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Old 11-26-2008, 04:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I noticed that a number of you on this site are Vietnamese and I thought I would ask for your advice on an ongoing issue that I have had with my in laws. I am Caucasian and my husband is Viet (came over when he was in elementary school). We married about two years ago and we have two very young children. My in laws have never accepted me. they boycotted our wedding and demanded that the entire family do the same -- Some of the family complied, some didn't. They have never actually spoken to me, so I know I have not said or done anything improper. My youngest daughter has never met most of the family and my MIL has only seen my oldest once at a funeral. They even boycotted her baptism.

Lately, one of the sisters has been having functions and calling my husband and demanding that he show up and bring the kids, but leave me at home. Generally, my husband will not go and he never takes the kids as I will not let him under those circumstances, but he did go to one religious ceremony by himself. The kids and I stayed home.

A part of me just wants to tell them to go to heck and not have anything to do with them, but I would like to find a way to deal with them so that I don't have to go to that extreme.
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Old 11-26-2008, 04:55 PM
 
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Hi. Welcome to MDC.

I'm not familiar with the specifics of Viet culture since my DP is Hindu. But I am in a similar situation with his parents. We have had a few letters passed and one horrible phone call and nothing since that 9 months ago. Anyway..... have you asked your DH how he might be able to bring his family to be more accepting of you. I really think that is how I am going to have my DP handle things. These are his parents. He needs to be the one to step in and work towards creating a pleasant situation so that your children can grow up with the benefits of the available extended family. You are the mother of the children and should always be welcome to attend any function they are invited to.

These are tough situations. The way I see it is one way or the other, as long as this continues, your daughters are learning to reject one part of themselves. It may be the american part, or the viet part, but either way, they know, or will if they aren't old enough yet, that you aren't being accepted. And once they realize that you, and therefore others too, aren't accepted simply for being who you are, then they will make decisions about who they think they should be to in response to their own potential rejection. I'm just sharing my opinion and thoughts there. But I've thought about this a lot wrt my own DD.

HTH
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Old 11-30-2008, 07:29 PM
 
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Hello Heidi, : Welcome to the board!

Sounds like you are in a miserable situation there. I think it's brave and admirable of you to reach out to try and find some solutions. I'm afraid I can't help you with the Vietnamese culture aspect of your problem, but I wanted to give you a

I would advise you to reach out to members of his family. Invite the ones who didn't boycott your wedding for dinner, and build a close relationship with the pleasant people, for your kids sake and for your own. I always feel the worst in any situation when I perceive myself to be alone, and nothing helps me deal with crappy treatment better than knowing I have someone on my side. If you develop some allies on his side of the family you will have friends to talk with at the functions that you do attend. They will be a valuable buffer between you and the less-pleasant family members like your MIL.

That said, I think peace_laughing is right on target: your husband needs to step up and make it clear to his mother and sister that you and the babies are his family and that you all are a package deal. Talk to him. He is being treated like crap here too; I can't even begin to think how hurt and insulted I'd be if my mother called me up and said "hey, come be part of the family but leave your husband behind, he's not welcome." But I can tell you my response would be "Goodbye mom, please let me know when you are ready to accept my family and be a part of it again."
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Old 12-10-2008, 10:33 PM
 
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I'm so sorry that you are going through this.

My husband is Vietnamese (came to the U.S. when he was 2 years old), and I am Caucasian.

I'd like to help, but I'm not exactly sure what the "cultural" question here is. It seems to me that your in-laws are just sort of jerks. I asked DH, and he thinks that your DH should talk to his parents and get it all sorted it out. My DH also said something about "old school Vietnamese thought" and how the daughter-in-law would be expected to help out with the housework and cooking and such and basically dote on the in-laws and that maybe they expect you to be more like that. However, if they won't even talk to you, I don't see how that could be a problem!

I'd be happy to try to give you some more advice or ask my DH some more questions if you let me know. Luckily, I get along okay with my MIL, so I can't speak from experience, but I'll try to help however I can.

Mama to my sweet girl born at home 6/09
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Old 12-11-2008, 12:51 AM
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My DH is from Taiwan, so I'm not familiar with Vietnamese culture specifically. But I agree that it is up to your DH to approach his parents, stand up for you and work this out. I think his sisters, though intending well, are making matters worse. It isn't even about you. It's about your DH's relationship with his parents.

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Old 12-12-2008, 06:23 AM
 
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as previously stated, i don't think this is a culturally-specific thing. it just seems as though they are being prejudiced and that is that. it sounds like sheer ignorance and i am sorry that you are dealing with this.

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Old 12-18-2008, 04:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone. I have kind of given up on these people.
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Old 12-22-2008, 03:06 AM
 
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heidi -- is your husband the oldest son, a younger son, or the only son in the family?

