Wedding Woes

Grandma Needs to Get Over Her Grief and Do What is Best for Her Grandson

My husband and I had extra embryos after our twins were born via IVF. We donated them to his sister, and she had Charlie. We never expected Charlie to be anything but our beloved nephew, but then my sister-in-law died of an unexpected brain aneurysm last year. Charlie was only 3. My husband and I took custody.

I can’t tell you how this tragedy has warped our family in ways that we are still finding out. Charlie is adapting beautifully, but my mother-in-law isn’t. She gets very upset if Charlie calls me Momma or my husband Daddy. Or if our twins call Charlie their brother instead of cousin. She has accused me of trying to erase her daughter more than once.

My husband and I have every intention of telling Charlie about his mother and his origins, but he is 4 years old. My family is urging me to come home with the kids, that distance is the best thing I can do here, and that my mother-in-law needs to deal with her grief, not take it out on us. What should I do?

— Mother Maybe

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Re: Grandma Needs to Get Over Her Grief and Do What is Best for Her Grandson

  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    So LW's family is telling them to leave their partner? I don't agree with that. I think the husband needs to have a talk with his mother and explain to her they plan on telling Charlie about his mother as it is developmentally appropriate. Actually a 4 year old remembers the parent I'm sure so they can talk about her now. I also think the husband should explain to his mom how they plan on having Charlie address them and their twins. If that is as Mom, Dad and sisters so be it.
    short+sassy
  • H needs to tell his mom nicely that she's allowed her opinions and they're heard and how to handle Charlie is not her decision.   Furthermore, all of the family is grieving and further accusations will not be handled with the same level of grace and welcome that they currently receive.  
    short+sassycharlotte989875ei34
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    So, the preschooler who could really use some parental figures shouldn't be allowed to treat them like parental figures because he needs to be constantly reminded that his mom died?

    H has expressed that one of his greatest fears of either of us dying is how little the kids would remember of us. You want them to be able to remember their parents. In general, you don't want anyone who was important to you to be forgotten, especially to their kids. But there will be time for that, and ways to honor her memory, and in the meantime, he's 4 and needs a mom and dad.
    banana468short+sassycharlotte989875ei34
  • He’s 4. That’s old enough to know that he had a mother and she died and now he has another one. You are erasing SIL if you aren’t ever mentioning she existed and was his mom and I think it’s a massive mistake. 
    ILoveBeachMusic
  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    So, the preschooler who could really use some parental figures shouldn't be allowed to treat them like parental figures because he needs to be constantly reminded that his mom died?

    H has expressed that one of his greatest fears of either of us dying is how little the kids would remember of us. You want them to be able to remember their parents. In general, you don't want anyone who was important to you to be forgotten, especially to their kids. But there will be time for that, and ways to honor her memory, and in the meantime, he's 4 and needs a mom and dad.

    SITB

    Yes so much this. There was a family when I was growing up that was kind of like the Brady Bunch. A mother and a father had died the surviving parents married each other. Between the two of them they had 5 kids ranging from 10 to 4 years old. The kids didn't forget their biological parents but still called the new parents mom and dad. Today as adults they say they had two moms or two dads. Nothing wrong with that.
    charlotte989875
  • This is the H's foot to put down, since it is his mother.  I think the best stance to take when speaking to the grandmother is pointing out that she is harming her grandson the most, with her insistence that he not refer to the LW and her H as "Mom and "Dad".

    This seems serious enough to me that, if they need to cut off contact with the MIL, then that's what they need to do.  There's a good chance Charlie will grow up feeling "other" in that family, even with his parents and siblings never doing anything to make him feel that way.  So it's their duty as parents to not allow his grandmother to EXACERBATE that, by becoming angry if one of his bio cousins call him "brother" or if he calls his bio aunt/uncle, "mom and dad".

    Hopefully, this is temporary and only coming from grief.  But it needs to stop now, at the very least in front of Charlie and his siblings, because 3 is such an impressionable age.

    Like @ILoveBeachMusic, I'm confused the LW's family wants her to leave her H.  I'm wondering if he is part of the problem and not being supportive of his wife against his mother.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • He’s 4. That’s old enough to know that he had a mother and she died and now he has another one. You are erasing SIL if you aren’t ever mentioning she existed and was his mom and I think it’s a massive mistake. 
    I think the kid needs to know that his mom passed but reminding the kid constantly doesn't help either.  Ideally a good therapist can help with the grief that he has so they can understand how to process this and the best verbiage both for how to talk to him.

    Charlie is going to grow up with his aunt and uncle as the parents he knows and he's going to be living with his twin cousins/siblings.  

    I feel like both the LW and MIL are on opposite ends and may need to meet in the  middle.  But the issue is that the MIL is not a decision maker here. 
    charlotte989875STARMOON44
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