Son threatened me emotionally and I"m so tired. Did I do the right thing?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by MidwestMom, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    For the 1% of you who don't know :tongue: he and his wife are having serious marital troubles and he has chosen me to be the one to vent to, which is, by the way, emotionally draining. This adult child, age 31 (his wife is 28) has many psychiatric issues, but has also always been a bit cold, although we've also always been close. I am going to cut and paste something he wrote to me and my response to him. I can't stand his wife, and it's mutual, although in all honesty I don't know what I did to make her hate me so much. But I don't want to talk to her. He knows this. She is rude and disrespectful and you can't really have a give and take let's-work-it-out conversation with her. I almost fear hurtful words. By the way, when they first married, she treated me like I was her mother, calling me with her problems. Suddenly, she hates me. The reason is beyond trivial, but it's a big deal to her. To find out why, read the Watercooler :)

    I haven't heard from my son since I finally got some female gonads and stuck up for myself. The fact is, I can be a big doormat and let my kids be rude to me, but, since Scott decided to disappear, I've had more of a "if you don't treat me well, good-bye" attitude. My son Mark knows that this type of threat will scare me because of Scott and what he did, but I don't want him to think he can just threaten me and I'll do whatever he wants. And I won't. I've really gotten good at detaching lately. HOwever, did I say the right thing? Was I too harsh? Am I just an idiot? Here we go:

    This is his e-mail to me from work.
    J. just blew up at me. She asked for your # earlier. If she does
    call, please answer, act cordial or you'll have another missing son,
    hold your tongue as hard as it'll be and be and just act like you
    understand you dont see him much, but when you are up here, youd like to
    see him as much as possible.

    My response:
    M, I am not a doctor. I don't know how to deal with this. I tried.
    But I am a person too, and I am not going to talk to J. If you
    want to vent to me, that's fine, but you can't be rude to me and you
    can not threaten me. If you want to disappear and not have a mother, I
    can't stop you. And I won't stop you. Think about if that's what you
    want and, if it is, then do what you think is best for you.

    I have always tried to be the best mother I can, and I'm tired out. I
    am happy to help in any way, but I want to be treated respectfully.
    I'm sorry you are going through this. I am here for you if you realize
    there are things I just can't do, even for you. It's up to you and
    J to save or dissolve your marriage. I have no idea how to do
    anything other than listen to you. J. isn't my child, she doesn't
    like me, she doesn't want me to be with George (granson), and I don't want to
    talk to her unless I am forced to do it at family affairs, unless you
    decide I'm not your mom anymore and you stop coming to family affairs.
    Because Julie, Dad, me, Nicole, Tom and Lucas are still going to
    remain a family. I sincerely hope you and George also join us.
    J., I don't really care if she joins us or not. If she does, we
    are civilized people. We will not be rude to her, the way she was rude
    to me at Julie's house.

    I love you with all my heart, but I feel you are asking too much of
    me. I don't want to get in between you and J. I just want to
    listen to YOU, not her. She can talk to her sister or mom or somebody


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    Last edited: Aug 27, 2009
  2. Nomad

    Nomad Guest


    If you are using actual names in your post...You might consider editing your post to include first initials instead of real names. Someone might be able to identify your family based on these names. It's a small, but real possibility and since other people are involved, it is only fair to grant privacy to all.

    ETA: I think you changed some of this...nice.

    It's hard to say what is right and what is wrong...perhaps there are no real good answers here.

    Wonderful that you told your son that you love him and that you don't want to come between him and his wife.

    Remember though, that you are "older" and have more experience.

    Perhaps he is hoping that although this is a tough spot, you would be able to temper your emotions, etc.

    In fact, shake out your emotions....hard...but important.

    One thought would be to speak with- the woman very cordial...but limit discussions.

    Thank her for voicing her opinion. Tell her that sometimes it is good to get things out in the open. That you'll think about her opinions. You always appreciated good/honest and respectful discussion and hope that it would always be in this manner.

    Figure out a way to get off the phone...You might say that you are feeling a little uncomfortable or not feeling well and hope that she will respect you in this.

    Tell her that you will get back to your son in the future about some things and thank her for the call.

