Advice for a Mother-In-Law

I need some advice and I found this website while looking for some info and I'm hoping you can help me. My parent's are celebrating their 50th anniversary next month and we are having a big party for them which we have been planning for over a year. My daughter-in-law told me today that she and my grandchildren may not be coming because her God daughter's birthday party is being held the same day. My son will be coming to the anniversary party. When she told me this I was very upset and basically told her that I thought she should be at the anniversary party since this was a once in a lifetime event and her God daughter would have many more birthdays. She did not respond and left the room. She came back in later and acted as if nothing had been said and we did not discuss it further. Am I wrong to feel this way? Do I have a right to expect her to be a the anniversary party? My parents have been very good to her and my grandchildren and have made special efforts to be at their birthday parties, etc.

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Lorri from Streetsboro, OH

July 6, 20060 found this helpful

First of all, I don't think you are wrong. It is a very special event.

That said....your d-i-l may be looking at the responsibility that she already committed herself to be at the party, and doesn't feel she can gracefully bow out. Maybe her social group would make things hard for her... Who knows--there are a whole host of reasons we cannot know, nor would we understand.

I don't think this is worth a family rift. Go ahead and plan the party, and enjoy the presence of your son. You might try to plan the hours so your d-i-l and the children can be there part of the time.

Try not to take her reaction personally. The fact that she acted like nothing happened shows that she is young and doesn't want a confrontation. Let her know that you hope she will be able to come, that her grandparents-in-law would love to have her there--even if it is for just part of the time.

She's young, she's "dumb" (I don't mean IQ, I mean inexperienced), and she is the wife of your son, mother of your grandchildren. Don't make a big deal out of this!

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July 8, 20060 found this helpful

I agree that you are not wrong. This is a very special event. But, it is most special to your parents and those most close to them. You don't say how long your son has been married, or if your d-i-l comes from a close family. For example, I have a sister who comes from a family which is not close at all, and my b-i-l very rarely will attend family get together's and will admit to confusion that my sisters and I are very close, and although live in different parts of the country, talk every few days. Your d-i-l may feel like a rubber band pulled in two directions. What has your son said? Maybe the decison of attendance was discussed between the two of them. Also, maybe she can do both, go to the bday party for part of the time and then go to the anniversary party, even if it is long enough to let your parents know that she and the children care.

Causing a big rift will only hurt everyone involved including the grandchildren. You just need to say to yourself, I am going to make a wonderful day for my parents, and although I will miss my d-i-l and grandchildren, it is out of my control and is their loss. At least when your parents are no longer here, you know that you will not have to play the "shoulda Coulda, Woulda " game. Forcing her to attend will make for an unhappy attendant and will dampen what should be a wonderful accomplishment for your parents.

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July 10, 20060 found this helpful

Lorri, I would like to offer up perhaps a different perspective on your situation. (All of my children have been married for anywhere between 8 and 20 years.) Although this situation is obviously very disappointing and hurtful to you, you need to at least entertain the possibilities of how difficult this is for your son and your d-i-l. These are your parents celebrating a wonderful milestone in their lives, not your d-i-l's parents or even her grandparents. You can already bet that your son and d-i-l have discussed this situation thoroughly, and they have offered you the best possible solution they can, that being that your parents will have their grandson in attendance that day AND your d-i-l has already told you well in advance that she probably can't be there. Your d-i-l may be the only godparent to this birthday child and it may be just as important to her as your event is to you. Please think very long and hard before making your son "choose" between the two women in his life who are the most important to him, namely his mother and his wife. When we issue an invitation to anyone, be it our child or a neighbor or friend or even an acquaintance, it is always unwise to force that person to accept. Can you imagine how happy and relieved both your son and his wife would be if you told them you have thought about it and reconsidered your earlier answer, and now want them to know that your d-i-l and grandchildren will be missed very much that day but you understand their situation. I always try to remember that even though we are older and hopefully wiser, we are most definitely still an example to even our grown children of how we handle problems. It's just not worth causing an all-out rift between you and your son or d-i-l because there is always the chance that your son may choose to take his wife's side.

