Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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I had been married for several years and my MIL came to visit a few months after our first daughter was born.  It wasn't the first time and it wasn't the last time, but this may have been the worst time.  My husband and I had bought a new house and we had our first child shortly thereafter.  We had both worked and saved our money so that when our first child came I would not have to go back to work and we had paid for everything in the new house so we would only have a mortgage payment and not be overloaded with debt and only one income. My MIL can be a real b*tch sometimes and I don't really know why, she just overloads her mouth and can't back off.  She has always thought that her son married beneath him, even though financially & socially my family is average around town.  We certainly weren't wealthy but my parents were well respected and both worked decent jobs.  His parents were both married several times and sometimes we had to send his mother money to make ends meet in between husbands. I never really thought much about it one way or another. 

On this visit her plane is late (my fault for booking that late afternoon flight - I should have known better), the house needs cleaning (OMG I am the cleanest person I know from either side of our families and I keep an extremely clean house to this day). She doesn't like what I have cooked for dinner and it doesn't have enough salt  (after 10 years of being married to her son she still doesn't remember that I don't eat or cook with salt, there is a salt shaker on the table).  She wants to know when we are going to decorate?  What about a higher lock for the back door, she doesn't want her newborn grandchild to get out and drown in the pool, she  doesn't want to go shopping the next day because she doesn't want the baby to be out with the germy people.  I keep rolling my eyes at my husband because we both know how weird she can be, but we work at enjoying her visit. 

She complains about everything, the food I cook, the layout of the house, the lack of decorating, etc.  We take her out to the country club for dinner, but she complains it is not the best one in town - it isn't the high end formal club, but is more casual and fits our budget and social needs.  She complains about the outfit I chose to wear that night also.  But the final blow comes right before she leaves and she questions why I am breastfeeding my daughter.  Now I know bf is not for everyone, but it is working at our house, my daughter is beautiful and healthy, and I feel strongly that money spent on formula is wasted if you don't need it and breast milk is supposed to be better, so I'm happy with it.  She says (and I'm quoting here), "only white trash breast feeds.  When I was growing up those old farmer's wives used to sit out on those benches in front of the stores on Main Street and breast feed those babies with those big old boobs hanging out, it was disgusting.  I didn't breastfeed either of my boys, it's so low class." I went into shock.  I'm not white trash, I'm not on Main Street, I'm not letting a boob hang out, my parents were both children of farmers and my mother probably would have killed her on the spot.  I am very, very discreet and modest about breastfeeding. I can't imagine why she would say such a thing, I am absolutely STUNNED. Well, the fight is on while I sit there is shocked silence, my husband lets her have it.  He tears into her about the complaining, the belittling of our home & lifestyle, the whining about the meals and this white trash comment just takes the cake with him.   He takes her to the airport .  

When we visit her the next year it is a smoother visit, but we go to her home for the next several years before she is allowed back at our home. I have never been so insulted in my life.   It has been almost 20 years since this incident, but I have had her say similar things about me being low class since then and it absolutely infuriates my husband and he corrects her every time, but really after 30 years of marriage how do you dump your mother in law?



I have been divorced more than 12 years and still get zinged by my MIL from Hell.  A brief background here, I am divorced from her son because he couldn't keep his fly zipped, he had an affair with two of my cousins and apparently half of our town.

My MIL has always thought that her family is better than mine because she was born into oil money and I was born into a farming family.  I think we all know that money does not make you "better" it just makes you "richer white trash" in some cases.

My children and I live a pretty modest life, I have worked two jobs at various times through the years to cover the lack of child support from time to time and to get us ahead financially in life.  Both of my kids have struggled because of the missing male in their lives and yet they have managed to get through school with great grades and good social skills.  They aren't perfect kids, but overall but pretty darn good, they are teenagers and want everything and sometimes I have to say no. 

Most recently my oldest daughter graduated from high school and chose to go to a technical school rather than a four year university.  I had wanted her to go to college, but it's her life and at least at a tech school she will learn some job skills and she will always have the opportunity to go on to a university later in life.  I'm pretty pleased that she didn't want to get married and have babies right away, as it is with so many of these young girls that grow up in divorced families with no father present.  So I move her into the city with the tech school and she gets an apartment and a job and we work out a budget to cover her rent, utilities, tuition, etc.  Again, she & I seem to be happy with the plan, I'm helping some, but not paying for everything.

My MIL calls me constantly to let me know what a mistake I have made in raising her.  She keeps referring to low class people not attending college.  I've been pretty good about keeping in contact with the ex-in laws and making sure that my kids stayed in touch with their grandparents, aunts & uncles and cousins and so on.  I make them send cards at Christmas and for birthdays and they have certainly enjoyed gifts from the grandparents so I'm thinking that I have done as good a job as possible.  Yes, I've had to put up with some rude remarks from the MIL but she's a b*tch and I can't change that, putting up with her only made my ex and I miserable through the married years.

For graduation my daughter did not receive anything from her father or her grandmother. Her PawPaw sent a very generous gift (FIL & MIL have been divorced for twenty years) and I don't know what to say to my daughter, she's seen what an XXX her dad can be, my saying something won't help the situation.

