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Kids’ relationship w estranged in-laws

shellpell's picture

Would you encourage a relationship between your kids and your estranged in-laws? I haven't  been in contact with My DH's family for a few years now due to poor and inappropriate boundaries and sharing info w BM even though DH has spoken with them numerous times about it. They still continue to dig their heels in and insist they need to for SS12's sake. The relationship between DH and his parents (though not with his bitchy sisters) has slowly improved but he's still standing up for me and our POV. They FaceTime with my kids and have sent unwanted gifts and are trying to build a relationship with them while still favoring skid and treating BM like the DIL instead of me. We are long distance but are planning to move to their country in a few years. I don't think it's right to try to have a relationship w my kids while pretending I don't exist or that my marriage is a second rate one. If DH wants to let them FaceTime, fine, but I haven't "allowed" visits since the big blow up, nor will I be facilitating visits when we move. I mean, if someone doesn't respect you as your DHs wife and kids' mother, why let them into your home, your sanctuary. That's my view. Interested to read about others' similar experiences.


Sotheysay's picture

I would let DH handle it and take yourself out of the equation because they are his parents and as much as you may hate it your kids grandparents so if DH wants to allow a relationship with the kids so be it 

tog redux's picture

I assume these are your kids with DH? What does he want? How about supervised time with them where you or he can end it if they aren't appropriate? 

I get where you are coming from, but it's a bit hard for them to have zero relationship with their grandparents if SS has a close one.

shellpell's picture

They are our shared kids. They have a closer relationship with SS because he's older and they've known him longer and DH used to take him on yearly trips to visit them and they would see him on their visits here. When we were planning to go to their country last year, you and others gave me excellent advice to present as a united family, so not have DH take the kids to see them solo. That worked out. If DH wants to let them FaceTime or see them out w our kids with me, then I'm ok w that. I'm not ok w people who refuse to respect me coming into my home. If my dad treated my DH poorly I would understand if DH preferred I see him outside the home.

still learning's picture

How is the relationship with your kids and your parents?  Can you focus on them and let DH focus on his parents and boundaries around your kids?  It's nice that they are trying and sending gifts.  Some people just don't know how to navigate the delicate world of step relationships. You In-laws obviously bonded with BM and still think fondly of her. The marriage between her and their son ended but it doesn't mean they still don't think of her as a daughter.  I'm not saying that how they're behaving is okay, it's just that the situation is complicated and many people from older generations have no idea how to deal with it.  Your DH needs to set firm boundaries with them in a very clear way.  People like your IL's who sound like they're "set in their ways," will need to have frequent reminders of appropriate boundaries.  

DH's ex's family still thinks of him as a son-in-law. I have no problem with their continued relationship but I also choose not to participate. 

shellpell's picture

My mother has passed and my dad has a good relationship with my kids. I understand about DH being the one to set boundaries, but when I am affected, I have the right to set my own boundaries about how I am treated. And my home is my bottom line. I cannot have people who disrespect me or marriage in my sanctuary.

DH does remind them frequently and they claim not to understand.

shellpell's picture

It appears in-laws are ok with having a relationship with DH, my kids, and BM, and not having one with me. This is not ok with me. I'm not going to be cut out of my own family to appease the in-laws. I am a marital unit w DH, and my kids' mother. Why should they get to "enjoy" my kids on their terms while pretending I don't exist? Everything was copacetic until DH asked them to have boundaries with BM and for them not to spoil SS. 

tog redux's picture

I think that's fine. All 4 of you can do the occasional FaceTime with them. You screen presents and decide whether to allow the kids to get them. I assume they are youngish kids where you can still control their contact with their gparents.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

From what you've shared in the past, these in-laws are not going to change. I worry that they will try to force more contact once you're in their country, especially your FIL. They've never observed boundaries, likely never will, and will happily make you the scapegoat for not going along with their dysfunction. You will be at a distinct disadvantage.

I would be very leery of allowing too much access to your kids. Your DH may have forgotten how toxic his parents can be, but nothing has actually changed even if they are playing nice right now. 

What role does your DH play in his family of origin?  How does he behave around his parents? Does he become a different person when around them? I ask because he needs to be the one drawing/maintaining boundaries and protecting you.

Your kids are still quite young, aren't they? I think a good compromise would be to allow some low level, superficial interaction as long as the in-laws behave themselves and show respect for YOU.


shellpell's picture

Yes, you are right about FIL being pushy about contact. At least we are planning on moving a couple of hours away from them, so not in the same town, luckily. I'm totally the scapegoat because I'm the only one who has a problem with their ways. DH was oblivious until I pointed things out, and since he loves me, he took a stand on my behalf. He has never really stood up to his family because he never had a reason to.  Now it's my fault he's "changed" (FIL actually used the term radicalized, if you can believe it). He can't say anything to MIL because she just cries and acts like the perpetual victim.

They just want me to put up and shut up and accept inappropriate behavior (not just from them but from BM too - who was intrusive until DH got strict with boundaries).

My kids are only 2.5 and 4 now, so very young. Low level superficial interaction is ok w me. 

Exjuliemccoy's picture

We've talked before, and I'm still worried about your move. Everything hinges on your DH and his ability to create and hold boundaries with his FOO. It's up to him to set the tone and protect you, but will he do it? Or, will he revert back to comfortable old patterns of dysfunction?

Jaded as I am, I wouldn't move to his home country without a lot of discussion and running of scenarios first. Assurances would have to be in place, and I would have money set aside and a firm exit strategy as well.

shellpell's picture

I've already told him that they are not welcome unless things change and that our kids won't be going to in-laws house either. He agreed. We've gone through some scenarios already. Believe me, he knows how I feel and respects it. He says he won't take SS to visit them either when SS visits.  I told him he is welcome to see them anytime without me/the kids.