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my inlaws - cheap and sneaky? or just smarter than me?

Forum: Inlaws


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October 26th, 2008, 09:53 AM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 435
Hi all, This is my first time posting to this forum. I'd like an opinion on the following, if you have a few moments.

History: My MIL was an unmarried teenage mother to my husband. When he was about four years old she married and began a family with one of her town's successful businessmen. Unfortunately he had some hard ideas about her previous 'mistake' and refused to accept her son as a member of the family. He was scapegoated and treated very cruelly.

Essentially how this relationship came about was, my MIL was employed by her husband before they got into a relationship, and got pregnant in order to force a marriage. My MIL's solution to this, not wanting to give up her newfound happiness and luck, was to give her young son, my husband, to her mother to raise and keep the security her new husband's income provided.

Now, this man is no dummy and it seems to me he's always been aware of the imbalance in power between he and his wife due to his wealth. He's arranged his financial affairs so that he keeps my MIL dependent on his money by making sure she never gets any of it other than what he places directly into her hand. In doing so he wins double because he thereby also insures my husband will never benefit. When the stepfather dies he's left everything he has to my MIL's and his common children, two daughters.

So my MIL lives in his home, eats her meals with him, but essentially remains completely dependent on him otherwise. She receives a very small retirement income from the time she was employed before they married, which amounts to something like $200 per month. If she wanted to buy anything for my husband during his childhood like a gift, clothing, supplies for school, etc., it's out of this money that she did it. So it was ensured her son remained poor while she lived well. Her husband, however, is very well off.

To the problem: My husband and I now have two children together. My youngest son was my MIL's first grandchild. The stepfather was amazingly benevolent to my son and for that I thought he might be turning from his ways a bit in his old age. My MIL also appeared to accept my son and was good to him, but this was not to last.

My oldest SIL has always been an attention hound, and when she saw the tide turning immediately began trying to conceive and worked at it until she succeeded, having an adorable little boy earlier this year. When this grandchild was born it was named after the stepfather and given over to my MIL to be watched after while she resumed her career, so the baby is firmly entrenched in the family and has completely overshadowed my son, who is now standing on the fringes, much like his father. Given the previous circumstances I'm not at all surprised.

During the Christmases and holidays until now my MIL always tried to get little gifts for my son from her meager income, but they were always things from a dollar store or what you'd pick out of a sale bin. Since I understood her situation I never blamed her for it and was even grateful she was making the effort.

When the son of my SIL arrived all doors swung wide and this baby was provided for very well by both grandparents, and still continues to be. For example vacations all over Europe they couldn't possibly afford... they're still very young but have magically found the income to begin building their own home... the baby's complete nursery was magically bought and paid for and he dresses in the best, etc.

Now I've just had a new baby, my last, and when my MIL showed up at the hospital to see her, in lieu of a gift she made an announcement. There would be no further gifts for my children. Instead she was starting a savings account in each of their names, and at each occasion that required a gift she would make an undisclosed deposit to the account. She keeps the books and we won't have anything to do with them. When the children are eighteen they'll receive their money.

Apparently this doesn't extend to all the grandchildren, just mine, because the son of my SIL still seems to benefit from grandmother and grandfather's generosity.

If I even thought she was being honest about it the problem still would be that the books are in her name primarily, and when she dies it's a good bet everything she has will go to her daughters, as is the wish of her husband. It's unfortunate to note that she is 60 now, her health is bad and has been for the past 30 years. She has kidney disease, has lost both her kidneys, lives by going to dialysis 3-4 times per week, and doesn't really take good care of herself. Her doctor's have been giving her 5 years or so to live as long as I've known her, and I believe this is an optimistic estimate, sadly. Although I wouldn't wish her any harm it's very unlikely she'll outlive her husband.

Back to the point of the post... It seems to me that with very little thought this woman has found a handy 'out' when it comes to my children, a way to continue to be called their grandmother but participate very little, if at all, and focus all her attention on the grandchild of her 'real' family.

