Forgiveness – Healing a Painful Family Rift

Ask the Author: Question & Response

We have a serious rift within our family that we are at a loss to know how to heal. My son and daughter-in-law have totally rebuffed us and it is painful. This is the third time and has gone on the longest (3 years). They have 2 children whom we are never allowed to see or even speak to on the phone. He is in the army and we have found out they now live in Germany. Whenever we send the children money at Christmas and birthdays, the checks are cashed and no letter or phone call of thank you are given.

It appears that our daughter-in-law cannot forgive us for not wanting them to get engaged (they were 15 and 17 years old) at the time, and later were not for them getting married at 17 and 19 years old, because we thought they were too young and he was away for long periods of time in the army. We wanted them to wait a couple of years before doing so. She cannot let those events go and is frankly unsociable with us. Our son tried to keep in contact, but has given up since the children were born.

We would like a relationship with them, but they do not answer our phone calls or letters. They neither send Christmas or birthday cards to any of our family members. He has completely cut himself off from us all.

Should we take the hint and let them go or is there another approach we can adopt?  This is the most painful experience so far in our lives.

Thank you for hearing us out. Kind regards,

– A. and D., England


Please understand that the answer below is in no way meant to judge you. I will simply be inviting you to awaken to another way of thinking.

Simply open your mind to the following: Regardless of how educated, intelligent and wise you think you may be, whatever tools you have been taught and learned to use, whatever actions and reactions you believe are the right ones – all of them have failed you. If you continue to do and support tools, ideas, actions and reactions that have failed you in the past, then I promise you that you will invite and attract failure in the future. And when it comes to dealing with your family, your son and grandchildren, failure is not, nor must ever be, an acceptable answer.

I will thus be bringing to the forefront ideas, concepts and suggestions that may not be pleasant for your ego to read or digest. Yet, if and when this happens, remember that it is because of the ego’s advice that you find yourself in the situation you are in today. So I will be inviting you to do the opposite of what has not worked for you.

1. Stop playing the victim. They don’t answer letters. They don’t answer phone calls. They don’t send Christmas or birthday cards. They don’t call to say thank you. Come on, rise above their immature actions. We are talking about your son, a military man in a time of war, there is no more time to waste here!

Take responsibility for your actions. You are supposed to be the authority figures here. You have the most life experience. If a child and parent get into a heated argument, who should be more able to deal with the situation in an adult and mature manner? You need to stop playing the victim and start playing the lead. You must stand up and be the hero of this journey. It is now well past time that you take a good look in the mirror and say: “Enough is enough. I will not continue to support what is not working for me!”

When you play the victim, you give your power away. You place yourself in a spot where you convince yourself that others are making you feel a certain way, and that others are responsible for how you feel and behave. It is not their actions that make you feel a certain way; it is your reaction to their actions. You have the final say as to what you choose to experience, support and carry with you. Stand up, take your power back.

2. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. This is the third time? If you would have taken this seriously the first time around, then there wouldn’t have been a second time and neither would there have been a third time. Take responsibility for your destiny. For your destiny is simply a result of what you do now.

Take what is being said in this reply very seriously. Take time to discuss with your spouse each and every point. Take notes on everything that is and isn’t working for you. Take notes on what happened before, your past behavior, actions and reactions, figure out what truly worked and what didn’t. If a response, action or reaction brought more peace of mind and joy to your life and the lives of others – then it was working. If your response, action or reaction brought more anxiety, stress, conflict and feelings of regret – then it did not work for you.

People don’t take enough time to truly figure out what responses, actions and reactions are and aren’t working for them in their lives. Gift yourself the time; for if you do, you will also be gifting your grandchildren with more balanced, loving, supportive and caring grandparents. You will create a stronger base for them. You will model this behavior, and your grandchildren’s behavior will become extensions of yours.

3. Would you rather be right or happy? How has trying to be right worked for you? How is it working for you now? Is being right worth not seeing your son or grandchildren? Have you not sacrificed enough to the control gods in your mind? Has not the time away from your son and grandchildren been enough of a sacrifice for you to get that the way you’re behaving, acting and reacting is inadequate, insufficient and unproductive?

Allow your son and daughter-in-law the freedom to fall. Allow them the freedom to make mistakes. Allow them the freedom to raise their kids in the way they see fit. Allow them the freedom to be who they are. Allow them these freedoms, and you will find your relationship with them freeing. You will be freed from the need to control, freed from the need to be right, and you will be freed from judgment, pain and resentment.

4. The less insane person in any argument takes control of it by being quiet. Is a disagreement worth the price of not seeing your son or grandchildren? How has arguing and telling them what to do worked for you? If your son or daughter-in-law want to argue with you – don’t. Simply be quiet. What argument has ever been resolved by anger? Is any argument worth the price of your grandchildren’s hugs? Is getting your point across no matter what, worth the price of seeing your grandchildren’s smiles as you spoil them with gift after gift?

Stop judging their behavior. How far has judging their behavior taken you? How much longer will you kneel down and worship at the alter of judgment? Is judging their behavior worth so much to you that you would sacrifice your connection to your grandchildren on this alter?

