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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10643
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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I'm wondering what my role is towards my daughters mother n

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I'm wondering what my role is towards my daughters mother n law. My daughter recently got married and had a baby, and I feel that I'm in competition with her And I know she is jealous of our relationship. I've made an effort to include her in as much as possible, as she is a single mom. I have brought her on vacation, invited her to as many family things as possible. Is there more I should be doing? I value our relationship and I know life has been hard for her. Thanks for your help.
DoctorZ :

Hello I believe I can help with your concern

DoctorZ :

I can understand how the relationship with your daughter's mother in law can be difficult at times.

DoctorZ :

May I ask, does she have any other children?

DoctorZ :

And also, what was your relationship with her before your daughter got married and had a baby?

Customer: She's has four adult children - ranging from. 18-23. She also has a granddaughter, age three that she cares for a lot. She has two girls and two boys. We became friends when the kids started dating. When it got serious, I invited her to different things, along with her younger son who is 18 and he enjoys being with our family. I have five kids.
DoctorZ :

And what is her relationship like with her adult children? Would you describe it as close as what you have with your daughter?

Customer: I think with her oldest daughter whose child she cares for is kind of close. I know her boys seem close but are boys and have other interests. Her other daughter is becoming closer but when they lost their dad their relationship was terribly rough. My daughter since she got married has been home more than ever. She was very independent before that. But she seems to love being home and being with her siblings. They sleep over a few times a month with the baby. We are definitely closer now. My husband and I laugh because we see her more now. Her husband has blended in very well and we love him as our own son.
DoctorZ :

That is great to hear how close your family is and how your son in law fits in so well with your family.

Customer: My daughters mother n law sent me a text today asking me how she can see them more and the baby. She says she misses her son. I wasn't sure how to respond. And I dare not tell her the kids had slept over our house with the baby :(. I suggested she come join us at church sometimes and have lunch with us. Her answer was I like my church. The kids are very busy, still in college, work full time has a baby. My role to them is support however I can. They met in highschool and wanted to get married. We supported them, as her son is a precious young man, and they seemed ready to handle the adult life. They weren't planning on getting pregnant a month after wedding but it happens. I do whatever I can to help them if they ask me.
DoctorZ :

I think your daughter's mother in law is jealous of your family and the relationship you have with your daughter, which is naturally going to be stronger, because it does take her son away. While is great that you have been inviting her to things like church and lunch, I think she feels like a "fifth wheel" at times. So maybe if your daughter and son-in-law go to church with her every now and then or lunch with her and then invite you and your family afterwards can make her feel like she is more of a first choice and not necessarily an after thought, even though I know that is not your intention at all, but she is probably sensitive in this area.

DoctorZ :

Sorry I did get disconnected there for a little bit, but I am back online now

Customer: So would it be better if I didn't invite her? And just left it to the kids more. Part of the problem is they are 19 and have a lot on them so his mom isn't their primary concern. Also, she reached out to me about what she could do. I suggested church, the problem is the kids are very involved, youth leaders. So to go the other way isn't always easy. She doesn't want to eat out because she's in debt. She would have kids at her house but my daughter is allergic to her pets. And the kids honestly don't want to sit at her house. They have a lot to do, and if they are at our house they are usually doing their own thing.
DoctorZ :

Well it does not have to be church, I am a youth group leader as well and I understand that it would be hard for them to miss that. So here is a suggestion that you can do, is talk to her and invite her to your house and say that you want to cook a meal with her for the children, this will include her more and she can cook a home dish that she likes to cook. It will also prevent your daughter with having to go to her place because of her allergies and it will not be financially difficult for your daughter's mother in law since she is not going out to eat. You can definitely keep inviting her to things, but encourage the children to do it more so, I think it will be more meaningful and special for her if they did that. So like with lunch in the future, you can tell your daughter or son in law, that "hey should also invite your mom. You should give her a call."

DoctorZ :

May I also ask, you mentioned that she is a single mother and you said that she lost her husband, what happened exactly?

Customer: Ok. I have been telling the kids to do that. So it sounds like I'm on the right course. Their dad committed suicide when my son n law was 7. I believe His mom was considering divorce and when he found out he did that.
DoctorZ :

Oh my goodness, I am so sorry to hear that. I can imagine that must have been really tough on her and the children. It would also help understand her attachment to the children and how she does not want them to leave her, even though children are supposed to grow up and leave the nest, but it does not mean they do not care about her. Like I said she is very sensitive to this and does not want to be alone or feel abandoned. I think you definitely on the right course and you have been doing a great job at including her, far more than most people, I think if it came more from the children it would be a good gesture that would make her feel more wanted and it will please her a lot.

Customer: I will talk to them about it more. She invited them to dinner last night but her son said no because he doesn't want to spend money as they are really ri
Customer: Tight. When they eat with us we pay for them still.
Customer: It's hard because there is no easy solution. But it sounds like the kids just need to reach out more.
Customer: I know they wish she could meet a nice man to keep her company, is that bad.
DoctorZ :

That is not bad at all, I do think she has a fear of being alone when all the children have their own families and get a bit too busy to be with her that often as she would like. I mean they can try talking to her about it, some churches have good social gatherings for single parishioners. Or there is always online dating as well. There really is no easy solution to this, but sometimes making the effort can go a long way in regards ***** ***** daughter's mother in law. Also because of the finances, which is understandable as school and a baby can be expensive, some things do not have to be elaborate, it can be simple going out for coffee because ultimately I think she would just like spend time with them and like I said feel wanted.

Customer: Okay well I guess this just confirms what we already have tried. I will encourage them to reach out. What do I do though as I feel guilty all the time and can't enjoy my family and new baby. I don't dare post a picture on fb (of baby or kids on vacation with us) as I know she will see it as me rubbing in my life :(. I keep secret that the kids are over, make sure It doesn't slip out when she's texting me. It's a tiring pressure. Because of her situation she perceives everything differently then most in laws would I think. I care about her and I want to not make her life worse but not sure what to do..
DoctorZ :

I do not think there is anything wrong in posting a picture on facebook because you are not directly telling her these things, like you would in a text message or phone call. I also believe that when the children start taking a more proactive approach at inviting her to places or events, then it will ease this burden of guilt on you. But ultimately you have nothing to feel guilty for as you are just enjoying time with your family and expressing your happiness for this. You are not purposely keeping her away or purposely trying to dominate time in your daughter and son in law's lives, it just seems like they prefer to be at your house and with your family, which happens in these situations. I think once the children start to make an effort by inviting her to places and events, just to spend a small amount of time with her will go a long way for her and I think it will help her perceive these things in a more objective light and not in a negative light, as she has been doing.

Customer: Ok. Sounds good :). Thanks for your time!
DoctorZ :

Anytime, is there anything else I can help you with today?

Customer: All good :)
DoctorZ :

Well I want to wish you the best of luck with everything and I hope it all works out well. My goal is to provide you with excellent service, so if you ever have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime.

Customer: Thank you :)
DoctorZ :

Have a pleasant rest of your weekend :)

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