ILs disowned DH what to tell DD? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 01-24-2011, 05:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi... Some advice needed here. A few months ago, my ILs disowned DH for something rather trivial that we still don't understand but was supposedly "my fault.". We quickly made our peace with it, bc his parents are unstable and difficult to be around. However, DD (3) remains quite fond on MIL and continues to ask about her after four months.

I've apologized to ILs for the sake of DD (though I thoroughly believe I'm not at fault and DH and SIL completely agree). It doesn't seem that a cheerful family reunion is on the horizon. I want a simple way to explain to DD what happened without hanging blame on ILs.

Suggestions very much appreciated.
TIA

ETA DD very much misses MIL asking when we can see her etc. I just want an appropriate answer. ILs live in same town as us. When they disowned DH they said they didn't want to see any of us, and I certainly can't tell DD that.
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#2 of 17 Old 01-24-2011, 06:45 PM
 
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Gosh, that's hard. We no longer have contact with my IL's because they went all sorts of crazy on us... but we live 2500 mi away and my son has not asked for them once, even when we visit our home town where they live, so they just kind of fell of of his radar and that's easier. 

 

I think I would just simply say, "I don't know when we can see them, Probably not for a long time." Or something like that... let her know it's not on the horizon, but don't tell her what's going on, either. 

 

:hug I am sure this is really hard to deal with. 


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#3 of 17 Old 01-24-2011, 07:40 PM
 
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Wow.  That is so outrageous, to cut off contact with their 3 yo grandchild.  There has got to be something seriously pathological going on with them.  That is stunning!

 

I don't know what I'd tell her, but I definitely wouldn't explain to her that parents can disown children.  I might resort to lying, but I don't even know what kind of a lie.  That's a really tough one...


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#4 of 17 Old 01-24-2011, 07:51 PM
 
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Would it be appropriate for your DD to send them a picture she drew, or would that seem like you were being passive aggressive or something?  I think I would say something along the lines of "we won't be able to see them for quite a while, but you can draw them a picture if you'd like". 

 

I'd probably also try to find someone grandparently to fill that need in DD's life - neighbor or something.

 

That's a tough situation.

 

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#5 of 17 Old 01-24-2011, 10:51 PM
 
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I'm sorry you're in this situation. My FIL won't see me because of a falling out and by default that means he's basically cut off contact with my kids, as well. It's getting close to a year now. My oldest is 4 and does ask about him. Because I honestly don't know how permanent this is, I have been making excuses for him. Like he didn't come to the birthday party because "he had an appointment," or he couldn't come to Christmas because "he was sick." I just don't think a 4 year old needs to know what's going on in any way, so I'm sheltering her from it.

Maybe your ILs are chaotic enough that this is a blessing in disguise. If it's short term, I'd say just make excuses. If it's long term, she will find out at some point, but she's very young for that now. I figure that there will be many years ahead for my DD to realize what kind of a person my FIL is, but this age is not the time.

I can tell you that over time DD has asked about him less and less. She has occasionally told me that she misses her grandfather, so I'll have her draw him a card or dictate a letter to me when that happens, and I will save those for when we see him again....one day. She hasn't exactly been heartbroken by his sudden absence, but it does make her really sad. I'd suggest letting your DD talk about it and just offer her sympathy. "I know, not seeing your grandmother makes you sad" etc, but not talking about when she might see her.
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#6 of 17 Old 01-25-2011, 12:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by rubidoux View Post

Wow.  That is so outrageous, to cut off contact with their 3 yo grandchild.  There has got to be something seriously pathological going on with them.  That is stunning!

 

I don't know what I'd tell her, but I definitely wouldn't explain to her that parents can disown children.  I might resort to lying, but I don't even know what kind of a lie.  That's a really tough one...


I disagree. I see tons of posts on this forum where posters are advocating that a parent cut off contact with their mom/dad/MIL/FIL/grandparent... I am not saying ti is right or wrong, but it does work both ways. We have no idea why the OPs ILs decided to break off contact. It is none of our business, unless she choses to share. The issue here is that they have broken off contact, and a 3rd party, her DD, is affected by it.

 

OP, I'd just be honest with your DD. IL do not want to be with you or your DH right now, maybe not for a long time, maybe never. They are angry with you / DH, not her, for XYZ reason. You don't have to get into the nitty gritty, but in a way she can understand. You could also tell her you do not agree with XYZ reason, but that everyone is allowed their own opinions. And even though this is not DDs fault, because they do not want to see you or DH, they can not see her either. It is not fair, but life is not fair.

 

Also, if they are so unstable and difficult to be around, perhaps in the long run this is the best. I don't think you should apologise for something you do not think you should apologise for.

 

I agree with the PP that said find an alternate grandma in a neighbor or friend. Our elderly neighbors are good role models for my DS and DD, and help fill a role my parents can not because of distance.
 

