Dear Amy: I’m struggling with family drama.
My husband and my mom do not get along, especially since our son was born.
My husband and my mother had a significant fight, and my mom ranted to her parents about it. My grandparents then told me that my husband was not welcome at their house.
I opted to not attend holidays in support of my husband. My mom is not willing to help fix the situation she caused. She also won’t defend me, as my grandfather said some really mean and unfounded things. My grandparents didn’t attend my son’s first birthday or first Christmas, and we haven’t spoken since.
I truly don’t know where to go from here. My relationship with my grandparents is nonexistent, and my relationship with my parents is declining, as they have not shown me any support. They have maintained their relationship with my grandparents and are acting like nothing has happened. What do I do?
It’s All Too Much
Dear Too Much: Your parents are aligned with your grandparents, possibly for the same reason that you are aligned with your husband: they are family, and family members are expected to be in one another’s corners. This is an ancient dynamic, but it doesn’t absolve anyone from fault – or forgiveness.
It might be unrealistic of you to expect your folks to confront their folks, just as you aren’t confronting yours. Don’t expect your parents to defend you. Stand up for yourself.
You should reach out to all parties and simply ask them to communicate with you in order to try to clear the air. Say, “This drama is hurting me. I want us to have a peaceful, respectful relationship, and I’d really like to talk about what’s going on in order to try to move forward.”
You don’t indicate the nature of this “significant fight” between your husband and your mother, but your husband also needs to behave like a grown-up and accept any responsibility for his role in this.
In-laws do not actually need to like one another in order to have a relationship. They only need to keep their eye on the prize (family harmony, and peaceful and healthy relationships with the children). To reach this goal, they should at least learn to tolerate each other, not badmouth one another to other family members, and resolve disputes when they arise.
If your grandparents are comfortable cutting off your whole family and refusing to see their own great-grandchild (very sad), then you could assume that this dynamic goes back at least a generation. Don’t perpetuate it.
Dear Amy: Our next-door neighbor, “Stan,” is a 50-year-old widower who lives alone.
His three grown children live nearby.
Stan is a great neighbor – helpful, dependable and respectful.
Lately, Stan has been doing light yard work wearing nothing but his bikini-style briefs. I’m talking underwear, here.
Our neighborhood is semi-private and the only way to see anyone is to be in your own backyard.
When I told my husband about Stan’s attire, he shrugged it off.
Well, the other day I went over while Stan was wearing his briefs and asked him why he didn’t wear swim trunks instead. He said that his swimsuit is even skimpier than his underwear, and that he wouldn’t feel right wearing them in his yard.
He said that when he wears his very skimpy swimsuit at the beach, no one says a word.
I’m wondering if Stan is flirting with a legal issue.
Concerned Neighbor in Ohio
Dear Concerned: “Stan” has a point. Unless there is some sort of lascivious or “exposing” behavior or an extra reveal accompanying his tidy-whities display, I don’t think you should worry about it. You could check your local ordinances concerning wearing minimal clothing (such as a swimsuit), versus “underwear.”
Perhaps there are neighborhood parents who are concerned about this – if so, they should take it up with the town.
The biggest risk here, as far as I can tell, is Stan injuring himself with the hedge trimmer.
Dear Amy: “Devoted but Sad Daughter” was wondering about exposing her children to her mentally ill mother.
Before bringing the kids for a short, supervised visit with her mother, perhaps she could test the waters first with a video chat, or perhaps a series of them? If her mother doesn’t have that sort of technology in her house, perhaps she knows someone who does, or can help her gain access to it.
Greg in NYC
Dear Greg: Great idea. Thank you.
Email Amy at email@example.com.