Dear Annie: My husband and I have been together for eight years, and we have one child together. I also have a 9-year-old from a previous relationship. My husband is the only father my 9-year-old has ever known. He calls him daddy.
The problem is my mother-in-law. She has stated that she has “no ties” to my son. She will not invite him over or do things with him the way she does with my younger child (her biological grandson). She doesn’t ask questions about him as she does with my younger child, and recently she didn’t even bother to call and tell him happy birthday. She posted “Happy Birthday” on Facebook, but that was it. Her current husband also has a grandson, and she will have him come stay with them anytime.
My son doesn’t seem to be too bothered by the way she treats him. (He has autism but is higher-functioning.) But a few months ago, my younger son spent some time with my mother-in-law, and a few days later, I overheard him talking to my elder son. He said, “You should have gone shopping with me and Mimi, but she doesn’t want you there.” That broke my heart.
I’ve let my younger son have a relationship with her. I do it more for him than for her. I don’t want him to be resentful that he never got to spend time with his grandmother, but at the same time, I feel that it’s hurting my other child, even though he doesn’t verbally express it.
I know that my mother-in-law is not supportive of her son being married to me. She has never liked me from day one. She even had the nerve to once tell my own mother that I am nothing but trailer trash. Of course, that’s far from the truth. I did have a child when I was 18, but I’ve worked hard and I’ve been a great mom. I graduated high school, and I started college when my son was only 20 days old and worked full time, as well. I met my husband when I was 19, and we have been together ever since. I am currently working full time and going to school part time.
I have come to believe I will never be good enough in her eyes. I’m working on accepting that, but it’s hard. My husband says he has talked to her several times, but there has been no change in her behavior. I’ve told her how I feel, and she said that she is always going to show favoritism. What do I do from here? Let it go? Stay away? Kill her with kindness? - Trying Not to Be Bitter
Dear Trying: Have you ever seen your mother-in-law in rain? Because she sounds like the Wicked Witch. Exclusion of any kind or purposeful cruelty is never OK, in my book.
Good for you for not resigning yourself to anger and bitterness. That takes a lot of strength. It sounds as if you’ve tried to be patient and made a real effort to have a better relationship with your mother-in-law. She is, after all, your husband’s mom. Unfortunately, she’s made no effort to have a better relationship with you. Clearly, your husband’s talks with her have had no effect. Actions speak louder than words, and it may be time to pump up the volume.
Grandma shouldn’t be allowed to see your younger son until she starts treating your 9-year-old with love and respect. She can’t have this sort of a la carte relationship with your family - showing affection to your husband and her biological grandson and none to you and your elder son. You’re a package deal. If she can’t handle that, she can get onto her broomstick and out of your lives.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.