Ask Amy: My daughter-in-law doesn’t seem to like me or my visits, and this upsets my son

She's shutting me out

"It would be nice if we could be friends, but if that’s too much I would be OK with being simply polite." Getty Images Getty Images

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Dear Amy: I am troubled.

I have been giving – really extending – the benefit of the doubt to “Jan,” my daughter-in-law, for some time.

I see my son and Jan a couple of times a year, when I visit their city. I get a hotel room willingly and without question. I am friendly and supportive, I compliment her sincerely, and I find positive, non-controversial things to talk about.

She just doesn’t seem to like me – or my visits – and it clearly hurts and upsets my son. She is openly impatient with him and absolutely cold to me.

I can do nothing right. It would be nice if we could be friends, but if that’s too much I would be OK with being simply polite.

I am bewildered and hurt for my son.

I know that he is courteous and welcoming to her parents.

I don’t know what I have done, if anything.

Should I ask if I’ve offended her somehow?

I don’t want to cause a kerfuffle for my son, but I think that maybe I trigger difficulty between them for reasons I’m unsure of.

This is not improving with time (it’s been four years, now).

I can no longer pretend that I don’t notice, and I am wondering what you think I should do.

– Somebody’s Mom

Dear Mom: You have done your best to basically put your head down and endure this, politely – hoping, no doubt, that “Jan’s” attitude toward you would change as time went on and she discovered that you are a benign, low-impact presence in her family’s life.

You don’t seem to have asked your son what challenges he and his wife are facing. She could struggle with extreme anxiety, depression, or another mental or physical health challenge that neither of them has chosen to disclose to you.

So I would start with your son. Ask him, “Are there things I could or should do to make things easier for you and Jan when I visit?”

Based on how your son answers, you could open up and share your own questions, concerns and challenges.

Based on the vibe during your next visit, I suggest speaking with Jan privately, asking her a version of the questions you’ve asked your son. Tell her that you don’t want to burden either of them, but that you are worried that she seems stressed when she sees you.

In short, nudge the door open and give her space to walk through.

Amy  Dickinson

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