5. Either work to resolve the situation, or don’t; but stop making half-hearted efforts. Save the money you’re using on phone calls, cards and checks you’re sending and use that money for detectives and plane tickets. Step one, if you can’t find out where they live, then get a detective. Step two, once you find out where they live, fly over there and respectfully knock on their door. Step three, ask them for 5 minutes of their time. Even if your daughter in-law answers the door, tell her you’re there to apologize and ask her for 5 minutes of her time.

6. Ask for forgiveness for all the times you disagreed and/or argued with them. List on a piece of paper all those events and ask for forgiveness for all of them. Pride is not useful here, unless you’d rather have pride over your grandchildren. Do not ask them to do the same. If they don’t believe that they need to offer forgiveness then that’s fine. The whole point is that you are coming there for forgiveness. You are the adults. You have the life experience. You are the ones who are supposed to be mature. Apologize for all the times you hurt them and their feelings. Tell them how much you love them and their grandchildren. Tell them how much it would mean to you to get another chance to be in their lives.

7. Stop making them the bad guys. You’re accomplishing nothing by this. How much have you accomplished by making your daughter-in-law the bad one here? How much love and acceptance from your son have you received by blaming her for the situation. Your son is defending his wife, and he has every right to do so. If you want your son and grandchildren back in your life then you need to be civil, respectful, supportive and kind to your daughter-in-law, and then your son will  return these actions back to you.

8. Work on developing conflict resolution skills. You have gone through this three times and most probably many more. You need to look in the mirror, understand and accept that your skills are lacking. Peaceful conflict resolution is a skill just like any other, the more you study and focus on it – the better you become at it. Read books, go to seminars, and find better, kinder and gentler ways of communicating.
Work on loving and respecting yourself more. As you do, you will find that your love and respect for others also increases. Work on judging yourself less, and as you do you will find yourself judging others less. Work on strengthening your self-esteem, and you will find other people’s actions affecting you less. Work on bringing peace of mind and joy to others, and you will increase the time you spend in a peaceful and joyful state.

9. Work on rebuilding their trust. Stop telling them what to do with their lives. Stop telling them what to do with their children’s lives. If your son and daughter-in-law believe their children should be raised a certain way and you disagree, keep those thoughts to yourself. Support your son and daughter-in-law, and all their decisions, regardless of whether you agree with them or not. In the future, once the trust is rebuilt, they may well come to you for advice. If and when that happens, you are then free to offer your advice, but do not become attached to them following your advice.

10. Bring prayer, meditation and God into this issue and relationship. Do not be afraid to ask God for assistance. Each and every time you start to feel negative toward your son or daughter-in-law, stop yourself; for where has this behavior taken you before? Instead, close your eyes. Invite God to join you, and visualize Him holding all of you in His loving arms. Feel and see His love surround you in a white light. Feel His arms around all of you. Know this – what you feel about your brother and sister will first have to flow through you. You, like it or not, take the brunt of all your thoughts and feelings toward others. Thus look with love, forgiveness and understanding toward your brother and sister. If at first you have a hard time doing so, then invite God to do so for you. Invite Him to take your hand while he is doing so. Then ask Him to help you feel and see your brother and sister as He does.

Be the hero of your journey. Take the first steps and know that you shall not do so alone.

I will pray for you and your family.


This Q&A Includes The Following Topics:
  • Forgiving relative.
  • Healing painful family rift.
  • General forgiveness strategies.


This question and response can be found in the book - There is Another Way: Overcoming Real World Challenges. If you enjoyed this Q&A, you'll really enjoy the book which is filled with inspiration and effective strategies for overcoming life's challenges. The book is due to come out in 2025. Click here to sign up for our newsletter so that you can be notified when it is ready. Thanks.

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Comments (31)

You must have telepathy! What a perfect comment! You could not have said it better! Youre right on! Ive been saying thiz exact philosophy for a while now as I am experiencing exactly what you have described…God bless us all.

Thank you Debra for being open to the message and for being a member of our community. All glory to God. Peace. JBC

Hi James:
I put my 3 boys through a nasty long term separation/divorce and the toll on them was terrible. I lost one son who became disrespectful and violent toward myself and his brothers and forced me to throw him out of my home at 17 – but at heart (as shown many years later) is now a good man. They say a mother’s love never ends – and in my case this is true. I want so much for him to be a part of our lives but can’t seem to find a way to bridge the difficulties – the deep hurt and moving beyond the past. He holds me responsible for whatever negative things his father experiences which seems to continue. He resents that I haven’t been there for him when things went awry due to choices that he made – instead allowing him to suffer the consequences of those choices. I feel that when I do help him (he is now 23) – and that has been a handful of times – that he feels that it’s owed to him without the return of basic respect. I in turn have difficulty letting go of his past behavior and sense that he only wants whatever he can get from me that will ease his transition to secure independancy without investing in our relationship. He is now a relatively independent, albeit young adult and I yearn to build an adult relationship with him. Please help me find a way.

Tami, no matter how we have been programmed to react to our past, only the love was ever true. God is Love and All, and so every moment of our experience, has come into our life to help us grow, heal and awaken. God is Love and All, choose today to overlook and forgive all else that you ever thought was more real than God’s Love for you, everyone and all. Why not at least try to think as God thinks, why not try to see as God sees, why not try to be as God Is, Love.

