How would you handle...


Well-Known Member
I saw an older post in which someone discussed their daughter marrying into an abusive-cultish family. This post involves my son and it’s not the same or as severe, but it made me ponder my situation. I have a three part question.

Our son’s in law family is very jealous and competing, particularly with us. Lots of silliness and strangeness. The mom is particularly problematic and has gotten a bad rep. of being unhelpful, jealous and narcissistic. Interestingly, her two daughters go way out of their way to build up their mother’s reputation and make her out to be the greatest woman on earth. The mom is constantly worried that our mutual grandchildren will “like us best.” Sometimes odd things happen we think largely if not completely irelated to this competition and jealousy.

Question 1: If we ask our son anything that might be related to odd behaviors of our in laws or their family he flies off the handle. He is normal, appropriate and even kind otherwise. But with this...he goes insane. Why? I suspect I can not and will not ever mention anything if this nature again.

Some things are more concerning than others. For example...we were babysitting our grandson for a few days. The other GPs had him for the mornings. We would pick up around 12:15 and take him to lunch, watch him and return him when the parents came home from work. Our grand loves hamburgers.* When he is at our house, we have a few places we like to go. He always makes a big fuss over it and thanks us. So, we pick him up one day after the other GPs and say something like “Guess what...we’ve decided to go to your favorite burger (not really burger) place today!” He was quiet. Then he started whispering something and I couldn’t hear him. I asked him to speak up. Then he almost started to cry. He said he no longer liked hamburgers and wasn’t sure if he ever wanted them again.
I asked if he was sure and he started whimpering like someone who had been abused.

*for a little anonymity I changed the food item.its not hamburgers. It is a food kids love.

By coincidence, our son called just then. I told him what just happened and said we were concerned. (We we’re actually freaked out). Son started to fly off the handle and I dropped it. A week later he told me he spoke with grandson about it and the boy said he just didn’t want hamburgers that particular day.

But, the truth is many times grand tells us he would rather have one thing over another or one restaurant over another. He NEVER EVER cries, whispers, whimpers etc. He is very forthright. Not shy at all. in my humble opinion this was very suspicious and abnormal behavior.

Found out later, the other grandpa had plans to make homemade hamburgers later in the week and invite them all over.

We suspect the other grandparents somehow said something to cause the child GREAT anxiety re having this food with us

Question 2:
Is it plausible the other grands said something to cause him anxiety about this ?.
I don’t think this is abuse may have been something subtle. As a side note...there was secrecy involved too as he never explained himself and could not/would not talk about it. How could hamburgers turn into such a stressful and weird thing?
Question 3: Do you think just simply ignoring this craziness the best way to extinguish it?

To make matters creepier, I am almost forbidden to discuss these oddities with my son. It’s been uncomfortable for me to be in the midst of such strange behaviors, and this goes double when it might involve my grandson and it must go unspoken. I doubly hate the secrecy. Why not just say “If it’s ok, please don’t go for hamburgers for a few days, because we are making some .”

PS Today, the child once again loves “hamburgers”.

I am slowly coming to terms with this “unusual” family. Please be patient with me. Thank you.
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Well-Known Member
If we ask our son anything that might be related to odd behaviors of our in laws or their family he flies off the handle.
Your son is making clear to you that HE DOES NOT WANT TO BE IN THE MIDDLE. Your son and his wife are trying to make it work with two sets of in laws. He seems to go nuts when you complain or criticize this family.

I would try the best I can NOT to go there with him. You risk alienating your daughter in law and maybe even your son. I would really, really try to keep my mouth shut no matter how bizarrely they act. You will be the loser, I fear.
Do you think just simply ignoring this craziness the best way to extinguish it?
You have no control what so ever about the behavior of these people. And your son will blame you if you continue to make it an issue. He has made this clear. It could be affecting his relationship with his wife.

While I commiserate with you very much, if such a thing happens again I would stay silent.
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Well-Known Member
I personally go out of my way to not get into anything, any drama with my grown kids and would never get into it with their in laws. Not directly or indirectly. I had a very contentious family of origin, learned that most little stuff isnt worth even addressing and am very easy going about people being odd. Maybe because I am a bit odd :)

I definitely would not even blink about the hamburger. It wouldnt even bother me. If my kid wants the grand to be an all out vegan, which would limit where I could take him, I would just think that they are the parents and their decisions stand, no explanations from them necessary. I would and do just go along with things.