It's also important to note this isn't the first instance of things like this happening. For example, when celebrating their 25th anniversary, my family was invited to the party but not allowed to sit at the 'family table'. Instead her daughters two boyfriends were there in our place. One boy hadn't known the family for more than a few months. I'd been married to my husband for years. We sat by the kitchen door at a table filled with cousins they hadn't seen in decades, with her first grandchild, my son, while the rest of the extended family sat close, directly in front of them. It was like something out of a bad movie. :-/

During Christmas they have a private 'family' celebration we're not invited to, but the boyfriend/husband of her daughters are.

When my MIL complains she doesn't see us enough, in the past we tried to remedy that by making an appointment to come and visit her. That is until she kept cancelling saying our visit wouldn't gel with her other plans, and we'd have to just do it when we could. It was left open-ended but she still complains we're avoiding her. It seems to me she simply likes to complain that we're snubbing her. Maybe this salves her conscience?

But again, back to the point of the convenient savings books... Does anything about this arrangement seem fishy to you or do you think I'm overreacting? I really feel the woman has pulled a fast one on me. Christmas is coming up, we spent a great deal of money on designer fragrances for everyone last year and I'm hesitant to spend any money I don't have this year trying to keep in her good graces, or indeed even going there at all, to tell the truth.

I just feel like we've had and are continuing to have a fast one pulled on us and I should cut these people loose and not worry about appearances anymore, because it's way past the point where this is necessary.

Thanks for your thoughts in advance and again, sorry for the length.
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October 26th, 2008, 04:28 PM
SamuelsMommy's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Indiana
Posts: 16,541
Hugs! I'm so sorry. How does your DH feel about it and what does he want to do? This is the primary question because as nasty as the situation is, she is the only mother and they are the only siblings he has. So in this case, I would defer to his wishes. If he wants to stop with the pretenses then go right ahead but if he still wants to make the effort then I think you need to respect that. It stinks when your children get slighted when they deserve to be loved equally. I'm not sure about the savings account thing. She might be lying or she might actually do it. My mother has savings accounts for all 3 of her grandchildren with her name and the grandchild's name on them. While it's not the same situation by any means, it is a normal thing for grandparents to do. My heart hurts for your husband. Right now my sister is doing much the same thing. She married a rich guy and recently he convinced her to send her daughter to live with her dad because she was too much trouble. My sister would rather spend Christmas with her new husband and stepdaughter than her own children, they are being sent with us (my parents, brother & SIL, and our family) to FL for our family Christmas with my grandparents while she stays there. It's so hard to watch children get hurt. I hope things improve. KUP

And by the way, welcome to the Inlaws forum! Feel free to come and post often. It can be slow over here, but we just need more posters to get things moving!

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November 20th, 2008, 08:31 PM
Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 4,033
Hugs! I hate that your family is going through this situation. DH decided on his own, after the way FIL and his latest wife acted towards me during the first couple of times I met them, to cut ties with his father and step mother. He said "It's their loss because you are terrific." I told him that they will learn when we have a child the same way every other stranger in the area does about our new arrival (through the local newspaper). FIL treats his latest wife's daughters (the eighteen year old drop out/drug addict and the sixteen year old who wears a bikini in the middle of the winter and tries to crawl into my DH's lap) like pampered princesses. Sort of funny that he treats them like princesses when my BIL, SIL and DH barely had the necessities when they were growing up because he was allergic to being a dad or a decent human being for that matter. DH told me that any children we are blessed with will only have one grandfather (my dad). He said "the donor" (his name for FIL) is not worthy of having a part in our children's lives.

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November 21st, 2008, 07:52 AM
adam*s_mami's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Michigan
Posts: 2,523
I would say that if DH approves you should cut ties, you and your kids dont deserve that, it sounds like she is a very selfish woman to allow money and a man to come in between her and her son, sounds like my MIL, It makes me sick really how ppl can do these things to children.....I would say to talk to your DH and see how he feels.....

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