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#7 of 17 Old 01-25-2011, 09:20 AM
 
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I agree with Allison.  Tell her the truth.  Maybe you don't want to say the whole truth, but she needs to know that there is conflict and that you and your inlaws are not getting along right now and that's why she can't see them.  Then, she'll see that it's the adults who are having the problem and it's not her fault. 

 

I also agree that family is who you make it.  I live far away from family, but when we moved to be closer to our family, we realized that our true family was the friends that we left behind, so we moved back.  Maybe this seems strange for you since your "family" lives so close, but give it a try.  Find a group, maybe a church, AP parent group, something that can give your daughter a bond with other adults.  We had older friends that we called our kids "surrogate grandparents."  They took the kids for overnights, out to activities and really doted on them. Their own grown children hadn't given them grandchildren yet, so they really enjoyed time with mine.

 

I don't understand how they could disown a 3yo child, it's just wrong.


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#8 of 17 Old 01-25-2011, 05:04 PM
 
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How sad for your dd.  And so bizarre.  :(

 

I do agree with the pps who think it's not a bad idea to tell her the truth.  I would explain in very simple terms "gma and gpa are mad at mommy (and/or daddy) right now.  They need time to cool down, so we won't be seeing them for a while.  Would you like to draw a picture to send to them?  I'm sure they miss you and would love to get a present from you.  They're not mad at you, just at mommy (and/or daddy)."  Or something along those lines.  This would make sense to my kids as we talk a lot about taking time to "cool down" when we get upset, but you can think of how to frame it in a way that will make the most sense to your dd.


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#9 of 17 Old 01-25-2011, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your excellent suggestions - I do think that telling her the truth but at a  level she can understand is the right thing.  I just was a bit worried about saying too much.  Your suggestions really helped to clarify things. 

 

I do think it probably could be for the best - DH suffered because of their issues as a child and they are (to be very mild) very difficult people. 

 

Thank you all for your time and advice!

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#10 of 17 Old 01-25-2011, 11:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllisonR View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by rubidoux View Post

Wow.  That is so outrageous, to cut off contact with their 3 yo grandchild.  There has got to be something seriously pathological going on with them.  That is stunning!

 

I don't know what I'd tell her, but I definitely wouldn't explain to her that parents can disown children.  I might resort to lying, but I don't even know what kind of a lie.  That's a really tough one...


I disagree. I see tons of posts on this forum where posters are advocating that a parent cut off contact with their mom/dad/MIL/FIL/grandparent... I am not saying ti is right or wrong, but it does work both ways. We have no idea why the OPs ILs decided to break off contact. It is none of our business, unless she choses to share. The issue here is that they have broken off contact, and a 3rd party, her DD, is affected by it.

 

OP, I'd just be honest with your DD. IL do not want to be with you or your DH right now, maybe not for a long time, maybe never. They are angry with you / DH, not her, for XYZ reason. You don't have to get into the nitty gritty, but in a way she can understand. You could also tell her you do not agree with XYZ reason, but that everyone is allowed their own opinions. And even though this is not DDs fault, because they do not want to see you or DH, they can not see her either. It is not fair, but life is not fair.

 

Also, if they are so unstable and difficult to be around, perhaps in the long run this is the best. I don't think you should apologise for something you do not think you should apologise for.

 

I agree with the PP that said find an alternate grandma in a neighbor or friend. Our elderly neighbors are good role models for my DS and DD, and help fill a role my parents can not because of distance.
 


 

Well, generally, I wouldn't want to lie to a child either.  And I agree maybe it is never a good idea.  I just don't think I could ever tell my young child that there are parents who disown their own children.  I would hate, hate, hate for my child to ever think there'd be any possibility that I could turn my back on them, kwim?  I just would hate for them to have that idea in their heads.  

 

I am completely shocked, though, that anyone would believe that "it works both ways".  If I make my child's life so miserable that they want to cut off contact with me, well, maybe that's what I get for having been so nasty.  But there is nothing that my child could do to me that would make it okay for me to turn my back on them.  Nothing!  And a three year old?  How can you compare that to cutting off a relationship with a parent?  

 

eta:  And to the OP, I think it sounds like it's for the best too.  I don't think I'd encourage your dd to have a relationship with them if they've been so difficult for your dh.  


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#11 of 17 Old 01-25-2011, 11:37 PM
 
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I suggested that the OP not be honest with her DD if this is a short term situation, but I see some of you think it isn't right to lie to a young child in this situation.

But if these parents are this chaotic and volatile, can you really trust that this is going to last long enough to warrant telling her the truth? It's confusing to tell her "we're not going to see grandma." And it's a rejection to say "grandma doesn't want to come over any more." It's a huge loss. It puts the child on the same rollercoaster of emotions as the unhealthy grandparents. The last thing you want is making the child feel put in the middle or responsible for that decision, when who knows how long this is going to last.

