I will start this off by saying that I'm putting this out there as partly a hypothetical situation, b/c I know it's not my place to say anything to the person/people involved.
I have a cousin who I might see (at most) a couple of times a year. She's a nice person (and I mean that sincerely), but somewhat 'cluelessly blunt'. By that, I mean that she'll make comments that could be considered more forward than one would typically consider polite. For example, my mother passed away several years ago. I had been losing some weight for the months preceding this, and I had to buy a new dress for her funeral. It was awesome, if I do say so, and it was in my mother's favorite color, so I know she would have approved.
Anyway, cousin hadn't seen me lately and was of course exclaiming about my weight loss. But it was just a little *too much*. Like, instead of just saying that I looked good, she went on and on about it, like 'don't you feel better?', 'aren't you glad you lost the weight?', etc. (Cousin has always been very slender; just naturally built that way.) So instead of feeling good, it left me feeling somewhat....judged, if that makes sense, like 'geez, what did you think of me 30 lbs ago if you're going on and on about this now?' No one thing that she said was bad, but it was just too many comments, all at once. Too much gushing. KWIM?
But that was just an example. Anyway, I saw cousin this weekend. I asked about her new grandson; basically polite small talk. Then she confided that she's only seen him a handful of times and he's close to a year old. She said she doesn't know what's wrong; first her DIL started cutting her out of the wedding planning, and now she won't let her see the baby. Cousin called them and wanted to come over, and DIL said that it wasn't a good time b/c they were busy.
I made the appropriate sympathetic noises. I've never met her DIL, so she could be the nicest person or she could be a total you-know-what. However, knowing cousin and how involved she always was with her kids, I could totally see how she may have gone overboard with wanting to be involved in the wedding, and ended up alienating DIL. And because of Cousin's kind of blunt nature, I could also see where, if the DIL was on guard already from the wedding planning, it would totally backfire if Cousin got a little bit blunt about pregnancy matters with DIL, or started assuming too much about doing things with the baby. I remember when I was a new wife and mother, and was hypersensitive to my relationship
with my ILs and how they interacted with the baby, so I can relate to the DIL, especially if (for some unknown reason) she already has a strained relationship
with my cousin.
I know it's totally not my place to say anything to Cousin b/c we're just not close enough for a heart-to-heart like that to delve into their relationship
. But here's the crux of my post: it got me thinking about the situation, and what I would do if, Diety forbid, I'm someday in that situation, or if I'm close enough to a situation (like my own sister) where I'm asked for advice.
We see the concept of boundaries on this site all the time. So it appears to me that the DIL is just setting some boundaries. No biggie. But Cousin is still apparently in the dark. So obviously, something happened where DIL needed to set some boundaries, but Cousin has no knowledge that she did anything to offend the DIL or put her on guard. If you're in that situation, how do you make sure you stop before it gets to that point? In my cousin's shoes, how would I check myself to make sure that I'm being helpful, but not overbearing? That I'm excited about helping with a wedding and I want to be involved? Or that I want to see the grandchild as much as I can?
And if I'm close to someone who has this problem, and that someone is close enough to vent to me and might listen to me, what advice would you give them? If you see them becoming overbearing, can you warn them to back off for fear of damaging the budding relationship
? Or do you just MYOB and let the chips fall where they may?
Like I said, I would never presume to call up my cousin and offer her advice about this. But it got me thinking about the situation in general, and how to avoid having that happen either to me or if I was on the close periphery of the situation.