When it comes to your son, on paper write down absolutely everything that you are sorry for, absolutely everything that you think you could have done better, everything that you think you might have failed at, everywhere where you could have set a better, more loving example, absolutely anything that you have any guilt or shame for, absolutely everything that you think he blames you for. Number them all on a list, each individually, each real life example separate, every time you think you failed him, or where he thinks you failed him, write them all, each and every one of them down on paper. Write down every single time that you can recall that you think you where wrong or that he thinks you were wrong. Then ask him to meet you in a quiet location, free from any distraction, turn your cel phones off and read him your list. After every numbered point, stop, and with your whole heart, mind and soul ask for his forgiveness, and ask for God’s forgiveness. Then share how you will try to do better and be more loving if that type of situation comes up again.

Whatever pain, hurt, guilt, shame, anger, resentment, pain and anguish you have, ask God to take it from you, ask God to forgive you, ask your son to forgive you, and then forgive yourself. Truly forgive yourself, and remember that we are all One, and thus if you are to truly forgive yourself, that means forgiving all others, forgiving what you think anyone has ever done to you. God can not take away from you what you do not allow Him to remove, and you allow Him to remove all your pain by forgiving yourself, everyone and all.

Try this, but before you meet with your son, ask God, your guardian angels, guides, arc angels to join you, to speak through you, to be with you and with your son, to give you strength, openness and courage during the meeting.

If you can share with me your experience please do so. Peace. JBC

Ive been reading many of these stories and James you don’t seem to see a connection between how the younger couples and especially the way these daughter inlaws and younger women act today and Sons who in my view don’t know how to be real men and grow a backbone
And instead cower down to every little word their wives say
They don’t know their rightful roles in familys and are usually not allowed to even take it if they wanted to. To be the leader in the family. And say to their wives. What you’ve done is wrong and disrespectful
. We would never be reading these stories after stories like this in the 1920s 30s or 40s
But why so rampant now? Its the culture and society and however it got to be like this
And it seems the answer you seem to say to all parents dilemma s or problems is to make a list of everything anyone ever did or spoke wrongly to the person and ask for their forgiveness
Without the other person taking any responsibility for what they did or apologizing back
Your saying it will come in time or maybe never. Thats not a healthy happy relationship.and in those situations yes we do need to change the way we react inside. Im not too sure about that tho constantly apologizing for everything when there is trouble. I like your philosophy about forgiveness because God calls us all to that but also especially for elders and these sassy little daughter inlaws today and weak Sons people are not expected to be doormats either. This generation is so far gone and so self absorbed in themselves and will never admit they are wrong.
I cant tell you the times Ive aplogized to said daughter inlaws and Sons to keep the peace and never do they say they did wrong and the relationship s dont seem to flourish any more from before. I think it’s this generation and how they are being raised and whats taught in colleges and what they see and read on social media and bridal magazines and its all trying to tear apart families. There’s a sense of the demonic in the air. Maybe you want to kill them with kindness kind of attitude and let everyone do whatever they want to us and then we apologize over and over( seems what your advocating and thats how we will find our peace). Well this is certainly a way of living a life of humility and that will bring peace not puffing ourselves up too much but never the less to spend your life apologizing to everyone every time theirs issues I think thats gonna get old eventually and its just teaching the young people that they could continue to act that way because your just going to apologize sooner or later. It would be nice to see statistics on how many people did this and now have this great longstanding great relationship with whomever they were in conflict with. I appreciate your bringing God back into the world and praying for people and ourselves and not being afraid to talk about God but I don’t see this generation especially of these young wives and women and the way our Sons act once married changing anytime soon. Parents of another era wouldn’t dream of speaking to their inlaws like they do today. It would be unthinkable. There was civility and manners and graciousness. All that is gone today and it shows. I dont have any answers. Except before marriage couples should be required to watch old reruns of the old tv shows Father knows best or the Donna reed show or leave it to beaver. Respect for other people rang out in all these shows. What role models do the young have today of what a healthy marriage even looks like. Its pretty sad. I like your optimism and belief and obviously great love of God that shows thru. Remember Our Lord also said be gentle as doves but sly as serpents. Maybe a combination of sorts. Because The Bible also says turn the other cheek and give your coat and forgive 70 x 7. Meaning never stop forgiving. I just see many older people including myself caught up with many problems with family and the young that has to do with these couples bad behaviors and at some point its not helping them by letting them all treat us poorly and disrespectful and us allowing it so we can have a relationship with our Grandchildren or Adult children and to do that one has to repeatedly apologize. And you say we need to get over ourselves! These youths need to learn responsibility and Respect and the world doesn’t always revolve around them. You don’t seem to mention this anywhere.? Gods blessing s to you. Ave Maria


I agree with you Marie. I have this situation but my SILbis the disrespectful one. Thanks for your view!!

