Saturday, June 09, 2007

In-Laws and Foster Kids

I'm listening to an audiobook about which I may write later, but today I want only to say that there is a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law who are too careful of each other. They don't want to cause offense, and are both so polite, that they end up doing things neither wants to do because each thought the other did.

It is an interesting thing to be listening to, given that my in-laws just called.

My mother-in-law likes me very much. I know that she does. She wants to express approval of me, but what I feel is judged. Perhaps I have come out well, but it never feels safe.

I told her about the party. She saw no humor in the situation, was in fact horrified and said she could never imagine anything like that happening when her kids were young. And I feel like she means that I am not a good parent because these things happen at my house, but I think she means to express concern for me that I have to raise my children in such an uncivilized world. She wants to be supportive.

And then she tells me about her other sons, their wives and children. She tells me how hard this child has worked; how hard these adults work; how her one son just does everything, although his wife is feeling a little bit better and beginning to do more. It's such a shame.

And I feel like the slacker mom.

On one hand I know she really likes me, but I feel so defensive with her. I feel constantly watched, evaluated, and even if I am getting positive scores I still feel tense. I want to hide from her any hint that my children are not strong, happy, and successful.

The thing with in-laws is that you have these instant family relationships with all the conflicts that come with them and no shared history telling you how to work them out.

Evan's young social worker was also a fostering child. Her parents work in the same program I do. She acquired several siblings through the program. One was the sister she fought with, loved, and was a bridesmaid at her wedding. Her relationship with the other was, more complicated.

About a month after her wedding I told her that relationships with foster kids was just like relationships with in-laws. She laughed out loud and said with a little surprise in her voice, "You're right. That is exactly what it is like."


  1. You know, my in-laws were the exact opposite. My family is judgmental, bossy and stand-offish with others. My in-laws were kind, accepting and supportive. I would have traded my family for them any day. :)

    That being said, I think my relationships with men are as you're describing. Too much wanting to please on both sides, and too little idea how.

  2. After 12 years of being with Hubby, I still feel like I just met his family. I always feel like I need to impress them and I rarely relax with anyone except his younger cousin.

    They are good decent people but I still feel like they look at me and wonder why he would give so much up for me.


Comments will be open for a little while, then I will be shutting them off. The blog will stay, but I do not want either to moderate comments or leave the blog available to spammers.