Last week my ex MIL called to see how my daughter was doing and I said fine she's struggling a little bit with the money situation but she's going to make it.  My MIL said, " Well if you had raised her with some class, she would be going on to college not some cheap technical school.  I certainly raised her father better than that."  There really isn't enough room here for me to tell you all the mistakes she made with her son, but class and his name should not be said in the same sentence.  My ex is not a college graduate, although he is very intelligent and has a very good career, there have been long periods of time when he has not worked or paid his child support.  He has never bought anything "extra" for his children, although whatever current girlfriend he has is always well gifted. 

I don't understand why parents of divorced adult children can't let go and leave well enough alone.  Would someone please enlighten me?



Let me take you back in time as I have never quite recovered from the shock of my SIL's actions. It's January 30, 1980 and it's Northern California. My future (first) husband and I are living temporarily in my future BIL and SIL's one room garage apartment awaiting the birth of our first child. It was to be a home birth with a Midwife as FH was a musician and we had no money, no insurance.

My water breaks while I am watching "The Martian Chronicles" and FH calls the Midwife. The Midwife shows up with two pregnant "trainees" and the three of them proceed to bake bread with my FSIL while I am in labor, leaving me to fend for myself with FH who promptly falls asleep.

After 10 intense hours of labor and NO MEDICATION my son is born naturally. I am exhausted. I am instructed to bring the baby into an herbal healing bath to clean him up myself. I do so.

About an hour later FSIL informs me that I have bled on her bathroom floor and I need to clean it up. I get out of bed where I am nursing my two hour old baby and I wipe three small droplets of blood off her bathroom floor.

In the meantime my FSIL boils the afterbirth and feeds it to her dogs. To this day she has no idea what an idiot I think she is. 



 My husband, three kids and I live across the country from our relatives. A few months ago, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law visited my home. My mother-in-law is a good sort, but the sister-in-law, "Heather," is a completely different story. She complained constantly, treated my teenage son like her personal slave and generally made life miserable for everyone. She was forever breaking rules of common decency and etiquette...which makes this story all the more amusing.   

One day, we all went out-of-town to visit a museum, and had lunch at a rather nice Japanese restaurant. As I used to work at a Japanese restaurant years ago, I was very familiar with the food and helped my children and mother-in-law to order. The food arrived, we all began to chow down, and I actually thought that for once everyone---including Heather---was happy and having a good time.   Wrong.   After a few minutes, both my husband and I began to notice that Heather is glaring at us. I was taken aback; my kids were behaving and thus far, it had been an enjoyable meal. Whatever was the matter with her now? Not being able to figure out on my own what the problem was, I asked Heather if there was anything wrong.   She glared at me again for a few minutes, slammed her fork down on the table and announced in a very loud voice, "You are SO INCREDIBLY RUDE!" and indicated myself, my husband and my teenage son.   Why were we rude, you ask?   Because we were eating with chopsticks.   No, I am not making that up. According to Heather, everyone at the table should eat with the same utensils, or it is "rude." And as she does not know how to use chopsticks, that meant everyone at the table should use a fork, as she was doing.   I was dumbfounded. I tried to laugh it off, explaining my previous employ at a Japanese restaurant and how I pretty much had to learn to use chopsticks at that time or risk professional ridicule.   Heather's response? "If you worked in a Japanese place, then you of all people should know better."   I hope you think of me, the next time you have sushi.     



This past January, I realized my mother would be 80 on her next birthday, in June, so I began planning a lavish party.  After visiting different venues, I decided I wanted the flexibility of hosting this affair in my home. Many preparations included extensive home improvement; painting, new lighting, and new furniture.  I also decided instead of driving myself crazy cooking and serving, I would engage the help of a caterer, and I hired a pianist.      

In February I received word that one of my aunts had died.  The last time I saw her and my uncle, my late father's brother, was about 4 years prior, even though they live just one state away.  She was one of the rudest people I'd ever known, and over the years had managed to alienate everyone in her husband's family.  Like my mother and sister, who'd also bad dealings with her, I very much wanted to be at the funeral for my uncle.  He is a very kind and loving man, and we held no animosity towards him whatsoever.  As it turned out, he was very happy we had come.    

During the family time preceding the funeral service, I mentioned to my uncle and cousins my mom's 80th birthday, that I would be hosting a big party, and that I wanted them all to attend.  We all exchanged email addresses and promised to keep in touch.    Here is the important point:  This uncle has two daughters.  Older daughter, Ellie, has a husband and two teenagers.  Younger daughter, Candy, has a nine-year-old daughter, and is divorced.  At the funeral was her new boyfriend, John, who seemed like a very nice man.    

Back home, I resumed party preparations.  I began thinking about Candy and her boyfriend.  As I said, he seemed like a nice man, and I thought she might like to have him with her, since her sister would have her husband.  So, in an email I invited Candy to bring him.  In her responding email, she mentioned that the party might coincide with his weekend to have his two daughters, ages 8 and 10, so he might have to bring them as well.  I wasn't happy about this.  Certainly I expected her to bring her own daughter.  But the truth is, I am not especially into children, and certainly not children who have nothing to do with me or my mother, the guest of honor.  Also, I hate when guests take it upon themselves to add to the guest list, whether they announce it or not.  But I wanted to be gracious about it, thinking Candy might one day marry their father, and be their stepmother.   I emailed her, telling her it would be lovely to have the girls, that they would be good company for my sister's three children.  For a while, everything seemed perfectly fine.  I thought....   

