You are here

Thanksgiving Boundaries

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

I’ve been VERY good at disengaging from one Adult SKID and DIL and mildly detached from other SKID. The backstory is I raised these kids, very stable home, generous with them, and loving but I never got treated very well in return or had the love reciprocated. These kids are not monsters and it isn’t as black and white as some of the situations on here. It’s grayer. 


Anyways I finally disengaged from one SKID and his DIL after the last 3 years of poor treatment, no acknowledgement about going above and beyond (credit given to DH whom had nothing to do with achieving their wedding demands) and everything was amplified by SKID’s DIL whom has a lot of family drama. I was painted as evil – I would walk into her family’s gathering to assist or show up and met with glares and extremely unwelcoming behavior (at one point the DIL and her family turned their backs to me and DH as I was waving hello and I was verbally “put in my place” by DIL’s mother which I bit my tongue NOT because it was at all truthful- just simply shock at the behavior and this happened in my house.) The behavior by this SKID and DIL is NOT warranted, but I do know there are a lot of “stories” that were propagated and my SKID backed these stories up without a lot of fact or truth behind them. After a miserable “coming together” dinner a year ago where we attempted to smooth things out, they went on and on and on about “how I have failed them and failed as a parent” even recounting their own failures as my responsibility. After that I not only paid for the dinner but I gave them a hug (I can’t even explain WHY I did that…) and got in my car and left. After that I created a boundary that I would not do anything out of the ordinary for them moving forward and since I have made ZERO effort to see them- which I have remained committed to and as hard as it is because my nature is to be very giving and generous, I have stuck to my guns. They have also made zero effort except to reach out on text which I will respond to but only with a short “thank you” or “hello.” Nothing more. The year without them in my life has been fantastic- free of family stress, drama, and behavior issues. 


So let’s get to the odd part- I moved very far away with DH. We’ve built a fun life together and are happy. This year DH tells me he wants both SKIDs to come to a holiday. Of course, I do not want this with the one troubled SKID that I have disengaged with over the year but if we allow the other SKID to come that looks like we are shunning the troubled one. I will also note that troubled SKID hasn’t done anything so horrific (hasn’t tried to ruin my career, physically beat me, etc) the abuse and behavior is more subtle so I don’t have a black/white excuse of my life being in danger or threatening my livelihood. Trying to find a way to keep boundaries in place. I tell my DH fine. No way in HELL did I think troubled SKID would come. DH reaches out to SKID and tells the SKID to come to Thanksgiving with DIL. Yesterday, I find out SKID is coming and with his DIL. Wild since they haven’t both been to a holiday for at least 4 years.


Once I found this out I am already putting the breaks on having them stay at the house and I am willing to pay for a hotel to keep them at some sort of distance. I found myself thinking through where everyone sits at the table and making sure they are on the other side from me with many other bodies in between us to avoid having to dialogue. I am not scared of them but I don’t love the idea of having to interact at all. Nothing good will come of it – there mind is made up that I am horrible, whether justified or not. And I am simply not interested in this bizarre dynamic. 


I suspect they are going to show up extremely grateful towards my DH and shower him with love. I also suspect they will act “nice” to me and put on a bit of a show. I frankly am past it all and don’t want to re-engage a relationship. I don’t miss them – likely because I realized how unfairly I have been treated. And I also am keenly aware that I am still the dumping ground for their problems and issues with DH.


I take full responsibility for allowing this occasion to happen by saying “fine.” Any suggestions on what you’ve done when placed in a position of being disengaged with an adult SKID but having to have an encounter? Tricks and ways you have avoided them at holidays or other occasions. Any advice, stories and insight is warmly welcomed. 

justmakingthebest's picture

This is hard, one one hand you want to support your husband in having a relationship, on the other, you know you need those boundaries!

Have they agreed to come? You said you moved... maybe they won't come at all and you won't have to worry!

If they do, I like the idea of inviting other people so that the conversations aren't all about them and you have other people to chat with. 

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

They are defintely coming and I just booked them a hotel room. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. Thx justmakingthebest.

AgedOut's picture

just be a polite hostess like you would if you were hosting a stranger. cool and aloof. busy yourself w/ whatever and work towards the goal of them being gone. practice your polite bitch comments like "that's wonderful. can I get you some more <salad/bread/anythingIcanstuffinyourpieholetoshutyouthebeepup/pies>. Then busy yourself from a distance. Do the clean up and smile along with their conversation. They'll be out the damn door before you can fight over the wish bone. They are guests for dinner, treat them like exactly that. cool and aloof. 



I do like the idea of inviting others for a friendsgiving too!!

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

YES @Agedout, this is sage advice. I am starting to view then more as if we are having a work dinner with people you only see at work. We'll have plenty of food and trust me they "decend upon the food like locusts" (credit to another stepparent on this sight for the quote-it's been stuck in my head ever since.)

Winterglow's picture

Make sure your husband does at least half of the preparation and that he insists he couldn't have done it without you. 

