It may have happened gradually or it may have been sudden. Regardless of how it happened, you haven’t seen your son, grandchildren or your daughter-in-law in weeks, months, maybe even years. You’ve called, emailed, texted. You’ve tried everything you can think of to turn things around, but nothing changes. Nothing, except their anger towards you seems to be growing. You are now in a state of panic, fear, and anguish.
Although this kind of behavior can feel as much, it doesn’t happen out of the blue. It doesn’t happen for no reason. You may not agree with the reason. You may not know the reason. But believe me, there is a reason and this is where you have to begin.
This is where it is important to remember the bigger picture – Is it more important for you to be right, or for you to have a relationship with your son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren? This seems like an easy question, but when you also feel wronged and/or hurt you can lose sight of that bigger picture, and focus too much on wanting her to “get” your pain or correcting what you believe to be her misperception.
The only way to change your situation and have your son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren in your life is to learn the reason and work from there. Regardless of who your daughter-in-law is – Confident Connie, Doubting Donna, Weird Wendy or Transitioned Tracy – she sees that you have wronged her in some way or maybe wronged them as a family. You need to get to the bottom of this to begin the healing process.
Keep in mind it does not matter if you believe or “know” what she’s saying is wrong. Trying to change her mind to believe her perception is wrong…that you didn’t do or say whatever it is she says you did or said will not happen. (And if you think about it, this rarely, if ever, happens with anyone.)
The focus needs to be on exploring her perception – listening to her perception of the situation and based on her perception helping her see you “get” her pain. We all want to feel heard. We all want to feel that the other person “gets” our emotional pain. Your daughter-in-law (and/or son) is no different.
I know doing this feels one-sided and to be honest, it is. But again, it is important to look at the bigger picture. It is important to understand you will have your turn to share your pain, but for now the goal is to be included in their world.
What have you been able to do to get back into your son, grandchildren, and daughter-in-law’s lives?