Hanna Grace's picture
Hanna Grace

Daughter married, mother worried about manipulative in laws

I know this is long, but please read it through and reply with your opinion and advice. I really need someone to listen and help. Not sure where to start.......I need some advise on how to handle this situation with my daughter.  I"ll try to condense this as it would be a long story to relay all the history leading up to my daughters marriage last week. But, please bear with me and read and reply, I need all the help I can get right now.

My daughter is 22 yrs. old and got married last week. The family she married into seemed to be very friendly, when their son was wanting to date my daughter, his mom and dad became fast friends with my husband and I and were at our home alot, etc. We had a good opinion of them, but were a little concerned that their son is "self employed" and still lives at home, never been on his own. He is only 21 yrs. old. Our daugher has a toddler from a previous relationship, we were hoping for a more mature, financially stable person for her to get serious with. My daughter inherited some money, and bought a home when she had her daughter, and a new car. So all that is paid for and no monthly notes on that. She is going to college, and doesn't "need" financial support from anyone, but I also don't want someone to "need" financial support from her.........His family knows she has this money, not so much anymore with the purchase of the house and car, though. But ain't it easier to love someone with everything PAID FOR - no house note, car note at all? This guy is self employed by riding/training horses. No insurance, steady income, etc. My daughter lost her insurance under my husbands coverage the day she got married. Her mother told me "insurance wasn't important, hospital and doctor bills don't go on your credit if you don't pay them" .........!! NOT our way of doing things or thinking. That is pretty much a good idea of how they live, their phone may get cut off because they didn't pay the bill, but they go out and eat several times a week. Go figure. Before they married, my daughter helped him get a new truck. His life has improved, he got to move out of his parents house, get new truck even before that, and all he had to do was hang his clothes in the closet. His parents are ecstatic that he has someone that already has what other people have to work years for, yet he is bringing nothing to the table but himself..........Everything was already there for him to use, from dishes to furniture to tv's and stereo's. All he brought to the relationship was clothes and a truck note. Now, he wants to adopt her daughter and is discouraging my daughter from getting along with the baby's dad, in the hopes he will quit seeing my granddaughter so adoption can be possible after 2 yrs. As soon as they were sure that this relationship between them was serious, we never heard from them again. Like they need our approval anymore or something. Then, they just focused on keeping my daugher at their home as often as possibly and away from us. Its been very strange.................... I know this just seems like "its her choice, you can't make her decisions for her, only offer advise, she is grown, it doesn't affect you". I did that, I was supportive her WHATEVER she decided, I bit my tongue, my husband put a smile on and we hoped only for her happiness since she didn't head our advise. But it does affect us, by affecting our relationship with our daughtger and granddaughter. Please read on.

They were thinking of a summer wedding, but his parents said they were going to "kick him out of the house and he couldn't keep his horses at their home" if they didn't get married NOW - because he spent the night at my daughters home one night when the baby was sick and my daughter was getting no sleep. So, for my daughter to have the wedding she wanted, I had to plan and pay for a wedding within 4 weeks. Which was the "time limit" his parents gave them to marry before they kicked him out. As he had no place to go, and no money to pay rent, they pushed the wedding forward and got married last week. Like I said, my husband i paid for the wedding, and the reception, and paid for a condo rental for their honeymoon. At first, my daughter and i were planning things (I was very angry at the way this happened, my daughter asked me to please not cause any problems as she wanted everyone to get along). I did, however, call his mother about a week before the wedding. I was so upset that they had put this ultimatum on her/them and took the choice of if and when out of their hands, about how they were controling the sitution. I asked her politely "why" had they done this, my daughter was losing her healthy and dental insurance when she married, she was hoping to finish school before she married. I told her that we were concerned that their son wasn't financially ready to be pushed into a marriage by them, that this choice was not theirs to make and I did not understand why they had done it. She told me that she and her husband had told their son once before that he could not stay overnight at my daughters home or he would have to get married or simply be on the street. That my daughter had put this marriage off long enough, and they were not going to "stand by" and let them do as they pleased with him living in their home. And then asked me "what do you want from this phone call"?. I told her I supposed what I wanted was that since they had successfully arranged the marriage to their liking, it would be nice if they would let them make thier OWN decisions from now on without putting ultimatums over thier heads. With this said, she laughed and hung up.

