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i have lost my son to his future in-laws

My son has been dating a wonderful girl for almost 2 yrs and I believe they will be engaged soon. We have always had a very close relationship, until fairly recently.  He is now extremely devoted to his girlfriend's family, to the point where I rarely see or hear from him.  His future in-laws are lovely, and have made it very clear to me that they now view him as part of their family.  He takes vacations with them, spends weekends at their home, and even spent Mother's Day last year with them. IHis girlfriend has not made any attempt to get to know me, although I have made many attempts with her (taking her to lunch, dinner, shopping).  When I have tried to discuss the situation with my son, he becomes very defensive and says that I am too sensitive.  My birthday and Mother's Day are both next week and no plans have been made to celebrate either occasion with me.- my son did call to inform me that Mother's Day, again, will be at the in-law's home, and that I can join them, if I want.  His future mother-in-law texts me, saying she will be calling to make plans, but does not follow-thru.  I am divorced and on a limited income, so cannot provide the things that her parents can, but  try to do what I can on holidays, special occasions, within my means.

Is this just a phase, or something that will continue in the future?  My son has mentioned several times that his future in-laws are "more fun and out-going" than I am - yes, I am more quiet and reserved, but am a good person, and am considered very down-to-earth by most  people.  This situation is causing me much distress and sadness.  i have tried to avoid any conflict, so as to not create drama, but feel abandoned and hurt by my son, girlfriend, and her parents.  I do perceive his future mother-in-law as somewhat controlling, over-bearing and rules the roost over her family members.  My gut tells me she may be the source of these issues, and my son seems to want to please her as well.  Advice???


Re: i have lost my son to his future in-laws

  • NYCMercedesNYCMercedes BOS, NYC, DC. Forever a city girl member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited May 2013
    In Response to i have lost my son to his future in-laws:
    [QUOTE]My son has been dating a wonderful girl for almost 2 yrs and I believe they will be engaged soon. We have always had a very close relationship, until fairly recently.  He is now extremely devoted to his girlfriend's family, to the point where I rarely see or hear from him.  His future in-laws are lovely, and have made it very clear to me that they now view him as part of their family.  He takes vacations with them, spends weekends at their home, and even spent Mother's Day last year with them. IHis girlfriend has not made any attempt to get to know me, although I have made many attempts with her (taking her to lunch, dinner, shopping).  When I have tried to discuss the situation with my son, he becomes very defensive and says that I am too sensitive.  My birthday and Mother's Day are both next week and no plans have been made to celebrate either occasion with me.- my son did call to inform me that Mother's Day, again, will be at the in-law's home, and that I can join them, if I want.  His future mother-in-law texts me, saying she will be calling to make plans, but does not follow-thru.  I am divorced and on a limited income, so cannot provide the things that her parents can, but  try to do what I can on holidays, special occasions, within my means. Is this just a phase, or something that will continue in the future?  My son has mentioned several times that his future in-laws are "more fun and out-going" than I am - yes, I am more quiet and reserved, but am a good person, and am considered very down-to-earth by most  people.  This situation is causing me much distress and sadness.  i have tried to avoid any conflict, so as to not create drama, but feel abandoned and hurt by my son, girlfriend, and her parents.  I do perceive his future mother-in-law as somewhat controlling, over-bearing and rules the roost over her family members.  My gut tells me she may be the source of these issues, and my son seems to want to please her as well.  Advice???
    Posted by robin0508[/QUOTE]

    Oh Robin. I'm so sorry. I have no advice on how to talk to him about this, but wanted you to know you have my sympathy. Maybe the next poster will have ideas on how to discuss your hurt feelings with him.
  • I can understand your situation. On the other hand you need to understand your son's girlfriend's family situation. They have known her for X amount of years. They have only known your son for two years. If this relationship is as serious as you said they probably want to make sure that he's a good guy. And if it means hanging out and/or going on vacation so be it. That's what my parents do for us and if they didn't they would never get to know my bf. If your son is anything like my bf I'm sure he will call you at the very least next weekend. Some years that's all I could do/afford to do for my mom for Mother's Day and she appreciated it so so much. There are some women who could never be mothers, they would give anything to be acknowledged on Mother's Day. Be thankful you have that. In regards to your son's girlfriend and you getting along, it's not going to take overnight. I've been with my bf over two years and am just warming up to his mother. We're not going to be: "OHMYGODWEREBFFS4EVAH!!!!!!!" And I'm okay with that and so is she.