    Keep it super duper brief and cordial.

    Remember you are the adult. You are in charge of your emotions.

    "It's choice, not chance that determines your destiny."

    If you are completely unable or uwilling to do something like this, then just continue in this manner....

    Assuring your son that you wish you could do more, that you do love him and wish for the lines of communication to be open with him.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input, Nomad :D

    However, this son is an adult. He is 31 years old and she is 28. I should have clarified and will.
  4. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    You have every right to not be a doormat to the moods and whims of any person including our own children and their spouses.
    I wouldn't sweat the small stuff and try to enjoy grandchild as much as possible.
    If mom is resistant to having you at her home, have son bring grandson to visit without her.

    I imagine son has a great deal of pressure from a soured marriage going on and probably doesn['t want or need added pressure of wife angry about his mother. I would probably remove myself from the situation and just smile and use the bobble head behavior as Suz always says. Let him vent but I wouldn't give advice since if they make up wife will think it was all your fault they had trouble.

    If son or his wife talk to you rudely or are hurtful, you should stand up for yourself and then excuse yourself from any marriage conversations. Don't be in the middle of their war. it's between two adults and you will never come out the winner.
  5. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    I agree with Fran. I too, suggest stepping out of the picture and let them have to deal with each other's issues only...You're not the problem.

    I think you did a good job in your email. You expressed your love to your son but you also reminded son that he is making choices too...and that you will not tolerate being threatend is good. And you reminded son that you are part of his support system, that his wife has her own.

    I hope your son will begin to think more clearly and leave you out of the equation. Your relationship, that is mother and son, is for life, in my humble opinion. Wives can be very temporary, Know what I mean?.

    Thinking of you,
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I also refuse to be threatened or held hostage by my kids. Nope, aint happening.

    On the other hand, I wouldnt refuse to take a short call from my daughter in law either. You dont have to be best buddies with her but you are her mother in law and in my humble opinion that means you can at least take a phone call and be polite. Talk about the weather, the grandchild, how you cant wait to see the newest pictures...blah blah blah. I could practically write a script. You dont have to get into the marriage details at all. Keep your conversation completely "grandma-like".
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi again. Thanks and an update:

    J's therapist is telling her they should separate for three months, even while they live in the same house. This includes completely ignoring one another, going their own way, and even finding other partners :mad:. That's a great marriage counselor, huh? Son is all upset and did apologize to me. He said he is just having one huge panic attack and I can relate. But I reiterated that verbal abuse and threats don't work with me and told him let's be on the same side as far as I am supporting him through this (not as far as he and his wife are concerned). I am not talking to her because she doesn't WANT to talk to me. He was sort of forcing her to do it and her heart isn't in it, and she probably won't call me anyway. If she were making a heartfelt attempt, of course I'd talk to her.
    J. and her sister R. have become very tight. R's husband is in Korea in the military and R. decided to leave him. The man has no idea why. She won't tell him. This is similar to my son, who isn't sure why J. is so excited to be a single mom. They plan to move in together and babysit for one another, since Sis will work nights. It almost seems like they got together and decided it would be cool to divorce. They come from a family of chronic divorces.
    But I'm still staying out of their fights. I will support my son emotionally, but I'm not giving any advice and I'm NOT talking to J. unless she truly wants to do a heart-to-heart. Right now her heart is black. And I'm not feeling warm and fuzzy toward her. She called me once before and fed me a pack of lies, which dummy me actually bought, hook, line and sinker. I'm not in the mood again. I have my two younger kids still to take care of. :faint:
  8. Star*

    Star* call 911


    I've been reading and watching from afar. I did have a mother in law that was horrid. I would have loved to have had a mother in law like you. If there had been () much of a chance for dialogue of civility I would have and did jump on it - but every time I did? I was the one who got it in spades. When she was run over by her own van by her own child and the entire family lied about it to the police? I felt it was a fitting death -they all did what she preached to everyone for years - Do not involve the police, be a clan, and no sense in putting someone in jail "after the deed." - Usually the deed was my broken bones. So I can understand the ambivelance with you and your sons wife. I also completely understand that when there are get togethers how you will behave - nice until. Wanted you to understand that I understand your position.