Fast forward to three days before the party.  Candy emailed me:  

I would like to know what you are planning for the kids if they are planning on coming.  The reason I am asking is that John's girls feel that they might be bored.    

I was stunned!  First off, this was always going to be, from day one, an ADULT party.  The only children I was truly interested in attending were my mother's grandchildren.  Period.  I began wondering on what planet do you inform your host that you are bringing previously uninvited children to her party, then expect her to provide entertainment?  And THEN tell her, said children are afraid they might be bored???   I mentioned this to my sister, mother of three young children.  She was equally appalled.    I had been focusing on the many details of this party, when I wasn't at my job, and had no desire to waste any energy on an argument.  I emailed her right away with one sentence:  I have no plans for the children.  

The next day she wrote again, saying she didn't know if her boyfriend and his children would be coming, but her sister, her dad and teenaged niece would be coming.    The morning of the party she called, saying NO ONE was coming.  Her dad was still grieving the loss of his wife and really wasn't up to attending a party.  Also, because it was a three-hour drive, they really couldn't make the trip without overnight arrangements, (we have a hotel nearby) and her sister had plans the next day, but could have made it in one day, if the party hadn't been planned for so late in the day (It was set for 5 pm).  So not only was I a terrible host for not providing entertainment for children I didn't know or care about, I should have made it earlier for out-of-state relatives I had no idea I'd be inviting.  (I could tell by the tone of her voice she was really peeved about that.)  

Truth is, I had guests that had come all the way from the opposite coast who had no complaints about the timing of this party.     Until now I hadn't seen this charming young woman since my wedding in 1996, and I don't care if I don't see her again. Ever! 




I don’t think it gets any tackier than this:

My brother is lazy and inconsiderate, but in the past I always made excuses for him. He doesn’t contact anyone in the family unless he wants something.

About a year ago I learned I had cancer. Out of a sense of familial duty, I called my brother to tell him. My type of cancer is incurable, but currently can be kept under control with chemotherapy. First of all my brother told me that no one would be concerned about me because some distant in-law of his had cancer worse than me. Then he said he had to get off the phone because a ball game he wanted to watch was starting.

I heard nothing from him until he showed up at the family Christmas gathering. I had gone through weeks when I didn’t know if I would be alive at Christmas, or if it would be my last one, and I requested that the family slow down its usual orgy of gift opening and take time to see what gifts people received, to acknowledge gifts, and to interact with each other. My brother became angry and made a little speech about how I thought everyone had to do what I wanted because I had cancer and thought I was special. Then he stomped out of the room and didn’t come back until everyone else had finished opening their gifts. He then refused to open the gifts I had given him.

Eight months passed with absolutely no word from him, and then he left me a phone message wanting to know if he and his wife could spend the night at my house on their way back from vacation. He has no idea how I’m doing or what kind of treatment I’m currently going through, and he didn’t bother to ask how I was.


My husband had planned on buying a riding lawn mower for his Dad for his birthday.  Unfortunately his Dad passed away before this planned event, but went along with the plans to present it to his mother instead since she still needed to replace the older tractor.  He has 3 other siblings who did not contribute nor were asked to contribute to the $1,500.00 price tag.  With her eyes closed, and then the gift given, she was shocked and crying because of the thoughtfulness of her son.  This moment was ruined by her granddaughter who openly stated within our daughter's earshot: "Oh my F_ _ _ _ing God, I can't believe he got that instead of paying for her electric bill."  Our daughter was visibly shaken and then left the party because of her thoughtless words and inability to be happy about her grandmother's gift.  I told my daughter that if she was so concerned about the electric bill she could pay that bill herself.  She was approached by her uncle, and was told to mind her own business.  And what did that 34 year old granddaughter give her for her birthday?  A birthday card with photo's of her children.  This comment has taken on a toll on their relationship.  Lessons learned: keep your nasty, unhappy comments to yourself.




I have some real gems in my family but this particular aunt takes the cake.   My grandmother passed away late one summer. We were all torn up inside and it was a hugely emotional event for my entire family. In the middle of the wake, as we're making small talk and standing awkwardly in a circle, aunt "B" comes up to my mum and dad and says quite loudly, "So it looks like you're going to have a boarder this September." Mum goes, "Pardon me?" and Aunt B announces that her 17yr old daughter, cousin "C" was accepted into a Beauty School in the city where we live and it was assumed by said Aunt B that Cousin C would naturally live with us whilst attending this school.

We were all feeling so emotional and a camaraderie with one another (also, nobody wanted to 'start' anything at that particular moment) that dad and mum said it was ok (even though aunt B wasn't asking, she was telling).