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

Totally agree @winterglow- already planning to have him take them on an independent low cost adventure while I put my feet up. I am going to make sure that I have plenty of quiet time to do what I want to do. The SKIDS will be THRILLED to have me out of the way and I no longer feel sad about that! In fact I quite content becuase the feeling is mutual. 

Noway2b1's picture

Invite others to dilute your interactions. Do not allow them to stay even if you have to pay, but do be up front how much you'll donate towards that. That said do not facilitate them getting there. Aka buying plane tickets or bus tickets or renting a donkey. That should be on them (had this same covo this summer over MSD possibly coming out for a wedding) my skids are similar, it's not black and white but 1000's of little things that indicate they could care less about me being a part of their lives. For instance, just this weekend. DIL sent out a happy birthday group text to my DH that included the BM but not me. I don't think it was done on purpose but more like thoughtlessly than anything, because they don't really think about anything in regards to me unless it somehow impacts them. They made it very clear mommy and daddy are all they care about. They are all over 35 btw LOL. 

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

This is exactly correct Noway2b1 - yeah if you can know that mommy and daddy are all they have love for it makes it black and white and more transactional. I used ot have so much love and care for them - now I have numbed out. I don't even say hello when they call their daddee I simply walk into another room and ignore. Over 35 - LOL, it never changes, does it?

Ispofacto's picture

You don’t have to attend every argument you're invited to.

Over the years I find the silent stare unsettles people when they are trying to be provocative.  If you really want to, you can coldly respond with "Do you really want to discuss this issue?"

FIL/MIL are racists and I've calmly ripped them new ones a couple of times, and so has my DD.  When they slip I say the above and they immediately back down.

If they say something offensive, pretend you didn't hear and have them repeat themselves.  Then loudly say "Did you just say [offensive comment here]"


ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

I love that- funny thing is they don't say anything that is overtly inappropriate, they are very PC. They spend a lot of time ignoring, being extremely negative or saying subtle things to let me known I am no good. Simple things like turning their back to me in public or doing extremely passive agressive things. One of my fav was after spending a TON of money on one kid over the years, he's convinced himself we've done nothing financially and I am the sole reason for that. It makes me bitter at their ungratefulness. Another favorite was I had put on quite the programming for one of the skids, theater, expensive dinners, clothing shopping, adventorous hikes, etc...and in front of me while I am making him breakfast he calls a friend and tells them "we did nothing at all the entire trip. SM is a bore." I was SO angry at him I had to take timeout. Gave him his breakfast and then walked outside to lockmyself in my car for 20 minutes. I came back in and asked him- why would you say you did nothing when we were out at least 2x a day doing something that most adult kids your age would only dream of doing? He shrugged his shoulders. That's the kind of stupid behavior i get.

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

Yes Ispofacto. I really limit my interaction and engagement these days. It's not worth it. Someone above suggested making DH plan for them, arrange free activities and low cost meal - that's the direction we are going this year. I don't plan to do any of the organizing and I am planning to sit out the day's adventure by turning on an amazing nature series on the tv and making myself a hot cup of tea. I don't feel inclined to make their trip incredible like years past - just let DH handle things and they will be happy little larks singing away. Buh byeeee SKIDDOs!

Merry's picture

Do you think they'll REALLY come, though? It sounds expensive and inconvenient for them. (That's what I get from my skids--yet we are expected to go to see them.)

But if they do ... having them stay elsewhere is great. Who can you surround yourself with so they don't even have much of a chance to talk with you: invite your family, friends, neighbors. Keep youself busy, keep moving, have projects on hand that might suddently need your attention.

Make sure your DH knows you want his time with them to be happy and fun, so you will just make yourself scarce. My DH is well aware that I don't want to spend time with them, nor they with me, so he is in charge of entertainment and activities.

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

They are coming @merry - you're right surround myself with others. I've already called friends and family in for the rescue. I am also preparign my husband to take the ropes and handle his adult children, I won't be plannign amaizng programming for them. Been there, done that and don't get much thank you or appreciation. I'll keep that money for a massage. :D 

SeeYouNever's picture

I think inviting other people is a great idea too. It's pretty likely that you and your friends and DH and his kids will split off when you're not actively sitting at the table together. You will be busy hosting your other guests and hopefully the kids won't make such a scene in front of strangers but you never know.


ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

That is exactly how I am dreaming this to go. Go on adult kiddos and leave me to my tea and a good movie. 

CajunMom's picture

I have not seen any of DHs crew in near 5 years (Feb 2018 last encounter). Like you, I finally had enough and put up some serious boundaries. DH has seen his kids away from our marital home, which has been a huge imposition to him and his kids. Oh well...not my problem. Rather, your consequences. I didn't see where you had a confrontation before the disengagement....I did. DHs kids know very clear as to why they aren't allowed in our home.

HIs one kid that is local has visited our home twice this year (I released the boundary and okay'd the visit). First visit, I was not home. Second visit, I was but chose to NOT engage. He visited with DH in the den; I stayed in my studio. I did come into the house but did not go into the den. So, he saw me and got the message, I was not ready. (DH was clear with him on first choice on how and when I choose to engage with him or his siblings). 

So, my plan: absolutely NO sleep overs. And I'm not paying for anything. They have money....and my DH has to pay for his hotels expenses when he visits them.

