Am I Obligated to "Mother-in-Law" Sit?


#1

I could sure use some help! I have been married - happily - for almost 41yrs. My husband’s siblings seem to think that I need to do “my fair share” of caring for their mother. Let me first say that she is 85, not in the best shape, but she does get around. Her husband is 87, still works in landscaping and will not stay home with her to help unless it’s winter. I have 2 sisters-in-law who want to “live their own lives”, with their social agenda. My brother-in-law works landscaping with his dad but does go over to help out often. My husband works all week and does go over on Saturdays to help with her lunch, visiting and whatever else she wants. But golf season has started and he usually will golf during the day and stop over in the afternoon. She gets around fine but wants someone there to help her “in case she falls”. I do what I can but am not in the best of health myself. I don’t have the physical nor emotional energy to make a commitment, but will help out when it’s necessary. The real problem is my one sister-in-law gets really angry when she can’t call the shots, especially at me because the guilt trip won’t work. They feel I should make a commitment so they can go to their luncheons, movies, etc., and carry on with their social agenda. They have no problem with laying on the guilt to me that I don’t do what they think I should be doing!

I have issues with the fact that their dad should have retired long ago and it’s his responsibility to be caring for his wife, along with the siblings. Why is this my responsibility and why should I be made to feel guilty because I say no? I have suggested paying a nursing service to come in several days a week - they can more than afford it - but my mother-in-law doesn’t want a “stranger” in the house! I told my sisters-in-law that we could have a luncheon to introduce this person to my mother-in-law so she could get to know her. They won’t hear of it because they say “you know mom, she doesn’t want that”!

I hope I’ve explained this ok - I’m just so upset because this happens every spring and it’s started again this year. Part of me just wants to keep saying no and the other part wonders if God is putting something in front of me and I’m refusing. I just can’t help but wonder why God would ask me to do this when all my in-laws are quite capable and just want to maintain their own social activities.

An objective view of this would be so very much appreciated. I can’t even look at it objectively anymore myself! Thank yo all so much.


#2

Would you want a daughter in law to give you a couple of hours a week when you are old and frail?


#3

I am my mother's primary caregiver and have been so for over 5 years. I only get relieved of my duty when I am in class, and 90% of that is from hiring caregivers. My brother, who is an LPN, does not like to help out with mom at all. And when he does, they're both miserable. His girlfriend doesn't like to have anything to do with mom or me (she's not into family values...apparently has been married and divorced twice, and I think she's just afraid to get involved in the family...whatever, I don't really care too much because like all his girlfriends, is transient. I just wanted to give you a picture of the help situation).

If I were married, I wouldn't require my in-laws to help out unless they wanted to, unless it was an emergency.

All that said, it would be nice if you would help out. But I'm not too sympathetic with your sisters-in-law...I do it myself with hired help only when I'm in school, and will be helping when I work. After a 12 hour job, I'll still have to come home and take care of mom. My brother isn't willing to do the same. After a 12 hour day after clinicals, I do it alone most of the time, unles I'm not feeling well and just make him to it, which believe me, is not that often at all. I don't have a social life, and if I want to go out, I have to hire someone to watch mom, or push my brother into helping. And now his job is scheduling him hours that are the same as my school schedule, so he can't help even if he is willing. Your mother in law has kids to help her. There are no grandkids either? Tell them to step up to the plate, you shouldn't be required to commit to a schedule. Though, you should help if there's an emergency or something. They have a lot of resources among them...


#4

I think that this would fall on OP’s husband more than herself, though, first and foremost.


#5

I'd suggest you meditate on the lives of Ruth and Naomi. Scripture gives us the example of how the mother/daughter in law relationship should be lived out.


#6

Certainly, however, the point is I cannot commit to this each and every week. That is why I suggested a professional to hire. I would never demand that my daughter in law do something for me. I do help out when I can and I do other things - taking her to dr. appts when needed, cooking, etc. I cetainly do have many strong family values - I took care of my father when my mother suddenly died. If one of my siblings couldn’t do something I would never have insisted that their “spouse” take care of dad. I guess I just don’t get this - why they can carry on their social lives and I’m made to feel guilty because I don’t have set “days” to be there.


#7

[quote="jonesy, post:1, topic:195160"]
An objective view of this would be so very much appreciated. I can't even look at it objectively anymore myself! Thank yo all so much.

[/quote]

Everyone in the family should be helping out - it should not fall to just one person to do all the work.

I can understand them not wanting strangers in the house - we had "help" come in for my Grandma, and a number of her valuable items disappeared. We were not able to prove anything, and under the circumstances it was just too much work to go after her - that's what these people count on.

