There are reasonable asks that you can make of your relatives, like if they live nearby and you need a helping hand or a babysitter from time to time, but then there is entitlement, pure and simple. In this Washington Post ‘Dear Carolyn’ advice column letter, a woman questioned why her daughter-in-law couldn’t help out with OP’s own mother, who needs constant care.
“My mother is 78 and requires 24/7 care. I am working full-time. My son and daughter-in-law live about two hours away with their two kids. My son is a doctor and my daughter-in-law quit working when she was pregnant with their oldest,” she wrote.
“Since she quit, I’ve been asking every few months whether she can come by once or twice a week to watch my mother. They always say no. When I was there last month, I sat them down and asked why my daughter-in-law is so unwilling to help with my mother when she isn’t working. I feel I am owed an explanation.”
“They did not give me one but offered a substantial check for a home health aide,” she continued.
“My mother was adamant that we do not hire strangers or put her in a home; my son knows this, so I don’t understand the money. I also know his education was expensive, their house is new, and she doesn’t work. Where is this money coming from? I don’t feel like this is all adding up. What do I do now?”
Carolyn Hax offered some sound advice to the mother who thought she could claim her daughter-in-law’s time.
“Stop thinking your daughter-in-law’s time — anyone’s time — is yours to schedule! Or their money is yours to parse!” Carolyn replied. “Stop pressuring her and them. You are not ‘owed an explanation.’ Plus, she has already chosen to dedicate herself to caregiving. She has a full-time job rearing children.”
“Not that it would change the answer if she didn’t, because it’s still her time, their money and none of your business. You can make your mom’s problems your problems, if you want, but you can’t make them anyone else’s.”
The advice columnist went on, “You see it as a matter of values, I take, that family steps up? If so: Your values aren’t transferrable to others, nor do you get to decide how others apply them. All of which is to say: The baseline problem here is your mother’s obstinacy. That’s it. (Your entitlement problem came later.) She is the one who both needs the care and refuses the care available. That is on her.”
She very nicely gave the MIL a sound set of options moving forward, from convincing her mother that “caregivers who are ‘strangers’ won’t be strangers anymore once she gets to know them,” to giving her an ultimatum of all or nothing, to taking some time off and consult with a geriatric-care specialist who could guide her through “this difficult but exceedingly common transition.”
Commenters weren’t surprised by the entitled woman’s view of her daughter-in-law.