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Time to put distance between us

Hello Everyone,

I'm going to try to make this long story as short as I can but I'm really upset right now so that make that happen. 

My husband and I just celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary last month and I'm embarrassed to say that I am still uncomfortable around his parents. My husband is of Italian/Scottish/Irish descent. I am Hispanic. We live in a suburb south of Boston. This is his first marriage, my second. DH adopted my daughter from my previous marriage. We have since added two more girls to the family, age 5 and 21 months. 

The problem is that I can no longer ignore the issues they have with my race/ethnicity. Although they have never said or done anything blatant, there have been subtle, covert forms of what I consider racism coming from them towards me. The Christmas before my husband and I married I remember seeing a check they had given my husband for several thousand dollars as a gift. We don't need their money but I find it strange that since we've been married, they have never given us any gifts. They do get something small for the children even though they are financially secure and doing well with their business, pensions, and rental property. Again, we don't need their money, just an observation.

My husband has one brother who is older (and single) and just as successful. His parents redid his entire kitchen (new cabinets and granite countertops). My husband's only comment was "if they have money to spare I wish they would send it this way since we are the ones with three kids". That comment was made to me, not his parents. One of our friends, who is an accountant, and happens to be the accountant my husband's parents use, made a comment shortly after to the effect of waiting to see what we would get. Months later they ended up getting the kids a new swing set. We went with them to pick it out and they spent about $2,300. We showed gratitude and the kids have been enjoying the swing set ever since. 

My father in law on more than one occasion has an issue with introducing me as his daughter in law. A few days ago we got together to view fireworks in their town and ran into a friend of his that he had apparently not seen in a while. He introduced my husband but did not acknowledge me. I sense, that because they live in a wealthy suburb of Boston, he is uncomfortable with people of color. I have sense a lot of that in this area and am truly blown away that covert racism is still alive and well regardless of how liberal and educated people in this area tend to be. 

I know this is probably not a good idea for many of you, but I have refrained from sharing this with my husband. Until last night. He responded exactly how I though he would respond. He thought maybe I was reading into this too much and to let it go. I can let it go but unfortunately, this didn't happen just once. I can let things go if it was a total stranger, however, it's harder to do when it's a family member. My husband said it was his dad being absent minded. I understand his need to defend his dad. A part of me believes that my husband doesn't really want to believe this is going on. If it was blatant, he would be very vocal of his disapproval. HOwever, since it's subtle, it's easy to dismiss by everyone other than the person it is happening to, me. 

I have always been very polite, respectful, and cordial with my in laws. I firmly believe they have an issue with race and I have seen the disdain in their speech, especially when they discuss illegal immigration in this country. Like I said, I am of Hispanic descent, born in NYC, raised and educated in New England. And although I am conservative politically, I don't agree with a lot of their views (they also are politically conservative).

I don't know what else to say other than to express disappointment. I am 40 years old and I know who I am. I accept who I am. But this type of behavior can chip away at even the most confident person self esteem. I can't accuse my mother in law of doing the same thing but she has a way about her that has made it difficult for me to trust her. I have wanted to get close to her but her inconsistent behavior makes it hard to do so. 


Three beautiful girls! DD#1 8-23-01 DD#2 4-25-07 DD#3 10-19-10

Re: Time to put distance between us

  • first: how they spend/who they spend it on or why is NONE of your business. your DH has real balls saying the 3 kids thing. who cares if you have 3 kids? they didn't fall out of the sky andland on your doorstep-you chose to have them. and if they only want to buy your kids small christmas presents so what?! and do you, as a 40 year old woman, think that they should be giving you and DH christmas presents? really?! you have a huge false sense of entitlement going it seems...all this after they bought your kids a 2300 swing set. and you want christmas presents?

    second: i'd be VERY VERY careful about tying in any bit of where/how they live to your issue with them. i grew up and live in teh same kind of area (north shore of long island) and up in marblehead in MA for a while too so I know what areas you mean on the whole I found people to be inclusive of all no matter what their color-it was based on having many people of color living there as well. You're way off here. WAY off. someone is just as likely to be a racist if they live in a mansion or a shack.

    honestly-to me they probably get a vibe from all of these issues from you. illegal immigration is a HUGE issue and unless they're talking about YOU you need to not take it personally. a great number of illegal immigrants are latino.that's no secret. they should be able to discuss soemthing as huge as illegal immigration without worrying about upsetting you because you are of hispanic decent. groups in there too are african, asian etc... that's not to say that they should be allowed to make any kind of racial slur in front of you-that's disrespectful and DH has to say something. but if you're getting uppity about them talking about a social issue you need to take a step back and not take it personally.

    unless you give specifics though it's hard to say if you should be irritated or not.

    and why didn't your DH just introduce you when your FIL didn't?