Fast forward to the first week of September. On my mum's 55th birthday, as we are out celebrating at a restaurant in town, dad's cell phone rings and it's Aunt B saying that they are on their way through town bringing C to our house to move in. We cut the dinner short (poor mum!) so we can meet the relatives at our home. Aunt B and her boyfriend G are there with 17 year old C. Poor C was fresh out of highschool and really not ready to move out on her own, but she was still excited about starting Beauty School and about being in the city (she had come from a small community of around 500 people to a city of 150,000 people so it was a culture shock to say the least). I helped C unpack her bags and feel at home. I told her we'd be sharing the bathroom and showed her how I had moved things of mine off the counter to make room for her things, and how I did the same in the shower.

A few weeks pass. C hasn't got a bus pass yet, so mum and I are taking turns chauffeuring her to and from school (whilst mum is working a full time job and I am going to college full time and working part-time). Finally I personally drive Cousin C to get her bus pass from Town Hall, and still she phones every evening for a ride home from school.

Meanwhile, Aunt B was insisting she get a part-time job. Cousin C resists. Instead, she is making friends with kids who go to the college. She stays out every weekend at their dorm halls and parties it up! She brings friends to our house when she knows mum and dad are preparing supper, so that her friends will get a decent meal (mum and dad didn't mind if this happened from time to time, but it was going on 3 or 4 evenings a week until finally they told her enough is enough!). Cousin C is constantly spending money and my parents knew she was on a tight budget made by her mother. Mum and dad don't feel comfortable with Cousin C's actions. She is only 17, staying out all weekend long and drinking underage, and spending money that she shouldn't be. They realize she is 'spreading her wings' but at the same time, they feel responsible for her. As semester one comes to an end, they decide if it continues after the holidays they will say something to Aunt B (if she doesn't already know, which she might have).

But after the holidays they didn't have to make the choice. Cousin C came back to our house after the holidays. She went to her first week back to school. She came home early one day and I, being the only one home at the time, asked her why she was home at noon? She told me she dropped out of school.

She said since she was only 17 when she had started Beauty School, she felt really overwhelmed and unprepared to make such a commitment. I talked with her for awhile and then she threw some things into a bag, and my mom drove her to the bus station so she could go home again. We were really worried about her and how Aunt B would take the news. Mum phoned Aunt B and told her that she would return the month's rent check. Aunt B accepted that and said she would be coming by "soon" to pick up C's things which were littered all over our spare bedroom. These included, a bar fridge, blankets, a trunk, a bookshelf, 4 suitcases of clothing, over ten pairs of shoes, dozens of stuffed animals, and pictures she had taped to our (freshly painted) walls!

A month passes with no word from C or Aunt B about C's belongings. Mum and dad finally phone in April (!!!!) to ask what is going on. Aunt B responds with, "Oh we probably won't be coming by to get C's things until later this summer." Mum and dad want their spare bedroom back. They love to entertain people and hadn't been able to because C's things had taken over the spare bedroom.

So, mum and dad take a weekend, phone ahead of time, pack up C's things and drive them back to her house. Nobody is home- surprise surprise-  so mum and dad pile everything into the front porch (where it would be protected from the elements) and leave.

To this day, C hasn't called to thank us for our hospitality or for bringing her things to her. And Aunt B hasn't mentioned it since.



When I had my son we decided to have him baptized when he was two months old.  The church we go to is very old fashioned and the sermons can be lengthy.  I always make sure to be on best behavior when attending other churches.  I just wish I could expect the same from others.   My husband and I both have large families, so we decided that instead of making everyone cram into our small house we would invite everyone to a buffet style restaurant with a banquet room after church was over.  The baptism went just fine and church was over.  We headed to the restaurant and after everyone settled in with their food my husband and I made our rounds to the tables saying hi and thank you for coming.   We made our way to a table that my husband's aunt and her family were sitting at.  We made small talk and were about to head to a different table when his aunt says, "I told my boys that if they ever misbehave I'm going to punish them by sending them to church with you."   I just about died.  I couldn't believe she had said that.  Normally, I take what she says with a grain of salt, but this took the cake.  I've never felt the same about her and her family.  Especially, when I found out that this same aunt was writing on the back of her kids school pictures while sitting in the front row while the church services was going on.   It's times like these that I wonder if my husband was adopted.


MIL knows that I don’t eat mammals. Fish and chicken = okay, beef and pork = not okay. So we have a cook out at her house and she prepares all kinds of sausages, bratwursts, burgers, and hot dogs for the rest of the family. She even makes me chicken. So we’re sitting down eating and she insists that I eat this sausage. I am hesitant because it looks like the veal sausages that I see my husband and FIL eating. But she insists that it’s made out of turkey. Not wanting to be rude, I try a bite of the sausage. She asks, “Do you like it?” I say, “Sure, it’s good.” She proceeds to cackle and cough and laugh and gasp for air.  After a laughing for a while, she manages to say “Ha ha! I got you. That’s veal! But you liked it, so I guess you have to eat more, right?”

I was truly mystified and looked around the table. My husband didn’t say anything (he’s kind of a mama’s boy) and FIL was shaking his head smiling. I was too appalled to say anything and finished my meal in silence.


