'm so sorry your FIL can't be the father and grandfather you want him to be. It sounds like you've gone above and beyond to try and include him in your lives, and he's foolishly pushing that away. You sound like a very compassionate and loving person and while it's very sad that he's choosing not to have you and your family in his life, it is his choice to make. Now it's time for you to move on. There will be real grief involved here, because in a way, this person is now dead to you. You'll always hope he'll come around and become functional enough to let back into your lives, but chances are excellent that he never will. And that's sad, but not your fault and not your choice. You did what you could and it didn't work. Now it's time to step away and go on with your lives...and in a while the sheer relief you'll feel when there's no longer this toxic cloud of pain and bad feelings hanging over you will outweigh any doubts you might have that you made the right decision.


Congratulations to you and your DH for breaking the cycle. As someone who made a similar choice, I will tell you honestly that it was the hardest thing I've ever done, and one of the most rewarding. I know that the cycle dies with me and that knowledge alone is worth all of the guilt trips and doubts I've ever had (and will probably have for the rest of my life).


As for holidays, we celebrate with our family of choice--our friends and healthy family members (I'm blessed with wonderful in-laws). My children have no lack of loving adults and other children in their lives, even if we don't share a bloodline. We do Christmas where we want, with whom we want. We only spend time with people who enrich our lives in some way. We don't suffer through abuse out of some misguided sense of guilt or obligation. And our children are learning that not even family members are allowed to treat you like garbage, no matter what they've done for you in the past or how much DNA you have in common.

It's hard, but it's totally worth it. Good luck to you. hug.gif

post #14 of 17

I had to metaphorically set fire to my family (I sent emails to my entire extended family telling them that my father held a gun to my head and raped me and my mother never stopped it and neither did any of them and I have to live with the consequences and they deserve to know that I have to live with that; I also outed my sister as a child molester/rapist) in order to break ties.  I had to make it really clear that I wasn't playing their games any more.


You aren't in my situation.  It will be murkier and harder for you because it sounds like whereas your father in law isn't pleasant he isn't a monster.  I honestly can't give you advice on that because my approach would be inappropriate for you.  :-\  I'm sorry.

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

Yep, this would be a lot more clear cut if he were a monster and I'm thankful that we aren't dealing with something like that. It's time for me to grow a spine and be able to stand up for myself and my family without quivering in fear that I pissed somebody off. We've let him know we want to talk about the core issue and resolve the hurt between him and dh but he doesn't want to and says he doesn't want anything to do with dh anymore. He's admitted that he thinks dh is a horrible person and that it makes him not pursue a relationship with his grandkids or me. And his secondary reason for giving our kids the shaft is that they are terrible. So I'm rationalizing this to myself and thinking, if I said all these things about a family would I expect anymore invites to b-days etc.? Um, NO!


It wouldn't be fair to our family to have someone there who feels this way about us just for the sake of politeness. Once again we'd be bending over backwards to accomodate this person. If he wants to come forward and talk and try to get somewhere then that's one thing but until then he can just enjoy all his other "easy" grandkids and kids who fit inside his zone of conditional love. I'M DONE trying to contort myself to fit in a box that I just don't fit in. Today I am going to choose to like me and family just as we are. What he thinks of us has no effect on our true value.


Thanks for letting me rant. 

post #16 of 17

hug2.gif I'm so sorry you're going through this. It's never something easy to deal with. :( We don't speak to my father who abandoned me as a kid. He's full of excuses and lies and I got sick of it. My mother and I are on and off.

post #17 of 17

He doesn't deserve your guys' time or any attempt at love. But just because he doesn't deserve it, doesn't mean he should stop BEING loved. He might need it. He doesn't give it unconditionally from what I gather. His own son, your FIL basically disowned him 7 years ago. It seems you guys are living a happy healthy life as a family or to the best of your ability. If he isn't showing love unconditionally if you guys are doing WELL, in a way, it's kind of a miracle that your DH turned out well enough to be raising a wonderful family. Your FIL sounds like a manipulative, unloving man, unless he can pick out things that are wrong with someone around him to make himself feel better.(ie, your kids not behaving the one time they were there, you calling him out on his upsetting behavior, etc) These things do not belong in a loving family, and certainly not around children. I will be thinking of this man, because even though he seems unpleasant, it must be because something terrible happened and not that he's genuinely a self-serving jerk.


ETA: I have a major problem with what people think of me. If it's not all primrose and daisies, I go out of my way to feel accepted, and.........it's never enough and I end up the miserable one, because I truly wear myself out from trying to please everyone. It's not a good lifestyle, and the truth is, if someone doesn't like you for who you are, they don't deserve your time. A quote I always liked was: "If you can't stand me at my worst, you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." If he thinks this is the worst of you guys when you're trying really hard, then he isn't worth your time trying to make him happy. It won't be fulfilling because he will never be satisfied or grateful enough to you. A person can only take so much rejection before they turn away.

Edited by IwannaBanRN - 7/28/11 at 12:42am
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