‘The other gran is a tyrant!’

Beth says the other grandmother is a ‘tyrant’ and asks Dr Emmanuella Murray for guidance on how to handle a difficult situation.

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Q. Beth

The other grandmother is a tyrant and it’s got to the point where even her daughter (my daughter-in-law) is refusing to invite her to family gatherings. It’s so sad because her husband (the other grandfather) is a good man and I’m sure would love to be more involved, especially with the grandchildren. Do I stay out and leave it to my daughter-in-law to manage? I fear I could make things worse if I try to get involved.

A. What a hard situation for you. How lovely of you to show so much concern for your daughter-in-law and her father. What a lucky daughter-in-law to have such a caring mother-in-law! Your empathy is beautiful. You are right, best to stay out of it. You don’t have to be best buds with the mother-in-law, you just need to cope when she is around. It sounds like it’s a difficult situation for your daughter-in-law and your empathy will go a long way.

If I may, Beth, labelling your daughter-in-law’s mother as a tyrant isn’t going to make you feel better. It sounds like the mother-in-law may have a lot going on in her life to behave in a way that makes her seen as a tyrant. I feel for her because she may be unaware how much this is affecting her and her daughter’s relationship.

I want you to dig deep and understand that your daughter-in-law’s mother might be struggling. I’m not saying her behaviour is excusable. I’m saying we need to understand why she’s behaving in that way. This will helps not to take things personally, and it will highlight that she is the one with the issue.

Keep giving empathy and support to your daughter-in-law.

Have you experienced difficulties with the in-laws? Have you managed to keep things civil?

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