Maybe I'm just unlucky, but I truly believe I could fill this entire site with all the things that I've come across - still, it keeps life interesting! However, I won't subject you to all of them just yet. My story today concerns my grandmother.

I love my Grandma very much, but she does not know the meaning of the word 'tact'. There's honesty, there's downright rudeness - and then there's my grandma. Her actions are legendary. This is despite the fact that she prides herself on being an etiquette queen who is perfect in every aspect of her manners. She's in her early 80's now, but it's not dementia that causes her to act so badly. She's always been exactly the same.

On one occasion I was about 13, and I was dressed up for a school ball (a bit like an American Prom). I should say here that I am on the plump side, not huge but not small. I'm a British size 16, I think that's a 12 in America. So I come in, feeling like a million dollars. Grandma takes one look at me and states "Oh, what a lovely dress. You know, you'd look quite nice if you weren't so fat!" Thanks Gran. Did wonders for my self confidence.

At 21, I invited her to my graduation ceremony. I only got issued 2 tickets, so this was a big deal. At the time I was flat-sharing with my best friend, a lovely guy we'll call S. S was openly gay and I knew grandma wouldn't take this well, so I warned S about her beforehand. We are all dressed up beautifully, and S is his usual flamboyant self in a red tartan suit and Disney print tie. Grandma walks in, looks S up and down and turns to me. "We aren't going to your graduation with that thing are we?" she asks loudly. S laughed it off (I think he's heard worse) but I wanted to sink through the floor.

Grandma can't get around so well any more, so my dad, my husband and I take her on holiday once a year. Every year it seems like a good idea. Every year, I come home swearing I'll never do it again. Last year, dad paid over £3000 ($6000) to rent a villa with downstairs bedroom, disabled facilities etc. so Grandma could manage. It was an amazing place, but Grandma's room did not have a mirror, although there was one in her en-suite bathroom. At least 6 times a day, she would complain about this flipping mirror. How do they expect you to get dressed without a mirror, what a terrible place it was not to be properly equipped, etc. We'd be sitting in a restaurant having a beautiful meal, and she'd start complaining about that mirror.

This year, husband and I had just got married and only had 2 weeks of vacation time, so we gave up our honeymoon to take her to Cyprus. Every day she complained it was too hot, it was a stupid idea coming to somewhere so hot, the bed wasn't big enough, there were mosquitoes, the tea didn't taste right, the bread was too sweet, and she couldn't go out of the villa as it was far too hot to go sightseeing. We spent most of the holiday trapped in the villa listening to her complain.

She refused to take her medication with her (she said she wouldn't need it) then took all of mine and sent me out most days to look for a store that would sell the exact brand of tablets that she wanted. She told me everything I bought as souvenirs was complete junk, then stole 3 of them to take back as presents! I honestly believed she hated every minute; she certainly seemed determined to make the rest of us hate it. Then two weeks after we got back, my aunt told me how much Grandma had talked about her 'wonderful' holiday to Cyprus and how perfect everything had been!

I could write pages and pages about this woman, but I'll just sign off with one more little anecdote for now. On one particular occasion, we were at a major airport in London - I was taking her to visit a family member who lived abroad. There we were sitting in one of the most diverse cities in the world, surrounded by people from every nation, all waiting patiently for our planes. Grandma's voice cuts through the general hubbub like a knife as she announces loudly, "I do hope we don't have to sit next to any of these filthy black people on the plane". How we were not lynched I'll never know.

Family - what can you do?



My story is about my MIL, an unbelievably self-centered human being. I met her about 25 years ago and my husband (then boyfriend) was not speaking to her. He was fairly bitter about his parents' divorce and blamed it all on her. He wasn’t very forthcoming with details, just that his mother had left his father and that it had a devastating effect on him and his brother. I also know that his father was a very bitter and unhappy man. I figured there must be two sides to the story and left it at that. When we announced our engagement she suddenly wanted to be my best friend. Now understand, because my fiancé was estranged from her I barely knew her. (I had met her twice.) It was difficult for me to set boundaries with her, because she really wanted a VERY close relationship with me, immediately. (Closer than I had with my own mother.) I was trying to walk a fine line between offending my future MIL and angering my future husband. I have to say that at that point I only found her annoying and needy.

After our first child was born, my DH reconciled with his mother and I had hopes that this would make everyone happier. Well I didn’t have a clue as to what kind of games this woman could play. I could write a book about all of the things she’s done over the past 20 years, but this is going to be a long enough post anyway. We could go months without hearing from her and then all of the sudden she wanted to be with us every day. She would show up unannounced and uninvited and bring her latest boyfriend with her. Now my DH and I both have very stressful jobs, two small children, AND we’re stupid enough to try and remodel our house at the same time. Imagine me up to my eyeballs in dirty laundry, scrubbing my kitchen in nasty sweats and now I get to entertain my MIL and a total stranger. No matter how many times DH would tell her, please call before you come over, let us know if you’re bringing someone with you, etc. She would still do it REPEATEDLY! 