And why should they not get to go out for social activities now and then? Why should it be expected that they should do all the work for their mother, when there are others available who can help out?

Sorry - I'm on their side. Do what you can to help out.


#8

[quote="kage_ar, post:5, topic:195160"]
I'd suggest you meditate on the lives of Ruth and Naomi. Scripture gives us the example of how the mother/daughter in law relationship should be lived out.

[/quote]

I'm not saying she shouldn't help out at all, but I don't believe scripture gives children any instruction not to help their parents just because they have a spouse, does it? I find it odd that they are asking her to keeping giving of herself, but I don't see where they are asking their sibling to do so either, which I find weird.


#9

[quote="kage_ar, post:5, topic:195160"]
I'd suggest you meditate on the lives of Ruth and Naomi. Scripture gives us the example of how the mother/daughter in law relationship should be lived out.

[/quote]

There it is. Charity, charity, charity.


#10

I can see points on both sides. There needs to be a balance so that people are pulling their share of the responsibilities. Just because the OP is the daugther-in-law, doesn't mean she shouldn't put in as much time as any of the actual biological children. But if she's being asked to put in more time because everyone else is too busy socially and they expect her to do it because her social calender isn't as full, then the other family members need to find some balance in their own schedules as well and put in more time with the mother-in-law.


#11

[quote="jonesy, post:6, topic:195160"]
Certainly, however, the point is I cannot commit to this each and every week. That is why I suggested a professional to hire. I would never demand that my daughter in law do something for me. I do help out when I can and I do other things - taking her to dr. appts when needed, cooking, etc. I cetainly do have many strong family values - I took care of my father when my mother suddenly died. If one of my siblings couldn't do something I would never have insisted that their "spouse" take care of dad. I guess I just don't get this - why they can carry on their social lives and I'm made to feel guilty because I don't have set "days" to be there.

[/quote]

You don't have to commit to this each and every week. That's completely unreasonable to ask of you. They should hire someone if the two daughters, and the son, can't among the THREE of them, work it out. I think it's great that you take her to doctor appointments, run other errands and cook for her. That's more than I get :rolleyes:

I'd love it if I had someone help me out with those things! I'm, God Willing, going to be graduating in 20 days. I'm in the mad-rush before graduation of getting projects done and just finished my clinical rotations. Let me tell you, it'd be very nice if someone would take mom to a doctor's apointment or run an errand. My mom's caregiver, before she left one day last week, realized how tired I was after a clinical and offered to go into town and get a prescription for mom. Of course, I paid her, but man was I grateful for the offer!! My brother wouldn't have done it.... :shrug:


#12

I don’t think I have a very clear picture of what is going on…

What exactly is expected of you? A couple hours each Tuesday? Or some kind of master rotating schedule where you compete with other family members for the best slots? How often do the biological family members show up and what other obligations do they have? (Besides what you’ve described for your husband and FIL?) What are your health issues that would keep you from helping out? How far away does everyone live? Does your MIL have a cell phone or medic alert device that she keeps with her at all times? How many days a week/month do you think is reasonable for you to help out?

I do think daughters-in-law have an obligation to help their inlaws when necessary (as do sons-in-law). But if the biological children are not wanting to do their fair share because they’d rather go to gym, the casino, or the movies every day then I can see your point. If they regularly spend time with their mother but like to take one day every week or two to do their own thing then that is reasonable.

What I do think is reasonable for you to do is to provide a list at the beginning of the month and say you are available on such and such days in case you are needed but that you are NOT available on these other days. And you are under no obligation to give a reason for why you would not be available.


#13

I think that’s reasonable too. There’s nothing wrong with setting boundaries. There are a lot of people to help out, so I’m not sure why they’re insisting the OP needs to do more than the things she mentioned, and why they want her to commit on a regular basis. I don’t get it. There’s the two daughters, the son and the husband. They have no other hired caregivers. Do all four of them need the day off at the same time?


#14

[quote="jonesy, post:1, topic:195160"]
I could sure use some help! I have been married - happily - for almost 41yrs. My husband's siblings seem to think that I need to do "my fair share" of caring for their mother. Let me first say that she is 85, not in the best shape, but she does get around. Her husband is 87, still works in landscaping and will not stay home with her to help unless it's winter. I have 2 sisters-in-law who want to "live their own lives", with their social agenda. My brother-in-law works landscaping with his dad but does go over to help out often. My husband works all week and does go over on Saturdays to help with her lunch, visiting and whatever else she wants. But golf season has started and he usually will golf during the day and stop over in the afternoon. She gets around fine but wants someone there to help her "in case she falls". I do what I can but am not in the best of health myself. I don't have the physical nor emotional energy to make a commitment, but will help out when it's necessary. The real problem is my one sister-in-law gets really angry when she can't call the shots, especially at me because the guilt trip won't work. They feel I should make a commitment so they can go to their luncheons, movies, etc., and carry on with their social agenda. They have no problem with laying on the guilt to me that I don't do what they think I should be doing!