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  • Simply FatedSimply Fated member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited May 2013
    This is what happens sometimes with couples and holidays. I've spent a lot of time splitting my time up during holidays between my parents because of their divorce. Now my bf's family has been thrown into the mix and I split my time three ways. It's stressful sometimes. Here's the thing... they invited you to spend Mother's Day with them. It's not ideal, but they INVITED you. Not every family would do that. Invite him AND her to do something for your birthday.
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  • I also want to add that you haven't lost your son. He still loves you, I'm sure. And please don't look at it like he's CHOOSING them over you. He's probably just trying to adjust to a new family dynamic. It's a huge adjustment and it's something you can go through with him.
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  • MuppetFanMuppetFan member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Answer Name Dropper
    edited May 2013
    I'm sorry that this is happening to you and that you're hurt. I  think this is common. My uncle's life revolves around his wife's family. He doesn't know it hurts my family and my grandmother. I think my grandmother or mother should say something to him but they won't.

    I spend a lot of time making sure we satisfy everyone's needs between my parents, FI, and his parents. It's absolutely exhausting, especially since FI only has one mutual day off with me...so when we do stuff with our families, I'm sharing the only day we have off together too.

    I tend to spend time alone with my parents when FI is working. May I suggest that you initiate contact more? Perhaps you invite them over for dinner? It doesn't mean that they will reciprocate, but you will have more time together.
    image   imageimage
    You'll never be subject to a cash bar, gap, potluck wedding, or b-list if you marry a Muppet Overlord.

  • Thank you for your comments/suggestions.  In response, I don't think her family is trying to get to know my son better - as I mentioned, they spend an inordinate amount of time with him and have made it clear that he is now considered a member of their family (they have a son, who i think has some emotional issues, and see very minimally).  Also, I have initiated contact ,extended many invitations, and have been rejected each time.  This ia a major change in the past 6 months of so.  We all live within an hour of each other, or less.  I offered to come and take them to brunch/lunch, and was told, " No, we just saw you."  My other 2 children have mental health issues, so relationships with them can be fraught with difficulty.  I work very hard, and devoted my life to raising my kids. i feel like a failure as a mother and am so worried about what will happen after they marry.  
  • buddysmom80buddysmom80 member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited May 2013
    In Response to Re: i have lost my son to his future in-laws:
    [QUOTE]Thank you for your comments/suggestions.  In response, I don't think her family is trying to get to know my son better - as I mentioned, they spend an inordinate amount of time with him and have made it clear that he is now considered a member of their family (they have a son, who i think has some emotional issues, and see very minimally).  Also, I have initiated contact ,extended many invitations, and have been rejected each time.  This ia a major change in the past 6 months of so.  We all live within an hour of each other, or less.  I offered to come and take them to brunch/lunch, and was told, " No, we just saw you."  My other 2 children have mental health issues, so relationships with them can be fraught with difficulty.  I work very hard, and devoted my life to raising my kids. i feel like a failure as a mother and am so worried about what will happen after they marry.  
    Posted by robin0508[/QUOTE]

    Okay, here's the thing. They're adults. My mother used to say you give your kids two things. One is roots, the other is wings. If your son and your gf don't want to meet up with you then that's fine. Maybe they have a social life other than family. My parents live three hours away and when I turn down an invitation to see them they don't think they are failures at being parents. You've finished your job of raising your kids, now it's time to let them "fly the nest" on new adventures. If there are any problems with their marriage, that's their problem not yours. Why don't you try to pick up a hobby? It'll help get your mind off of worrying about your ADULT son. Please don't be a hovering mother, it's going to strain your relationship with him. ETA: stupid TK error wouldn't let me finish post. Had to post and edit.

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  • lol you didn't fail. Your son is just off doing other things. Don't take it personally. Just use the free time to do something you've always wanted to do.
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  • KeptInStitchesKeptInStitches the Northern Plains member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    I have another perspective on this issue. Growing up, we never spent time with my dad's family - every holiday belonged to my mom's family. I had never, in my life, had to share a holiday or consider trying to keep another familiy happy. Relationships with ex-BFs all were less than a year or a year and a half, so there weren't many (if any) holidays and we spent them with our own families. BF and I spend almost every holiday with my family for a number of reasons: 

    1) My family lives closer to us than his family. His familiy is within driving distance, but it gets to be a long day for visiting the closest and those further away? We usually end up staying with them for a weekend.

    2.) I'm extremely close to my family and, for example, the thought of spending Christmas away from them made my heart hurt.

    3.) I'm selfish. I've never had to share a holiday. He's been really really cool about this for years, but eventually it all had to come to a head.

    And it did two Christmases ago. We ended up fighting about where we were going to spend our holiday and, after 3 years of dating and never spending Christmas apart from each other ... we did. It was at that point I realized I was going to have to start bending on holidays. We now are tentatively spending more holidays at least partly with his family.

