In-law advice - FamilyEducation
In-law advice
04/24/2009 at 11:57 AM


I am trying to get advice on a situation involving my husband's family. This past week my 19 year old sister-in-law (husband's sister)came to my husband and said that their parents (my in-laws) were invited to go on a house-boat with some friends this summer. This trip would cost around $600. So, my sis in law is asking her 3 brothers (who are married - some who have their own young children) and a great-aunt if they will give money towards this - so that the parents can go. The great-aunt is just about bankrupt and can't pay her bills and does not know how to say NO - she is giving $200 towards this. I would not have a problem giving towards this, except, what about when my husband & I want to go on a vaca. Who is going to do our fundraising??? I was taught that if you don't have the $$$$ you don't do it. I would've liked to go away for my anniversary in June, but I don't think we will be able to afford it. So, we will do something we CAN afford. My in-laws have not made good decisions with their money. They will probably never be able to retire. They do not plan for the future. They live only for the moment. They are 50 years old and have no savings at all!! They are neither one in good health either. My parents have NEVER asked me for a dime....and have ALWAYS lived within their budget. If anything....They are GIVERS not TAKERS. BTW, I don't expect my parents to GIVE to me......I take pride in doing for myself and planning for our future. My mother-in-law is somewhat of a con when it comes to getting people to buy for her. This seems so self-centered to me. My m-i-l will tell SAD tales to get sympathy - for example....."My work shoes are worn on the bottom, but I will have to wait until my next check." or "I don't have any clothes". She cries "Poor Me" all of the time. My husband told me the situation, in regards to this trip, and we have decided that we will give them the $$ that we would give them for his dad's b-day (in May) and Mother's Day. However, I have not gone into how I feel about this with him. I am struggling with this. Please understand, there have been times that I knew my in-laws were struggling and I've tried to help them out. I am not against helping people, but there are some luxuries that if you can't afford you don't do. I would much better be able to understand if this was a special anniversary trip or something of that kind. But, a trip that we just want to go on and can't afford ourselves?? I guess I should mention that my s-i-l still lives at home with her parents and I am sure that the fact that the s-i-l is trying to raise $$$ for this is not a huge secret.....I feel like they know exactly what is going on. I do not want this to become an "Expectation" from the in-laws all of the time. Anyone out there......please comment. Help me bring some perspective to this situation. Thanks!!!

Some people are givers and some are takers. If you do not feel it is within your budget to give them money for the trip, then don't. It sounds as if your in-laws have not yet grown up. This may be because there are so many people willing to enable them not to do so. You and your husband might just have to take a stand. As for your sister-in-law, it sounds like the apple has not fallen far from the tree.

I agree with your position that your in-laws are grown and should be responsible for their own vacations. After all, as you stated, no one is paying for your vacation. However, it sounds to me like you have already discussed this with your husband and you have decided together to give the money you would have given for b-day and mother's day. If you are against this, you should talk with your husband about your feelings. If you both still decide that you want to make this a b-day/mother's day gift, then make sure you are clear about that. Put 1/2 the money in a birthday card and 1/2 the money in a mother's day card. When mother's day/b-day comes, buy a card and sign it saying "I hope you had/have a great time on the houseboat"...

The hard part for me would be the increase in my own pride. If you could find a way to be grateful that you were able to help, to be genuinely happy that they get to go, and to not be resentful about what you gave up so that they could have it, that would be awesome.

I agree w/ tamz on this one. You need to communicate your feelings and be true to yourself. Don't do this act out of obligation. Do it b/c you want to for the sake of your in-laws. I think giving them $ towards the trip that you planned on giving them for Mother's Day and a birthday gift is very fair. If your in-laws don't appreciate your gesture, or you find that they expect more from you, they're obviously not very appreciative people. If this turns out to be the case, I wldn't be so quick to give in to them the next time around.