    As far as your email back to your son? I think it was very good. I think you let him know where you stand. I think he overstepped his bounds about the crack regarding your other son and obviously he knows that it hurts your terribly, so he used that. I say shame on him. Sounds like you accept your other sons shortcomings a little better than I would have. I think it was a cruel remark considering how much you love son #1. Eventually I would tell him an apology is due. You've already covered the "not say it again part" by telling him - 'do what you want - you'll loose a Mom did you think about that?" (That was brilliant)

    But....because I've been there with trying to figure out the inlaws not liking me thing and I know you have a heart 10 times too big for your chest...between the lines and maybe I'm wrong - but there WERE enough lines about J to make me think - she's done a little more than hurt the surface. I think it's bad enough when we have to detach from our kids, but them to have to deatch from their spouses for (what I read) stupit, stupit reasons? Ugh. And why not drag George into this. She's an immature hag. Call 'em like I see em. I wish she really HAD an awful mother in law so she would appreciate a good one like you - and MAYBE that's what it will take for her to figure it out.

    My DF has a niece who was married to a nice guy - he was Korean. Her mother in law was really a nice lady. We like/liked her a lot but they didn't get along at all. Well they divorced and never really spoke and she went and married this dude from India/Pakistan. His Mother is awful. OMG controlling, belittling, she can't do ANYTHING right. Nothing. THey have 2 kids together and this woman wears her out. Constantly correcting, criticizing. Has nothing to do with the heritage - but she would constantly bring it up and slur her. We corrected her about it all the time. Well one day she's on her exactly 40 minutes at the grocery (and was timed by hubby with a stop watch) and bumped into xmil at the store and began to chat...and chat, and cry and chat...and then met for coffee, and chat. Then started to go to her house and chat - (mostly about how awful the new mother in law is) and they became best friends unbeknown to the new hubby.
    Oddly and weirdly enough - she left the 2nd hubby - and is single now - but her BFF? Her 1st mother in law. It just MAY come around someday to J that she seeks you out for advice - there was a lot of healing between the niece and mother in law #1. Mostly misunderstood things - (ready for this?) on the part of the

    I don't think your task is easy. I wish you well with your son but I think I'll send you a couple batteries to recharge you and a hug and a smile.

    Sending SUPER mother in law POWERS of overcoming the idiot daughter in law....weed. lol

  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    The e-mail states it very well. I hope he will take it to heart. They can't blame you or be angry at you if you leave it up to them, and you can't worry about how he will cope if you don't get updates on his grievances every day.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2009
  10. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    I want to say, "Bravo" to your e-mail. A grown man may not threaten his mother when he can't get his way. (((HUGS))) If someone is nasty to you, say "This conversation is over." Do not take anyone's abuse. I wish you were my mother in law!
  11. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I think your email was great! And I agree with the others that you should stay as far away from the situation as you can. It sounds to me like your son is desperately trying to hang on to this marriage but it's almost inevitable that she's going to leave and it's all going to blow up in his face. He's going to need you a lot when that happens. And it also sounds like your daughter in law is EXTREMELY immature and unrealistic. She wants to get a divorce because her sister is getting divorced? And they're going to live together and take care of each others kids? It sounds like me and my friends in 5th or 6th grade when we decided that when we all got married we'd all live on the same block and we'd spend our days going to Tupperware parties and our kids would all play together!

    And what about the baby? She can't really think that she can just take the baby and waltz him right out of his fathers life because she thinks it would be more fun not to be married right now! I don't remember if you said this or not, but if she goes to live with the sister, would she be living close enough to where your son lives that he will be able to see the baby and have regular visits? And I know you can't do a thing about this, but your son needs to follow the old saying, "Hope for the best but plan for the worst"! He should get his marriage counseling and try his darndest to keep it together if that's what he wants. But he should ALSO be checking up on what his legal rights are about the baby and he should let her know that she can't just walk out with his son to go live in some other town and play house with her sister because that's what it sounds to me like she's trying to do!
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Legally her son has rights that say she cant just move helter skelter. He needs to get a formal separation pronto when they separate which puts in child visitation and where she and he are living and allowed to move. How much distance from each other. This is so important. You dont want her being allowed to take the child from one part of the country to the other. Even a few states away makes it difficult.