SHORT visits. And NOT on holidays for now. I cannot imagine having to sit at the table with that crew. Plus, none of my family would attend with them there due to the damage DHs kids have done to them, also. 

For you...I truly love what someone stare in silence at any "ugly" directed at your way and if it's words, go silent for a few seconds and then ask them to repeat it. I would not use a lot of words and my actions WOULD be very business-like, stand-off-ish. No hugs. No gushing words, just a hello and glad you could make it. Then I'd make myself busy and disappear from the group.  I'd also tell my DH that there WILL be a schedule for  their visit and he would impart that message...."dinner is from 11-3, then ImperfectlyPerfect and I have plans" (and have something planned, even if it's to go get ice cream). 

My MIL used to say...short visits make long friends. In this case, a short visit is all you can tolerate. That would be my stance. Best to you.

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

So true @CajunMom - as always wise words and spoken from a true veteran. I am going to adopt that time schedule and hold the family to lingering, get on and in TIME TO GO.

tfsimmons's picture

These SKIDs wouldn't miss a chance to make you uncomfortable under the "cover" of being with their Dad.  Be sure to secure your valuables and if at all possible - put them in a hotel only to visit your home on your terms.  Hubby can go take them for lunch or dinner or see local holiday sites - while you have some private peace of mind.   Instead of cooking the entire meal - we order the basic traditional Thanksgiving fare from local grocer  - precooked only to warm up before the big meal.  And that's for family we love and cherish visiting for the holiday!  No skids...  Make it easy as possible for yourself and it will be over before you know it!  Hotel + Lunch or Dinner at value based restaurants + local sites/ Mall walks/Holiday lights tour...  Bye bye!!

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

TFsimmons this is REALLY excellent and practical advice- so much so that I wrote it down ! I am going to have DH execute on this. It's perfect ! Than kyou !! Love the iea of value based resturant + local site + mall walks ALL for DH to do with them so I can sit out of this one. 

CLove's picture

And mani-pedi. Meditation. PLAN your own outings...with friends etc...dont give them a target to shoot at, or at best give a MOVING target. 

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

I love this CLove - I am going to start scheduling some things for myself and make DH handle them for the day after the holiday. They'll be so happy with daddeeee and frankly I'll be so HAPPY to not have to deal with their biting comments and behavior. I snap inside everytime a SKIDDO makes a passive agressive remark. So far it's just internal but one of these days I am not going to bark back I'll likely bite back and it'll leave a deep, permanent mark. Or I will care so very little and become extremely indifferent. Those are both possible pathways. 

Stepdrama2020's picture

You are a finer person than me kind lady.

Do not let yourself be roasted more than the turkey hun. 

Stay civil. polite. BUT there is a fine line between the higher road and being walked over IN YOUR OWN HOME! Id make sure DH is on board and if you feel attacked, even in the most passive aggressive way, you let DH know and he deals with it. Make it clear to DH just because he didnt see it doesnt mean it didnt happen, he still has to deal with it.. Often these DH's become blind and deaf to the skids shennanigans. Skids should not get a free pass 

I dont get the step situation that the SM who is treated poorly is supposed to suck it up and say thank you. Or in your case pay for the hotel. Is it joint funds? If it isnt then dear ol daddio pays for the toxic skids hotel. Hun that is being taken advantage of. Yes I know them in a hotel brings you peace, so then DH would want his wife comfortable. A gift from DH to give YOU peace.

As others have said invite others to be a buffer. Those others should be from YOUR tribe. People who will gladly have your back and call things out as needed.

I hope it goes smooth.

Take a hard stand hun. 



ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

Stepdrama2020 I LOVE how you write- your personality shines through. I've often read your pieces over the past year and thought - that is one cool cat & there's some really great personality bubbling behind those words. Back to your insight- youre right..NO ONE SHOULD TALK TO ME LIKE that in my home! I am getting better at it but DH is BLIND to the passive agressive terrible treatment by SKIDs. It's wild. They will do and say such inappropriate things to purposely hurt my feelings and he won't even realize it's going on. It's crazy making. As for the hotel - we are joint, it's ok. I really have put the breaks on financial spending on SKIDDOS- mainly becuase of their attitudes. I am ok with this but I agree that it does not open the gateway back into indulgence. No thank you but for peace mind please go to the DAMN hotel. oh, and take your dogs with you. Appreciate your savvy insight and yes you're right - take a hard stance is the only approach at this point. 

Rags's picture

other day?

 You moved to get away from them. They can stay at a hotel when they visit and DH needs absolute clarity before his failed family spawn shows up for the holiday that if there is one little thing that falls in the rude, inapproptiate, or unacceptable categories, DH will immediately confront and deal with his spawn. Before you have to.

If he chooses not to, you shred them all in real time and remind them why you and your DH moved and they are not welcome to be together in your presence.  After the spawn leave, introduce DH to the sofa for as long as it takes for him to clearly understand that never again will HE put you in the position of having to tolerate the failed family spawn he keeps engaging with to the detriment the marriage he shares with you and to the detriment of the life of his wife.