She also treated DH like he was a slightly retarded 9 year old. Even my children, who loved her when they were younger, started telling me they didn’t like being with Grandma. (They had a great relationship with my parents, as did DH.) It got so bad that once they were teenagers DH and I stopped making them visit her.

Over the years more details about the divorce and his life came out. When she left, she moved in with her boyfriend and expected her sons to treat him like he was their father. I wouldn’t have been so bad if this hadn’t been repeated DOZENS of times over next few years with the boyfriend of the moment. And if that wasn’t bad enough, after each relationship ended she would come back to FIL and reconcile with him until the next boyfriend. That went on when DH was between 15 and 18. After hearing the whole sordid story one piece at a time over about 15 years, I was actually stunned that he had ever reconciled with her.

Fast forward a few years. My FIL met an absolutely wonderful woman and remarried very recently. DH and I are so happy for him. He’s no longer bitter and unhappy. He’s like a changed man. She’s so nice DH actually said that he wished she was his mother. My children love her and have told us over and over that she’s not a step-grandma but a real one. My oldest was graduating from high school and we invited my parents, FIL and wife, and MIL, along with my DD. During the ceremony MIL switched seats so she could sit next to FIL and kept snuggling up to him telling that she was “cold”. (It was at least 80 degrees outside.) After the ceremony while waiting for DS to meet us I actually witnessed MIL hitting on FIL in FRONT of DH, DD, and FIL’s wife (not to mention my parents)!!! DH was completely demoralized, DD was so shocked she turned her back on MIL and refused to speak to her again that evening. My parents and I were embarrassed for everyone there. Thank goodness DS didn’t see this on HIS night. To her credit, FIL’s wife reacted with grace and composure, proving to all of us how good a woman she is. 

After the ceremony we were going back to our house for a small celebration with the grandparents and DH told MIL she was not welcome. He no longer speaks to her (again) nor do my children. She will NOT be invited to DD’s graduation.

I have never been so grateful to have been blessed with such great parents then at that moment. It’s a wonder DH is sane. It must be FIL that kept him that way.



After I completed my A-levels and before starting university I opted to take a gap year. While I was trying to decide what to do with my gap year my second eldest sister offered through my mum for me to spend the year with her in Perth, Australia. I jumped at the chance as I hadn't seen her for at least 3 years. She was supposed to be visiting the previous year and had borrowed a considerable amount of money from my mother to do so. However at the last minute decided she could not afford it and so cancelled the holiday. Because it wasc cancelled at the last minute however the travel company would not refund her and as far as she was concerned if she wasn't getting any money back she wouldn't pay my mother back either. She's never been particularly good with money although mum had hoped she had sorted herself out by now. Needless to say she will never ever lend her money again. Funny thing was if my sister had at least offered to try and pay mum back she would have written it off but the fact that she just shrugged and said yeah well what ya gonna do really made my mum's blood boil. 

So my mum arranged for me to pay my sister room and board out of the money she still owed my mum so basically my mum paid for at least my first few months there. My sister was agreeable and said she wouldn't charge me any rent until I got a job anyway so the plans were put in motion, tickets purchased and my sister moved to a larger house to accommodate extra people. 

When my sister picks me up at the airport I'm told that she cannot afford to take the week off work as planned as she'd decided to go part time at work to spend more time with her son. Which meant we wouldn't be able to do any of the fun things we had planned for my first week, like going to the zoo and theme parks and such. That's fine with me I can understand that she needs to work so I'm ok. 

When we get back to her house she takes down her calendar and shows me how long the money from mum will pay for my room and board as from the day I arrived. So much for no rent until I get a job but again ok. However later she admits that the rent on this new place she moved to because of me is actually less rent than where they were living before. Strange but I wanted to pay my way anyway. 

The next day and everyday of my stay I am woken at 7:30am by my sister and her son having a screaming row generally involving him screaming I hate you you're a cow. This is strangely reminiscing of the arguments she used to have with our mother the irony is not lost on her and she admits it's probably karma. The brat is a complete nightmare and scream and yells whenever he doesn't get his way. On one occasion he sulked and kicked his mother over the fact she wouldn't buy him a lollipop. So she leaves him sitting in the car with me while she goes into the shop to buy cigarettes. I attempt to calm him down only to be rewarded by having him chuck a bottle at me and kick my seat. I opted to stay away from him for the rest of the time I'm there. 

The first weekend she takes me into the center of Perth on the bus. Other than the local shopping center this is the only place she takes me in the time I stayed with her. She kindly hands me a list of employment agencies she printed for me, however I don't know how to get anywhere but the center of Perth on the buses and have no car. When asked if she could drive me to one she says she can't she's working but promises to get me a bus timetable, which never appeared. Now remember she told me she had gone part time to spend time with her son. Well this meant that she only worked mornings however he was a school in the afternoon so she actually was at the gym. If her finances were so tight I wondered why she went part time, why not just shorten her hours to allow her to pick him up from school. However once again her choice. 

