Hi, Carolyn: Recently my daughter and son-in-law were staying at my home. My husband was away. After an enjoyable evening out, we came home and had more wine. My daughter and their baby went to bed while my son-in-law and I stayed up chatting. At one point he said, “You look pretty cute, why don’t you come sit on my lap?”!!!!! I was appalled. I had never before received these vibes from him. Nor have I ever shown interest in him other than as a son. I went straight to my room and locked the door.
Now I don’t want to see him, and this has hurt my relationship with my daughter. I am afraid to tell her because of the new baby, and because I feel she will blame me. I have seen my counselor and now feel an email asking for an apology might be the best way to proceed. My son and husband feel I should tell my daughter.
I think he might not even remember, he was so drunk. But now I am worried if he did this to me, would he do this to someone else on a business trip? This is such an insult and I am so disgusted at him now. – Disgusted Grandma
Yikes. Rightly so. I’m sorry he put you in this terrible position.
I don’t see it, though, as a hitting-on-his-mother-in-law-while-his-wife-and-baby-were-asleep-down-the-hall problem. I see this it as an alcohol problem.
You mention it only in passing but to me it’s the point. If you’re skeptical, then consider the chances he’d have done this if he were sober. (That may be true, but first things first.)
We can’t prove a negative, of course – but every experience with your son-in-law up to this point is of his not hitting on you. That’s something. And if he’s been drunk to oblivion around you before, then that may undermine my case for blaming the wine for his icky proposition, but it still supports the argument that your son-in-law drinks too much.
Since that’s not only a serious health problem in itself, but also the trunk to a lot of problematic branches – risking his marriage; his child’s physical and emotional health; his career, especially with business trips involved; his fellow travelers if he drives smashed – that’s the better concern to articulate.
Tell your daughter you’ve been uncomfortable lately because of a recent incident, where her husband drank too much and said inappropriate things. When prompted, refuse to share drunken words (sober ones, yes); say what matters is that he drank his filters off and you’re concerned he has a problem. This also pre-empts her blaming you – an irrational fear, I hope. Say you will address it with him directly if she would prefer.
If so, then send your email. Mention he seemed very drunk that night, and said things so inappropriate and out of character that you’re worried about him.
Then step back, at least temporarily, to let them handle it.
As for his Mrs. Robinson ideas, I get they feel about eight kinds of wrong. Again, rightly so. But their flitting across his mind is neither unusual nor a problem; the line he crossed is in ever letting them out. Forgetting is presumably not an option for you, but forgiving might do the trick.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com.
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