I am in my mid-’60s and have three grown-up children. They’re all professionals and I consider them ideal individuals. Two of my daughters are living abroad with their spouses and families, and my youngest child is with me.
Two years ago, the spouses of my two daughters had a grave misunderstanding and their two families haven’t spoken to each other since then. One of them is inviting me to visit but I am now hesitant because of the situation, besides the fact that they live near each other.
What should my attitude be toward both of them without showing any favoritism on my part? How do I open up this issue that is preventing them from talking to each other? I love them both but one of the spouses has so much control over my daughter and their child that I feel is preventing the three of them from having a warm relationship with me. My daughter is denying this, of course.
You cannot resolve this problem without opening this can of worms that has become the bane of your existence! It’s like looking at a gangrenous leg deteriorating and not doing anything about it! I can throw you all the allegories in the book, including the tub and the kitchen appliances to make you see the light of day, but they won’t resolve anything if your lines of communication are closed and welded shut! The problem is gnawing at the very fiber of your family!
Why is everyone afraid to open up, including you? Have you forgotten that you’re the mother and whatever niceties they’ve given you—in cash, in kind, in reputation—are not worth a string of beans if you’re going to be afraid to talk to your daughters? They may have all the professional titles, careers, and abundance—but they will remain bound to you till death as your flesh and blood. So stop this tossing and hand-wringing and go straight to the heart or heat of the matter. What’s there to lose?
In geometry, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Go straight to the point and not make a song and dance about it. Just do it. However grave the situation, nobody died or got maimed in this family quarrel. The animosity between your sons-in-law couldn’t have been any worse than possibly bruised egos, or loss of face, or unpaid debts. All these can be healed with the ticking of time—one nanosecond after another. In the end however irredeemable the problem looks—their blood connection will prevail.
Be the wise mother and break the ice for them. Talk! There’s nothing that beats emotional cleansing.
E-mail [email protected] or [email protected]—Subject: Lifestyle.