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July 10, 20060 found this helpful

This is one of those hard situations, most definitely. I don't think the daughter in law should be "forced" into going the anniversary party if she has said she can't. However I think she should make an attempt to attend the party for a short while atleast and also let the grandchildren make an appearance.

Also, I would hope that the son WOULD take his wife's side in this matter!

It can get hard to please everyone....holiday times can especially be rough when a family is expected to spend time with both sides of the family!

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July 11, 20060 found this helpful

No doubt about it. They should all go to the 50th Anniversary party. The "Regrets" should go to the God daughter with an appropriate gift.

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July 11, 20060 found this helpful

Don't pass judgement on her or her decision. Apparently both occassions are important to her. I agree that your son and her have probably talked this over ALOT. Let her know that she will be missed and that if she could come late, that is better than not at all. A family rift over something like this is silly. I say that because something similar has happened in my family. It affects the WHOLE family and puts everyone on edge. Just pull her and your son aside and speak to them without judgement. Let them know you will support their decision, even you don't agree.

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July 11, 20060 found this helpful

I think people make way too much of kids birthday parties any more and that most are really spoiled. Young people are rather selfish these days.In this day of divorce and living together a 50th is a big deal. These people don't have many more years left to party. If the d-i-l is that harsh, it is probably better that she isn't there. I feel sorry for the snub to the old folks.

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July 11, 20060 found this helpful

I'm wondering how old your grandchildren are. That may be part of the problem. The anniversary is a big event and often I find parties like that (weddings as well) are very adult oriented. Your DIL may realize that by taking the kids it may make your parents feel good to have them there, but odds are the kids won't spend much time with them, they won't really be included in the festivites, and in general won't have a good time or even remember the event. Then there's the problem of feeding the kids (will they have food the kids can eat?) getting them to the party (will it occur at nap time or after their usual bedtime?) keeping them occupied (without the adults - most likely your DIL and your son - missing out on the party because they're too busy with the kids) and getting them home (if the party runs late the kids amy have to leave early, which means one parent does too).

We didnt' take our son to his aunt's wedding for these reasons and she totally understood. It would have been nice to have him there, but in the end she understood and knew that it had nothing to do with how we or our son felt about her.

I know it's only one event and that maybe your DIL could handle any inconvience just for this one time, but I can understand why she would rather go to her god daughter's birthday instead. Have you made any party plans that would make it easier for parents to bring the kids? Did you hire babysitters and plan events for them too? Did you give her any incentive to bring the kids except to please you and your parents?

If your son is going then he's obviously talked about this with his wife and you shouldn't put anymore pressure on your son by interfering with your DIL's decision. You'll only push your son away if you make things harder on him with his family. Also, PLEASE don't make any comments or complain about the wife at the party. Remember your son WILL be at the party and he doesn't need to hear you complaining about the woman he loves all night and having to defend his position. Just let it go and allow everyone to have a good time! You may not be able to change her position, but you can control how you respond to it.

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July 11, 20060 found this helpful

(Sent in by email)

Thanks for the feedback. I guess I do need to look at this from her point of view. There is no way for her to put in an appearance at the anniversary party since the two event are in different states. I have decided to call my son and let him know that I will not be upset over her decision. She needs to do what is important to her not me.

Lorri from Streetsboro, OH

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July 11, 20060 found this helpful

Sounds like you've taken the time to really think about this. Your son is lucky to have such a good mother and it also sounds like you're a great daughter planning this event and wanting the best for your parents.

If your DIL isn't going to come along, one suggestion I have to try to make the day special for your parents and their great-grandchildren is to ask your son and DIL if they could video or audio tape a message from the kids. Tell them you understand the kids can't be there and that you're asking anyone who can't make it if they'd like to contribute something special like a video/audio or even pictures/cards etc. to give to your parents at the party. That way your parents will still feel special and loved even if everyone can't be there.

Congrats to your parents too! 50 years is something wonderful to celebrate!

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