Clashing with in-laws

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by scooterpig, Apr 8, 2010.

  1. scooterpig

    scooterpig Mouseketeer

    Mar 21, 2010
    I am going to try and keep my own emotions and opinions minimal and just ask, what would you do? We are a family of 6 (see tag below) I brought the 4 children into the marriage, and we have been married for 3 happy years. It is a solid relationship.

    For the past 4 years, we've gone to DHs uncles house for Christmas eve. We give gifts to the children there, which would be his 2 young cousins (9&10 y.o.) and his 3 adult cousins kids. His aunt does the same for our children, but his cousins never do. For our DD's birthday, we invited the in-laws. Cousin "A" and her DH and DS came, and again brought no gift. They also let thier DS peel the rubber duck wall decals off my bathroom, and throw rocks in our in-ground pool. :guilty:

    Well, now it is cousin "A"s 30'th birthday, and she is throwing herself a party at the local pub. Really, just bringing a cake and some snacks, I'm quite sure she didn't rent the place out, and she probably is not providing the alcohol (I'm guessing..but I'm pretty sure.) She has already sent around an email invitation, and a follow up email to get an accurate count, and to say that as far as gifts go, "gift cards, or anything you think I might like" would be good.

    Would you go?
    Would you gift?
    Would you continue to invite them to your own kids parties?


    Onto the sister in law. Another gem.

    Every year, for the past 4 years, we have also exchanged xmas gifts with the brother and sil at his parents house. Adults and children. This past year, since no one said any differently, we spent about $65 on them, and we received a home printed picture of the 2 girls in an acrylic (think $1) frame.

    The brother and sil live 2 hours away from us now. It is thier DDs 9th bday. They are having a Memorial/Bday party for her, and like every party sil ever hosted, she asks that everyone bring a dish to share. I don't do this. If I host a party, I provide the food. It would be totally different if it were a joint idea, or a bbq on the 4th of July, but if it is for your own child, I don't think the guests should have to bring food. Not only that, but just to attend would cost us 4 hours driving time and gas, plus a gift. Plus food? When is enough, too much?

    I could go on to discuss the parents, who showed up at my DDs 21st Bday with ..... *ta-da!* NO GIFT. :sad2: Same people who constantly refer to themselves as having "3 grandchildren." I guess non-biological children are not real children, or they don't count..or what? Please talk to me ppl. It's been building up over quite some time now. Since before we were married, and my children and I were officially/verbally excluded from the family photo because we were not married (we were engaged, and living together) When DHs grandfather died, the grandmother went back 3 years to dig up that photo that excluded us. Plenty of pictures at the wake, but not one pic or mention of my children.

    I've been letting it slide, but I'm hurt, and that hurt has turned into bitterness. How would you feel? What would you do? Thanks, in advance. :flower3:

    By the way, we are all pretty much equal, financially. No one sticks out as having substantially more or less to me.
  2. hffmnheidi

    hffmnheidi Mouseketeer

    Mar 31, 2010
    Four hours is too long to drive with food in the car, especially if milk based. I would go with a small gift or giftcard and just show up. I would explain that you are not bringing a dish because of the drive time. If they complain, tell them you'll be bringing a bottle of soda or bag of chips and that's it.

    Have you ever thought of getting together and saying just gifts for the children under 18 at Christmas time? It might save everyone some cash and hassle of finding gifts for adults, especially if they are picky people.

    As for the 30 year old's party, just show up and party. I don't think 30 is a big gift giving party except for her husband and children to give to her. If there's a scene about no gift, just tell them that funds are really tight right now and you figured she'd like your presence more than a gift. I've used it and really puts people silent and think about what's important to them stuff or family.

    What about hosting a party at McDonalds for your kids where they do all the clean up and there's nothing for your guests to damage or ruin?
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  4. Purseval

    Purseval DIS Veteran

    Jul 31, 2008
    You haven't said one thing about how your husband feels. It's his family, right? If he doesn't care then just make excuses not to go, or spend next Christmas on vacation. Stop showing up and they'll get the hint. If you stop showing up and nobody cares you'll get the hint also and everyone will be happy in the end.
  5. RumpleMom

    RumpleMom DIS Veteran

    Nov 12, 2000
    I don't have a lot of advice to offer, but my mother always said, "When someone does you dirt, you kill them with kindness."

    My pastor says, "Return no one evil for evil."

    You will be the better person for taking the high road. When the in-laws are driving me crazy I remind myself that somehow they did a wonderful job of raising their son so I would have a great husband.
  6. vicki_c

    vicki_c DIS Veteran

    Dec 22, 2007
    This was my thought as well. He should be addressing this with his family, or making the decision on how to handle.
  7. kaytieeldr

    kaytieeldr Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

    Jun 11, 2005
  8. JoiseyMom

    JoiseyMom <font color=orange>Have you had your SPANX today??