I too have s family situation that is unbearable emotionally. My son and Dil live 3 thousand miles away from us and we recently went through a family rift while they had s overnight layover- it ended with complete hurt and goodbyes with rivers of tears. I have known that my Dil hated us for the past 4 years- so I have done everything a mil would do to try and be the best mother- in- law I tried to kill her with live and kindness. However we now know she will never be comfortable around us and she will never change- as she spoke those words to my husband. So I sent my son a email that stated I thought she had been mulipulating words and fabricating stories because she is trying to turn him against his family. I told him I would back off and let ho
Go only because my live for him supercedes zany type of manipulation on his wife’s part. That it isn’t what we ever wanted or hoped for- but I wanted them to be happy and I felt that him being put in the middle was not far and someone had to live him enough to see him happy. Of course I received a very defensive text back from him. I expected for him to side with his wife- as I feel is right of him. I realized that me sending the email was fully out of hurt and anger. In which I admitted to both of them and asked for forgiveness- I only want to have a normal relationship with my son and dil; I just do t think it will ever be- if there is ever a relationship at all. I just don’t know how to move on from the pain I feel. We have always been a very close family and we have done nothing but try to love and accept our daughter in law as our own daughter. When she said those words to my husband I realized that she would always hate us and this was our fate whether we wanted it to be or not. It hurt so bad and I lashed out which I now fully regret- I just don’t know how to pick up the pieces in this whole mess

What do I do when my mother-in-law refuses to be in my presence? It has been 6 months since the grandparents have visited with our children. I am the mother of their ONLY grandchildren. My husband does not see the problems – either by choice or because he grew up in such disfunction. We have recently been to therapy as a couple to help with this specific situation, because I will only allow my children to visit them if I am present. My husband has never come to the kids rescue or mine, so I feel he doesn’t have my back and won’t be able to protect our children. Right now, due to trauma that occurred 6 months ago – a very serious accident which I (not physically injured) was airlifted with 3 of my children and another child (all in serious condition) – we are very vulnerable. We are all in various therapies to help us recover and move forward in life – physically, emotionally and spiritually. It took four sessions with a psychologist for my husband to finally acknowledge the abuses suffered by my in-laws. My in-laws have a past history of not respecting healthy boundaries, being disrespectful and ignoring our preferences as parents. I have had previous emotional breakdowns due to my husband not supporting me in various situations with his parents. I admit to not confronting this problem 20+ years ago when it started. I should have stood my ground and made my thoughts and feelings known, but they would have twisted it around and played the victim. This should have been dealt with a long time ago, but I felt that my hands were tied – my husband didn’t acknowledge my feelings and how hurtful they were to me. My husband is non-confrontational, but this has pushed our marriage to the brink. I have extended the offer for visit either in my home or at their place, with the condition that I am present. The professionals that we are working with think I am going beyond what they would expect. Since this was refused I have stipulated that the adults must meet and resolve their “adult issues” before contact is re-iniated with the children.

Dear James

My situation is almost the same one as A. & D. except our son and daughter in law live in the same town as us and on January 2014, our daughter in law told us to stay away from their house and her kids, our grand children. For years they blackmailed us using our grand children. If we would give them what they ask like money and favors when they wanted, there was no issues for us to see our grand children, but if we would say no to their demands, when we would ask if we could take the children they would always have an excuse. Finally around May 2013, when we decided to put a stop to their demands we could hardly see the children until finally on January 2014 when our daughter in law told us to stsy away. We tried to resolve the relationship on several occassions but it would always end up with mostly our son asking for money again and us saying no, to be cut off from the children again. This happened three times in a row until finally we went to see a lawyer for our grand parents rights and we got some access with our grand children. Our son and his wife are now raising their children, our grand children by telling them that it’s all mamie and papie’s fault and mamie’s a bitch. We don’t know how to fix this as our son and his wife are so full of hate and grudges that even when i went to see my son to try to resolve the situation he doesn’t want to do anything with us. We can’t force them to talk to us. What is your input in this situation?

R. & L.

It has been interesting reading your posts. My daughter-in-law and I do not see eye to eye. When I am in her kitchen, I never do anything right, even though I am trying to help her. I bought her a set of glasses because I thought she could use them, and she blew up and said, you must think I am pathetic. …I still have no idea what she meant. This, among other little things have drawn me away from her and my son and grand kids….I just don’t want to upset her when I am around, and since we are 2000 miles away, it is easy to just not talk to the family. I do miss my son, but know he has to listen to his wife. When does the hurt stop? I am not mad at her, I just don’t see why I should make everyone else uncomfortable, so I stay away and don’t communicate.

Thank you for this post . I’m in a similar situation with my daughter in law, won’t go into to much detail but I just want to know how long do you keep trying when you are told not to contact her and she hates you ?

Thank you Louise for being a part of this community. Every time within your mind it gives you more peace to try than not to try – you try. Check out today’s January 25th ‘Daily Inspiration,’ it may be of some assistance. Also tomorrow’s January 26th ‘Daily Inspiration’ may also be useful. Each and every time she crosses you mind, bless her, pray for her peace of mind, health, joy, clarity and awakening, do so and, because we are all One, you too shall be blessed. Peace. JBC

Thank you for giving me another choice to consider when reacting to behavior I find offensive. To be humble and to not take up the righteous indignation is a gift and a blessing. I would rather be right than married, and it ended in divorce. Unconditional love is so very difficult with someone I frankly don’t love (daughter-in-law) but must learn to love or at least like if I am to have any chance at all with keeping the real loving relationship I had with my son. I will lose the chance to love my grandchild if I cannot get through the gate of acceptance with my son’s wife. And I heap fire and burning coals on the head of my son when arguing with him about how wronged I feel. It just doesn’t solve anything and it doesn’t help. It only deepens the wound and enlarges the scars.