Princess has a very odd SO, the father of my grand, and he comes up with some doozies but I am not willing to make trouble over the doozies so I just go along with whatever. They really arent harmful to me and my hub. This attitude allows us to all get along and be comfortable together. Plus we don't add drama to my daughter's life. She is in a long term committed relationship with a man who can be difficult and I am not going to cause her angst.

In general I have no to little contact with my girls in laws. If one is jealous of us, I would just be pleasant and not sweat it. This angst is theirs to resolve. I dont get into it with my girls at all over their in laws and Jumpers future motjer in law rewrote the entire wedding to.add her entire family, including relatives both kids dont really know.

To be fair, they are picking up the entire extra cost of having 250 at the wedding orher wise we would have to politely say no. But fortunately they are taking on the cost so its fine. On the good side of this, the folks love Jumper and the kids will collect a windfall having so many guests. And Jumper is a bit miffed but wants no trouble. I am not about to say a word. It is not my place. My place is to make sure my daughter has a wonderful time on her special day by being excited for her and agreeable to all.

Nomad, I let most things go if they are potential problems and I dont complain to my kids. Thus I have a really good relationship with my kids. Honestly, even Bart.

There are some things I really dont agree with regarding how my grands are being raised, but telling my kids what to do is no longer my place. I made my.own parental decisions and they can make there own. Grown kids dont like to have Mom causing drama and I really never have. I don't interfer.

Everyone is different and you will get varying advice but I highly recommend letting the small things just not matter. If you can, detach from son's inlaws. They are part of his life but don't have to be yours. I dont know of any parents whp hang out a lot with their kids in laws. Cooperate with things loke grandkid drop offs, yes. Holiday together, no.

You are sensitive and loving. Big hugs!!
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Well-Known Member
Our grandson seem to have this strange reaction immediately after a visit with the other grands.

I actually agree about staying quiet. Our daughter in law pushes for all of us to do things together. But it usually ends up very weird. Of course I hope they (the other grands) don’t try to manipulate our grandson in any way. We never do.

I won’t be sharing any of this or anything re in law family with our son or anyone in the family. No matter how strange.

But, it is annoying as heck.
Thank you for listening. and getting it off my chest is very helpful. :)
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Well-Known Member
I guess you will just have to make small talk with them, the weather...compliment them on small stuff...then when grandson is in the car you can ask where he would like to eat, etc. then when dropping him off, just say you enjoyed your time with GS. Let him decide what he wants to share.

For sure, ask his parents about specific activities and permission. But just try not to give the grandparents any ammunition.



Well-Known Member
I sort of avoid uncomfortable situations. I am not telling you to do the same thing but while I would not interfer with choices anyone makes I do get to decide not to hang around with my daughters in laws. I am not one who is good at direct confrontation. I get tongue tied and say the wrong things and have started realizing that as I dont make my kids defend themselves or their other families or what they do, i dont have to defend myself either.

I think I would cheerfully plan to be out of town for the holidays. I am very uncomfortable with people I dont know well, even if they are nice, and would avoid the group holiday thing. You can find ways to avoid it too. Sounds like its more trouble than its worth. Not telling you to actually do this, just reminding you that its an option.

This family is causing you much angst that you don't need. They had holidays without you before you moved. They can do it now too. I do all I can for my kids and can do ALOT for the two who live right near me. But I would take care of me too. in my opinion your son has no business telling you who to spend your time with, and has no right to yell at you if you decide not to enmesh yourself wirh HIS inlaws. There are ways around it without causing blow ups.

Have a peaceful, calm day.

All is well.
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Well-Known Member
Yes, it’s very annoying (think of work situations) when someone asks you to do something (my daughter in law in this case/ have group family events) and you try to help them out and oblige, but it ends up most peculiar, stressful , weird as heck and then you aren’t even allowed to ask what in the world is going on ? (Son). BUT, although I have made a decision to keep quiet and most things are no longer bothering me, it is harder (but I will) to let go the notion that they (other grands) might be at times manipulating our grandson and causing him stress. I do suspect that if they are doing this, the parents (our daughter in law and son) would not approve. They are kind, good parents. Our son (actually both) might take awhile to pick up on such a thing IF it is happening, but should it be happening, eventually they would see it and he would speak up. I absolutely will let it go myself. I have no choice.
It’s all been an odd experience. Thank you for listening. :)
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100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
I think our adult kids can be weird at times too.