I have issues with the fact that their dad should have retired long ago and it's his responsibility to be caring for his wife, along with the siblings. Why is this my responsibility and why should I be made to feel guilty because I say no? I have suggested paying a nursing service to come in several days a week - they can more than afford it - but my mother-in-law doesn't want a "stranger" in the house! I told my sisters-in-law that we could have a luncheon to introduce this person to my mother-in-law so she could get to know her. They won't hear of it because they say "you know mom, she doesn't want that"!

I hope I've explained this ok - I'm just so upset because this happens every spring and it's started again this year. Part of me just wants to keep saying no and the other part wonders if God is putting something in front of me and I'm refusing. I just can't help but wonder why God would ask me to do this when all my in-laws are quite capable and just want to maintain their own social activities.

An objective view of this would be so very much appreciated. I can't even look at it objectively anymore myself! Thank yo all so much.

[/quote]

Personally I think it's completely ridiculous that the daughters of this woman want to go to luncheons, movies and so on and try to guilt trip you into taking care of their mother.

She is their mother, not your mother. Taking care of her is their responsibility.

If I were you I would be more sympathetic if these were poor people who couldn't afford a nursing service, who had to work all day and couldn't check up on their mother. But since they're well off, capable of affording the service, and simply prefer having fun to visiting their mother I personally would have a hard time keeping myself from laughing at them. They are being ridiculous.

Next time they try to guilt trip you, guilt trip them right back and ask them why going to the movies is more important to them than making sure their own mother hasn't fallen.

You could also suggest she get one of those life alert buttons.

I think you should go there once or twice a month, but not more unless you want to. The obligation to care for her lies with her children and her husband, not with you.


#15
  • :) Hi Jonesy . . .

First . . . going by what you have described about the situation . . . you have every right to be upset and have valid concerns . . . your husband and his family . . . father-in-law and all . . . have evidently . . . (still going by your description of the specifics of this situation) . . . not come to grips with the new life passage your mother-in-law has entered into . . . and your husband and the rest of her family are not responsibly seeking a practical solution to a very specific reality and primary problem facing them . . . and the fact that this is not a temporary state . . . * but that due to her advanced age and infirmity . . . there is and will be in the days ahead a regular on-gong need of practical . . . routine . . . day to day . . . care needed to ensure their mother's . . . *your mother-in-law's . . . well being . . . which at this phase can be handled by hiring someone to help . . . we faced a somewat similar problem and found some wonderful agency help here . . . who were absolute God-sends . . . and the folks came to thoroughly enjoy their presence and their helpfulness . . . I bought a little bulletin board for writing upon and specifically listed the duties expected to be handled . . . keeping the list very much within a "reasonable" expectation range . . . thereby keeping all informed as to what to expect . . . both the help . . . and the folks . . .

Second . . . this is . . . absolutely . . . your husband's and his family's *responsibility . . . as a daughter-in-law . . . no matter how many years you've been married to their son . . . you are still one step removed from the heart of their original primary family . . . and they need to accept your generous offer of help as far as you feel you are able to contribute . . . *hopefully appreciatively . . . and just move on . . . factoring your offer in but continuing to seek the larger solution to the on-going care need of their frail elderly mother . . . and you need to state firmly and clearly what you feel you personally can do to help and stand by your decision . . . and make it clear that you **cannot personally be the solution re the on-going need to provide day-to-day care for their mother . . . the 5th Commandment is specifically and personally their's . . . and you know what your limits, strengths and weaknesses are . . . setting clear boundaries is fine and evidently very necessary considering the pressure you have shared they have put upon you . . . it should help them face up to their responsibilities . . . and in finding a permanent solution . . .