The weeks before the wedding (their were only 4 weeks to plan it) she "needed" my daughter over to her house every day after work or school, my daughter seemed zombie like and just did as she was told and she and I were needing to go over the things about the wedding and reception that we had talked about and put on paper the first week of planning, finalize things and go over details of what she wanted. My daughter only came over to pick up my granddaughter after work and school, never had time to sit down with me. So I went with what we had already talked about and tried to refine things myself.  She had the key to the church because she had decided to do a rehearsal dinner and needed to set up tables, so she was going to be in there before I needed to be in there to decorate for the wedding. She made chili and cheese soup for the rehearsal dinner and brought it to the church. She said they weren't going to "go broke for a wedding and that was all they were willing to do. They could have went to the justice of the peace, she said, so they werent putting any money into it.

 The night of wedding rehearsal, this same women that wanted no part of paying for this wedding, passed out typed sheets of itenerary for the wedding that she had made for the wedding!! I said "What is this?!" as my husband and I were paying and doing this wedding for our daughter.......My daughter looked at me like "Don't you dare" and I just stood there and listened to his mother tell me it was "everyone's directions as to how the wedding would go". My husband and I were told where and when to sit, and that was the extent of our involvement in our daughters wedding. Did I mention that WE paid for EVERYTHING???? Then the clincher, she wouldn't ALLOW me to have key to the church because it was given to her first and she was responsible, she said. If I needed to get in, then I would have to call her first. And this made me late for my daughters wedding, I couldn't get into the chuch or reception for some last minute food preparation that morning, but she did give the women delivering the wedding cake a key. Thats how I got in, when came to set up the cake! Otherwise I wouldnt have gotten to go in and do what I needed to do. And since I had 30 minutes to get ready for the wedding, not even time to shower after all this, she of course got to help my daughter get ready and put her veil on for her, which is what I always thought I would do.

Same thing with the reception. NOne of my and my daughters ideas on when to do what were respected. She appointed somone else as mc over the activities, instead of my uncle doing it that I had anticipated. It was either just hope for it to end soon and say nothing, or speak my mind and make a scene and probably ruin my daughters reception -  that we paid for and her mother in law and family ran. I'm surprised she didn't go stay in the condo we paid for that night for the honeymoon, also. She almost made me have a nervous breakdown throught it all, I have cried and been so unbelievably hurt by it all. Its like my daughter is hers now and not mine at all anymore. And the weird thing is my daughter seems to only want to please her, she takes all this womans ideas and molds herself to them, she isn't being herself, and I'm so worried how her life is going to with this woman over her.

My daughter is distant, rarely visits to just talk, she used to eat supper with us alot, we helped her decorate, paint, landscape and redo her home for her and the baby, we have had a good relationship and were so close. My mother said its like my daughter is in some new cult, she noticed how odd everything is, too. My friends and family were amazed at the gall of her taking over the wedding and reception, and were mystifiedas to why my daughter let her do this, and yes, they feel my family was disrespected through it all.

I'm at a loss what to do. Just a week into the wedding, they are trying to get my daughter to pay cash for a new vehicle for herself and they want her to "sell" her car to their oldest daughter who has no vehicle. They want my daughter to keep the insurance in her name, but they'll pay it, they said. They want to give her $100 a month until its paid for. This is a 2006 car that she paid $23,000 for!!!! I feel they are using her, manipulating her. His mother stated at the reception "You guys need to go first thing when you get  back from your honeymoon and get your checking account together". Am I being paranoid, too sensitive, ???? What do I do? If I say anything, my daughter snaps at me, raises her voice and tells me to mind my own business. Please help!!!!  I don't want my daughter to isolate herself with only them and I miss her, I miss her being my daughter and talking and it being o.k. for me to be her mother. It feels like someone else has that slot in her life now, and I don't know what I'm suppose to be or who I'm suppose to be now.

momandteacher's picture

There are a couple of things you can legally do, but you and your daughter's biggest issues are not setting boundaries.  No one can walk all over you unless you give permission and it sounds like you needed to stand up to both his mom and your daughter.  Your daughter sounds like she was desperately wanting a dad for her child, but his mom sounds like a nightmare - very controlling.  However, she can't control you unless you let her.  Stand up for yourself!  Tell daughter your terms for seeing her and her husband.  Tell her you can legally demand visitation for your grandchild.

