Home Health Wellness Tips Carolyn Hax: Slighted by mother-in-law, should she now help care for her?

Carolyn Hax: Slighted by mother-in-law, should she now help care for her?

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Adapted from an internet dialogue.

Dear Carolyn: I’ve been married for virtually six years to an awesome man and have three young children. My widowed mother-in-law, “Nancy,” just lately had a stroke and wishes day by day care, so she moved in with us. I really like her and am glad to be there for her, however, regardless that I’m a stay-at-home mother and we’ve got employed a part-time aide, it’s a lot. My husband and his youthful brother work lengthy hours within the household enterprise, plus there’s a restricted quantity Nancy is snug having her sons do for her.

Carolyn Hax began her recommendation column in 1997, after 5 years as a replica editor and information editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column consists of cartoons by “relationship cartoonist” Nick Galifianakis — Carolyn’s ex-husband — and seems in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

I requested my sister-in-law, “Lena,” who I’ve an incredible relationship with, to pitch in with Mom’s care. Lena is a nurse practitioner who solely works three days every week and lives 10 minutes away, but has flatly refused to help. I do know she and Nancy aren’t shut however I used to be nonetheless shocked.

I since came upon that Nancy handled Lena considerably badly early on (lengthy earlier than I joined the household). Even although Nancy is, and all the time has been, like a second mother to me. My husband says Mom was unfriendly to Lena, who’s from a unique tradition/socioeconomic class. The unfriendliness tapered off after my niece was born — 15 years in the past!

I feel Lena is being petty however she says she’s displaying her daughter that “ladies don’t should be doormats.” Needless to say, that is driving a wedge between us. Am I proper that she’s being vindictive, or is she proper that she’s merely refusing to be a martyr?


Anonymous: I don’t assume any of us will get to determine when somebody who has been mistreated for her “tradition/socioeconomic class” is obligated to forgive based mostly on what we expect is adequate passage of time.

Everything else right here is simply particulars.

If it’s an excessive amount of for you, then do completely request, even insist on, extra help than you’ve presently employed, however don’t anticipate something from Lena or resent her for not giving it.

Independent of the mistreatment concern, Lena has strong grounds for saying no: She didn’t have any say, apparently, within the choice to offer your mother-in-law’s day by day care at residence vs. some sort of assisted dwelling. I can see having an actual drawback with watching a bunch of issues determined by others — your taking her in, her not letting the sons deal with a lot of the care, your having three youngsters to care for, the sons’ working lengthy hours — end in duties devolving to her. You are making a gender-based calculation that it’s her obligation to pitch in.

You opened your property to your mother-in-law out of kindness and affection for Nancy. That doesn’t entitle you to, nevertheless, to anticipate the identical values, priorities and loyalties of others. You converse and act for you, not for Lena or anybody else.

If I have been in Lena’s place, I’d pitch in sometimes out of respect for my friendship with you, however I may also see drawing a line out of respect for myself. Out of friendship with Lena, please do that similar train — not simply placing your self in her place, however wanting for methods to agree.

Write to Carolyn Hax at [email protected]. Get her column delivered to your inbox every morning at bit.ly/haxmail.

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