    Nov 5, 2003
    Well where to start first. No one has to bring gifts, and to expect them, just because your DD turned 21, is well, wrong. Would it be nice?? Yes. Was it required? No.

    If the cousins never reciprocate gifts..then stop buying them gifts, but keep buying gifts for those that buy you guys.

    As for the 30th party...what does your DH say? If you want to go, go. If they have never bought you guys gifts then I would give a funny card and that is all. If you don't wnat to go, then don't.

    Do they invite you to their kids parties? If they do then you can, if you don't want them at your home, since they are ill-behaved, then don't.

    Unless your DH wants to travel 4 hours round trip for a 9 year olds bday party I would pass. If he wants to go, bring a store bought box of cookies...they travel well!! As it is a birthday party, I would by a small gift the child. It's not the kids fault the parents are jerks.

    And as far as your mil saying she has 3 grandchildren. Well she does. She obviously hasn't accepted you and your children into the family. There is nothing you can do.

    You really need to talk to your husband.

    I married my dh and brought 2 kids with me. I am also older then him. I was blessed though, my DH considers my kids his. My in-laws do too. At a NYE party soon after we were married, I was also pregnant with our DD. A friend of my bil congratulated mil on the upcoming birth of her first grandchild. My mil said nope..this isn't my first..and brought her over to our oldest DS and said this is my first, and then went to other DS and said this is the second one.

    You can't control what your in-laws do or say or treat you. You can decide how much time you spend with them and how you let it effect you. Again, you and your DH need to talk about his family and how you wish to deal with these issues. I hope your DH backs up you and your kids.
  9. Jana49

    Jana49 Mmm! Dole Whips!

    Jul 6, 2003
    The most important thing here, imo, is that your children are being left out, and if they haven't already noticed this, they will soon. Have you talked to your DH about speaking to his family about this? He should stick up for your (meaning yours and his) children. Once he married you, they are his children, too.

    I think it is tacky, tacky, tacky to ask anyone to bring food to a birthday party. As you said, a bbq, or holiday dinner is different, but a Birthday Party?? Please! Go ahead and bring a non-perishable dish, if you want, but deduct the cost of it from whatever you normally spend on the present.

    The grandparents are out of line when they say "3 grandchildren". I have 4 biological grands, and 4 step grands, and NEVER say anything but "8 grands" when someone asks how many I have now.

    Also, dragging out the old photo was not right. One more thing your DH might want to mention.

    If you want to go to the 30th b/d party, go, but I sure would NOT take a gift.

    I can't stress how important it is for your DH to back you on these decisions. Talk to him and see what he says, then present a united front. Also, do not let these people hurt your children. If you won't stick up for them, who will?

    Good luck!

    Edited to say: Wow, while I was composing this, other popped in with similar ideas. Go for it!
  10. disneymomofmyca

    disneymomofmyca DIS Veteran

    Nov 10, 2008
    I have HUGE problems with complete and blatant disrespect from my MIL. I always kill her with kindness no matter what but I totally understand that sometimes enough is enough! I am the type of person to always stand up for myself but my MIL is alone and lonely. She really started to step over the line and I have been really upset lately. My DH agrees with me 100% about her disprespectful comments and actions but neither of us ever say anything. Well, the other night she was on her way to our house and I was so upset because she had really crossed the line recently and I just couldn't see her. My DH stopped her on the road and explained that she upsets BOTH of us with her words and actions and that maybe it isn't the best time to visit. She genuinely apologized to him and told him to make sure I knew she meant no harm. I felt much better. We will now take a break from her for a bit and hopefully she will act somewhat normal after this. I actually felt quite awful after DH came back from talking with her so I had my DD7 call and tell her we will come visit her and go to the zoo at the end of the month.

    I know this got long but I guess I needed to vent! Moral of the story is that maybe if you nicely confront them as to why they dismiss your children they may realize the error of thier ways...and the gifts...We started to do fun gift exchange games with a 10.00 limit. Maybe you could suggest something like that instead of spending so much money and getting nothing in return? I know xmas isn't about what you get but it does hurt sometimes when you put good thought into some one's gift and they in return put zero thought into yours.
  11. poohfriend77

    poohfriend77 DIS Veteran

    Jul 20, 2007
    Normally I would say that you shouldn't give gifts based on what you have gotten in the past. I don't think you should "keep score," especially if it involves kids who can't control the situation.

    I also wouldn't have a problem bringing a dish to a family event, even if it was a birthday party for someone's child (although I would never ask others to do so). And I would probably go to a 30th birthday, buy my own drink, and take a card but no gift.