Pick up the book "Boundaries" and start reading.  Your daughter learned not to set boundaries from watching you.  You may need to get help for yourself.  But your daughter will only respect you if she sees you learning to say "NO!"

I wish you the best.

susanc's picture

I also agree with the comment above, and as far a I know, her husband cannot adopt  your grandaughter unless bio-dad  gives up all parental rights to the child. Even if bio-dad has nothing to do with your grandaughter, he is still her father, and an adoption will not go thru without his signature.I agree with you here, things just dont add up.Try to keep the lines of communication open,just listen... but no more financial support! This is going to be difficult,your daughter may need to learn things the hard way.I really hope things work out for all of you.

Hanna Grace's picture
Hanna Grace

I'm trying to understand why you would think I "don't set boundries and my daughter learned that from me".after reading this one situation, which is all you know about me.......but, you don't know anything else in my life about me. I'm not normally o.k. with being walked on and disrespected.  Otherwise I wouldn't have gotten so upset over all this. This is so dramatic for me because I do speak my mind and expect to be treated better than my family and I were treated throughout this wedding thing. Maybe I didn't make it clear how HARD it was for me to not come unglued through all this, and actually thought more than once it would be worth a night in jail just to kick the MIL's  a**. I'm the mom of 5 girls, and they have always seen me stand up for myself and them. NOw that I've defended myself after being called "my daughers problem" , I must say that I didn't expect anyone to assume this situation was a reflection on how I handle myself in my daily life! This woman, her family, turned into different people when the wedding was "ON". The only reason I did't "stand up for myself" at the wedding rehearsal was as I said, I was trying to think of my daughter and not make a scene. I'm not one to be pushed aside and disrespected, and I had my words with this woman the day of the wedding. But not in front of my daughter. This whole thing is about the fact that I DON'T WANT TO LOSE my daughter because of the dominate family she has married into. I can say "NO" all I want, I can spit fire and stomp up and down, but if it alienates my daughter from me its worth nothing. I think more of myself and my children than you are giving me credit for. A doormate I am not and have never been accused of being........before your wisdom, that is.

Also, my granddaughters father wants very much to be with my daughter and his child, he wanted to get married long before my granddaughter came along, but my daughter wanted their problems "better" before marriage. He has proposed to her many times, even after she was engaged this to the man she married.  My daughter is financially well off, and doesn't "need" anyone for financial stability, and her daughter has a dad that loves her so she doesn't need a  daddy for the baby, so I believe you drew the wrong conclusion about all that. She doesn't need financial help, we simply wanted to give her a nice wedding because we are her parents. This blatant disrespectfulness from his parents and my daughter being drawn into it with them is not something I am used to or expected to happen. I"m not used to dealing with people treating me or mine that way, which is WHY I'm having a problem with it!! The reason I posted here is because its very hard for me to comprehend the gall of it all. If I were used to having to boundries and people walking all over me, this would be just another day, wouldn't it???

YOU LEGAL ADIVE - Another point, grandparents don't have rights here in my state to have visitation with their grandchild unless that parent is dead, incarcerated or has been proved an unfit parent. So that information from you about seeing our grandaughter regardless of my relationship with my daughter is incorrect. That type of legal advice shouldn't be given lightly, someone that doesn't know the laws of grandparents in their state my do something rash, and regret it later when they can't see their grandchild. My neighbor and our best friend is a lawyer and there's no queston as to my knowledge the laws here.

The only "help" I need is how to handle this difficult situation in a manner that draws my daughter closer to me, and not push her away so much that the only people she hears is this other family. My husband I want to be recognized as parents are, as we always have been. I don't think any mother would expect things to go the way they did.  I was hoping to get that advise here, totally did not expect someone who doesn't know me to draw the conclusion that I need psychological help because my daughter happens to have a b*tch mother in law that is manipulating her into thinking she doesn't need her family any more because she has a new one.