So I will pray to allow God’s infinite love and acceptance into my heart and into my core. I will be tested over and over and it will be hard to feel the hurt and disappointment and let it go. But that is what I must do with all my heart and soul from now till I lay myself down to Rest In Peace. I need prayers.

Thanks Shirley! We really appreciate your comment.

Thank you so much, i am blessed to have read this whole post, i have been having a terrible time with my 18yr old son and his pregnant 17yr old girlfriend. i have just written a heartfelt apology for my part in our rift, and i pray i get a positive response, even a response at all will be positive. I will now be handling my situation very differently, his girlfriend is obviously (like you say) crying out, so i will be there, all my negative feelings towards her will from now on go with the wind.
I pray for us all, in healing our rifts.

Mr. Cisneros- I’m going to use the advice you gave to “James” and try to find out where my 28 year old daughter lives. She has not spoken to any of us for almost 4 years now. I am heartbroken.. seeing a counsellor…AND I pray. I have tried calling her, texting her and emailing her…but nothing. I just hope when I go to her door..she opens it.
Please keep me in your prayers…

The fight I recently saw was with my mom and mom-mom. They fought and didn’t talk to each other. Now my mom-mom is moving away and I’m utterly depressed.

This article is really helpful. I’m 15 and I am stressed out beyond belief.

I am glad that I found your site when I was trying to get some insight on a problem we see developing for our grandson.

Our daughter-in-law has become a problem because of her neglect of her son who is now just over one year. My husband and I have watched our grandson for the past 8 months after she returned to work. We will arrive in the morning to watch the grandson and our DIL has left him unattended in another room. Our grandson is walking and of course quite curious and has plenty of scrapes, bruises which she explains away. We are asked to report all activities, food, diapers, etc., she is very controlling of what he can experience, eat, and so on. After two days in a row where he needed an extra bottle in the am (because he had awakened two hours earlier than his schedule and was very fussy). We were berated by my DIL and “told my son and her were the parents and we needed to abide by her schedule”. We replied that we are with him almost 10 hours a day and that some flexibility needs to be in his schedule (especially since they had just gotten back from a 2 week vacation) and that this is a temporary adjustment until he gets over the time change. As a result of our questioning her, she enrolled him in a daycare center fulltime. Told us (and this is the only time we made a suggestion about her son’s care), we were to never give her any advice again because we were judgng her.

After one month in daycare, our grandson has had a continual cold, ringworm and extreme diaper rash which is now a yeast infection. My son and his wife, only found out about the ringworm and that his diaper rash was a yeast infection because the baby had a well baby visit scheduled. They did not take him to the doctor for his three week cold.

We are trying so hard to be there for our grandson and we are so concerned there are so many other incidences that show a lack of compassion on her part in her actions toward her son. Our son somehow can overlook or is not allowed to make a decision contrary to her. She has been diagnosed with post postpartum depression and is on medication but has not continued with her counseling.

I want to ask you to pray for my grandson because we do not know how we can keep him safe.

Wow…Thank you, James! ‘when the pupil is ready..the teacher shall appear’. I’ve been having a very difficult time with my DIL, her mother & her stepmother and her sisters and my son for a very long time. I have read, researched, gone for outside help. (done the Course Miricles) and orhers. I thoroughly embrace your ideas, attitudes & beliefs. I’ve been trying this approach for about two years, it works for awhile then something happens and I revert to my old thoughts. I am blessed to have a great deal of time with my grandchildren & I focus on being a good role model and mind my behavior. I acknowledge the part I played, I’ve apologized. I’ve detached from her side of the family. I attended her Baby Shower the other day…not one of them acknowledged me. It hurts, I don’t understand, I know I shouldn’t try to understand…it just is. Tonight I found out on FB that it was my 5 year old G/sons Pre-School Graduation today and I wasn’t invited…it instantly triggered ALL the bad feelings /hurt I have. I’m not on FB because I got upset with some of the comments they would make about my son, I couldn’t block them cuz that would cause problems/drama so I closed my account. I don’t have a problem with closing my FB account. Over the years I’ve thought that I should move far away, remove myself from the dysfunction becuz I can’t change them and I’m not strong enough to deal with them. My grandchildren are my world, they love me to pieces and nothing can change that. I haven’t told my son that the reason I want to move is to distance myself from all these (crazy making) dynamics….(women). My son thinks my life should revolve around my grandchildren and it was my belief too… until repeated ‘events’ brought me to my knees. It got so bad, I thought I was going crazy, that is when I started to work on changing me and my ideas, attitudes and beliefs. To give love. I do love them all, I don’t like some of their behaviors. I try to ‘hate the sin, not the sinner’, to understand. I do this for some time and then something like this happens and I revert to my mean, judgemental ways! So…what I conclude from my behavior is that I haven’t been able to genuinely forgive and let go and let God. I sometimes think that it would be better for my grandkids if I did move away then they wouldn’t have to witness any of the dysfuntion. I know that the ‘gals’ talkj about me cuz of comments my grandson says to me. I don’t react anymore by asking my DIL whay she would do /say these things. If my GS asks a question, I answer him but it devastates me that he has to hear these things said about me and my son. In the great big scheme of’s not really a big deal/ issue that I wasn’t at my G/S’s little graduation?? I won’t be contacting them to say what I was going to only becuz .. something told me to calm down…go to GOOGLE and see if I can get some help and somehow your words crossed my screen..’a devine intervention’…a reprieve. My grandchildren are my life but I do believe that I’ll be moving is what it is. Thank you. jude

