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Vent/Kind of a Silly Question

This is mostly just a vent with a question at the end.  My parents are very conservative and have a very strict sense of social decorum.  My in-laws, though essentially very nice people at heart, do lack the general social graces.  That created quite a bit of tension with me in the beginning, but I?ve since gotten to know them better and we get along fine now.  However, every time my parents come and visit (about 3 or 4 times a year for about 2 weeks each, they are both retired), they insist on seeing my ILs frequently as to be ?polite?, and then inevitably get upset/offended because my ILs would say/do something that?s just not ?normal? in my parents? eyes, then I?d have to spend hours explaining to my parents that they shouldn?t take what my ILs do personally, etc.  And it?s the same thing EVERY visit.  Now, realizing that I can neither change my parents? attitude nor my IL?s behaviour, I?ve tried discouraging my parents from seeing my ILs, but they won?t because it wouldn?t be the ?polite? thing to do.  I?ve even went as far as telling my mom that their complaining about my ILs was really stressing me out and making me dread their visits - that stopped them from openly complaining about my IL?s behaviour, but I could tell that they are still hurt and would go on and sulk for hours/days - my mom even went back to her room and cried after one gathering.  

So anyways, onto the question - since lunches/dinners generally involve conversations which inevitably leads to discontentment, anyone has any suggestions for activities where we could all do together so that my parents would feel like they?ve ?seen? my ILs for the sake of being polite but that really involve minimal interaction?

Re: Vent/Kind of a Silly Question

  • bowling, putt putt, movie, play, concerts  ....

    Seriously, if your ILs dont know they are being offensive, then something should be kindly said to them about it. I'm sure they have enough "grace" to take a step back around your parents. Also, what exactly are they saying, maybe your parents are being too sensitive to it? Just a thought.

    My ILs drink and cuss up a storm, FL known for dirty jokes, but my parents are conservative and dont do any of that. My ILs do not acted offensively in front of my parents. They know I was raised in a strict home and they respect that.

  • I feel like I need an exmple of your ILs lack of social graces.

    Loudly belching at the dinner table? Racist oriented conversation? Our answers are going to depend on what it is.

    Also - you aren't responsible for your parent's happiness and you can say NO to their insistance of getting together for dinner.

    Hope is not a strategy.
  • How do these plans get made?  Do you and DH play the go-between?  Letting IL's know your parents are coming, that they want to get together, and setting up the plans?

    If so, stop.  Tell your mom "seeing them only gets you upset and it starts to affect our visit.  I'm not doing it anymore.".  Just set up 1 or 2 visits. 

    Or out and out say "no" to ANY get togethers. 

    I do wonder, though, what is it that upsets your parents?  Are your IL's actually being rude, or are they just not living up to your parents standards?  knowing that would help determine if this is something that should be handled on your parents end or on your IL's end.

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  • your Mum cried? What did your in'laws do/say to her to make her cry?

    I agree that you cannot change either sides behaviour/reaction/expectations but I am curious as to whether your in-laws are really that offensive or if your parents are really that sensitive?

    I like pp suggestions of movies and putt putt. Movies are especially good for not having to speak to each other, and it gives a safe topic of conversation afterwards.

    Elizabeth 3yrs old Jane 1yr old
  • it might be time to set your mom straight and tell her flat out that you will not get together with everyone if she can't stop her sillyness.

    and why do you spend hours defending them? no no no. that's encouraging the behavior.

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  • You know, badmouthing people behind their backs is terribly impolite.  Do your parents know this?  It seems that their social graces aren't all they boast.
  • Your mom is the biggest hypocrite on the face of this earth!

    I agree 100% with the pp - - speaking poorly of people (your RELATIVES, no less!) behind their back is incredibly rude.  Instead of telling your mom it is stressing you out, why not tell her what bad manners THAT is.

    The same goes for sulking and crying if they don't get their way.  That is what a 4 year old does, not a grown adult!  And they are crying b/c they are so upset at the ILS manners?  Good grief!  What a drama llama!

    I would step out of the matter entirely.  Tell your mom "if you want to visit my MIL and FIL, I'm sure they would enjoy a visit from you.  However, I will not be going.  Why don't you call them and set something up?"  According to etiquette, you were only required to be present at the FIRST meeting between your parents and your ILS, since you were the "connection."  After that, they are free to meet (or not meet) without you.

    Then refuse to listen as they complain about your ILS.