I feel your frustration. My ILs are Korean and I'm white. We don't see them much. I married the only son, and he has one older sister. I didn't know what I was getting into. ; )

It sounds like they don't "need" him as much as they'd "need" an oldest or only son.......? Cause it's been 2 years and they're still being like this. Now, my ILs want me to show up for everything, but they want to treat me like crap while I'm there. But, they get upset if I don't show up. I'm thinking, your ILs have sort of functioned and gone on without him for awhile now, so they might not have as much at stake?

I know you're frustrated, but I wholeheartedly agree that when you are able to and in the mood, you should get together with the ones who didn't reject you. This will be good for your kids, and his family that's being ridiculous will feel left out. ; ) Which is sort of fun. : ) I agree that your children need some sort of connection with their Viet side, because it is part of them.
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Old 01-04-2009, 05:32 AM
 
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Originally Posted by AutumnWind View Post
that your children need some sort of connection with their Viet side, because it is part of them.
As my mom tells me every now and then (when I complain about my guy's mother -- grrr!), "Honey, just grin and bear it."

It's only a brief moment of your life, but will benefit your child in the long run. Make an effort. Reach out to the better-behaved members of your husband's family. I don't think this is so much a cultural issue as it is a personality one. Your in-laws are jerks, but you don't have to deal with his parents and/or sister specifically. Also, tell your husband to step up his game. In my opinion, he's the one who should set an example for how his family should treat you.
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:59 AM
 
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Are they Catholic? If they are, that should help you out...They should be thinking of marriage as something very serious, etc. If they are, you might benefit from finding a Vietnamese priest to talk to them. He might be able to put it to them in terms they would understand and that they would have to agree with, to some extent.

Unless you got married somewhere, outside of the church. That would really change the situation, as then they would consider you to be a live-in girl friend, not his wife.

Have they actually ever told your dh what the problem is? It may well be that they truly are simply mad he did not marry a Vietnamese woman. In that case, their loss. Not much you can do about it.

Mama to a little lady and always praying for more.
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Old 01-08-2009, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband is not the oldest. There are six kids, two boys and 4 girls and he is the younger son and has two younger sisters.

My husband is Catholic and no, we did not get married in the Church because his parents would not turn over his baptism and confirmation paperwork, which was necessary since I am not Catholic.
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:23 AM
 
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I am new...and I stumbled across this post by trying to look up Vietnamese culture forums on Google.

Heidi....your story has touched me so much. I am in the same situation you are, except we are not married. Reading this brought tears to my eyes because I finally found someone who is going through EXACTLY what I am right now and what my future will be like. The only difference is, I haven't even met his parents yet.


Heidi, I will be sending you a PM with my story. I hope you will read it and talk to me. I want to talk to someone who understands the situation completely. Maybe we can become support for each other?
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Old 03-25-2009, 05:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Bad Mama Jama View Post
as previously stated, i don't think this is a culturally-specific thing. it just seems as though they are being prejudiced and that is that. it sounds like sheer ignorance and i am sorry that you are dealing with this.
Yep it is a simple matter of being ja's. That is not true culture.....the vietnamese are nice to other family members in laws here.....mixture is not as common but it still happens and the families merge well when the whole family is given support. However, there are exceptions....

If there are friendlier family members I would hang out more with them and ditch the jerks.
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Old 03-25-2009, 11:01 PM
 
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I think it's great that you want to try and have a good relationship with his family. I'm not Viet, but Korean, and recently went through something similar with my mom, only more like from your DHs position.*

In Confucian-influenced cultures, disobeying ones parents is a grave sin, but if you can stand it, I think the best thing to do is to get friendly with one of the friendly (pref. female) relatives, like an aunt or someone who's a little older, and find out how a good Viet daughter-in-law should act to win over her mother-in-law and father-in-law. You are the mother of their grandchildren so you kind of have an edge.

Okay this advice might sound galling, but if you can go through the motions it will indicate respect.

Perhaps you could write a letter to his parents expressing how sad you are that you do not know them, how deeply, deeply sad you are that your children do not know them. Say that it's only right that children should know their father's family. If you can stand to, beg their forgiveness for not consulting their wishes. You could also beg for the opportunity to get to know them. If his parents do not read english well, perhaps you could have a relative translate the letter. Basically, you totally prostrate yourself before them. Be super super humble in the letter and don't assume that they want to know you.

Also, you could send them a small gift, like a fruit basket, with the letter. It sounds dumb, but there are usually wedding traditions that involve gift giving that I'm sure were not observed, and this can really color a family's perspective even if it seems like it is not fair. Your husband may not even know what these traditions are, since he basically grew up here, so he couldn't have helped you. That's why talking to an aunt who know what to do would be so helpful. Just say that you really want to have a good relationship. Don't expect for them to make any effort at first.

If you can win them over, your life will be so much more pleasant!

*I begged my mother's forgiveness for being a disobedient daughter, and showed my boyfriend how to behave so he could win her over so she would accept him and our child. I only knew how to do this because I had been through it once with my ex-husband and failed miserably (partly because he refused to humble himself to my mom... he couldn't adopt a posture of humility, whereas my boyfriend now feels like its no big deal to try and act in a way that she will understand, even if it doesn't make sense to him).