We have three boys: Husband's who is 32 and engaged. Mine who is 31 and getting married July 27 and ours, he's 23 and the reason I'm here for those new to the board.

Anyway my stepson's fiancee has only been around 2 years. They met, moved in together and got engaged. She is a year older than him, never married and a very strong woman. He is on the quiet side. Her name is Jen.

They spent last Father's Day with HER family in Wisconsin (as they do ALL holidays) whatever! but he had a cookout for his dad/us during the week after Father's Day. Yes we were moving out of state soon so it would be our last one in Chicago for who knows how long. She also invited my son and his fiancee. Jen did not talk to any of us at all the entire time we were there. She was making her work lunch when we walked in and did not even look up or offer us a cold drink after an hour drive. He had done all the cooking as he is a trained chef. I was never so uncomfortable in my life or felt so unwelcome. My son's fiancee (Julia) later said the same thing. It was horrible. I felt sorry for my stepson also.

A little background was that a dinner before that with the six of us at our home, my husband drank too much wine and was kind of an ass but not anything terrible. In fact I even asked my son and his fiancee if they were offended and they said no. My husband has a strong personality also.

So I was very angry and confused after we left the cookout. We talked about it in the car and really had no idea what was going on. That following weekend JEN texted us saying they were near our house having martinis and did we want to join them. HUH WHAT??? We were just at the house and she was the rudest person I ever met. I was on my way to a wedding shower so husband responded no that I wasn't home blah blah.

Long story short, next time she was back to normal and friendly. I left it alone. MY SON was like get over it, forget about it, one thing and you hold onto it forever!!!

What I'm saying is that I could not believe how my son acted over me wondering what happened. So it goes under the rug and we'll never bring it up again I guess.

Moral of story: you are not alone!


Well-Known Member
Having boys, Bart who had been married, and two girls i think the woman usually runs things and that the girl's family benefits. In our family both girls, especially Jumper, are in control and her hub to be kind of goes along with her. Princess is less in charge but when it comes to us and holidays she is definitely the final say. Barts ex ruled the roost and we rarely saw out Grandson. Bart is sorry now but in most areas Bart let her make decisions.

It is unfair to the male's parents and I am sure there are some couples that are different but this to me seems to be a common.pattern....the man does not want to upset the woman. They are in my opinion more apt to side with the wife if the parents jump in.

Jumper on the other hand has very vocally told us and I am sure Hunter has heard that she would never.marry a man who isnt nice to her family. He is a good guy anyway but she spelled it out. And she is good to his family but we are never left out. This is the same with Princess. Princess actually doesnt like her mother in law and there is drama there because her son is mad at her often too.

I think there are gender differences in who makes marital decisions. I love my boys to death but I really prefer girls now that the kids are grown. I feel it is easier to hang out with daughters, do girl things etc. than to hang with the boys, not that I dont enjoy Sonic a lot and Bart when he is in a calm mood. Just that I have more in common with the girls.
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Well-Known Member
I’ve heard of this before. I guess since my daughter in law is pleasant and we get along fairly well, I didn’t see this coming. But when we all moved to the same area...yikes! She is still nice...BUT ...she is overly enmeshed with her folks and disturbingly protective. My son, interestingly did speak up about some very strange oddities that negatively influenced him. But, oddities that influence us...he would rather we didn’t mention.
Yes, my friends who have grown daughters (assuming we are talking about healthy kids) seem to have it a little easier, especially after those daughter’s marry. Moving was difficult all around. Missing old friends. Finding new doctors. Unexpected expenses. BUT...I did not see this WEIRDNESS coming. And, it’s another thing not easily discussed with just anybody and I’m not free to discuss with my son at all. Thank you guys. :)


Well-Known Member
Discuss away

I think it comes down to men not wanting drama or crying wives. Also with grands although it isnt fair that this matters, the woman gives birth or initiates adoption and often breastfeeds and becomes primary caregiver even if she works, so she takes charge of who sees the kids, where the family gathers, what the rules are ...etc. Many if not most men find they have a back seat. Or willingly take a back seat. Until recently divorce court almost always gave primary custody to women. This is finally changing to 50/50. Many men dont even know of new laws.

