Everyone in all cultures and creeds are familiar with the tension that can occur when dealing with overbearing inlaws. I was still offended by the cowardly way a UK citizen chose to criticize grandparents she characterized as apathetic. Well lady, is was PATHETIC how you anonymously wrote a letter to the editor to communicate your disdain and contempt for your husband’s parents. What a winner you are to publish your list of perceived grievances against the parents of the man you presumably love….at least your marriage vows would indicate as much! Why hasn’t your spouse taken the lead here in patching up the relationship with your father inlaw and mother inlaw? They are his parents.
You have never been in any way malicious or interfering, but it is your lack of interest that is so upsetting. You only have, and will only ever have, two grandchildren. When I was first pregnant with your son’s child, you seemed thrilled and excited at the prospect of finally being grandparents.
Although you were never exactly warm towards me, I didn’t feel this was in any way an indication that you were not pleased with your son’s choice of partner – I always put it down to the fact that you are quite formal, even old-fashioned in your views of how one should conduct oneself. Being openly emotional is a sign of weakness in your eyes – or maybe it just makes you feel uncomfortable.(a younger person psychoanalyzing an older person rarely provides an accurate analysis)
Nonetheless, I assumed you would be typical grandparents and dote on your grandchildren as my grandparents had doted on me(WAY TOO MUCH DOTING IT APPEARS). At first, you were enthusiastic and made some effort to interact with our children, but slowly the novelty seemed to wear off and you showed less and less interest. We asked you to look after them for a weekend so we could go away. When we returned, there was no indication that you had enjoyed spending time with them, only that you felt the whole weekend had been a chore and you were relieved this was the end of it(I am sure you were quite the burdensome chore for your parents). We never asked you to babysit again(breathing a sign of relief on behalf of the grandparents).
You live too far away to visit your grandchildren, it seems, but not too far to come to babysit your daughter’s pets if she is away (she lives fairly near us). Yet when you come to her home, you avoid coming to see us. If you do come, you have a ready excuse to ensure you don’t stay too long. After half an hour, you seem to have had enough of your grandchildren. Generally, you try to ensure we don’t find out you are coming over our way: it is always upsetting to find out that you have been and gone without any contact.(In case you have not figured it out, your husband’s parents don’t like you and I can’t imagine why!)
It breaks my heart to see the kids try so hard to gain your attention – you don’t ask, but they flood you anyway with stories about what they have been doing at school and their achievements, and I sit watching in despair as you nod but show little interest. They soon realise you are not bothered about them and they start to mess about, but in your world children should just sit quietly and speak only when spoken to. I try to encourage you to do things with them – I ask if you would like me to take them to the park so you could meet them there and have a picnic, or to a museum, or anywhere other than sitting on our sofa for an hour. This is always politely refused.
You have so much to offer them – so many skills you could show them, so many stories they would be happy to hear. I love to think back to all the good times I had with my brilliant grandparents and it saddens me to think they will never have these memories about you. I wonder if you will ever realise how they could also enrich your lives as much as you could enrich theirs? Will you regret having so little involvement in their lives? Will you ever see the amazing people they are becoming?
So many times I have tried to pluck up the courage to say all this to you directly, but for now this letter will have to do(And how can you be assured they will read this gutless anonymous missive?).