    That being said... I think the real issue is that his family goes out of the way to show you that you and your kids are not accepted. That's not OK, and ideally should be address by your DH. I'm sure your kids notice and are hurt by the fact that they are treated differently than the "real" grandkids. Ask your DH to explain to his parents that he will not tolerate disrespect to his family. If nothing changes, then I would probably send my regrets for birthday parties, and let it be known that you won't be exchanging Christmas gifts, etc. It might cause problems with the in-laws, but I think it's more important to protect your children from a hurtful environment.
  12. OceanAnnie

    OceanAnnie <font color=maroon>I guess I have a thing against

    May 5, 2004
    You are so bad, kaytieeldr!! :laughing: But I like your suggestion. :)

    I was thinking for the 30th birthday party, if DH was on board with you, we wouldn't go. If he wanted to go, I'd take card with a donation receipt/ inscription of, "A donation has been given in your honor to... (a worth while organization that she would like).". It was beyond tacky to make mention of gifts and suggest gift cards. I'd skip it if I could.

    Your children should be treated equally. That is a problem and should be a problem for both you and your DH. How does he feel about it? If you want to avoid a confrontation, I'd suggest no more gift exchanges.

    You can't change people. But you can steer the course towards a more pleasant destination. It sounds very stressful. Take control of what you can, limit your stress as a pp mentioned and be creative. Whatever you do, let your DH handle any communication about things that need to be addressed. :hug: I wish you well.
  13. scooterpig

    scooterpig Mouseketeer

    Mar 21, 2010
    Thank you all. Just being able to talk about it, and hear others views is really helpful. A lot of good advice here too.

    I'd love my DH to address the issue of the children being left out, but he hasn't, even though I've certainly made him aware of what was going on. A little about DH, he is all about avoiding any confrontation at all with his family. He loves them, and would be totally ignorant to all this, except that I've mentioned it. He also understands my point of view, but finds it easier to avoid than fix or figure out. He is pretty ignorant, in general. Not dumb, definately not dumb, but socially ignorant (he is a musician - tech geek type) In fact, I think his mother is socially ignorant too. When her only daughter had her baby shower, the mother didn't even bring her camera. She didn't even bring her camera to her sons (and my) wedding either. She grabbed a couple shots on her cell phone. :sad2:

    I mean, who does that? :confused3
  14. cm8

    cm8 <font color=blue>Half of the time we're rushing ar

    Nov 20, 2009
    :hug:, they seem to have no respect for you or your children bottom line. I don't think you owe them anything. I do think your husband needs to let his family know what it is doing to you and the children, It will only get worst. :flower3:
  15. StephMK

    StephMK DIS Veteran

    Mar 22, 2004
    Do the cousins exchange among themselves or their kids and specifically excluding yours? Or are they just not big gift givers? I think for the upcoming functions, just decide if you want to go or not & plan accordingly. I wouldn't stress or worry about bringing the 30th bday girl a gift. I would get one for the DD if you go & just bring a bag of chips & call it good.

    I think it is easier to just accept them as they are and just adjust your thinking not to expect much. Now if they are specifically excluding your kids, I'd change the functions you attend or address it. Otherwise, I don't think things will change. I'm sorry you're having trouble w/them.
  16. trainingupmy4princes

    trainingupmy4princes DIS Veteran

    Jul 31, 2008
    I have issues with inlaws as well. Our situation is different in that these kids are DH's but I'm not his first wife (even though he is my first marriage). I was even hinted at during my first pregnancy that I shouldn't have been looking to have kids since he already had 2 from his first wife. :confused: Now granted I hadn't planned on having quite so many but God has chosen otherwise. :goodvibes But, my kids do notice how DH's parents treat them dif. than mine. They don't go out of their way to spend time with them. My mom is the grandma they think of when you say grandma. :lovestruc I have gone from anger to bitter to praying for a forgiving heart and back around. It's a struggle but just means I need more praying. :thumbsup2 I can't control his family but I am accountable to God on how I treat them.

    If you want to go to the party do if not don't. If you don't want to buy gifts then don't. As far as the mother not recognizing your kids it's her loss. She's missing out on something and she may regret it later. ;)
  17. scooterpig

    scooterpig Mouseketeer

    Mar 21, 2010
    Some of the words here have been very healing to me. Thank you all, this has been bothering me for so long.

    There doesn't seem to be a formed plan among these people to treat us like red-headed stepchildren (pardons, to all the actual red headed step children who may be reading this) I think they are just ignorant, and tacky, tacky, tacky. Self centered, definately.