Finally after 4 weeks cooped up in her house with her brat and her constant whining about how difficult her life was and how it was all our mother's fault I'd had enough and told her I was feeling homesick and was thinking of going home. She seemed understanding but suggested I sleep on it. Incidentally our mother has her faults however all choices were made for the best at the time whereas my sister seems to believe she did it just to spite everyone else and that means she is to blame for everything that has gone wrong in my sister's life. Hmmm time to grow up and accept responsibility for you're own screw-ups I think. 

The following day I make my decision and decide to change my flight home to the following week. My sister is fuming although doesn't really give a reason. The evil part of me suspected it was the loss of my potential earnings and the fact that she now still owed mum money might have been the reason. I ask what time would be best for her to see me off to be told, "Well I can't miss a day at the gym or take time off work so you'll have to get a taxi to the airport."  Yes I assumed she'd drive me but then I thought she'd want to see me off I hadn't seen her for 3 years before this I wasn't likely to be seeing her again for a few more. I was hurt but duly booked a taxi. Relations from there all but froze she would barely talk to me and when doing our last shop together actually told me to stop following her round the store and go away so I went a sat next to her car in the parking lot for 3/4 hour. I was baffled and hurt all I had said to her was that I'm really homesick and have decided to go back home. It wasn't till much later that it occurred to me about the money angle. 

The day I left I hoped she would change her mind and come with me to the airport but she didn't even say goodbye before she left for work. I still hoped as she knew the time of my flight that she might turn up at the airport but no. Right after I got home I contacted her to let me know how much I still owed on the phone bill. I had left her all the cash I could considering I need to keep some for the taxi. However she never got back to me but I assume she's probably telling everyone how I refused to pay. 3 years later and I haven't spoken to her since I still don't really know what I did to upset her so much by being homesick and leaving early. My parents were livid at the way she'd treated me and horrified at the behavior of my nephew and finally my mother never did see any of that money.


In December 2007 I graduated from my small university with a bachelor's degree and decided to walk in the graduation ceremony. I wanted a small celebration with immediate family only, which everyone was fine with. My mother and stepfather, my brother who was also a university student elsewhere, and my father were all going to attend. My university is five hours from my hometown. My parents divorced amicably six or seven years ago and neither gave any indication that they couldn't sit through a ceremony and later a celebratory dinner together.   My father is an alcoholic and it definitely strains our relationship. I was anxious leading up to the date of the ceremony because not long before he'd made a passing remark about maybe not attending for no specified reason. I'd been hurt but partly relieved, as he tends to be a stressful person to spend a lot of time with. In the end he indicated that he would be there. 

The graduation ceremony went off without a hitch, and afterwards I found my mother and stepfather in the auditorium where the new grads were getting together with their family members and congratulating each other.   It took me maybe fifteen minutes to find my mother and stepfather. None of us had seen my brother or my father at that point; my father is six foot four and easy to pick out of a crowd. We tried calling them with cell phones with no luck. We waited until the ceremony had been over for a full hour and the rest of the grads had trickled out. I felt awful; not only was I getting more disappointed by the minute as the auditorium emptied, but at this point none of us knew if my father and brother had even seen the ceremony at all. They'd planned on coming to town together but no one had talked to them at any point that morning or the night before to even confirm they'd arrived.   

We had an afternoon to kill between the ceremony and dinner, so my mother and I went shopping after dropping my stepfather off at their hotel to nap. My father and brother had coincidentally booked a room at the same hotel (it's a small city, it's not that unusual for things like that to happen) so I asked the front desk clerk if she could call my father's room. At least we confirmed that he was in town, but of course no one answered the room phone or any calls to my brother's cell phone. It was almost worse knowing they were there, since now we still didn't know if they'd been at the ceremony at all and they were certainly not going out of their way to find me at this point and offer any sort of congratulations.   

Our dinner reservation rolls around and my mother, stepfather and I go to the restaurant. Right up to the last minute I tried getting a hold of my brother, with--you guessed it--no luck. I felt like crying; for a half hour we put off ordering while we sat around a half-empty table that should have been occupied by the other members of my immediate family. If you have an alcoholic parent or loved one you might have an idea of how bitter it feels to be disappointed by their behavior, especially if you let yourself believe that maybe this one time they'll pull through for you.   

Thankfully they did show up, not too terribly late but after not hearing from them all day it felt like an eternity. My brother is a charming guy and we get along very well; I was excited to see him. My father's eyes were glazed over in a way that unmistakably means he'd been drinking. He immediately ordered a glass of wine and downed it like you'd throw back a shot. The table conversation eventually picked up again and it went pretty well. We're all nice, easygoing people, and my father more retreats than gets belligerent so although it was incredibly painful to watch him drink through the entire dinner, there was no fighting or lashing out at anyone. My mother and stepfather gave me a very personal small gift. My father didn't even have a card for me.   It turns out my father and brother did make it to the ceremony, but left as soon as I had received my diploma, missing the ceremony's latter half. My brother's phone had been off all day, so he says, and they'd been at the casino "having a couple of beers" and playing some games. My brother had been doing us a well-meant but poorly executed favor by keeping our father busy and he shared with me later that it'd been fairly stressful for him as well. But there's no excuse for him, a grown man with a portable phone, to not get in touch with us at any point during the day until they showed up late for dinner. 