    So yes, next weekend, we will spend Mother's Day with my mom. I will poke him to call his mom and step-mom. And, even though we haven't discussed it yet, we will probably spend Father's Day with my family, and I will poke him to call his dad and step-dad. But I'm getting better at splitting the "major" holidays - Christmas and Thanksgiving.

    I'm not saying what we're doing is right. I'm just offering another perspective.
  • I have another perspective on this.

    You say that this is how the relationship with your son is now...  But how has it been hisorically?  I find it hard to believe that if you and your son have always been close, he would choose to spend such a disproportionate amount of time with his GF's family.  Was there a falling out?  Did you say anything to offend him or his GF?  When did you notice the change?  What were the circumstances surrounding it?

    You need to examine your own role in this as well.

    Also, logistically, do you live much farther from your son that his GF's family?  That could also be it.  My mother lives 4 hours away.  My MIL lives 1 hour away.  We spend more time with my MIL because it's just logistically easier...and because I don't get along with my mom that well.

    All things to consider.
  • To answer all of your questions -

    I have always been close to my son, especially since he graduated from college - there has been no falling-out.  This behavior began after I formally met the GF's parents.  If I have done anything to offend anyone, I am not aware, and have asked several times.  Logistically, I live closer to them than her parents - have asked them to stop and visit me on their way to the parents' home, and they typically refuse.  My son will call occasionally, but it is usually when he is alone.  My guess is that the GF's mother has something to do with this situation, but again, this is my gut talking.  I am a psychologist, so, yes, I do look at my responsibiity in my relationships.  I have spoken with several friends/colleagues about my concerns - they all know my son to be a wonderful person who has always been supportive of his mother, and do not understand why his behavior has changed so dramatically.  That is why I posted - to get some more neutral feedback.  Appreciate your response and will give it more thought
  • Does her family have traditions that they follow for halidays? Do they all get together as a big group to celebrate (that is to include aunts, uncles, cousins)? Is her family very close knit? Does her family pressure them about spending holidays with them? 

    BF and I spend the majority of holidays with his family. His family is very close knit and they have traditions that they follow which makes celebrating very special for BF, which in turn makes it harder for him to want to miss holidays with his family. It sounds one sided, but it is what it is. 

    We visit with them as much as possible, but they don't get upset at me for spending more time with them. They wish I spent more holidays with them, but they understand. I'm an adult and they don't fault me for it. 

    I think it's very nice and considerate that they invited you out for Mother's Day. You said that her mother never followed up, so how come you haven't called back to ask about plans? I doubt it was malicious. Give her a call and follow up. :)
  • edited May 2013
    I tend to spend more time with FI's family, even though my family is technically closer (3 hours vs. 4.5 hours, opposite directions). The reason being multifactorial.

    1. My parents are divorced (bitterly), and it's Hell-on-earth going out to visit them. I will not stay at my dad's unless I have to, because I hate his wife (long, creepy story). I will not stay at my mom's because she has nowhere to put me, and because her house reeks of cigarette smoke and I can't stand it. They live an hour apart from each other, and it's so expensive just to drive out there I can't really get a hotel (not that there really are any out there).

    2. Coming out to visit them usually means figuring out how to not only see them, but squeeze in my older sister (hour away in opposite direction from either parent) and all my friends who live out that way. It's exhausting and I find myself only really able to do the trip 1-2 times per year, as it's nothing but stress.

    3. I hate to admit this, but I'm slightly embarrassed by my family. His family lives a comfortable, cordial, and classy life. Mine...well, my mom spends all my time with her complaining about my dad and her situation (while refusing to do anything to help herself), my dad's wife is psycho, half my family's teeth are falling out (most due to smoking), and there's always some sort of horrible drama going down. I love my family, but they're a bit "white trash." His family is so normal it's more pleasant to visit with them than it is mine.

    4. His family actually does something when we're there. Mine we basically sit on the couch and watch TV, or sit in near silence. Dinner tends to be fend-for-yourself and sit back in front of the TV at my mom's, and just awkward at my dad's (again, psycho wife). I'm also vegetarian and they have a very difficult time accommodating that sometimes. When we visit his family we go for walks, make and eat dinner together, talk pleasantly, play board games, and sight-see.

    5. Even though FI's family is lovely and have made it super duper clear that they consider me a part of them, I still feel like one wrong move will undo 6 years and cause his family to mislike me. It's a fear with no true basis, but it's there all the same. And, again I hate to admit this, but since his family is much classier than mine I feel like it would be really easy for them to decide I don't belong there, so I try really hard to prove otherwise. I'm also shy, so I end up needing a lot of support from FI when we visit (yes. Even after 6 years).