    Friday, December 28 2012. The day I had emergency appendix surgery in Mexico and quit smoking. Proof that everything has a good side!! DH and I are happily child-free!! No due date or toddler tickers here!! my read shelf:
    Alison's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf) 
  • This is another situation that is the same as usual: your  H that should be taking your side and nipping this nastiness in the bud once and for all.

    That makes you an American to me. You're born here, you're an American. What's their problem?

    As I said, your H needs to tell them to cut this out and to treat you civilly and politely.

    He needs to do this in front of you -- and if they don't comply, you and he cut them out of your lives until they get the message.
  • I'm not sure if I get a 'racist' vibe from the examples you posted. I guess maybe if you had other examples besides not introducing you properly and political discussions. 

    To be honest, knowing that you were born in the US would be make me very comfortable with talking about illegal immigration in your presence since it would not pertain to you. In fact, since you both have conservative views and if they know that, they probably wouldn't give it another thought to express their views. They may think you agree to a certain extent.

     The money situation is a little touchy. Honestly, they can do whatever they want with their finances. How they want to spend money on their children is up to them. Maybe they don't want to spoil their grandchildren or step overt he line by purchasing a lot of presents and just opt to buy a a large gift once in a while that will be used for years to come. If I were you I wouldn't question or concern myself with what they give to the kids or you, be it little or a lot. As long as they are in the grandchildren's life that's all that matters.

     Sometimes you just don't mesh with the in laws. That's fine. As long as everything is peaceful between the family members, you shouldn't stress out. You cannot dictate their behavior just like they cannot dictate yours. Be yourself, accept them for who they are and do not over analyze their motives. 


  • I'm trying really hard to understand why buying your BIL a new kitchen and your kids a swingset makes them racists....
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  • I don't see anything from your examples that make me think your ILS deserve to be cut off. 

    You shouldn't complain AT ALL about money, as your ILS money is none of your biusiness.  In fact, if I were your ILS and I heard the "I wish some money was coming my way, as I have three kids...." I would be completely turned off.  They gave your H a large check before you you think it could POSSIBLY be because they felt you were getting married, having a honeymoon, and could use some extra cash?  That is very generous of them, but you turn it into something negative!  Ditto the $2,300 swingset.  That is an awesome gift, but you brush it off because it seems to you the ILS spent more on your BIL. 

    I bet your ILS sense your / your H's lack of gratitude, and give accordingly.

    I would also point out that the economy has been awful for the past 4 years, and your ILS might not have had a lot of extra money to give, whether they are retired (living on fixed income / savings / brokerage accounts) or still working.

    The fact that you are assuming your FIL "didn't introduce you on purpose" makes me think you are looking at things to be angry at - nitpicking and trying to find flaws.   

    It seems to me as if you never really liked your ILS.  Being "polite and cordial" is fine and all that is required of you.  But you seem to be angry that you are not getting more than "polite and cordial" in return.   

    FWIW, a large population of illegal immigrants are Irish! They are not all Hispanic.  Another large group is Asian.  If you think they are anti-Hispanic when they make comments like that, why not ask them what they think?  "What do you mean by that?"

  • I don't understand how you could go 6 years without talking to your husband about something you obviously have a huge problem with. I understand why he reacted the way he did; this is probably the first time he's heard it from you, and you probably had 6 years of resentment that you unleashed on him.

    And, like other people said, I fail to see how any of your examples are examples of racism. It seems to me that you have have a problem with their skin color, not the other way around, and are looking for reasons to call them racist.

  • I would be extremely careful if I were you. First, you cannot prove any of what you believe to be their issues with race. As you say, it's so subtle not even your H noticed it. Now, if they treated your children differently on purpose, then I'd have an issue and maybe not be around them as much. However, because you cannot prove any of what you're saying, I'd keep it to yourself. As you said, you are 40, you know who you are, and who cares what they think anyway?

    I'm not naive, I know race can be a problem with the older generations and marriage. Many still believe you should marry someone of the same race as you (I am not saying all older people by any means). All you can do it recognize that POV for its ignorance and keep being true to yourself. 

  • Yup...pretty much what PP just said. Older folk (not all, but some, especially ones right off the boat) tend to be more racist - some are a bit better at hiding it, and some are not. Ultimately, I would just suggest to ignore it because you are not going to change their point of view whether its 6 years, 20 years, or 50. My inlaws are the same way. It actually ticks me off whenever I go to their house because they don't really hide their racist views, but they are old - what can you do? They've said a lot of crazy stuff too where I?m left shaking my head. In the end, I just ignore.

    Oh, and you should never expect your inlaws to spend money on you guys, no matter how much you think they have or the fact that you have 3 children and your BIL does not....that's not right. You and your H are the ones who chose to have children - no one else. What your inlaws do with their money is their business and I find it funny how on the one hand you are angry because you feel your inlaws are racist towards you, yet have no problem holding your hand out expecting a handout from them. And then when your inlaws do spend money on a very nice gift for your kids, rather than be thankful for it, you complain that it's not enough. Oh yea, and your inlaws are still racist towards you. Btw, OP, if your FIL did not introduce you to their neighbor, then why didn't you speak up and introduce yourself? You have a voice...speak up next time.