But thanks again for skimming my very personal problem I posted on a family problems site and jotting down your quick incorrect legal advice, your fast judgement of my psychological state and how I"ve raised my kids for 22 years, the conclusion that my daughter was "desperate" for a dad for her baby (how on earth did you come up with that????????) and getting around to blaming me for all this because of "how my kids have seen me handle things". You have no clue as to how I've handled anything but the shock of this ordeal. Always good to have a helpful, encouraging word of advice when you are worried sick about your child. What I need addressed most was what to do now about having a relationship with my daughter when I won't even allow this woman or her family in my driveway, much less my home! . Not a lesson on what kind of person someone thinks I am because you read one situation out of 43 yrs. of my life. Its appalling you'd tell anyone "you need help" because an obnoxious person was rude, disrespectful and ill mannered. Thanks so much for the wonderful insite, I feel better already. I certainly hope if you are a teacher, that you listen more attentively to your students  than you did when you read this, and don't draw conclusions about the whole child based on one unfortunate event. I'm sure you can't imagine it happening to you, but I never imagined it, either. You may be surprised as how YOU handle something like that when you want your daughter to have  A PEACEFUL wedding day, when you are so angry you could spit nails.

Guess you get all kinds when you post on the net. Something HELPFUL would have been much more appropriate.

Hanna Grace's picture
Hanna Grace

Thanks for the reply. I do agree that lines of commuication are important, but as I posted to momandteacher, I have boundries and know how to draw the line, but its alot different when your main concern is your daughter having GOOD memories about her wedding, not her mother kicking someone around the church because they are totally out of line in their actions and rudeness. I have told the MIL exactly what my feelings are on everything she did, and i don't think I'll have to deal with her in person any time soon. She'll likely keep her distance out of fear of bodily harm. Its incomprehensible what she did through all this. Which is why I posted, its going to make it really hard for me to have a peaceful relationship with my son in law and my daughter. Thats my main concern now. I can't make a b*tch change her spots when she's 40 yrs. old.

I posted here thinking possibly someone would understand the situation after reading through all that, and offer something constructive that could turn this control thing around they have going on with my daughter. Funny how posting one painful situation can prompt someone to have a whole slew of incorrect assumptions as the other poster did.

I guess it was worth a try to see if anyone else had been in a similar circumstance that could provide some useful things to help. Looks like no one has.

BUt as I said, keeping communication open and active is defineately needed.

Thank you.

junieg's picture

Momandteacher, you were rather out of line suggesting that hannahgrace did not set proper boundaries for her daughter. How can you infer that when you hardly know the woman. It's not always possible to sort things out satisfactorily when you have such a strong, obnoxious character to deal with. She was also taking into consideration how any actions she took would affect her daughter, granddaughter and her daughter's relationship.
Having said that, I guess we should all be used to some abuse if we post our problems on these message boards. There are a lot of people here with very strong views [I include myself in that comment]

Hanna Grace's picture
Hanna Grace


You can also put me on your strong opinion list, and the friends I choose to surround myself with also have strong opinions - I respect people who know who they are and present themselves with confidence. But, it IS possible to be that way and have a pleasant manner, arrogance doesn't have to be a part of it. There is a big difference in confidence and [filtered word]iness!  I'm sure you agree.

And, yes, I knew there would be different views on this subject, (I wanted different, varying opinons from several people) but I assumed the "different view" would be how to HANDLE this situation, not a "Shrink wanna be" analysis of my character, and possibly I would have several different scenerios as to how this may play out, based on advice given here. I assumed the opinions would about how to deal with NOW, not accusations of why it happened in the first place when the personalitites of the all the people involved can no way be known through one post.  The net can be a valueable place to access so many different people's insight on a solution to a problem. MY friends and family that were at the wedding certainly gave me their opinion after seeing this woman in action, but, none of thier "advise" on what they thought was appropriate would have went over very well on the wedding day!! NOt with my daughter, at least, who is all I was concerned about.