:bible1:
Honour
thy father and mother,
as the Lord thy God *hath commanded thee,
that thou mayst live a long time,
and it may be well with thee in the land,
which the Lord thy God will give thee.
*
*Deuteronomy 5:16
*

*Third * . . . The fact that your elderly mother-in-law doesn't want to accept the idea of an outsider coming to help in her home is a perfectly normal phase and stage when transitioning from being able to handle things on one's own into definitely needing help from others now and again . . . she evidently needs a lot of firm but gentle encouragement to face and accept this need . . . the family can contact an agency and the individuals can be interviewed to find someone qualified and suitable . . . we found some marvelous helpers here . . . *housekeeping aids and nursing aids *. . . and everyone enjoyed their coming and helpfulness once the period of adjustment in getting used to the new way of doing things passed . . . we rotated helpers . . . and there were a couple I contacted the agency about whom we preferred not to return . . . but all the rest were wonderful help . . .

Re your mother-in-law's concern about falling when no one is around . . . both our hospitals here in town have "Life-Line" programs where a little monitor is worn around the house and if an accidental fall should occur the client can just press the monitor button to summon immediate help . . . it costs around $1.00 a day . . . and promotes great peace of mind . . . not only for the elderly individual . . . but for concerned responsible family members . . . perhaps some type of this type of service is also available in your community . . . ? . . .

If the family members simply will not take responsibility in this situation . . . and you find yourself in the position where you have to take a leadership roll in the caregiving decision making . . . in all love :heart: . . . as God's child . . .you will probably need to revisit the situation . . . and personally come up with responsible solutions . . . if allowed . . . hopefully as a team member with your husband . . .

*May God bless you all as you work through this new life passage situation . . .

Peace . . . *
[RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+[/RIGHT]


#16

I don't mean to rude or offensive here, but I'm a little dissapointed you would even think otherwise.

Didn't this woman raise the man you've loved for 41 years?! If I was happily married that long, I'd lay down in traffic for my mother and father in law.


#17

I do understand your frustration. I also believe like Kage-ar, that daughter-in-laws should help their mothers-in-law as if she were their own mother. But, since your mil was also blessed with 2 daughters of her own, they should stop up to the plate also.

Is the idea to simply stop by and check on her, perhaps have lunch or is it to actually spend the entire day there? Those are two very different commitments. If she truly needs all day care, than hired help seems to be the best route. You all (children and in-laws) can still stop by every day to visit for a few hours.

If she just needs a daily checkup make a schedule. I think I counted 2 sisters and 2 brothers--your husband and the one who works with his dad. Simply create a schedule that has all of them (and their spouses) on it. You and your husband taking an appropraite share. So each couple gets a day every week and you all rotate through the other 3 days. That lays it out very clearly. If the son who works with dad is not married, you might consider splitting the week between just the daughters, Then each of you would have 2 days and grandpa could take care of his wife on the last day.

[quote="jonesy, post:6, topic:195160"]
Certainly, however, the point is I cannot commit to this each and every week. That is why I suggested a professional to hire. I would never demand that my daughter in law do something for me. I do help out when I can and I do other things - taking her to dr. appts when needed, cooking, etc. I cetainly do have many strong family values - I took care of my father when my mother suddenly died. If one of my siblings couldn't do something I would never have insisted that their "spouse" take care of dad. I guess I just don't get this - why they can carry on their social lives and I'm made to feel guilty because I don't have set "days" to be there.

[/quote]


#18

I feel as obligated to my in-laws as I do to my own family. That said, I would feel obligated to do my “fair share”, even if it is just to provide my sister-in-laws with the opportunity to have a bit of a social life themselves. Caring for an elderly parent can be difficult, and the opportunity to go out for a little bit of fun with friends can do wonders for the caregivers own mental health. Don’t begrudge your sister-in-laws some time off. I would feel obligated to help, but NOT take over the task since everyone is also obligated to do their fair share too.

It sounds like the duties basically involve just staying at the house since your mother-in-law feels safer with someone there. What do you do with your time when you are elder-sitting? Do you have any portable hobbies to bring along? I know someone that learned how to hand-applique and made beautiful quilts while sitting with her mother with alzheimers. Do you like jigsaw puzzles? Scrap booking? Have you always wanted to learn how to play the violin? Perhaps you and your mother-in-law could work on learning a foreign language together using CDs from the library. If you could find something enjoyable to do while you are at your mother-in-law’s house you might start to look forward to your time there instead of resenting it.


#19

I would do the same. However, we don’t know the type of relationship the OP has with her MIL. And I am still wondering…why are they expecting her to do more than her own husband who is the MIL’s own CHILD? LOL It makes no sense to me whatsoever.


#20

I think it would help us all out a lot if you explained a couple of things (if you don't mind):

  1. What are they asking you to do for your MIL exactly?

  2. What are they doing for her?

  3. What is her husband (FIL) doing for her?

  4. What is your husband doing for his mom?

  5. What does his siblings expect him to do?


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.