Dear Margo, I am a new bride. My husband's family treats "Eddie," my husband, very unfairly. They are also cold to my 2-year-old son and me. I know they are not cold people because they are very affectionate toward Eddie's sisters and brothers and their children. Eddie has had employment difficulties since we married and relocated. In the 18 months we have been together, my family has helped us out financially. They are not rich, just comfortable. Eddie's family is also comfortable, but they refuse to help us and say they can't afford it. Not true. They live a lavish lifestyle and have a substantial income. I believe Eddie should learn how to demand equal treatment. He needs to ask for his share. He plans to adopt my son as soon as the boy is a little older. In the meantime, my son is being treated like a second-class citizen in comparison to the other grandchildren. If they buy a new outfit for their other 2-year-old grandson, they should buy one for our son also. Right? A psychologist told us this situation can change if we are willing to work at it. I believe we should start writing letters to my in-laws telling them exactly how we feel. Eddie says it doesn't matter to him, but I know it hurts him plenty. What should we do about this? -- Feeling Left Out in Florida
Dear Florida, Your letter has a whining quality that really turned me off. I suspect that same attitude turned off Eddie's parents, too. He is in no position to demand "equal treatment" or anything else. A gift is whatever people want to give. You seem to think that if your in-laws buy something for their other grandson, they should buy one for your child, too. Again, I say a gift is not something you can demand. The good news is that you are in counseling. Terrific. I hope you will take this column to your next session and discuss your attitude problem. You need help.
Dear Florida, I am not sure where you got this weird idea that parents are obligated to treat children equally, or to support them. Many do, and it's nice when that happens, but there are usually reasons for when it doesn't - mostly rational, sometimes not. I think instead of Eddie "demanding equal treatment," Eddie should work on his "employment difficulties" and put his nose to the grindstone. (This of course makes no literal sense, it being a 16th century saying, but it's generally understood to mean, "Focus on your work and work hard.") I'm guessing Eddie is busier waiting for parental help than landing a job, working at it, and not getting fired. Do not forget that your parents previously pitched in and most likely think your spouse is, well ... lazy or self-sabotaging. As for your wanting Eddie to "ask for his share," this suggests you and your husband have the same mindset - which is going to get you nowhere. (A child's "share," by the way, usually comes upon a parent's death). You and Eddie need to tackle your problems with new eyes, new approaches, and a different attitude. - Margo
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!
Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!
What is this "fair share" you think Eddie deserves from his parents?
I presume both he and you are legally adults, though the tone of your letter suggests otherwise.
You sound like the stereotypical henpecking housewife, ordering your husband to stand up and demand something that he is not entitled to.
As for your son, while Eddie might plan to adopt him as soon as the child is older (why not now?), his parents are under no obligation to treat him as one of their biologic grandchildren. He is, after all, a stranger to him, regardless of the fact you married his son.
Given your relocation and, more importantly, your attitude, you are really providing no good reason for them to know him any better.
Perhaps Eddie's parents are offended by you and your part in all of this.
You don't seem to consider that possibility.
It's good that you have sought counseling about your imagined slights regarding his family.
But it would be better if Eddie worked on getting a job that could keep you in the style to which you would like to be accustomed rather than look for handouts from family.
Sounds to me like Eddie and his wife need to learn to make their own way. That is what grownups do. I am not at all surprised that his parents aren't too keen on her. I can never understand why people think their parents should give them money, unless they are ill and it is a genuine family emergency.
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Dear Readers, , whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.