This post really resonated with me, as the original letter was so very close to the situation with my parents-in-law and husband. The details are somewhat different, though. In our case, this is also the third time we’ve gotten into a rift with my mother-in-law, and the last time was over something so silly.

I said some things on a social networking site to her in response to something she posted regarding Christmas. I had not gone to their dinner because of work and I was exhausted, so I stayed home while my husband and son went. She wrote: “All who were important were there.” and “Those who want to be a part of the family should act like it.” I responded with my own feelings and tried to point out that we have gone to many family events. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I was hurt and reacted poorly.

And after a lengthy, cutting reply, she removed it and blocked me. I didn’t say anything further to her, but she come into my home a few days later and lashed out at first my husband, and then myself. When I tried to walk away from the argument (I was angry and wanted to cool off), she followed me and said some really mean things. I ended up crying and realized it was futile to try to fight with her, and stayed quiet as she continued berating me before she left. All the while, both of our husbands were standing there watching us. And the kicker was that she said, “this is how families resolve issues.” My family fought growing up, and I never felt as if this kind of conflict resolution fostered love and healing. She did apologize for the online thing, and I replied with one of my own, and then they left.

In the last four months, I have tried to communicate with her about four times, all via email and mail (I sent a package of photos, two polite emails, and a mother’s day card the kids and I made… she has not responded). I am not angry, but I am afraid that she will hurt me again, so as far as having a relationship with her, I’m not sure sure we can rebuild. Three times she has lashed out at me over something I said. Twice, I have apologized and made ammends. Now, I feel foolish for trusting her again.

My husband has a different view of this situation. He wishes we could all move past this, but is also angry at his mother for some of the things she said and did. In his words, “she came here to lash out and didn’t want to be reasoned with.” I have not stood in his way or in the way of my children insofar as communicating with her. I have not encouraged any of them to cease contact (quite the opposite, in fact). It still hurts for me, but I am trying so hard to move past it. I don’t want to be angry, or hurt, or unforgiving. My husband called her on Mother’s Day and she said to him, “I didn’t think we’d ever hear from you again.”

I wasn’t sure what to do, so I was googling some things on family rifts and came upon your conversation with A, and it really hit some nerves with me (good ones). I can relate, and I am glad I saw this. I will take your advice to heart and do my best to change things.

This response and comments about someone else’s family rift really hit home with me in relation to a problem I am experiencing with my sister. I am so grateful for having read and it and will surely make use of the perspective it has give me. Many thanks.

James Blanchard Cisneros

There is a place within us all where summer’s light illuminates every thought, where the cool breezes of autumn envelope every hope, where the serenity of winter silences all of our sorrows, and where the hope of spring allows us to begin anew. This is God’s gift to all of us. This is God’s gift and promise to those in pain and to those who carry burdens, to those who lay in judgment and to those who have anchored themselves to anger.

There is never a moment where God is not. There is never a moment where God looks the other way when his children silently choose to suffer. Every moment is God’s gift to you. Every moment allows you to begin anew. In this time of Christmas, when over 2000 years ago a messenger of hope was born, find that which lies dormant within you and awaken it to what you honestly and truly desire for your family.

Each and every time a thought of judgment comes to you in regards to your sister (mother-in-law), do as follows:

1 – Stop yourself, for where has that thought system ever taken you? It has only weighed you down with worry, surrounded you in sadness, held you prisoner to pain, and ravaged you with regret.

2 – Instead, each and every time these thoughts pop up, give them over to the only One who truly knows what to do with them. For the thoughts that so burden you, that so weigh you down, are but a tiny match that will dissolve in His ocean of love, in His ocean of light and understanding.

3 – Replace the thoughts that you have given over to God with a prayer for your sister’s health and well being, for her joy and happiness. Yes, do this each and every time and feel what you ask for her – flowing through you.

4 – Then offer gratitude to God for allowing His expressions to once again flow through that desert of anger and judgment you once called home. Now those same exact moments, thanks to His light are seen with compassion, forgiveness, love and understanding.

5 – Yes, I understand this may at first be uncomfortable and perceived as difficult to do, but isn’t what you are doing now, how you are thinking and reacting now, not 10 times the burden? Is the weight you now carry not becoming unbearable? Would you not at least consider another way? A way that offers peace instead of pain, that offers joy instead of judgment, and hope instead of hopelessness.

6 – Do this each and every time. Do not judge yourself if you once again find yourself in judgment of your sister – but do catch yourself doing this as quickly as you can. Try and catch your negative thought patterns quicker every time, stop them, offer them to God. He will carry them for you. He will dissolve them in His light, and then pray for your sister. The more you do this, the less time you will spend in judgment and pain.

