Dear Amy: My daughter and her friend, both freshmen in college, visited her grandparents in Florida over spring break.
While my daughter was there, she was sharing vulnerably with her grandmother about how the birth control she was on was messing up her menstrual cycle and not helping her skin as intended. She told her grandmother she was going to stop taking it.
In response to this, my mother-in-law grabbed my daughter's wrist and held onto it tightly, so she could not move away from the admonishment she had in store. My MIL leaned in and said strongly, "Be careful not to get raped and pregnant." Then she laughed.
My daughter didn't know what to do with that, other than justify herself and her choices: Where she went to school, who she hangs around with, what she does and why. All of which are so mild. She spent the remaining two days dodging her grandmother.
I haven't addressed these issues with my MIL. I've been very angry. My daughter wants space and is so hurt. She can't believe that someone would do these things to their granddaughter.
I'm leaving a response up to my husband.
We've had these sorts of issues before where my MIL says hurtful things. When we tell her, she goes into full-on victim mode. She blames others and barely takes responsibility.
Thoughts on how to tackle this?
Disgusted: Your daughter made a rookie mistake in talking to her thoughtless and hurtful grandmother about something as personal as her birth control method.
I’m not saying these topics should be out of bounds between all grandchildren and their grandparents, but this particular grandmother sounds like a loose cannon. Lesson learned. (And if someone — even a relative — grabbed me like that, it would be the last time I came within an arm’s length of them.)
I’m going to assume that your daughter might be too intimidated to advocate for herself. So, yes, I suggest a conversation with your mother-in-law, starting with the phrase, “What on earth were you thinking?” Tell her that your daughter found her remark bewildering, inappropriate and hurtful, and that you agree with your daughter’s response.
And then let it lie. Don’t insist on any further action (apologies, etc.). Let her stew in her juice. If she tries to fix this, she’ll probably make things worse, but that’s on her.
Standing up for herself when the older woman offends your daughter might be good training for dealing with others who might want to rudely invade her space.
Additionally, you should work with your daughter to find a form of birth control that helps to control her symptoms, in addition to preventing pregnancy.
Dear Amy: My brother-in-law married a woman in her late 60s, who has collected things for years. We (my husband and I) used to go visit them once a month for a few days.
She has no grandchildren, and we have four. One time I asked her for something for my oldest grandchild. She gave me a beautiful music box, and then I asked her for a doll. She gave me one, but I put her on the spot and asked for another.
Now I see that, after coming to their house for years and never taking them out to eat or bringing them anything, we were wrong.
Now anytime we mention coming to visit, they have other plans. I know it's because I was asking her to give me things, but she has so much!
Now she is so cool to us, and we know we're not welcome. How can we fix this?
Regretful: You and your husband visited this couple each month “for a few days.” You were given things you asked for, and then you asked for more.
The way to fix this is to acknowledge their generosity, acknowledge your own greed, and then apologize for it. Say, “I feel terrible, and hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me.”
The rest is up to her.
Dear Amy: "Lonely Kiddos" was an entitled mom who was whining about her children not having playmates during holidays, when their neighbors were busy with their own families.
Thank you for telling her to "buck up!" Her neighbors' function is not to supply this woman's children with 24-hour playmates.
Upset: I was also struck by this woman’s lament — and her lack of perspective.