  • WahooWahoo member
    Ancient Membership 2500 Comments 5 Love Its Combo Breaker

    I think it's very unfair not to say anything to your H or your ILS FOR SIX YEARS, then decide to "cut them off" due to (your perceived) racism.

    Adults don't behave this way.  If you have a problem with your ILS (aside from money, where your complaints would be entirely inappropriate!), then discuss it with your H, or even mention it to your ILS when the topic of illegal immigration comes up.  If you feel you are treated differently than the other BIL (again, taking money out of the equation), then I would definately point it out "FIL, you always introduce BILs girlfriend as 'my son's girlfriend, Eileen,' but you never introduce me to your neighbors as your there something about me that you don't like?" 

    You say your ILS are "subtle," but I'm wondering if some of this racism is all or at least in your head.  You will NEVER know until you speak with them to clear the air.  Not in a "you hate me b/c I am not white/Irish/Scottish" but in a "I want us to be closer"  For all you know, they might have feelings b/c you are divorced, or are a New Yorker / NY sports fan (Yankees / Giants)! 

    But ask you REALLY want to be closer to your ILS?  Not "yes, because I want them to buy me a new kitchen" closer, but "yes, because I want my children to be closer to their grandparents, I love big family dinners, daily chats with my MIL" type of closer?  If yes, then find out what the distance is about and try to close it before you shut them out. 

    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
  • I am just now getting around to posting a response. Thanks to all of you for insight.

    First of all, I have never been the type of person to blame race for all the bad things that could happen to me or anyone. Bad things happen to everyone, regardless of sex, age, race, etc. This is the reason I have not accused, or even discussed the issue at length with my husband.  

    I'm not saying my in laws are racists. If that is how it came off, I want to correct and say that at the very least, they have an issue with the fact that their son married someone who is not of their race. Just because most people don't go around saying derogatory about people of another race does not mean that do not have an issue with race. In fact, most people didn't feel they had an issue until someone in their family begin to date or marry someone of another race.

    Regarding the money issue. No where did I imply that my in laws should provide for my children. In fact, I don't feel that they are obligated to give us anything. Just like you and I are not obligated to give anything to anyone. We do it because we want to. I mentioned it only because it was hard not to notice the expensive gift they were giving my brother in law. Much in the same way that any of you would notice if your parents gave one of your siblings a gift of great financial value. You have no right to question it, however, that doesn't mean you don't notice it. My husband and I expressed gratitude when my in laws gave our children the swing set. We thought it was a great idea and expressed our appreciation at the time we went to pick it out (with them) and after it was installed.  

    We have similar political views and agree with the fact that illegal immigration in this country is a huge problem. My issue is the disdain they seem to have when they speak of it. They seem to think that anyone who is an immigrant comes to this country to exploit it and get on as many social programs as they can get their hands on. They seem to have these generalized ideas about immigrants. This is not consistent with the immigrants I know. As a result of having these views, it's clear that they have a distorted view of anyone who is of color. Again, this is my observation and I speak for no one other than myself.

    Lastly, I did not imply that I would cut my in laws out of our lives. I would do it only if their presence cause my children emotional or physical harm. What I did imply is that I would put distance between us. We can't control what people say, do, or think. But we can control how much time we spend in the presence of certain people. I feel that being in their presence does not bring out the best in me. I feel like I second guess everything I do or say. Like I'm still looking for their approval. And I realize how ridiculous it is at times. But at the same time, these are my husband's parents, and to a degree I do care what they think of me.  Regardless of what I think, or they think, we are family. 

    Three beautiful girls! DD#1 8-23-01 DD#2 4-25-07 DD#3 10-19-10
  • I wanted to say that since no one here is in your situation and know what was said, that I believe you that your IL's are showing some subtle racism.  However, it is very subtle so there is not a lot you can do about it because it was so subtle that even your husband did not pick up on it.

    I would not assume that any favoritism or lack of introduction is racism.  It could be that they just don't like you as much or gel with you as much and it not have to do with your race.  Lots of favoritism occurs in families where there is no difference in race.  

    You don't have a say as you know in how they spend their money, so unfortunately you can't really bring that up.  If you hear them being racist in discussions, then call them out on it.  If they are being subtle you can subtly call them out.  A well placed, "Why would you say that?" would work.  As far as the introduction, you might ask FIL- how come you didn't introduce me? Just to see what he says.  This is letting him know that you noticed and are again subtly calling him out.  He can say something like he forgot, but probably he would make more of an effort in the future to "remember".  If not introduce yourself or see if your husband will.

    I don't have a lot of advice except to let them know subtly that you know what they are doing.  That may stop it.  You might also tell your husband you no longer want to discuss politics with them.  That might help a lot!

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