7 – Continue to pray for your sister, to pray for every individual involved in this confusion. Pray for everyone’s health and happiness, for everyone’s joy and peace of mind. Do this especially for those who are not doing this for themselves.

8 – Continue to bring God into your every thought. Any time you succumb to sorrow invite Him in, and once again completely join with Him. When in that state of confusion, when anger and judgment try to pollute your mind, stop, and invite Him to decide for you. Invite Him to speak for you. Invite Him to see your sister through His eyes. Invite Him to hold your sister with His arms.

9 – Grow with God, and as you do you will provide shelter to all those confused by the storm. Become an example to all who hear you, to all who see your actions, to all who are within reach. Become an example that hope is born again in you. That trust has been born again in you. That gratitude, compassion, forgiveness and unconditional love flow once again through you. Quench the thirst of all those that cross your path.

10 – You have my promise, for I have been called to witness, that if you do what has been asked of you there will come a day when you will look into your sister’s eyes and once again see yourself reflected in them. And when this day comes, that same being you once judged, you will embrace with such overwhelming gratitude and love that angels with literally begin to sing in Heaven in honor of this glory!

I promise you that your family will be in my prayers, and when our bodies sleep I promise that all our souls will join together in a cathedral of endless light. We will all stand in a perfect circle and hold hands, and begin to pray and sing, choirs of angels will surround us, join us, tears of joy will flow, and all will be forgiven. And when we return, we will do so with our heads held high in knowledge that now we will be able to light the way for those many others who will one day cross this same path, for this path will now be forever lit in forgiveness, gratitude, understanding and love.

It seems my family break up has so many similarities. I have taken the first step and written to my son and his wife asking the to accept my unreserved sincere apology. Inhavecdone my best to outline the things that went wrong then added what I should have done. I have felt a victim, I have not seen or heard from my granddaughter in nearly 12 months. My son has barred me from his Facebook and has made spiteful and hurtful comments.

If they answer my letter, which has been addressed to him and his wife, I will do exactly ad they say, life is painful without my granddaughter. The birthday parcel which contains the letter, should arrive with them tomorrow. I expect another barrage of bad comments or to just be totally ignored. The rejection is very hard to deal with.

I have been the one who has held onto a hurtful conversation and now I have refused to forgive my mother-in-law.

Refusing to forgive your mother in law will sadly visit you someday through your own children, your husband will harbor resentment against you and divorce your bitter heart. If you have any real love and respect for your husband, learn conflict resolution skills to prevent an unnecessary divorce journey letting go of your control and petty jealousy.

I feel like I was reading about my story without the grandkids yet, which I could only say how much worse for that couple. our story started after my future daughter in law freaked out after our oldest son go engaged the same time they were engaged. She was vicious and wrote horrible things on my space about our other son and thenthe night before we threw them an engagement party, she told my other daughter in law why she shouldn’t marry my son. My husband screamed at her and I quietly told her that some things are better left unsaid. Well after that night she drifted further and further away from us. She never returned my calls and then there harsh words expressed to her from my neice because she was asked to be in the wedding party and then told she wasn’t. Then my entire family was asked not to come to the wedding. Even his brothers were booted out of the bridal party. After 3 mths, I cracked the week of the wedding after I found out no one was comeing and I left her a message (because she never picked up the phone when I called). I told her she broke my heart, she broke my family’s heart and chances are she is going to break my son’s heart. I called her a couple of days before the wedding crying begging her to just call everyone and tell them to come and that I loved her and that this was just a big mess. I was devasted about her behaviour, my neice’s behaviour, my son not sticking up for us behaviour. My husband and I went to the wedding and she didn’t even look at us or talk to us. It was an out of body experience. She even changed the song that my son and I were supposed to dance to. Well six months later and I have called her, I’ve sent her numerous emails telling her that it was all so studpid and how I miss them and that I want them in our lives. I got a couple of very very nasty emails back about how she hates us all for what we did, but she doesn’t seem to realize that she is the one who started the whole cancer that it is. My husband & I have done everything except get on a plane because we simply do not have the cash to do that. I have sent email after email to my daughter in law and son begging to be in their lives. I am praying everyday like you said. My daughter in law has broken our hearts but quite frankly we feel the same was this couple does, that we can’t believe our son has allowed this to happen. Before this all started my daughter in law were so close. We are hurt beyond words and maybe we are feeling like the victims, because we are. We don’t know what else to do. We miss our son so much. I miss my daughter in law too. My husband hates her for what she has done. He said he will never talk to her again unless she apologizes for making our lives hell this year. We even went to her partents before the wedding asking them to help us with this and they said that their daughter has to handle things the ways she sees fit. I would never have allowed my son to disrespect people the way she disrespected all of us….NEVER!!!

Hello again James,

After two replies from you tonight I feel as though I have been in a boxing ring with a world heavyweight champion and I was outclassed!

You certainly do not hold your punches do you? In my heart though, I know you are right. Nobody has ever talked to me like that before, so I have never thought about my problem in that way.

So, I shall endeavour to find out where they live during the next few days and take it from there. However I communicate with them, I will apologise for my part in this situation and require nothing of them in return.