Would I have felt better at the time to say and do what I was thinking? H*ll YEAH! Would it have benefited anyone but the MIL???? NO. She very smugly would have played the victim to have my daughters sympathy, and convinced my daughter that I had no concern for her, either. I can hear her now smoozing my daughter "I'm so sorry your mother acted like this on your wedding, its o.k. baby, I"m here for you now........And to get this upset and upset YOU baby, its awful. I feel so bad for you, she's so difficult, out of control, blah blah blah......." and she needs no help getting into character. I would have given her exactly what she wanted had I followed my basic need to destroy her at that point!!!!

This MIL seems to be trying to push me to do something, as she knows I am not the type to put up with this nonsense, and then she can be the b*tch with a smile, and I can look like the irrate, difficult crazy lady to my daugher - thus reacting to the MIL's actions in the way that comes most naturally would make me look like the bad guy. I"m trying to take the high road best I can, keep comunication and a family relationship with my daughter and son in law ( and my beautiful granddaughter, whom I adore and would do anything for) and keep my daughter from being sucked away from her entire family by a b*tch vacuum!!!!!

I"m weary, I"m mentally exhausted from dealing with this, just thought some useful comments and advise would give me something more to be armed with so I don't just totally go off the deep end and have a restraining order put on my *ss. I KNOW I won't be putting up with ANYTHING more from this woman, and its just a time bomb waiting to happen. I can't even visit my daughter, every time - EVERYTIME I go to visit my daughter and granddaughter, the MIL is there. I haven't been to my daughters house in 2 weeks. I just keep driving when I see her car, if I went in it would be Rambo unleashed and then where would I be in my daughters life???? Its ridiculous. Its like she has moved in over there, just takne over. I don't think anyone here really understands what they are doing to my daughter. The focus seems to be on ME here and not on whats happening to her....I've had several comments from friends like "Whats the deal with your daughter?? Whats going with your daughter and that family??? or "What the H*LL???? on and on..................Its total control, and seems everyone can see it but my daughter..........keep her away from everyone else and theirs is the only voice she hears. I don't know what to do..........

OH well, Peace to all, hope you have a better month than I"m having. :)



gail's picture

     I guess the situation you are having with your daughter's in-laws is very unusual.  I would suggest buying a whole box of cute cards, the "thinking of you" variety, and sending one by snail-mail every few days, with some casual note, nothing that could be taken wrong.  I know it  looks like just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, but it may keep the lines of communication open enough that when your daughter does come to her senses, she will know that you will be there for her.  It would take a heroic effort to keep those messages casual, don't know if I could do it, but I think if you stir the waters at all, it will make it harder for her to come to you. 


rkhaar's picture

I can hardly believe that I finally found someone that has similar problems to what I am going through with my daughter. I started to feel like I was the only one in the world with a daughter that chooses her MIL over her mother. She has been manipulated by her husbands family for about 8 years and has basically turned herself off to her side of the family because her husband and family think they are better than everyone. Her mother in law always wanted a daughter and has won my daughter over, so obviously it like twos company and three's a crowd. It didn't seem so bad until the grandkids started coming and the MIL quit her job to be a full time babysitter for them for the first child. She went over to their house all day and was the only one asked on the weekends ect to take care of the baby. Then when the second one came along, she now is a built in nanny for both of the kids even though my daughter has also chosen to quit her job and stay home. They spend every day together and we live in the same town so I have to see them all spending alot of time together during the day, weekends ect. I don't know if anyone could understands how much that hurts to see them together all the time and feel so left out. My daughter looks for excuses to be mad at me about every move I make because I think it gives them something to talk about everyday. I am in a no win situation and feel so much like someone stole my daughter from me. I didn't hate the woman before, but the last two years have been a real test of my patience. Some days I feel like just blowing my top, but the consequences of that with my daughter just would not be worth it. It drives me almost crazy every day and is always on my mind. Sometimes I feel like I am way too obsessed about it, but I have so many hard feeling toward my daughter now, that I am not sure we can ever straighten it out. We had a confrontation a couple of months ago and she told me some of the things she was mad about, but when I tried to say anything, I was cut off from any discussion regarding her MIL or situations that have hurt me in the past. Part of her beef with me is that for 18 years she has had to "share" me with her step sisters and guess now I am supposed to be repaid for that? Crazy situation. She concluded with the fact that what she has with her mother in law "is what it is" and I need to accept that. What a bunch of BS to me. I do not accept being totally ignored by her because she chooses the MIL to be her imagined "prefect mother." She is a controlling witch and most people that know her, say the same. But, can't say a thing of course or it will make it worse. My husband says, I need to draw the line and say to heck with everything and just see the kids and her on our terms instead of hers, but I know that if I say one thing wrong or the wrong way, I will be sorry for a long time and will probably never be able to even speak to her or see the kids. It appears she is using the kids to get what she wants from everyone and that seems very sad to me. They are the innocent bystanders, but since they only spend time with the MIL and FIL, they won't know us anyway and that is a very hard thing to think about. If you have come up with any suggestions as to how to deal with a daughter like this, please let me know. I believe there is a solution to every problem. Just have to find it.