For now, in relationships, in my opinion women are more apt to be in charge of the kids, like in the old days. The men do the yardwork more and bring home often more $$$ and the woman is still more apt to take care of the children and inside of the house. And I do think this often benefits the parents on the woman's side.
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Well-Known Member
You have heard that old saying: a son is a son till he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for all of her life, right?

There is a reason for that saying—it’s the truth.


Well-Known Member
Thank you for sharing your experiences and making me understand I’m not alone.

True. I can’t win. I will stay out of it. Wise.

We have found that young people sometimes sort of engage in a sort of “test the waters “ behavior after doing something that might be inappropriate.

Back to the crux of is not easy being the parents of married children...but it seems parents of the husband tend to get a bit short changed.
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Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Here's my 2 cents. Focus only on your grandchildren.

I suspect you are correct that there may be some jealousy going on with the other grandparents. That's very sad for them but it's their problem. I would not discuss any of it with your son or daughter in law.

Be the very best grandparents you can be. Do the things you love to do. Go eat those "hamburgers" and if your grandson ever says he no longer likes hamburgers, be gently with him. Tell him something like "I'm sorry to hear that because I know how much you loved them in the past. We can eat something else but if you ever want "hamburgers" again just tell me and we will go."
It very well may be that the other grandparents are telling him things but you will never know for sure and it really doesn't matter.
As long as you make the time you spend with your grandson as special as you can, he will hold onto that as he grows. If he feels safe and loved with you, he will hold onto that as he grows and as he grows he will come to realize some truths on his own.

I always find it sad when grandparents become jealous over other grandparents. They are thinking of themselves and not the child. The more love a child can have the better.
My grands live 2000 miles away and my former daughter in law is remarried to a wonderful man. His parents have accepted the kids as their grandchildren and I couldn't be happier. My grands see them more than they see me and that's okay. They are truly loved and that's all that matters.


New Member
hello, your experience really touched my heart, and I hope you continue to be the sensitive engaged source of enrichment for that precious individual, your grandchild, because he really needs you; and every single person that ignores the red flags you are seeing, and make no doubt, they are clear and certain red flags, and every person who encourages YOU to ignore what is clearly a secretive distress and secretive torment that sweet kid is experiencing, is culpable if there is more to the story. everyone is outraged by child abuse , yet it happens on a huge, enormous, mind blowing scale and by nature HAS to happen, right under trusted caregivers noses. How? and i'm talking about a reality; the sneaky mental and emotional things said and done, covert, and WHISPERED under threat of Harm, type of hidden meaness, not just the more obvious physical harms..that emit RED FLAGS, and who else is going to be aware of them waving, who else would know the DIFFERENCE in the child.. that sad whimpering behavior, that fear and misery YOU WITNESSED are the RED FLAGS, and you are not like a lot of people i can tell by your focus; and even diplomacy in spite of the concerns. what bothers me is how many folks suggest you not offend the other aduts, tell you to respect the other adults, and that wouldnt be a problem but the other adults want you to accept the weirdness and red flags, right? no one else, no employee of a (very disturbing perpetrator filled) government agency, no physician, loves and cares nor is in a better position to notice and protect a child, than you are. and all kids live surrounded by adults that should be paying attention, some do notice red flags, but even then they shirk responsibility, and in a flash it goes from bad to worse, the child is a goner in the system, all the child's sense of self and entire family destroyed. when what needed to happen was tactful, cautious, active care, a stepping up of ''concerned'' adults, kids need a kind intelligent role model, comfort to the child, nonintrusively to the parents, by non covertly abusive adults, that do as you do, continue to give the child healthy messages; that they are honest, they are valid, their experience making them feel so bad is not what they deserve, by showing them different, not even having to say it out loud; your time of joyful togetherness tells them that they are valuable, worth SEEING with open eyes, in every sense, in every situation. there are huge indications of more problems than ''what's for dinner'' .. the other red flag is you can't speak up, as diplomatic as you apparently are, rationally and lovingly, about a child's well being, which should be everyone's concern, that is a real signal the other caregiver responsible for the child doesnt want to know or doesnt want you to know what they do. no one, not really,in my opinion, no matter how kind otherwise, has your grandson's well being in focus. minimizing, shutting you down..crimson flag. more esp, since that is not normal behavior typical for that adult. this post is a few months old, but i read it and responses and my concerns kept rising, so i hope this doesnt come across too strong. you were being redirected, and invalidated from your core issue, in my opinion. expected to to do as suggested, turn a blind eye, convince yourself it's none of your business, just like every other so called friend or family member of every one of those ''other'' kids. always its the others.. slick people count on that from ''good'' people; they get the ''respect'' of their ''privacy'' in spite of red flags all over the place, that the children are being impacted. Impacted. You know more than ANYONE who this child is, and what is normal, and anyone with an iota of compassion would say that this is not, and you are not being intrusive, you are not being nosy or inappropriate, that's just ignorant, in my opinion... from one grandparent to another, i'd say walk softly but keep your focus on that child's well being, and truth will come out soon i hope, but YOU ARE IT. love is an action word, bless you all. A.


