Etiquette Questions, Answered: Tricky Conversations
My In-laws Ignore My Son and Me on Special Occasions. How Can I Get Them to Stop?
Q. My husband’s parents give him birthday and holiday gifts, but they never give any to me or our son. I would like to say
something to change the situation, but I don’t want a confrontation to ensue. What should I do?
Name withheld by request
A. When your in-laws fail to acknowledge you, a terrible message is sent: While your husband is a beloved part of the family, you are an outsider. That’s bad enough. But neglecting their grandson is even more mean-spirited. If this keeps up, there is no way you can avoid feeling upset or angry—not just toward your thoughtless in-laws but also toward your husband for being passive about their rude behavior. That’s why you can’t solve this problem alone; your husband must be involved. Enlist him to remind them, in no uncertain terms, how much pleasure it gives a family member to be remembered on special occasions, and that there will be consequences (namely, a growing distance and resentment on the part of their own son) if the situation isn’t immediately rectified.