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Siding with the Daughter In Law Over Her Own Son? Relationship Advice for a Family in Crisis

Updated on March 7, 2012

Dear Veronica,

I’m a grandmother to 2 little girls. My son and his wife got married too young. I don’t even know where to start with all this so please bear with me. They were only 23 and 21 years old when they got married. No one could tell them anything, they just wouldn’t listen to reason. To make matters worse they brought 2 children into the world despite being newlyweds and just kids themselves. They couldn’t afford to take care of themselves let alone these 2 little girls.

For the longest time my daughter in law wouldn’t work and wanted to be a stay at home mom. My son worked at a gas station until he was fired for not showing up, then at a grocery store until he was fired for stealing. Then he worked construction but claims he was laid off but I doubt that. She was out every night with her friends. He started telling me how unhappy he was and that getting married so young was a mistake. But by that point he was 28 years old and had a family.

He told me he just wanted out. I went from being against the marriage to arguing with him that he made his bed and has to lie in it now. I told him I would do anything I could to help. I said I would babysit for free and help out with meals. He kept telling me his wife would never allow me to babysit after how I was against them getting married. He kept insisting all I could do to help was to give him money. I did give some money but honestly I don’t have it. Maybe I knew deep down something was wrong but I was afraid the money wasn’t going to the kids

After they got evicted again before Christmas I went to the apartment and found my daughter in law there crying with the 2 girls. She confirmed she never said I couldn’t babysit or help with meals. She said she would be very grateful for that. She was so different, it was as if she gave up or broke. She said too they got married too young and this was all a big mistake. But unlike my son she sounded like woke up from the haze and wants to do whatever she has to for the kids.

I confronted my son about his lie to me. After more lies and denying, he finally admitted he just wanted to take the money so he could do things for himself. I found out that includes going out drinking and spending money on a girlfriend he has.

At that point I went to my daughter in law and told her to pack up the kids and move in with me. They’ve been living with me for nearly 2 months now. She isn’t the brazen girl she was when she was yelling at me to stay out of her business when they were planning the wedding. She is now very humble and quiet. I see her with her girls and can tell she’s really trying to be a good mother. She’s embarrassed about how she was with the girls for a while, going out and everything. But she’s owning up to it and doing the right thing. She works waitressing and I watch my granddaughters. She works double shifts and picks up extra hours all the time. She hands over the money she earns to me. I show her what I’ve put into the household and everything else I put in a fund for the girl’s education. She seems quiet and grateful for the help.

The first month they were with me we heard hide nor hair from my son. He was seen in town with his girlfriend and out in the bars. But then he started trying to come by here. He told me he wanted to see his daughters but would barely talk to them when he came in. They were excited to see him and wound up crying because he couldn’t be bothered with them. He said he wanted $100 to go get them sneakers. I said I would get the sneakers and have them here, and he could give them to the girls. He got really mad. He really just wanted the money and just said it was for them.

Veronica I have read many of your posts especially about not getting married young and about not getting involved with your kid’s marriages. But at this point I am involved. It’s breaking my heart to say this but my son is not the boy I raised now. I think getting married too young and taking on the responsibility he wasn’t ready for was the start of his downfall. Then he was too proud to admit he was wrong. It was all too much for him and he cracked. Now he’s cheating on his wife and doesn’t take care of his family. He lies and doesn’t want to take responsibility for his actions. I am sick to my stomach to say this, but I think the best thing for my grandchildren is to be separated from him right now.

I don’t want to see the girls go through the disappointment of another visit with him. I asked my daughter in law if she wants to divorce him and deal with custody. She tells me she doesn’t know what to do. She asked me to decide for her. She’s just very confused and sad right now, and she’s trying so hard to do the right things. She says she made such bad decisions in the past she wants me to tell her what to do. She doesn’t trust herself to make the right decision.

As much as I appreciate being asked for guidance I don’t know what to do. Am I choosing between my son and my daughter in law? Is this that line I shouldn’t cross? Is it right to prevent my son from seeing his kids?


Dear NannaBee,

I’m glad you and your daughter in law were able to come together. This is such a common thing: people getting married and breeding way too young, becoming disillusioned, unhappy, resentful, regretful, and neglecting their responsibilities. But it is not common that someone like you is there in the wings with the best intentions willing to help.

I give you a lot of credit. It’s great that you can see and acknowledge the changes in your daughter in law. It’s also really good that you can see the truth about your son in this situation and not just blindly take his side. I know it can’t be easy for you. Those little girls need you very much and you’ve certainly proven to be up for the task.

Your son chooses to spend time and money on himself and his girlfriend rather than his wife and children. He’s willing to lie to his mother to achieve that. And he’s willing to use his children in that lie. I see why you’re heartbroken and sick. He turned 28, reached his Rites of Passage or Saturn Return Age where he saw his life with clarity, and he saw how miserable he was. Sadly he chose a very poor way to deal with that.

You’re right NannaBee. You’re very much involved now. You’re the backbone of stability that those little girls have, and you are the reason your daughter in law was able to have a second chance at raising her daughters right.

You offered good help to your son who refused it. You didn’t choose between them. You offered both of them the right kind of help. One of them graciously accepted. You didn’t choose, they did.

Personally I don’t know if your son should be seeing his daughters or not. It would be remiss of me to say one way or the other. It is important that you remember that no matter how deeply involved you are, this one really is your daughter in law’s call. It’s exceptionally humbling that your daughter in law recognizes she’s made bad choices and trusts you to make choices for her right now. But you can’t make this one, you can only help her to make the right choice.

If she just isn’t sure what to do, is it an option not to do anything right now? It doesn’t sound like your son is trying to see the kids, or that he’s upset that his family is with you now. It sounds like he’s just trying to get money out of you, which sucks, but doesn’t pose any emanate danger. If your family isn’t in any danger from your son, maybe your daughter in law can wait until she’s had some more time to know what she really wants.

You haven’t mentioned her family at all so I’m assuming they aren’t in the picture or at least aren’t being helpful at the moment. I think it would be beneficial to her to widen her circle of support. If she doesn’t have family that can offer solid rational realistic support and guidance, then maybe she could look into some family counseling. They may be able to offer her assistance with things like insurance, qualifying for help, information on scholarships so she can go back to school, and other real-world advice and options. And, they may be able to offer some legal advice on the advantages and disadvantages of divorcing at this time.

Best to you and your family, NannaBee. Good luck.


Submit a Comment

  • pandula77 profile image

    Dr Pandula 

    6 years ago from Norway

    Great blog and very narrative indeed. I think your advice is excellent and does lot of good to the concerned reader!

  • Paradise7 profile image


    6 years ago from Upstate New York

    I feel very sad for the grandmother in the story. It must be heartbreaking for her to realize the paths her son has chosen. She's doing the right thing by throwing her support towards the two little girls and their mother. And, Veronica, I think you are so right when you say it's the daughter-in-law's call whether or not to get divorced, whether or not to exclude the father from visits.

  • fpherj48 profile image


    6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    This is a troubling, but very interesting story. Your advice is top-notch. This Gram is a blessing to her Daughter-in-law and grandchildren and seems to be an honest and fair woman. I would be most disappointed , were she to defend and/or protect her son who has yet to wake up and grow up.

    This young Mom is doing all the right things and I'm sure will take advantage of the first opportunity she has to go forward with the children, on their own, when the time is right. UP++


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