Wedding Woes

There has to be middle ground between you and SIL.

Dear Prudence,

We lost our daughter three years ago. She was the mother to our only biological grandchild. “Dee” and “Kay” were our step grandchildren who came into our lives midway after a horrible situation with their mother. We consider all three our grandkids. We take them over holidays and have established college funds for them. We were glad when our son-in-law remarried, but now have our doubts. The new wife has two children of her own and is expecting. She has expressed negative thoughts over us “favoring” our three grandchildren, as in not including her kids on trips or treats or giving them gifts. It isn’t fair or inclusive, according to her. Our son-in-law tells us that our hearts should be big enough to add in all the other kids. Our other two children do not want children. This feels like a threat. Either we pony up or lose a connection to Dee and Kay. Dee and Kay have been through so much and only have their father and us. We have no legal right to them. We aren’t wealthy. It takes scrambling and scrimping to save for our grandchildren. What do we do here?

—Grandparents of Three

Re: There has to be middle ground between you and SIL.

  • There’s a huge difference between giving a Christmas gift and creating a whole ass college fund. And quite frankly I don’t think they’re obligated to do anything other than the gifts.  


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  • Agree. I'd absolutely include them in gifts, but they have no relation to your daughter and I personally wouldn't feel bad about no college fund or vacations. I think the SIL's new wife is totally out of line here. 
  • There should be some compromise here and when it comes to kids, they notice when they're excluded and are hurt.  
    mrsconn23short+sassycharlotte989875
  • Reading the letter carefully, the former Son-IL and his wife are not complaining about the college funds.  They are complaining about no trips, treats, or gifts.

    Excluding them on overnight trips, I agree with.  But there are compromises for cheaper, more casual things like going to the park.

    But giving treats and gifts to only their grandchildren while leaving the other two (soon to be 3) out is super shitty.  It's cruel to do that to children, no matter who they are.  The gifts don't have to be equal value.  But a little something, so all the children feel included.

    And treats?  Really?  I'm picturing grandma and grandpa coming over with cookies or candy bars.  But ONLY for their grandchildren.  "Sorry little Jane and John.  The cookies are only for Dee and Kay."

    I wouldn't let those people into my house either, if they are going to treat my kids like that.  But would be open to dropping their grandchildren off at their house.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    mrsconn23VarunaTTbanana468charlotte989875
  • Their daughter died. They generously treat the step children she knew as their grandchildren. They aren’t interested I treating their late daughter’s husband’s new wife’s kids as family. Because they aren’t! These parents should be saying “she ain’t your grandma that’s why”. They are being greedy and selfish and trying to fleece her for money. 
    Casadena
  • That's exactly my thinking @short+sassy.  This is a person who wants to deliberately treat the kids differently and there's a time and place for it.

    Example: my family was invited to MIL's cousin's house for Palm Sunday.  While there, the cousin also had all her grandkids.  My kids received the SAME Easter baskets as their 3rd cousins.  It made me see the cousin as a kind an generous woman and I'm sure the kids didn't care.  I also fully believe that the grandkids got more - but the basket of tooth rotting and brain teasers was for all kids and no one could play "compare what you got" unless it was Hershey vs. Butterfinger.

    If the houseful of kids are going to show up on Christmas, LW can easily have gifts for all and a check goes to dad for the kids as an 'extra'.  Come on now.  There are ways to say 'These are my grandchildren and do get some special treatment' without saying the others are looking for acknowledgment going unreceived. 
    short+sassyVarunaTTmrsconn23
  • I also just can't imagine (and don't really get the sense from their letter) that they're spending a lot of time with SIL's whole family or at SIL's house or inviting the entire family over for holidays. If they are then my answer changes and of course its rude and awful to do separate things for all the kids when they're all together. 

    However, i read it more as they have a separate relationship w/ their grandchildren. They take the kids for some holidays/trips seemingly separate from their parents - i dont think there's any obligation to take additional kids to those things. While it would be nice to send the grandchildren home with small gifts for their siblings, i don't think they're shitty people because they dont want to. 
    MyNameIsNotcharlotte989875ILoveBeachMusic
  • I’m with @casadena here- are they taking their grandchildren (& children who were their daughters step children) on trips- I don’t think they have to include the SIL’s new family. A souvenir to take home for them would be nice though. But if they’re all spending time together and they bring gifts for 2 of the children and not the other 2- that feels cruel. 

    Look, my mom brought small gifts for M’s cousins at M’s birthday party because it’s hard for little kids to understand gifting dynamics. Yes it’s something we will all teach them as they get older, but she made some little kids really happy at minimal cost. 
    MyNameIsNot
  • I also agree that I read it as doing things with the kids not the whole family. I think it is reasonable that they have "only" time with their grandchildren (they include the step grandchildren in that group). During that time it is fine to give them what ever. Would it be nice to send something home to the others? Sure! Obligatory? No. It certainly doesn't sound as if they spend a lot of time together as an extended family. I also think the new wife has no business making demands.
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