    So I'd say really examine closely your situation. Do you have a dog/cat that she's afraid of/allergic to? Is your neighborhood scary? Do you smoke? Are you engaging when they do visit? Does he have a lot of friends near you that he'd feel obligated to visit were he to stop by? Do you have anywhere for them to stay at your house? How has your divorce affected him? Do you badmouth his dad at all? Or his dad badmouth you? Or complain about things more than you should? Are you having any difficulty letting go of your "baby" which may be manifesting as perceived territorial behavior toward his GF? Could she be shy/secretly afraid of you in some way? Do your other kids live with/near you and perhaps make him or her uncomfortable?

    All that said, it very well could have nothing to do with you, at least directly. There is a saying, "A son is a son until he takes a wife. A daughter is a daughter for life." Basically, it's a well noted phenomenon for men to grow more distant from their families when they start their own, while the woman's relationship with hers doesn't change as much (thereby causing the man to get closer to her family while pulling away from their own). It doesn't make it unhurtful or right, but it seems to happen a lot. If her mother is controlling, I imagine he sees it as the safer route to not upset her and risk his relationship with his GF than it is to not upset you. Again, not right, but it happens.

    I guess in the end my advice would be to keep extending invitations and accepting theirs when you can. If they turn you down, try not to take it personally, as hard as I'm sure that would be. If his mom says she'll call to make plans but then doesn't, call her and get things moving. Hopefully, things will come together eventually. But I think most importantly, look into activities that will make you happy and fulfilled.

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  • I am sorry that you're experiencing this. :( You sound like a wonderful and dedicated mother! I can see why your son's behavior would be hurtful to you, since it sounds like a departure from the way things have been in the past. Perhaps it is something he will snap out of the same way he snapped into it - I think you said it has been within the past six months? Maybe he is just having a great time doing all this stuff with her family right now, and it will "wear off."

    If it doesn't wear off, however, maybe there is another way to connect with your son. It sucks that he doesn't seem to be spending special occasions with you, but maybe you can arrange to spend time with him one-on-one another time. I would just be careful not to put too much pressure on him; it sounds like your two other children have some stuff going on, and it might become easier to "depend" on this son for all the closeness you want with all three kids (I hope that makes sense). Just let him make his decisions and continue to let him know that you love him and hope to spend time with him when he is available. And in the meantime, treat yourself to something you want! Motherhood is hard work!
  • I mentioned your situation to my boyfriend and he reminded me about his co-worker and his own situation. I can not believe I forgot about this!

    His co-worker (Michael) spends every single holiday AND most weekends with his wife's family. Her family lives about 3 hours away out of state. He complains at work that he wants to spend some holidays with his family, but as soon as the holiday approaches, he's talking about how they're visiting her family again because it isn't worth the fight.

    This is abolutely NO reflection on how he feels about his mother. He fully admits that he doesn't want to piss his wife off and that it's easier to go along with what she says than argue with her. My bf has a whole theory about how it might have to do with the fact that she is his first real love and he's never been in a relationship before where he's had to deal with compromise.

    I have no other advice to give you, but I wanted to tell you that there are mothers in the same situation as you and it's not because you're a bad mother or that your son doesn't love you anymore.

    image
  • In Response to Re: i have lost my son to his future in-laws:
    [QUOTE]I mentioned your situation to my boyfriend and he reminded me about his co-worker and his own situation. I can not believe I forgot about this! His co-worker (Michael) spends every single holiday AND most weekends with his wife's family. Her family lives about 3 hours away out of state. He complains at work that he wants to spend some holidays with his family, but as soon as the holiday approaches, he's talking about how they're visiting her family again because it isn't worth the fight. This is abolutely NO reflection on how he feels about his mother. He fully admits that he doesn't want to piss his wife off and that it's easier to go along with what she says than argue with her. My bf has a whole theory about how it might have to do with the fact that she is his first real love and he's never been in a relationship before where he's had to deal with compromise. I have no other advice to give you, but I wanted to tell you that there are mothers in the same situation as you and it's not because you're a bad mother or that your son doesn't love you anymore.
    Posted by Simply Fated[/QUOTE]


    Thank you!!  Very helpful

  • I'm sorry you're experiencing this, and I don't think it reflects your failing as a mother. When he was growing up, how much time did he spend with his dad's family? Was your family the one you spent the most time with or in other ways did it feel like the primary extended family relationship (i.e., was your mom Grandma and your ex's mom Grandma Cookie?) I ask because most people I know who had a more dominant relationship with one side of the family as children replicate that as adults. For the people I know, they spent most time with their mom's family and, baring other issues, tend to spend more time with the woman's family because that just seems "normal."

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