How Do I Address the Racism in My Husband's Family?
Dear Annie: I am in an interracial relationship and am a stepparent to a 7-year-old daughter. When COVID-19 came, my mother-in-law was without a job and in between places. We have only two bedrooms, one for us and one for my stepdaughter.
My mother-in-law had no place to go, so we offered her our couch. My husband, who was taking care of her financially, asked if it was OK for her to stay for a couple of weeks. Of course, that was no issue at all.
A couple of weeks turned into months. She constantly berated both of our parenting and undermined us all the time. Things came to a head, and my husband could not handle her being here with us. It turned into a very heated argument that led to the police forcing her to leave.
During the argument, I was scratched in the face. While she was removing things from the home, she called me every racist name in the book and left me feeling like I was no good. I have done nothing but help this woman. I even tried to help her find a job.
My husband has had no contact with her since. My concern is that there is a 7-year-old grandchild involved. My mother-in-law has not apologized to me, nor do I have any contact with her. I want to forgive her, but my heart will not let me. I don't want my stepdaughter to miss out on her grandma, but the things she said were so hurtful. Is there any way to move past this knowing what her true feelings are? -- Not So Black and White
Dear Not So Black and White: I commend you for putting your stepdaughter first after such an attack.
Often, people with such bigotries are not malicious but ignorant, uneducated and small-minded. This is not an excuse. It merely shows that there is hope for her to change.
I would discuss the subject in-depth with your husband and come up with some clear, firm boundaries to present to his mother -- the first being that hatred, racism and violence are not welcome in your home. You will do your stepdaughter no favors by exposing her to those views.
After your mother-in-law goes through therapy to address her violent, hateful outbursts -- assuming that she does -- you can discuss baby steps for bringing her back into your family's life.
Dear Annie: Your response to "My Heart Aches for Attention," who was upset at the lack of affection from their spouse, assumed that the writer was a wife with grievances about her husband. However, in the letter, there was no indication of the gender or role of either spouse, the writer or their significant other. I find it curious that you assumed that it was written in a female voice, when I believe such information was irrelevant and intentionally excluded. I wonder if you would have given different directives had you perceived the author as the husband or male? -- Wondering in Westminster
Dear Wondering: You are absolutely correct, and I apologize for this assumption. There are indeed many husbands out there who crave intimacy and affection from their wives.
My advice stands, however: If both spouses are not willing to put in the work, reconciliation is nearly impossible.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.