Dear Annie: Our son has been dating “Nicole” for several years. She has two teenage daughters from a previous marriage. Although they live several hours from us, my husband and I have done everything to make Nicole feel welcome.
Last Christmas, she and her daughters opened their gifts, tossed them aside and went to watch TV. In May, I sent her a Mother’s Day card wishing her a nice day with her kids. She responded with an email saying that since her mother passed away, she no longer celebrates Mother’s Day. A month later, she was in an accident and spent a few days in the hospital. We sent flowers and wishes for a speedy recovery. Our son said the flowers were not her favorite so she threw them out.
Two months ago, my son proposed to Nicole. We sent a nice engagement gift with a note saying we would be happy to help with the wedding preparations. After two weeks, I asked my son whether the gift had arrived. He said, “Yes. It’s sitting on the table. She hasn’t got around to opening it.” A day later she sent an email that said, “I will be making my own decisions about the wedding.” No mention of the gift.
Our son shrugs off Nicole’s behavior. I understand that marrying her is his choice and not ours. Are we approaching this wrong? – Perplexed Parents
Dear Perplexed: No, you have been very accommodating. Nicole simply seems rude and unkind, and the relationship will not get better unless your son demands it. Please continue to be welcoming, but back off a bit so she doesn’t feel smothered. Don’t make suggestions or offer opinions about the wedding. She is not receptive or appreciative. Instead, find things to compliment about her plans so she is less insecure about her status and taste. Nicole is likely to be a difficult daughter-in-law. Our sympathies.