Get Out of Debt Guy

I'm So Stressed and Hate My Daughter-In-Law

Posted March 14, 2013

WRAL Reader Question

Dear Steve,

My son, daughter-in-law, and 3 year old granddaughter are currently homeless. My son and granddaughter are welcome to stay with me and my husband, but our daughter-in-law is not, at this time. As you can imagine, there is a tremendous amount of backstory to this situation. I will try my best to summarize:

My son was a drug addict for a number of years, and finnaly was able to become sober, when he was age 23, in September 2008.

About 8 months after he became sober, while attending AA meetings, he met our future darughter-in-law. She was also in recovery from being an alcoholic.

Their relationship became complicated early on, as she became pregnant within just a few months of meeting my son. They decided to get married for the sake of the child, and did so a few short weeks of my granddaughter being born, in April 2010.

At the time my son met my daughter-in-law, he was trying to put his life back together, and had resumed working towards a college degree.

After his marriage, he still tried to attend college, while he worked at a minimum-wage job full-time. But, within a year after my granddaughter was born, he had to quit taking classes.

My daughter-in-law worked at a retail job until she was fired, about 5 months before my granddaughter was born. About 4 months after my granddaughter was born, our daughter-in-law decided to try to go back to being a full-time aesthetician, which she had been before her problems began escalating with alcohol.

My husband and I had obtained a small amount of money, arond $15,000, that we would have used to pay off bills of our own-but, our daughter-in-law asked for our help in starting up her own skin-care business.

And, our daughter-in-law was able to start up a little aesthetcian booth, at a salon. And,, things went smoothly for a short amount of time. But, then my son began to experience job trouble (he left the minimum wage job, for a low-paying office job-but, was fired from the low-paying office job because he had to miss time to take care of his sick daughter, etc.

And, my daughter-in-law's aesthecian business experienced a downturn. So, they began not being able to pay their bills, and began asking us for monetary assistance.

After, a very short time, we could no longer afford to shell out money to them to help. So, we offered them the opportunity to live with us, free of charge. They were hesitant, but did move in with us eventually.

They lived with us from Dec. 2010, until Sept. 2011. My daughter-in-law began to resent having to live with the in-laws, and began arguing with me and my husband.

And, the 4 dogs she insisted on moving in with us, because she could not emotionally part with them (I am serious, my husband and I so wanted to get along with her, and help my son, that we allowed them to move in with us, with 4 dogs!) began to tear up our yard, and ruin our hardwood floors with urine stains.

After complaining to them about the dogs, for quite awhile, we gave them an ultimatium. And, the dogs kept causing problems, and finally, there was a massive, ugly confrontation, between my husband, me, and our daughter-in-law. We told our daughter-in-law the dogs had to go, and she refused. So, we told her she would have to move out.

My son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter managed to find a home to rent, and moved out at the end of Sept. 2011. Again, things went okay for them, for a short period of time.

In the spring of 2012, my daughter-in-law's business began going south. And, my son was working another low-paying office job. So, bills began piling up.

My son decided to join the Air Force Reserves, in order to bring in an additional source of income. And, then my daughter-in-law started suffering severe mental problems, and eventually had to be hospitalized for suicidal tendencies

My son continued on with my plan for the military Reserve, and went into Basic Training in June 2012. By that time, my daughter-in-law was back on solid footing mental health-wise.

Unbeknownst to us, while my son was away at Basic, and then Advanced Training, my daughter-in-law's aesthetician business withered away to nothing, and she was not making any money.

She decided to close up shop in Novemenber of 2012, and by the end of December 2012, she had totally closed down the business.

My son decided he liked the military, and made a decision to become a Full-Time Airman. However, he was not able to begin the process of becoming Full-Time status until he completed his training, in January of 2013.

My son began talking to the Air Force about Full-Time status at the beginning of February 2013, and quickly found out there was a road-block in his way, namely, his EXTREMELY BAD Credit Rating!

Apparently, the military finds you a Security Risk when you owe alot of money to creditors. And, so my son's desire/dream of joning the military Full-Time is currently at a stand-still, unless they can find a way to work around his credit issues.

So, at this time: my daughter-in-law is not working-and is trying to find a full-time job. My son is working on joining the Military Full-Time, and attending mandatory Reserve Unit training (Mon.- Fri. 8am to 5pm, a 3 week period, that will end this week of 3/11/13). After the ma ndatory Reserve Unit training is done, he can return to his former low-paying office job. And, they were evicted from their rental house on March 10th.