    I'll probably just continue to distance myself emotionally and reduce the time we spend with the in-laws. What a shame though. I would have liked to feel like part of the family, and I feel that my children and I have plenty of good times and memories to offer. As I go through this, I am making sure to learn how NOT to treat other people.
  18. scooterpig

    scooterpig Mouseketeer

    Mar 21, 2010
    By the way...dancing pickle...LOVE IT! [​IMG]
  19. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

    Mar 7, 2010
    People without social skills? :teeth: The first time my MIL met my parents, she told them my then-fiance "was always the weird one." :rolleyes: Not one person on hubby's side replied to the wedding invitation; when I tried to get a number from my MIL, she was no help at all, and didn't understand why I was worried about it until I pointed out that my parents were serving a dinner at the reception and wanted a ball park figure so they'd know how much food to order. She kind of got that, at least.

    My mom had wanted a picture of hubby as a child to put up at the reception and his mom brought some that she was "pretty sure are [hubby], although some of them might be [his nine-years-older] brother." :upsidedow Not only were her social skills iffy, she couldn't see why accommodating other people's feelings really mattered. I loved her dearly, but that's probably partly because, when I asked him where he wanted to live once he got out of the Army, hubby replied, "I don't care, as long as it's at least a five hour drive from my mother's." :rotfl: His mother expects any children closer that that to spend their weekends at her house, y'see.

    I agree with those who say your husband has to deal with his own mother. Hubby's older brother's second wife had finally had enough of MIL (who was outright rude to her), told her hubby at a party he could stay but she wasn't going to, and walked out. Older brother told his mother he was not going to put up with her treating his wife that way, either she could apologize or she could live without them in her life, and he walked out, and they didn't see MIL for six months. Then she showed up on their front porch and, although she never apologized, she did treat SIL better. I am sure that part of the reason we got along is she knew hubby would do the same thing his older brother had if she came down on me, so she worked at the relationship as hard as I did.

    While it's unfortunate that your husband won't stand up to his family for you, remember that they may have wounded him in the past to the point that he may be just as happy keeping his distance from them. :sad1: I've known guys who were very loyal to their family and wouldn't hear a word said against them, when the truth is, that family had not treated them well growing up. Family loyalty runs very deep with some guys, where keeping the peace is far more important than their own comfort, so it's not surprising when guys like that consider family loyalty more important than the comfort of their own wife and children. If they're willing to sacrifice self, then it's not surprising they're willing to sacrifice others. That isn't right in my book, but guys seem more likely to see their wife and children as extensions of themselves in some sense than I am. :confused3

    I'm glad you can recognize the pattern behind your MILs actions and maybe be able to distance yourself from things a little bit that way. Intellectual knowledge doesn't end emotional pain, but sometimes it can ease it enough it's tolerable until you can work your way clear a bit. :grouphug:
  20. Mic

    Mic <font color=purple>They can take away my freedom b

    Sep 15, 1999
    We dealt with a similar situation from my in-laws for years. I had 2 young daughters (3 and 1.5) when I married my husband, who had no children. We had a son, then a daughter pretty quickly. When my husband's grandmother died, my two daughters were not listed in the obituary at all, not even as "step" grandchildren. My daughters were later offended in middle school when my husband's sister referred to them as "step neices" even though her brother was the only father they had ever really known, and we had been married for 10 years! I used to worry about it, and I was angry, but I couldn't change his family. My daughters are now 21 and 19, in college and doing well. Some of the "step" cousins are not doing so well, and we see them only on holidays. My oldest daughter is getting married at Disney World in August, and guess who is not invited to the wedding? It bothered my husband, too, but I could not ask him to stay away from his family. The grandparents passed away, and I can definitely live with seeing the aunts once or twice a year.
  21. shortbun

    shortbun <font color=green>Peacenik<br><font color=purple><

    Aug 21, 1999
    Hi! I would stop buying gifts for the families who don't buy gift for your kids. I would buy a plastic tub of potato salad for any family meal I was expected to drive 2 hours and bring food. Get it at their local grocery right before you show up at their door. Buy the birthday girl a drink for her birthday and take a nice card. This is a hard thing to do but get on their level. Perhaps you are making them uncomfortable with your extravagance. Spend the money on your kids. My Mom was weird about my sister and brother's long term dates or live ins at gift giving time. She didn't feel they were 'family' because there was no marriage. I can see her treating a child brought to the family differently too-not saying it's right, just saying she would not have done it to be intentionally mean, just that there is a mindset in some people that can not wrap their brains around legitimizing certain people. It's awful that children would be slighted...but I don't think it means they are not valued. Weird, I know. Try to get beyond your feelings and make it about them-not about you. Shrug it off and tone down your expectations as well as your generosity. They probably don't even appreciate it, ya know? Good luck and try to focus on good stuff. In other words, don't let the idiots drag you down!! lol!

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