I totally disagree that it's "never" ok to tell a child a lie. In a situation like this, sometimes you need time to feel out what is going to happen and how permanent this is. Some might go another direction, I guess it depends just how much dysfunction there is and how much you need to shelter your child from. I'm glad the OP figured out her approach, eitjer way works if you don't say too much. I have a 4 yr old and two 2 year olds that I had to explain this kind of situation to, and I think lying has been a far better and less hurtful way to go for them, at this point.
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#12 of 17 Old 01-26-2011, 06:52 AM
 
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I like that you don't want to make grandma and Grandpa seem like petty selfish grouchy old shrews.  LOL.  

 

This will probably blow over eventually, and it's best if she doesn't have bad thoughts for them.  It's hard to tell her the truth without making them sound bad.  But, you can say it gently and lovingly.  She's going to pick up on this herself anyway.  It's part of life.  Families disagree.  But, since Mommy and Daddy can handle anything, it will always be OK.

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#13 of 17 Old 01-26-2011, 08:30 AM
 
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we are in a similar situation here.  dh's parents have basically cut off contact with us, beginning before we got married.  they didn't come to our wedding (i was 33 weeks pg at our wedding) and later we find that they didn't want us to marry at all.  well too bad because i'm not going anywhere.  things got better for a couple months a couple years ago, when dh's gramp died -- dd was about 4 months old then and we went to the funeral and his sisters' graduation and maybe one or two family dinners over the months that followed.  but then they found out that we took dh's middle name as our family name (meaning dh changed his last name) and they took that very personally (we did the name-change a few weeks after our wedding when we officially married in front of the judge -- were we really supposed to all become family theirlastname when it looked like they had disowned us???).  so after they found out about our name change, dh kept calling on holidays and birthdays and such and they never picked up or returned his calls and after a year or so of that, he just stopped trying to call them.  *shrug*  it is their loss -- they were not informed of our most recent pregnancy/birth (who is now 8 weeks old and sleeping on my lap).  so dd1 has only ever had very limited contact with them, and dd2 will maybe never meet them at all.  which is sad because they live 30 minutes away.  we have tried to never criticize them or trash-talk them when the kids are around.  sometimes dd1 does ask about them, but we just say we don't know why we don't see them or talk to them and that it makes us a little sad to not see them.  which is basically the truth and all dd1 really needs to know at this point.


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#14 of 17 Old 01-26-2011, 02:33 PM
 
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I think there is a difference between lying to kids and not telling them things that are just bigger burdens than they should have to bear.  My parents didn't let me in on family drama when I was little and I really appreciate that now as an adult.  I was allowed to have positive relationships with people that I otherwise would not have - and the drama didn't involve any danger to me, but it was sure stuff that could have divided a family.  They did some mean and stupid things, but they were also loving extended family. 

 

Just recognizing the facts "we won't see grandpa and grandma for a while, that makes me sad too" and trying to find a way to support the child seems like the best way to me.  No outright lying, but not laying out the "whole truth" either (or, like I said earlier, sending drawings, but only the OP knows how that would work in the current situaiton).

 

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#15 of 17 Old 01-26-2011, 04:12 PM
 
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Just recognizing the facts "we won't see grandpa and grandma for a while, that makes me sad too" and trying to find a way to support the child seems like the best way to me.  No outright lying, but not laying out the "whole truth" either (or, like I said earlier, sending drawings, but only the OP knows how that would work in the current situaiton).

 

Tjej


That makes sense, and was my first choice as well, but what happens when the child asks "why?" How well that kind of approach goes over really depends on the kid, I think. My DD was very inquisitive about it and I couldn't get away with telling her something so simple.
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#16 of 17 Old 01-26-2011, 05:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am completely shocked, though, that anyone would believe that "it works both ways".  If I make my child's life so miserable that they want to cut off contact with me, well, maybe that's what I get for having been so nasty.  But there is nothing that my child could do to me that would make it okay for me to turn my back on them.  Nothing!  And a three year old?  How can you compare that to cutting off a relationship with a parent?  

 

eta:  And to the OP, I think it sounds like it's for the best too.  I don't think I'd encourage your dd to have a relationship with them if they've been so difficult for your dh.  



 



NAK
Totally agree with this. I can never see myself turning my backs on either of my kids. No matter what they did, (even if DS gives me a DIIL who is as much a pain in the neck as I seem to be - haha) getting angry/hurt/etc yes, disowning, no. We can expect a child to say "I hate you!" to a parent - it doesn't work both ways. (for me, and I venture the rest of you)

Since the first post, I received an email - bc of my apology - about how much they missed us, how lonely Christmas was, etc. How they've never gone through anything like this before... (yeah right... The tales I could tell). Trying to give me a guilt trip - while it seems even clearer that a separation might be for the best... The plot thickens. I don't have to answer and may not, our life has been SO much less complicated without the drama.
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#17 of 17 Old 01-26-2011, 05:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think there is a difference between lying to kids and not telling them things that are just bigger burdens than they should have to bear.  My parents didn't let me in on family drama when I was little and I really appreciate that now as an adult.  I was allowed to have positive relationships with people that I otherwise would not have - and the drama didn't involve any danger to me, but it was sure stuff that could have divided a family.  They did some mean and stupid things, but they were also loving extended family. 



 



You said all that so well!
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