The immediate problem is where they can live with their 3 year old daughter. Again, my husband and I are ok with my son and grand-daughter living with us. And, our dauther-in-law could also stay with us, but she would have to apologize, sincerely, to us, and repair all burnt bridges. So, we do not think that will be likely.

Is there anything you can suggest? What can be done about this complicated, awful situation? I should mention my daughter-in-law has no relatives that can help her (her parents are long deceased, and she has burnt bridges with her only sibling, and other members of her family).

The one positive, and it is a big one, is that both my son, and daughter-in-law remain commited to being Sober, which is a huge accomplishment on their parts. And, that is why I want them to succeed....Sigh......please help!


Stressed and Worried Mother


Dear Stressed and Worried Mother,


Thank you for the tremendous amount of information and sending me your question here on WRAL. 

The debt hurdle seems like a relatively easy one to deal with. I would advise your son to go back and talk to the recruiter about filing bankruptcy to clear out the old debts which pose a security risk. In fact it is the amount of debt which makes him a risk to being manipulated and bribed.

The Air Force says, "The status of your security clearance can be affected, but it is not automatic. The outcome depends on the circumstances that led up to the bankruptcy and a number of other factors, such as your job performance and relationship with your chain of command. The security section will weigh whether the bankruptcy was caused primarily by an unexpected event, such as medical bills following a serious accident, or by financial irresponsibility. The security section may also consider the recommendations and comments of your chain of command and co-workers. This is an issue that can be argued both ways, so as a practical matter your security clearance probably should not be a significant factor in making your decision about whether to file bankruptcy. The amount of your unpaid debts, by itself, may jeopardize your clearance, even if you don’t file bankruptcy. In that sense, not filing for bankruptcy may make you more of a security risk due to the size of your outstanding debts. By the same token, using a government-approved means of dealing with your debts may actually be viewed as an indication of financial responsibility. Eliminating your debts through bankruptcy may make you less of a security risk."

From my research and experience, if your son talks to the Air Force about his intentions and gets them onboard with his addressing his financial situation, that should do the trick. If he needs more information on this he can refer to this post.

Regarding the issue with where your daughter-in-law lives, while that is certainly not a debt related issue, I can share with you some advice from the heart about that.

In my life I've had to deal with similar issues in one way or another. As a parent it is often hard being the bigger person and sometimes feeling as if you are not appreciated.

But the reality is that unless you find a way to repair your relationship with the daughter-in-law, who appears to be making an effort to remain sober, you will only chase away your son and hurt your granddaughter.

I would suggest that you find a way to sit down, calmly, with your son and her and have an open, frank, and loving conversation about how you all can move forward with your lives. End that conversation with a big group hug.

There is no reason for you to do anything you don't want to do. But there is also no reason for you to carry forward anger and resentment from the past. 

Do not go into that conversation with any expectations or mandate that she apologize. Instead, give her a second chance with clear ground rules going in and work hard to maintain open communications. At that point the ball is in her court on how she handles things.

With your son going into the Air Force it will be hard enough on everyone that working together is the far better solution here.

Please keep us all posted on what happens by updating us in the comments below.

I'm sure the wonderful WRAL readers will also offer their help and advice in the comments for you as well.

Steve Rhode

WRAL Get Out of Debt Guy

If you have a question you'd like to ask, feel free to post it here.

1 Comment

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  • itsmebaby Mar 14, 2013

    Oh wow, I feel for this family. I feel bad for the baby grandaughter too. It doesn't sound like she has had a stable home environment. I hope her grandparents take her and her family back in - with those ground rules mentioned above. The advice above sounds like good financial advice. Some other good financial advice is to not lend any more money to family. The daughter in law should have built a solid clientele by working for someone else before going out on her own and to do that, she has to remain persistent and dedicated to doing so.
    I know that money is tight for all, but it would be a good idea to see a family therapist at least for a few sessions to work on some action items - if anything, the lady who wrote this letter should benefit even if it is just talking things out with an outside/non-partial person! I hope everything works out!

About this Blog:

Steve Rhode has had careers in opthalmology, real estate and as the head of a nonprofit debt counseling firm. On his blog, he offers hard-won, free advice about getting out of debt, consolidation and making the right choices as you manage your money.