Undecided Question: How does my d-i-l deal w/ a hoarding mother?
Asked: Undecided Question: How does my d-i-l deal w/ a hoarding mother?
My daughter in law from Romania has a big problem. She bought lots of building materials ($30 K) to make a home for vacations and retirement in Romania. However, my son in the military and she (an adjunct prof) with 2 little babies really don't have money to spare for anything. They have spent so much on travel so the grands can see the babies and on the house materials and on help to the poor Romanian relatives plus their own American house which is now underwater.
Last month the 4 of them (my son, d-i-l, and babies) went back to romania expecting to live in the house that my d-i-l's brother built. But the house was filled to the rafters, literally, with leftover building materials and bags and bags and bags of things, mostly old clothes, that her mother had acquired over the years. My son spent their entire vacation clearing out the house so that they could put in tile floors and sheet rock, a job that should have taken days,not weeks. They got my dil'smotherto remove much of her stuff from their house. (The land was paid for with money my d-i-l had sent to her mother for food and clothes for herself and her very ancient father).
Now the m-i-l is constantly crying, saying she wants to be dead and never wants to see my d-i-l ever again. She refuses to speak to my d-i-l but has profusely apologized to my son, who was enraged to see the state of their house with all the hoarded clutter.
What advice would you give my daughter in law and son about making things better again?I'm just trying to be a supportive listener to my kids, but I really feel that they were very harsh with this generous old woman who was hoping her daughter would come "home" someday. My d-i-l has, like her mother, cried her eyes out over all the tension, and the sadness is upsetting to all the extended family including the Americans and the Romanians. I would hate to see a permanent rift. Her father and mother are both old and ill.
A problem of cultural differences, and possible a small break down in communications, I suppose.
If the m-i-l is talking to your son, then he is going to have to do all the talking for a while from the American side.
First thing to do is see it for what it really is: no big deal. Nobody got physically hurt, nobody went bankrupt (I hope ?), and I understand the house is still standing ?
So second thing to do is repair the damaged relations. I could imagine something like organizing some sort of house warming party, where your son personally invites the in-laws, and in the process claims that he is so sorry about creating so many bad feelings between everybody (whether that is true or not, doesn't matter). Point is, nobody likes to be guilty of anything, but everybody likes to make up. Better that a family gets along than saving one's pride isn't it?
Just a few good to knows:
- Romania is still a poor country, and however tight things are for your son and his wife, compared to them the Average Romanian is destitute. So what you and I might call junk they might call treasure.
- Romanians are a sensitive people with a definite flair for the dramatic. Don't underestimate how much the Romanian parties in this "conflict" are subconsciously drinking it all up. A "grand" apologetic gesture will be appreciated in the same manner.
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