Well-Known Member
Something similar may have happened again.

There is a chicken place near our home with a funny name that serves great chicken. Our grandson loves to go there. Always laughs at the name and enjoys the food.

He goes to a different place near his other grandparents. Also nice. We never say anything disparinging about the other place.the other place near the other grands.

He enjoys both. (Enjoyed)

So he comes to our house and we are discussing where to eat. We mention the chicken place by our house that he normally loves. Asks for it a lot.

He gets a stern face. Shakes his head no. No explanation. Then he said sternly that he only wants to go to the other place.

Although we recognize that other factors could be at play, we also recognize it’s unlikely. We think his other grandparents are negatively influencing him but could be overt “you shouldn’t go to that other chicken places when ours is much better!” Or covert and subtle like talking about it when he is nearby listening. Or overly praising the place by their house and saying no other chicken restaurant comes close to being so good.

And once again, if we say anything in front of the parents WE look like jerks. Omg. She will never believe ? Her parents would do something so weird. And it’s not in our son’s best interest to believe it. Maybe the other grands think it’s funny.

I’m not sure it’s a huge issue.

At least this time he didn’t cry and act depressed.

But we see the other grands likely manipulate the child for silly reasons.
And it makes you wonder what else they will do.
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Well-Known Member
You know what? It doesnt matter what they do Not your problem or business. Breathe!

I have to deal with in law's too and they can be pushy. Sorry I have enough to worry about. Not going to add them.

If my grandkids didnt want to go to a restaurant near our house that they once liked, I would just do it. It would be for me, not for any other reason. It would be one less unimportant battle to get upset over.

We cant control the out laws. Yes, it can be maddening but there is not a thing you can do and confronting them will probably cause grief for you and your child. Ask yourself if this is worth more stress. If you are here, I assume you have a very hard to handle child, like I do. If so, my suggestion is to ask yourself if any extra grief is worth it.

You should have seen how the out laws of my daughter took over her wedding. But we bit our tongues even though we were paying the bill. It made my daughters big day peaceful and harmonious and only cost us a little more.

We pick our battles with care. Regarding the wedding, my bigger stress was if my other daughter Kay would get drunk and cause a big scene. I had to babysit her for the entire wedding so that she did not get drunk. That sadly was my bigger battle. Yes,. It interfered with my ability to enjoy the wedding. But everyone else was spared an.unpleasant outburst. My daughters wedding was smooth


Well-Known Member

I guess what bothers us is our grandson cried about one of the food items he formerly loved and with this one he was “stern” with us. Huh? Both totally out of character and made NO sense whatsoever. This is not in his personality and he loooooived these places. Suddenly, without explanation, he sternly does not want to go to these places that he once loved. It’s not believable. He is very sweet and cute. Friendly. And demonstrative. Normally, when we mention the chicken place by our home he jumps up and down shouting the name. It is one extreme to the other, suddenly. No explanation. It’s creepy. It’s not to be believed.

(With the other place he cried! We were alarmed. )

But. I hear ya. We can’t afford to worry about this. On a number of levels. I have it filed it in the back of my mind.

Never in a gazillion years would it even occur to me to manipulate my grandson so he would like my house, my foods, my anything better than the other grands. The fact that they are likely doing this odd thing, is notable. But, yep...needs to be quietly filed away and not perseverated on.