I didn't realize how hurt and angry the whole situation made me until days later. Nobody had caused a scene or been wildly out of control, but it left a very hurtful impression on my memories of what ought to have been a celebratory time. My mother said my stepfather, an addiction therapist, felt just awful for me.   The little cap on the whole affair: two weeks later at Christmas my father didn't remember what my degree was for (sociology, nothing too complicated) and he suggested I go back to school to learn a useful trade.         



When my daughter was born, BIL and now ex-SIL had determined that they would visit us within the hour of our return home from the hospital, whether we were ready for them or not.  New baby, exhausted mom, tired dad; and BIL and ex-SIL traipse into our apartment with their 5-year-old, 4-year-old, and 3-month-old. They stay for several hours until "Oh, look, it's time to feed our kids.  You can just order pizza for us."        

So we ordered pizza to feed them, picked up every baby toy we had after the 5-year-old and 4-year-old spread them from one end of the apartment to the other, unclogged the toilet from a toy that the 4-year-old put down it, and in general are exhausted from entertaining them for so long after 21 hours of labor.  This is just one of many instances when BIL and ex-SIL thought of only themselves and how they could get a free meal (or free ride in general) from us and others in the family.  It hasn't gotten any better over the years.



My cousin "A" recently had a new baby.  Just prior to having the baby, "A", her DH and their other two children moved into a small town house.    

Fast forward a few weeks.  "A" has planned a baptism with a reception for family to follow at her house.  Our grandma calls her up and asks if she can bring an apple crisp (classic, and well-loved dessert in our family, though our recipe only serves 6-8).  "A" replies, "No thanks, I'm going to make a cake." So Grandma replies, "That's fine," and the phone conversation ends about there.  Twenty minutes later, "A" calls Grandma back, asking if she would bring an apple crisp after all.  Grandma gladly agrees.   

The baptism.  Well, 17 family members came to the church and stayed for the service.  Afterwards, they all met at "A's" house.  They have lived there roughly one month at this point and there are still boxes everywhere.  There are also dirty dishes in the sink.  "A" baby-sits from her home, and her DH delivers pizza at night, so I doubt it was lack of time that lead to this situation.  Now, I'm not exactly Martha Stewart when it comes to keeping a tidy house, but if I'm having 17 people over, the dishes get done and the boxes are unpacked, or at least hidden.   Well, as for the cake "A" claimed she was going to bake?  It never materialized.  The only dessert at the reception for 17, was a delicious apple crisp which serves 6-8.  Needless to say, my Grandma felt embarrassed. Knowing my Grandma, I understand why she was embarrassed, though it certainly wasn't her fault. I did not hear if any other sorts of foods materialized.  I can only pray they did. 



My sister was having a special birthday, and we asked her what she would like. "A steak dinner at home, that I don't have to fix, with mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, salad, wine, and a big cake sounds just about perfect," she said.  Both my husband and I worked, but at relatively low paying jobs, so getting this together was going to be expensive, but hey, she was my sister and we wanted her to have a good dinner, if that's what she wanted. My husband loves to cook, and his job was more flexible than mine, so he agreed to leave work early, buy the food, then come to pick up our son at the sitter's and me before heading up to my sister's house, where we would join her, her family, and our mother.

Trying to be responsible, my poor husband calls to tell me that he's had a slight delay, and might be as much as half an hour late picking us up. I call to let my sister know that we are running a little late, but it shouldn't be more than half an hour. My husband arrives, only fifteen minutes late, and we race off to pick up our son and head up to my sister's house. The reason he was a little late was that he had had the bright idea to prep a lot of the food at our house, where he was familiar with the kitchen (my sister is not the kind of cook my husband is), so that he would only have to throw the marinated steaks on the grill and finish the potatoes, corn, and salad for dinner to be ready.

I tried to call my sister's house before we left (which would have been about 20 minutes before we had originally been planning to arrive), but there's no answer -- maybe they were all outside on the patio, so I left a message on the machine to let her know that we were only going to be about ten minutes late after all.

When we got up to their house (they lived way up in the foothills in the high mortgage area), no one was home. We found a note on the door saying, "We couldn't wait any longer, so just meet us down the hill at the _____ restaurant." Mind you, they left BEFORE we were even supposed to arrive in the first place!

We went down to the restaurant and found them seated at a table for four -- no seats for us, no table nearby reserved for us. So, we turned around, got the cake out of the car, took it back into the restaurant and handed it to my sister, saying "happy birthday -- here's your cake," then left.  We went home and enjoyed the dinner he had made ourselves -- without the cake.

My sister's explanation later was that simply, we had told her that we were going to be late, so she had every right to go somewhere else. It didn't seem to matter at all that we had bought her wine, a very fancy birthday cake, and of course steaks for everyone, or that John had literally spent most of the afternoon working lovingly getting it all ready for her. My mother claimed that she tried to talk her out of going to the restaurant, but that my sister was absolutely adamant about it.

I love my sister and she has matured enormously since those days, thanks to a series of dreadful tragedies in her life, but that episode has always stood out in my memory as one of the more astonishingly rude things that she has ever done.



Page Last Updated September 18, 2008