So that's where my advice comes from. And it worked! She completely thinks my bf is great and can't wait for the baby. And before I did that, she was sick with grief - I thought she was going to die because I'd upset her so much, and she wanted me to have an abortion and move home. So it was quite a 180 in her feelings toward me.

My bf also learned a few phrases in Korean, like "Hello mom!" and makes a point to call her about once a month. It's usually a minute long conversation but it means so much to her.

DD1 6/2009 DD2 5/1/2013-5/5/2013 (HIE) DS 3/2014
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Old 03-26-2009, 07:24 AM
 
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I married into a Chinese family here in China, but luckily my in-laws weren't a problem, although they could have been.

I grew up in the States in a very Asian-American community (although I'm not Asian myself) and it wasn't uncommon to see the parents of first generation Americans being very resistant to marriage outside the community. There are plenty of reasons for this -- not really unique to Vietnamese, but definitely more common in Asian immigrant families. I had a friend in high school whose mother threatened to disown her over the white boy she was dating at age 16, which clearly wasn't really a rational stance. There's a fear among immigrant families that their children will lose their culture, will become assimilated, that the daughter in law won't respect tradition or won't have the same values as the family. Asian societies often have some not-so-nice stereotypes about American women as well, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that your in-laws, despite having lived in the States for many years, don't have any real deep friendships with people outside their own community, so they may not have had a chance to have those stereotypes dispelled.

I would take the advice of others here, and find an ally within the family, perhaps on of your husband's sisters or aunts or cousins, someone who can be your advocate. If there's someone within the family who knows you and can help you plant seeds for your in-laws, talking about what a great wife you are, how much you respect Vietnamese tradition, how much you want to be able to have a relationship with them, it really could go a long way.

I also pretty much agree with cyclamen. If you can at all swallow your pride and just pretty much beg for "forgiveness" (even though we all know you did nothing wrong!) it will probably make a huge difference with them. It might really bug you, in a way, to have to do it (because its sort of ingrained in us, culturally, never to submit when we feel like we have the moral high-ground), but if his parents are old-school traditional types this sort of humility will please them a lot.

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Old 03-26-2009, 03:02 PM
 
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Hi there,

I happen to be VNese and really feel for you. My family are nothing like this but I've seen friends really suffer from this passive aggressive BS. This is really in your husband's court and he needs to deal with his parents directly and bluntly (not so easy in our culture). He already pissed off his family by marrying you, so he should really be able to get up enough nerve to talk to his parents, state the obvious, that they are unhappy, but not talking to you will have no effect except that they will continue to not have a relationship with their grandchildren.

BTW are you refusing to go to their house? I'd let that go because you are showing them that you are being as bull-headed as them. Go, and bring a present if you really want to mend bridges (a purse or flowers for the mother and a bottle of Johnny Walker Red for the father, if he drinks). Do they speak English? If not, tell your husband to translate and tell them what you've told us, that you really want your kids to have a relationship with their grandparents, and just because you're white, it doesn't mean that you value clan and family any less. Keep chipping away and be the bigger person. Stop doing it when you can't stand it anymore.

Good luck.
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Old 04-30-2009, 12:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all your input, but since my last post, things kind of spun out of control and we have now cut off all contact with his parents, so it is all kind of a moot point.

My DH called his dad to invite him to my youngest child's baptism and somehow this conversation became a screaming match. It was all in Viet so I don't know the details, all I know is the dad started insulted our babies and it set my DH off. So, now, the problem is kind of resolved as we no longer have any contact with them. It is too bad that my kids will never know that set of grandparents, but a part of me thinks it is better this way. They really are hateful people.
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Old 05-06-2009, 09:11 PM
 
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I'm sorry things are so bad between you and your ILs. I'm Viet, and agree with others that it's not a culture thing, it's a hateful people thing. My ILs are pretty vile, and we are in the exact same situation you are, down to my husband cutting off contact with them because of the hateful things they say and refuse to acknowledge me or our son's viet heritage at all.

I'm sorry. it sucks, I've been there from the other side. Realize it's nothing that YOU have done, and that YOU can only control YOUR actions. Mourn the loss of the relationship, but if they are unable to mature and grow and have a semblance of relationship with you, it's probably best overall.

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Old 05-06-2009, 09:19 PM
 
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Thanks for all your input, but since my last post, things kind of spun out of control and we have now cut off all contact with his parents, so it is all kind of a moot point.

My DH called his dad to invite him to my youngest child's baptism and somehow this conversation became a screaming match. It was all in Viet so I don't know the details, all I know is the dad started insulted our babies and it set my DH off. So, now, the problem is kind of resolved as we no longer have any contact with them. It is too bad that my kids will never know that set of grandparents, but a part of me thinks it is better this way. They really are hateful people.
I'm so sorry that it came to this, but I hope you are able to find some peace now.

Mama to my sweet girl born at home 6/09
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