Our son’s mother in law at their wedding was heard to tell her daughter to make sure she takes control and not let her husband run things in their home/household. She needs to be the boss.

(Our son by the way is super responsible and not controlling. mother in law certainly IS controlling)

My friend overheard and said she was aghast. She felt if anything the time would of been appropriate to talk about forming a loving partnership.
My friend felt it was very sad and inappropriate. Honestly, this friend came to me alarmed.

I’ll keep my mouth shut. We love the child and our son. These are not lOving things we are witnessing. In my heart if hearts I feel that as our grandson matures, he will likely figure it out.
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Well-Known Member
Then he said sternly that he only wants to go to the other place.
Nomad. I agree with Busy. But that does not mean that my heart is not heavy that your grandson is manipulated, by poisoning his ideas about things he loves and people he loves. I would feel heartache too. But.

I think this is the time to practice detachment.

You have NO control here. No control over what these toxic people do. No role in protecting this dear child. No role in speaking up to his parents who love him, that will not cost you and everybody else dearly.

Which is the key here. Every single thing you could do, would make this whole situation way, way worse.

It is like there are two different ideologies at place here. This is what countries go to war over. Think of the Balkans, and the Serbs and the Muslims. Think of Palestinians and Jews. As long as we keep ourselves attached to our differences, or keep our own goal posts as the ultimate goal, the war continues.

There is a fundamental unity at stake here, if you choose to see it and to commit to it. You have the where with all to focus upon that. You can choose. This can be a practice. Like meditating is a practice. To commit to the unity.

Because what is at stake here is tremendously important: your grandson's psyche, for sure. Which is based on large part on his parents' marriage. And your own sense of unity as a family. Which I know is very important to you.

You can decide here, what you choose to see and to commit to. Every time you engage in making bigger some perceived slight or holding back or hesitation by somebody, you are choosing to pick a side, instead of standing firm for all, in the place of wholeness. When you choose to focus on a slight, or a difference, it is YOU who is making the problem bigger.

It doesn't matter if they started it, or they are wrong, or nuts or whatever. If you are picking up the ball and running with it, you are perpetuating and making bigger the conflict.

Honestly. My heart hurts for this child. But I am NOT his mother or father. I can't do anything at all to change this. And neither can you.

This is the marriage your son has chosen. Ultimately, while you may not say this directly, by your attitudes and your actions you may be indirectly asking him to pick sides. The only one who will be hurt here should it come to this, is YOU. If your son has to choose, he will choose his wife and marriage. As he should.
Our son’s mother in law at their wedding was heard to tell her daughter to make sure she takes control and not let her husband run things in their home/household. She needs to be the boss.
Neither your friend nor you gets a vote on the ideology of your son's marriage and how he negotiates it with his wife.

This family seems toxic. But this is the family he chose. It does not help him one bit, if you match tit for tat. Who wins with that? But as important, your friend carried gossip to you. This was toxic and meddlesome:
My friend overheard and said she was aghast
She felt if anything the time would of been appropriate to talk about forming a loving partnership
This woman was fanning the flames of discord. Is she to be listened to?

Nomad. Until you see your role in this war, this war will continue. Because this is what it has become. Somebody has to lay down arms. If it continues,you will suffer. Grandson will suffer. Son will suffer. Somebody here has to start thinking about the bigger principles. You can choose to do that. Or not.

I have one thing more to say here. (Gee. Sorry, Nomad, to be so hard on you. I don't want to really. It's not my goal.) Ultimately, this whole thing is disrespectful to your son. Like, you know better about his marital and family dynamics. Like you get a role in deciding what is appropriate for his child.

If all of this is followed to its end, this is where it will end up. Son will and should stand up for his family. And it will be against you. Ultimately. He gets to choose. And if he is pushed, he will either do that, or he will stand against his wife and her family and there will be a divorce. Do you want to have that role in his marriage? Will that help your grandson?

Okay. Okay. I get it. I would be mad too. I would be hurt. I would be worried about my son. I would be YOU in this, Nomad. Honestly I would be brokenhearted. I would want to move to yet another country to get AWAY from this. But I hope you would tell me that I had it within myself to reach for something better, which is responsibility and love.

Nomad. You have it in you. What you are dealing with here, is PEANUTS, compared to what you have been through. And come out the other side, whole and good.
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