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Son-in-Law Trouble
updated: May 28, 2011, 10:05 AM

Dear Edda,

We are going to visit our daughter and her husband in Philadelphia this summer. We are very excited to see our grandchildren. Our daughter is an attorney and spends a great deal of time at work. Her husband, by mutual agreement, has chosen to become a house-husband since he lost his job as a financial analyst. He stays home with the kids and takes care of the housework and cleaning.

Our son-in-law doesn't like us - I can tell. He never lets the kids play with the presents we bring them, and he asks how long we are staying the moment we walk in the door (even though he already knows).

He is also a very bad housekeeper and cook, but doesn't appreciate when we offer to help around the house or with the kids. We pretty much feel like we're in the way the whole time. I think we will be very uncomfortable staying there, but my daughter insists that we stay, and assures us that her husband loves us, and my husband is too cheap to pay for a hotel. I wouldn't even go if it weren't for the grandkids. What are the kidnapping laws in Pennsylvania?


Frustrated In-Laws

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Dear Frustrated In-Laws,

Who do you think I am, Perry Mason?


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Edda Hatte is a loving and sympathetic advice columnist who helps Edhat subscribers navigate through their complicated and stressful lives. Send your questions to askedda@edhat.com.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 177615P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-28 10:12 AM

If you're old enough to be a grandparent, you're too old to be this clueless. Use our decades of experience to make an effort to turn your son-in-law into a friend. It's a good example for the grandkids too.


 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-28 10:17 AM

Find out what the Son in Law likes than spoil the HELL OUTTA HIM.


 COMMENT 177629 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-28 10:51 AM

Whatever you do, don't let the "imagined" slights from your hardworking son-in-law affect the relationship with your grandkids. The generational differences aside, let your daughter and her husband live their lives any way they want, and be there for support and help only if they ask for it. Drop the selfish judgements and opinions and just love and enjoy your grandkids while you can.


 COMMENT 177639 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-28 10:59 AM

Play with the toys they have, don't worry about their housekeeping style--they like it their way--and enjoy doing things with the grandkids. They likely don't need more toys anyway. When I visit, I take my grandkids to the beach, libraries, read to them, cook with them; swim with them, bird watch, garden, visit pet stores, go to parks, feed ducks, hike, visit train town, etc. etc. Not much costs anything and its the time you spend together that counts. To help your relationship with your son-in-law, ask him questions about his interests, not.....have you found a job yet? Be genuinely interested in him....that can go a long way. Everytime you think of a criticism, set it aside and ask yourself why it really matters to you. Thank him for giving you the opportunity to become grandparents.


 COMMENT 177745 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-28 07:41 PM

Doesn't matter what the laws are. Just make sure you gorge yourself on Philly Cheese Steaks and Pizza.

Indulge yourself where strangers don't know you - then you can come home and coyly smile at your friends while resuming the local diet of tofu and sprouts.

Tell them "important culinary business matters" must take you back to Philly every three months or so. Then repeat the indulgence.


 COMMENT 177770 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-29 06:34 AM

Maybe treat HH and DD to a weekend away by themselves! At the least, take the kids to the zoo, the beach, wherever. Be useful in that way, or any other way you can.

HH may feel harried to have extra responsibilities and may begrudge your offers of help as judgement of his (in)abilities as HH. If the kids are decently fed, relatively clean and well-loved, your HH SIL is doing fine. Be grateful, be gracious, and show your love, even if he can't reciprocate to your comfort level.


 COMMENT 177843P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-29 10:42 AM

As a "parent-in-law" always bear in mind the fact that the son (or daughter) in law has "custody" of your child and your grandchildren and behave accordingly. It's up to you to bridge the gap.


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-29 11:24 AM

I wouldn't be looking forward to the trip! Just be gracious and non-judgmental. Make it fun, if possible.Compliment Dad for being a "housemom", sounds like a cool dude.


 COMMENT 177890 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-29 12:37 PM

If going to see your grandchildren really mean that much to you, then, get a Hotel with a pool. You and your husband should save up for that extra cost. Invite your grandchildren to stay with you, giving their parents some much needed alone time. You would make a lot of points with your son in law. Your daughter would be happy that all of you are pleased to be there.


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