Where are the FB photos of me?

My daughter never posts pictures of me on her Facebook page, but her in-laws are all over it! How can I stop feeling eclipsed by her husband’s family?

It’s not a competition, says our elder. Here’s what you can do.

Dear EWC

Some people from church who are Facebook friends with my adult, married daughter told me all her Facebook photos are of her husband’s parents and other relatives. I don’t do Facebook, but I went in and snooped, and my heart broke. Even the cute pics I sent her of us with the grandkids are not on there. My heart is broken. Her in-laws have money and can afford to take them on fancy vacations and provide things we can’t afford to do. They are taking my daughter’s family to Disney over Christmas break. I feel jealous, but happy for the grandkids. I wish we could afford to take them. I fear they’ll soon prefer the other grandparents too. I don’t know if it’s just about money. But our daughter seems to prefer her inlaws. It’s very painful. Her MIL is always dressed to the nines and had a lot of plastic surgery, and I’m just a regular mom. She’s usually icy to me, but my daughter seems to think she’s wonderful. Would you say something to my daughter about Facebook? It pains me and it’s public. We had a better relationship before she got married. As time goes by her husband’s family eclipses us more and more. It hurts feeling like we don’t really matter to our daughter.

Nick replies

Two initial thoughts came to mind so I want to get them out of the way first.
The first one is that these church people are not friends. They are gossips or what we call ‘pot-stirrers’. There was absolutely nothing remotely spiritual about their pointing this out to you. For my money, I would steer clear of them. They hurt you by their gossip. In the future, if you have to have dealings with them and they say anything like this to you, simply respond, “I’m just glad my daughter and her family are doing so well. Life isn’t a competition,” and do not let them upset you or see that they are upsetting you.

The second thought is that as long as you allow yourself to be jealous or feel you are in some sort of ‘grandparent competition’, you have already lost. If you are measuring affection by bling and fancy vacations, you have lost. Comparing yourself to your daughter’s in-laws or allowing yourself to feel ‘less than’ them, serves no purpose other than to dent your self-esteem.

You see, they are who they are and you are who you are. You can’t change her in-laws or your daughter’s interaction with them. You can only control your reaction to all of it. Instead of feeling jealous that her in-laws can spring for a Disney Christmas vacation, cheer your daughter’s good fortune on by saying something like, “This sounds like a fun vacation. I’d like you all to come over on Sunday after you get back, for dinner so you can tell me all about it while the grandkids are still beaming and fresh with excitement.”

Instead of fretting over what her in-laws can afford to do, create different memories which only you can do. Knock on their door unexpectedly with a batch of home-made cookies. Offer to babysit if your daughter and son-in-law want a date night. If you live near a pumpkin patch or a hayride place, take the grandkids there. Buy some age-appropriate little storybooks and go over to read one with the grandchildren. Bring a pumpkin over and carve a face in it with them — even if all they can do is watch or scoop out the innards. You can get creative and it doesn’t have to be costly to do so.

As far as Facebook is concerned, you acknowledge that you are not a Facebook aficionado. Neither am I. I am on it sparingly and only to connect with about four friends who live overseas because it’s their cheapest way of communicating. But you could say to your daughter, “I am all thumbs when it comes to Facebook and don’t want to miss out on all the fun stuff you are posting especially about the grandkids. Could you come over and help me get better at it? I’d like to post some stuff myself on my page since it’s the way things are done now.” This way your daughter will see you are interested will feel you are asking for her input and may even begin posting some pictures you send or link to them when you post them on your own page.
If for some reason all your gestures are rebuffed, then there would be nothing wrong with having a heart-to-heart talk with your daughter to find out what the root of her coolness is. Once you know, if it’s something within your power to repair, you can set about doing so. If it’s nothing you can change, then you simply have to stay in touch with your grandkids, not see it as a competition with their other grandparents and turn a deaf ear to the wagging church ladies’ tongues. It can only pain you if you allow it to. Life is too short to let it.

Letter #: 448461
Category: Children

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