    I have heard of child support orders saying that a soldier cannot be forced to leave one base on orders because his wifes child support order for a step-child say that child cannot leave the base. The soldier can be sent on deployments but he cant be relocated. The step-child has to be located in the area where his bio father is located for ease of visitation.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You are all great friends...just terrific :D.

    Update: Son is sorry he "went there." He says he needs my support and just is in such a bad state of mind that he said what he said. I hope so. I won't tolerate it at any time.

    On the up side, if there is a divorce my ex is so in love with our grandson that he is willing to help son stay in his house by helping with payments. The house is in his name only and, although Illinois is a community state, if he can continue making payments I doubt daughter in law would make him leave the house where George is so comfortable and has his room and his comfort. She loves George. I have no doubt of that. Plus I doubt in this market they could sell the house. SHE would be t he one who would have to leave because she almost drove them into bankruptcy and her income won't cover the house payments and son's child support wouldn't be enough to pay for the house. Ex is pretty well off. He could do it. He also promised to help son get a good lawyer, if it comes to that. Son is still hoping to save marriage.

    Son got very good advice from his psychologist who is well known and promised to stick up for him in court. He told son to let daughter in law do her "healing seperateion therapy" which includes living together as though you are not together and even having other partners. He told my son she would hang herself. If she says "I no longer love you and I want out" he is to say, "Well, I still love you, and if you want to leave the marriage you will have to initiate it." If you knew her, you'd giggle. She is not very secure and this will throw her. Also, she wants him to react so that she can leave because "he is being a jerk." But he isn't being a jerk.

    His main goal is he doesn't want to leave the marriage because he wants to see George every day, but, if he can't, he's going to leave the marriage looking good with a lot of help on his end. There is a small chance the marrige will continue. I'm not sure J. has the guts to really leave it. From a mom's point of view, I wish my son would divorce her because she is mentally abusing him to the extreme. But I'm proud of him for taking the higher road. He refuses to fight with her. This is a young man who has many psychiatric disorders and who, like me, has to fight hard for stability. But, for the most part, like me, he does maintain stability. It's daughter in law who is acting crazy now, not him.

    And I thought I got to stop being THAT degree of mother when the kids turned 18 :tongue:. I'm shocked at how emotioinal I am about this mess.
  14. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    So good that he got some help from his psychologist.

    An excellent point I believe you made when you said something about concerns about being surprised at your invovlement and emotions with- a child over 18. Very easy to do with- difficult children. The emotion part is of particular concern.

    I do think it is best when we have other interests in our lives that fill us and this goes double when our kids are over 18.

    Wishing you well.
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Sounds like J thinks she has it all figured out. She may well go off the deep end if your son refuses to fall into her thinking. Be SURE that your son knows to Baker Act her and bring George to you for babysitting if J does "lose it" significantly. in my opinion her behavior shows some serious mental instability. It is something to mention to your son because she may try to hurt herself to blame him for something.

    Ask around NOW to find out who the shark attorneys are. Your son needs to ask anyone he knows about their divorce. If they got taken to the cleaners then he needs to ask for teh spouse's atty.

    Good luck. I hope she straightnes out soon.
  16. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

  17. ctmom05

    ctmom05 Member

    You've been very clear with your son that you love him and support him. You also need to be equally fair to yourself, and protect your emotional well-being, even if that means you need to pull back or detach just a little bit more.

    Here's a cyber hug < < < > > > .. .. .. I am hoping you can gather a little strength from that.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2009
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member


    Thanks to everyone here! I thought IL was a community property state. Thanks so much for the link.

    However, now son doesn't want a divorce. It's awful at home for him, but he doesn't want to be alone. If you check my signature, you can see that he has many mental health issues himself, and has a serious social phobia. He doesn't want to be alone and thinks that if J. goes, he'll be alone forever due to his social phobia.