  • Ok, to answer some questions - examples of my IL's behaviour include things like being consistently late for gatherings, making inappropriate personal remarks (i.e. MIL repeatedly tells my mom how she can loose more weight), cutting into conversations, ignoring the whole world when their favourite son (BIL) is around, etc.  The making my mom cry incident happened several years ago when we threw a wedding reception in this city (where most of MIL and FIL's friends/family are), at my MIL's insistence, at our own expense, and then my ILs showed up an hour late to the reception, leaving my parents, DH and I somewhat "stranded" with 50 people we didn't know (DH moved away from home when he was 18 and didn't move back till we got married).  My mom went home and cried because she thought it was incredibly rude of my ILs and it showed that they didn't respect DH, I or them.  DH made my ILs apologize.

    Anyways, I recognize that most of the stuff are annoying, but are either (a) not a big deal; or (b) none of my parents' business.  The problem is my parents can't seem to understand that this type of behaviour is not particularly directed towards them, so they (unnecessarily) take offence.  And no, my parents do not "bad-mouth" my ILs per se, they just get upset and then I feel like I have to explain.  Yes, I agree - they are acting like children sometimes.  But on the other hand, they are generally very sweet and kind people, and so are my ILs, so I wish everyone would just get along.

     I think I'll take the advice and just ask my parents to arrange seeing my ILs on her own though.  If it has to happen, at least I don't have to be there.  Thanks all.

  • hum...

    W/ that update, I'll say your ILs aren't 'just' clueless, they're rude.

    They call your mom fat, they aren't punctual, etc.

    Your [parents kinda need to learn to quit subjecting themselves to that.


  • Both sets of parents sound a bit loony to me. Why do your parents continue to subject themselves to such poor behavior from your ILs? It doesn't make sense. Your parents' daughter married their son; that doesn't mean they have to visit each other, get along, or even like each other. In the future, let your parents set up the meetings and just stay out of it, then it will no longer be your problem.
  • I read your update. This isn't your problem to fix.  I agree with pp: tell your mom where you stand on the issue, which is that you see no reason why your mom should continue to visit ILs since they clearly do not enjoy their company, and that you will no longer take part in these social visits. Then when your mom continues to complain just stop her with, "It is YOUR choice to visit.  You don't have to continue to do so."

    I suspect your LIPs would be relieved to not have to visit with your parents.  Nothing against your parents but clearly these two couples were not meant to be friends.

    FWIW, I do partly empathize with what you are going through.  My mom and I are very different.  Fortunately they are very cordial toward one another but they don't "get" each other at all and I have witnessed one unintentionally offending the other on occasion.  I just stayed out of it.  If anything, my I sort of enjoy getting a rise out of my mom and I figure so long as she is going to be so openly opinionated, a little backlash is good for her. :)

  • imageSunAndRain:

    I suspect your LIPs would be relieved to not have to visit with your parents.  Nothing against your parents but clearly these two couples were not meant to be friends.

    This!  I have a feeling your IL's really could care less about seeing your parents.  I get that your parents have a certain idea of social decorum, but I would really work on getting it through to them "My marrying Eugene doesn't mean you and his parents have to be friends.  Tehre is no rule around that. ".  Yes, when they do happen to see each other, they should be polite.  But they don't HAVE to see each other.

    Your parents are trying to force something there that just isn't natural.  Step out of it and don't get involved anymore.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

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  • There is a huge difference between your ILs and parents being "family" in the sense that they need to get along b/c they will see each children's events, birthdays, maybe holiday dinners.

    It's another for either to expect to have a relationship with each other outside of these "family" events. 

    Also different if you are living in a two-family house where the ILS live and your parents visit you and stop to say "hello" to the ILS vs. arranging a luncheon.

    I'm not sure your ILS are always late or rude, but maybe they are passively-aggressively telling your parents meeting with them is not important.

    I agree you should stay out of any future meetings.  Without you as a buffer and/or connection, maybe they will dwindle in number.


    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
  • My parents live in the same town as my husband's brother.  Well, when MIL goes down to visit BIL, she used to ask me all the time to call my mom and set up a lunch for them.  I tried to once, but it ended up not working out because someone was going to be late and didn't have the other's phone number.  So I told them if they want to get together, here's the other person's phone number and call them directly.  Now, they get together once for lunch when MIL is down there, and they arrange it themselves.  If they can't match up their schedules, it's not my doing.
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  • Explain to your mom that she's done her duty.  They have met the requirements of politeness and are no longer required to suffer through get-togethers with their daughter's husband's parents.  In fact, at this point, they're probably putting your husband's parents in an awkward position by insisting on getting together with them.  Mom might respond to the notion that the goal of manners and politeness is not to be rigidly attached to an idea of what a person "should" do.  The goal of politeness is to make others around us feel comfortable and cared for.  In her attempt to be polite, she's actually probably doing the opposite.
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