Hi, My post may sound dumb to some of you but I am honestly confused and really want to do the right thing. My son is married, has 2 kids, both boys ages 12 and 7. His wife calls me almost every day and tells me absolutely everything that is going on in their lives. Especially all the troubles and problems. I try to find solutions and try to give advice. Last night she informed me that I go too far. She doesn't want my help, she doesn't want advice she just wants to vent to someone. I get depressed and anxious especially when it is about my son. He works graveyard shift as to make the most money for his family. He also has a 45 minute commute for work. He does not sleep well and she complains about that. I get so worried about him and then she gets upset because I worry. So I guess what I am asking is advice as to how to handle her phone calls. It is so hard to detach myself and just listen. I sure could use some feedback. Kase
Hi Kacey...first of all, your post is not dumb in any way. It is defiantly something you have to respond to, and it is a touchy situation.
It sounds as if you DIL is using you as a whipping post, rather than seeking advice from someone she trusts and admires. A daily phone call filled with negativism, and hurtful things about your son is not OK. What does your son say? Is he as unhappy as she seems to be?
For your own peace of mind, these phone calls have to be replaced with ones that include sharing of thoughts and real conversation...not just one sided ***** sessions. She needs to work this out, and you need to put your foot down.
I don't know your age, or health situation, but constant stress over things you cannot control will take a huge toll on you...so I would find a way to limit her opportunity to bombard you everyday for her own needs...And include your son in the dialogue...he should be your first line of defense, after all, he picked her!
stop picking up the phone!
let her vent to someone else.....
BINGO!!! Thats EXCELLENT advise right there.
And by the way Rose, wish you were around for my poor MIL when she was having issues with my SIL... LOL!
Kasey, Your post isnt dumb AT ALL. Youve been put in a position that isnt so great by any means. IMO its completely unacceptable that youd be placed in that position and how dare she hit you with negativity constantly and then for her to tell you that you go too far??? WHAT??
Listen to Rose.. please. My MIL is a goofball but I love her to death. My SIL pulled that stuff on her for several years and then manipulated the situation so that her husband/my BIL had a fight with his mom. It was a bunch of nonsense drama that caused or certainly contributed to my MIl having a stroke the night of the big fight between them all. DO NOT let it get that far. Please. Im going to be blunt here... but she has a screw loose for doing this in the first place.. dont let her interfere with you and your son's relationship.
I think she probably just wants someone to hear her and understand her frustrations. She most likely figures that as his mother, you would understand your son better than anyone else, and so she's gotten into the habit of unloading on you. It makes a lot of sense to me, if that's the case, but still, it's not a good place for you to be in, I'm sure!
I agree with not answering the phone, but you do have to be delicate. Don't just suddenly ignore her phone calls, or she'll be offended and might take it out on your son, which just adds more stress to his already stressful situation. Start working up to not being around for her phone calls. Prepare her while you're on the phone with her, by talking about how busy you're going to be tomorrow, with all the errands you have to run, or lunch with an old friend, or whatever it is that you like to do. Then don't answer the phone the next day when she calls, because you were busy doing whatever. Go ahead and answer the phone the following day, though, but prepare her again for you being gone all day the next day and maybe even the next day. Just start getting busy with "stuff" to do. Go one day in between calls, then two.... I wouldn't do more than two days at a time between calls for a few weeks, then gradually go longer.
I'm sure it seems like a lot of work and a little deception to just avoid a phone call, but keeping the family together sometimes does require a bit of work and deception!
I only suggest this because my own mother has been to me what your DIL is to you right now. She vents about everyone I know and love and it really puts me in a bad position. And she gets so mad at me when I try to solve her problems, too! I've had to gradually wean her down to one or two phone calls a week, and the above suggestions are the way I went about doing it. It was hard and she was still a little offended at first, but I started calling her about twice a week, and I think that helped.
I also make it a habit to change the subject when she starts venting at me. I am subtle about it, but very firm. It's hard, at times, but she's catching on that I don't want to hear all the negatives!
Something else I did for her, was to get her a nice journal. I told her it was a good place to vent her feelings without offending anyone else. She loved the idea and writes in it all the time!
I had this same argument with my mom recently. As parents, which I am also, we want to make everything better. I allways put my poor mother in the impossible situation of having to listen to my "venting" while not allowing her to give me advice. At the same time, if she is too quiet, I get upset because I feel like she is being short with me. Sound familliar? Im not a perfect daughter! lol. And her and I have talked about this many times and how it makes her feel. But as far as your daughter in law goes, I think what she want is someone to chat with. You know how you talk to your girlfriends? We talk about our problems and expound upon them for hours and talk about our experiences but we never really solve anything. We never say to our best friends, or at least rarely do we say, .....You know what I would do. She's looking for someone to gab at. That's the best way I can explain it. She isnt looking for an opinion, that makes her feel judged. What she's looking for is someone to listen, and to share openly with. But it isnt fair. I do this to my own mom........and all the while, I know that it isnt fair. Because a parents job isnt just to sit there and listen. A parents job is to rear, and to give advice so that we dont keep making the same mistakes, over and over again. I didnt realize this point until my own son came to me and got very upset with my advice and echoed the words I have said so many times to my own mother....."Mom, you dont understand".......followed by......I dont want your advice, "I just want you to listen." So you are in an impossibly sticky situation where there is no winner and nobody will ever be happy. If I were you, I would simply tell her that it's impossible for you to not give her advice, that you are their mother, you love them, and you want to help. If she wants someone to listen silently, that she needs to go to a girlfriend or something, but that you have a right to an opinion and you have a right to express it. It's will undoubted **** her off, but at least you've had your say. I'm sure none of this has helped you in the least, other then possibly understanding what she wants. But I do wish the best for you and hope that all turns out well.