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

In my situation w/ my in-laws (in my case, the root of the problem is my SIL), my husband and I basically stopped speaking to them altogether, after many attempts of trying to make ammends. About a yr ago my husband sent his family a letter stating our position in all this. We received 2 letters back that were very cold and hurtful. Our intention was only to explain our side of the story so that everyone cld understand our pt of view. We didn't expect everyone to agree w/ us, just understand and hopefully be willing to move forward. Instead, everything got twisted around, and no one seemed to make any efforts to move on. So in our situation, we left the ball in their court. We don't know if they're ever going to come around, but we know we did everything we cld to try and make things work. Sometimes you can only do so much. In time, hopefully the person(s) on the other end will realize what they're missing in their lives and how important you are to them. Maybe you can send a letter stating exactly how you feel and how much you love your daughter and her family. Explain to your daughter how much you want her in your life. Offer advice, but respect her wishes, whether you agree with her or not. As hard as this is, your daughter is an adult now, and she needs to make her own decisions. Be there for her when she needs you, and she will. Don't let anyone make you feel like they can take your place as mother. You will always be your daughter's mother no matter what. You don't owe anyone else anything. I also like the idea of sending cards regularly letting your daughter know you're thinking of her. I hope in time you and your daughter can sit down and have a heart to heart talk. As much as she shld listen to you about what you want from her, you need to find out what she expects and wants from you. You may not always agree, but if you respect one another's wishes, you can have a fulfilling, happy and loving relationship. I wish you all the best.

rkhaar's picture

Thank you for your comments. We have already had one of those talks recently. She voiced how she felt about some things she was resentful about and I was not allowed to say how I felt, so guess there are still some anger issues on my part that she will not accept hearing. Her husband doesn't want to have a relationship with us at all, so the idea of talking it out was defeated even before it was started. He likes his mom and dad so they are the people chosen for the important things in their life like the grandchildren, holidays ect. It hurts but what else can we do. Our hands are tied as long as our daughter goes along with everything, so just hope in time something will change. I am sorry that things got twisted around for you and that's one of the reasons I just chose to be have the pain that I go through every day and not make any waves. My husband says to cut off any contact with them, but I know that would be a very bad thing because how do you ever make it right then. It would just take so much work if you ever wanted to make amends. I feel that our kids especially a step family situation are so very selfish and only want what's best for them disregarding any feelings for anyone else. Did we cause that trying to be happier the 2nd time around? Maybe so. My daughter only wants a phony relationship for the times she has to be around us, so it is almost impossible to try to ask her what she expects. She did tell me that I need to spend more time with her kids (not her) so I have been doing that. I am being a doormat right now to keep peace with her, but it does make me feel very insecure about her and my relationship. As long as the MIL is around, I will have to accept that she only cares to have the mother/daughter relationship with her, and will try to accept that for now I guess. What else are you going to do if you are trying everything you can and not making any headway. I try to tell myself that life is just too short to be angry, so I always give in and contact her. At least I feel better then and can cope with the rest of the world. Good luck to you too and hope you can work things out eventually.