I will offer to visit them to see our grandchildren (and them) and ask if they will organise my wife and I accommodation locally to them (she hardly speaks to us when we stay at her home and it does not help to make for a pleasant atmosphere).

Thank you for the kick in my asse; I needed it.

I have a new outlook on this situation and will do things differently. That appears to be your main message, but everything you said was important. Your parents and others taught you well.

Kind regards

James Blanchard Cisneros (Author)

Please forgive me again in advance if I’m too forward and direct, but I’m also from a military family, my grandfather served in WWII as a colonel in the USM and my father in Vietnam, and 3 years apart is just unacceptable to me. Once again, I say you need to become the hero of this relationship! O

1 – Ok, let’s cut out all the BS. What is the goal here? The goal is to re-unite with your son and grandchildren, and to develop a relationship with them.

2 – You are basically trying to argue with children, I mean think back to when you were in your teens and 20s. Come on, how wise were you really? At that age most of them think they’re “all knowing.” Now you want to waste you’re time arguing against all knowing people? I’m telling you once again that strategy won’t work! Answer me this, has that strategy worked for you…off course not! And if it hasn’t worked for you why do you keep defending it?

3 – You were correct on one thing. I don’t want to hear about the details. Why? This is exactly why: “what do you suggest when, as happened last time, she encouraged the children to call me by my first name? This probably sounds childish on my part…” If you’re caught up in this type of garbage, I mean there is no way I can help you. I mean, look in the mirror. Where is your self-esteem that you would allow something as small as this come between you and your grandchildren?

Slowly re-build the relationship with your daughter-in-law, support her, give her love and space, little by little this will re-build trust. Only then you can ask her if she would mind letting the children call you grandfather. I more than understand that your daughter-in-law is probably not very mature or wise. Trust me, she would not be in this situation if she were wise. But she is where she is, and that’s what we have to deal with. Her own family background is most likely quite dysfunctional, but again it is what it is.

Listen, I understand you may be at a certain age where it may be difficult to change your ways. What I am telling you once again is, that whatever you think you know now – has not worked for you! What I’m telling you is that you need a different skill set to deal with this issue, a skill set that at the moment you don’t have.

4 – You apologize because you are supposed to be the adults here. Allow them to apologize when they are ready to, in their own time. You apologize because you are setting the example. You apologize because this physiologically releases all the crap you are now carrying within you. I don’t even know you, but I bet my life you are carrying around a heavy burden. If you could see, it would be like a big black garbage bag you have on your shoulder. It weighs you to the ground. It makes you feel tired, sad, depressed, regretful, etc., but you still choose to carry it everywhere you go. You even carry it with you to bed! All because of your refusal to forgive, all because of your refusal to trust God with the plan He has for all of us. You have decided that your plan, the way you believe things should be is a lot more reasonable then God’s plan. You have been following the same dead end map over and over again. It gets you nowhere you truly desire, then the next morning you decide to follow it again. This is your plan and in this relationship it has gotten you nowhere you want to be.

5 – Thus work on yourself. Find a family therapist, talk to experts on the subject. Read books about dealing with difficult, immature people. Build your self esteem up so that when a child calls you a fatty you don’t get all mad and bothered. Ask God to lead you to good books, a therapist, and experts who can help you. If you find something that’s helpful to you share it with your son and daughter-in-law. The more at peace and joyous they become the more peaceful and joyous your life will be. Don’t argue with or attack your daughter-in-law. Help her become more loving, more joyful, more peaceful.

6 – In one of my favorite books “A Course In Miracles,” it says that humans only have two expressions: Love, and a call for Love. When you say “do we just take what is dished out by her,” in such a case what the course would say is that this child is actually calling for love. So here you have God’s lost child calling for love and your reply is one of aggravation? Out of 6 billion people, God has chosen you to lead this lost child home, and your only reply to God is ‘she aggravates me.’ Ask yourself, where am I in my heart that this is the response I offer God’s lost child ?

7 – I’m not an expert, I don’t claim to be one. God has brought us together, and thus I’m respecting my gift by offering it to you. You can do what you will with it. I did my part, I gave you what God gave me for you. Its now is your turn to decide how you want to spend the rest of your life.

Hello James,

Well, you certainly have given me another perspective! I did not realise that my wife and I were playing such victims. I will admit that we (I) have not always been wise in our dealings with my son and daughter-in-law.

It is a difficult concept for me to grasp that – only we apologise for many things that have been done to us in the past that were hard to take. I know that you will not want to know details, but there have been many incidents.

If I do what you suggest and we can start a form of relationship, what do you suggest when, as happened last time, she encouraged the children to call me by my first name? This probably sounds childish on my part, but it was done out of disrespectfulness and I would look to her, my daughter-in-law, to try and make an effort too. She appears to not care about having a relationship with us at all.

Do, we just give in and get on with our lives? Or, do we just take what is dished out by her? Our son appears unable to stand up to her which I admit is a source of aggravation to us. I cannot understand how he has given up on everyone on his side of the family.

I realise that you cannot get into dialogue with me and I appreciate your response so far very much, thank you. But, I would ask you to give me advice on dealing with the above if we can restart a relationship.

Kind regards

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