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“I have been living with my adult son, his wife, and my 2 grandchildren for 2 years now. I finally set boundaries regarding the expectation that I cook and do the laundry for a family of six in addition to providing babysitting and childcare help for my two granddaughters, ages 5 and 6. I am a 58 year old woman, divorced with two grown sons.

Since I have set the limits, I am getting the silent treatment from my daughter in law. If I try to communicate, I get curt, short one word answers. I have overheard her yelling at my granddaughters when they come to me, “I told you to leave her alone”. When others are present, she will talk to or share with others cards or pictures or anything relative to what is happening, and she completely bypasses me.

Usually on Fridays we order out, she now never asks me if I want anything and does not order anything for me, so when they order out, there is never food for me — which in the past I have always paid for. Now that she cooks, on most nights there is not enough food made to go around for three adults, a 12 yr old and the two girls, so I don’t eat. I pay my son and her $800.00 a month for rent and food. Most months when I was doing all the cooking I would need to spend hundreds of additional dollars as there would often be a lack of anything healthy to make for dinner.

I have a history of trauma. Living in this kind of environment is causing symptoms of PTSD to manifest. I have many coping skills: meditation, prayer, go to a Buddhist temple meditation and teaching group 2 times a week, read literature daily: daily readings, inspiration, listen to hemisync cd’s on relaxation, mediation, reclaiming self, synchronicity — all kinds of spiritual explorations, I journal, self explore… I have no clarity however.

I believe I need to move out of this environment. I have tried talking with my daughter in law and my son but everything gets flipped back on me somehow. How does one break through all the toxic negative energy of another when in the same household?” ~ Claudette

Hello Claudette,

First and foremost, I want you to know now that your story is a hurtful one and I am sad that it has turned out to be so negative.

Secondly, please understand that this entire ‘drama center’ may not even be about you. These types of behavior tend to come out when people are unhappy within themselves and are unable to express what they really want. So instead of sitting down, like a family should, they slash out and ignore without thinking how confusing this must be for their children.

When people are unwilling to communicate, there is nothing you can do. They have shut themselves down and no matter how hard you try, it will fall on deaf ears. It’s unfortunate that they don’t feel they can express what their expectations are and then communicate and negotiate what’s best for all involved.

As a mother myself, I can’t help but remember all the things I did for my son over the 19 years he lived in our home, and then when I go to visit him, he doesn’t even offer me a glass of water. We do tend to get the lesser deal, don’t we?

One of the good things you said, was that you set boundaries. That’s pretty awesome, because as a parent, we continue to take all that they give us and keep our mouths shut. So with that being said, I say hats off to you for being honest about your feelings and setting boundaries! Hey, it’s better late than never!

Claudette, you may be right. It may be time to take yourself out of that environment, especially because you are becoming ill over it. It’s not a bad thing; it’s just something that may be a ‘relational saver.’ If they choose to let go of you and your feelings, that’s their decision. As for you, then you must have more respect for yourself and pull yourself out of the toxicity.

You sound like a great mother/mother-in-law; yet, if they can’t accept what it is you bring to the table, it’s time to go. Don’t go too far, just get a place close by and allow the relationship to mend. Who knows, maybe then they will realize that you were giving all you could.

Continue to walk in love, peace, harmony and forgiveness. Remember if you didn’t create the drama, you don’t have to own it. It’s not your story, so let it go and trust that God will restore this relationship.

Who knows, you may find out that your personal space may be exactly what you needed after all. Please make it a positive separation and then let go of the thoughts that may chatter in your head. Not everyone gets along my friend, even family members.

Enjoy every day. We never know how much more time we will be given, so count it all joy in everything you do. Be good to yourself and continue your life journey, always knowing what an amazing being you are.


Lisa Hein

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Lisa Hein is all about making a difference in the world. As the author of The Book ~ I'm Doing The Best I Can! (They won't always be cute and adorable), she shares her parenting journey with the hope that other parents will learn from her trials and tribulations.

As a motivational speaker, she has spoken to parents and entertained audiences throughout the world about changing our destiny by changing our words and thoughts.

Lisa's passion is sharing her personal journey and the wrong turns she made through parentdom! Her humor allows parents to see that life doesn't have to be so serious. Her real love is to share new ways of thinking and falling back in love with ourselves. "There is such a pure way of allowing our children to express themselves and have fun with their parents when we honor and respect ourselves," she says.

As the former radio talk show host of Everyday Parenting, she says she spent most of her time researching the top experts she felt would share crucial and positive techniques that helped parents become the best mentors possible.

Her love for God is overwhelming. Her life has been restored and her passion to be all that He wants her to be is what is most important. When she decided it was time to become quiet and humbled herself before Him, she began feeling His presence. Lisa says, "Having the Lord front and center in my life really does allow me to be all that He meant for me to be."

She was invited to share her expertise in Amazon's International Bestseller, and number one Hottest New Release, Ready, Aim, Excel! along with 51 other top experts and motivational speakers such as Dr. Relly Nadler, Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, Dr. Ken Blanchard and Dr. Cathy Greenberg. The book shares expert insights and is a weekly guide to personal and professional leadership.

For more information, please visit

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. I’m certainly not negating the experience of the person who asked the question or attempting to invalidate the wise answer given. But I find it questionable that, having performed the household duties for two years, the daughter-in-law and son have an obligation to accept the lines being re-drawn. Were they drawn again in mutual discussion? Or was the change in the way the house was operating declared in a hysterical, reactive manner? Could it be that the daughter-in-law and son could be getting much higher rent than the $800 a month, but opted to rent to Grandma in the expectation that babysitting and cooking were part of the deal?

    It could well be true that the time for discussion is over and it’s time to move out. It could also be the case that the person who wrote the question is entirely innocent, a person who gives all she can and is still being unfairly treated. There’s no way to gauge a situation like this from the outside. But it’s been my experience that a lot of people think they’re doing their best to have an open dialogue without ever really considering the perspective of the other party, that all the conversations center on their own needs or on placing blame for the current situation rather than exploring solutions.

    So, it’s my thought that perhaps a one-on-one easy-going but completely honest discussion between Claudette and her son, without the daughter-in-law (who seems to be a center of much of the negativity), is in order. Not to discuss the current situation, but to focus on what it is each is looking for in an ideal living arrangement. Preferably outside of the house, perhaps going for lunch or something. Change the place of dialogue, change the type of dialogue, sail in another direction. Worth a try, anyway.

  2. This is not something new about mother and daughter in law relationship. The one calling the shots is the one who is now contributing or spending more. Most likely,when she was new in the family,she followed to the letter what the mother in law says. Now, she wants to feel and make you feel what she was experiencing in silence then. However, your son should initiate the balance between the two conflicting forces. If your son cannot do this, I believe you should really move out and be determined to set boundaries. Most mothers experience this, I myself is not spared, we can”t afford not to look back when we gave all what we can afford to give them. But let us remember that, what we did is more of love than an obligation, we raised them to be good parents like us. They are not expected to pay us back,but for them to pass on to their children what we have done. Parenting ends only when we die. Moral of the lesson, let us prepare for our old age set aside for ourselves so that we shall not be a burden to them.

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