    I'm starting to detach. It's his marriage, his situation, not mine. And I've started telling him exactly how I feel about J. and about grandson. He didn't want to hear about it and said, "I'M the one who is hurting here." I interrupted him to say that I was too and that if he didn't want to hear it, he could use somebody else to bang off of. I'm tired of that selfish attitude. This is MY grandson at risk here and I can feel badly that J. doesn't want to let me know him, and I can express it if I feel like it.

    Anyway, son did call last night to wish me happy birthday, and seemed a bit more understanding. This adult child has been very me-centric most of his life and he married somebody with as many problems as he has. She is also controlling and me-centric. I have no idea how this will shake out, but I'm going to limit how often I let him complain to me about her. It would be different if he was taking action, but he's not.

    I need to concentrate on hub, my three loving children, and the other things in my life. I can't save him...he is 31. And he has to start acting like it. I am wiped out. I want my retirement years to be peaceful and I won't compromise that for even my children. Maybe I've become me-centric too. I didn't start out this way, but I'm getting more and more interested in enjoying my golden years peacefully. God knows I gave every ounce I've had to all of my kids, and it's their turns to use their own resources now, right? I feel guilty just typing this...:(
  19. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    Oh, MWM, please do not feel guilty! You certainly have given your all and now it is time for you to enjoy these years as best you can. As you pointed out, son is 31 years old! I think you are handling things just right! And I think it is perfect that you will limit his amount of complaining about his wife--if he isn't going to do anything then he doesn't need to be complaining to you. You are so on the right track here, nothing at all to feel guilty about!!!!!

  20. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Oh, Sweetie, you have NOTHING to feel guilty for. NO. THING.

    You have always done your best for each of your children. You love them fiercely. You worked hard to support them in every possible way. When they had a problem you worked WITH them to resolve it. You let them learn from their mistakes when it was appropriate. When a problem was too big, you and husband stepped in to help.

    You constantly worked to learn to be a better parent and to actually DO the things you learned about. There was never a problem you didn't research and ask questions about so you could provide the most appropriate help for the situation and the child.

    Let yourself down off that cross of guilt and take yourself out for a big ole piece of chocolate cake or cheesecake or fried twinkies or whatever your ultimate all time favorite treat is!!

    At 31 your son should be solving these problems himself. Don't cripple him by fixing it for him. Do NOT let his problems bring you down. It hurts to have access to your grandchild restricted. Until your son steps up and insists you be included in your grandchild's life I would limit the amount of emotional support he gets.

    do to get. It works for every stage of life. YOU have done. and done. and done.

    Now it is time for HIM to do and that means for him to step up and insist that George has 2 parents and 2 sets of grandparents and extended family. Anything less is childish behavior on his part. And is cruel to you.

    As a grandparent you DO have rights. What would daughter in law do if you just "popped by" with a coffeecake or casserole or whatever "because it is hard working all day" and you want to "give daughter in law and son a nice relaxing evening"? Would daughter in law shut the door in your face? Or scream at you or do something else that is horrible?

    Or would she be put on the spot and let you in (esp if your son was home) and be at least human to you. She won't really LIKE it, but it would be a positive step to at least show outsiders (like the court) that you are a supportive caring grandparent.

    I HAVE done this to now ex-sister in law when she was sister in law. It took a long time but after a while she quit being such a pill.

    daughter in law may rant and scream at you, or at son after you leave. Make SURE you have a digital recorder in your shirt pocket where it will pick up her tantrum. If you can document her "losing it" it might be another stone in the wall proving that she should not have custody, at least not full physical placement.

    I would NOT warn son ahead of time. Or tell him about the recording ever. If he knows he will tell daughter in law about it to show his loyalty to her.

    I would not at ALL be surprised if daughter in law files for divorce to go live in an apt or house with her sister. Esp if she knows that son will be able to get help with the mortgage. She may think it would be somehow "fun" to be able to live with her sister and the two kids with no interference from son or his family. Tapes of her ranting and raving at son and George might well show her mental instability enough to help get joint custody or full custody for your son.

    Whatever happens - YOU have NOTHING to feel guilty about. It is time to make sure son takes responsibility for his life. NOT to fix it for him.

    Enjoy as much of a peaceful golden years as you can. LAvish your time and affection on the youngest kids. It will help ensure they make healthy choices about spouses and that they bludgeon their bro into behaving properly!