Home Community Culture Why I am not talking to my Mother-in-law

Why I am not talking to my Mother-in-law

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A Kenyan mother showers her baby with love.

Dear Aunt Dora,

My husband and I have two beautiful twins, a girl and boy aged 5.

I am a black beautiful 6-ft tall Kenyan woman. My husband is a short 4-ft-7-inch handsome man of Caucasian descent.

We both went to the same college here in the US and dated for 4 years before our wedding, a year later.

My mother-in-law is a widow with 4 adult children. She did not attend our wedding and has never been to our house although we live only half a mile from each other.

Her excuse? She could not find the right dress for the wedding!

An African Market Day. Photo credits Tujipange Africa Media

We have been married for five years. We both work as Sales Managers in different mobile phone factories.

We are in an interracial happy marriage.

I have noticed over time that my mother-in-law treats my children differently from her other 7 grandchildren, who are of Caucasian descent. I have waited patiently with time hoping that she will change but it has only gotten worse.

She invites her other grandchildren for sleepovers but has never invited my children.

Even when we go to her place up in the mountains for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, she does not talk to my children. She has never touched any of them or even held any in her arms, let alone carry them.

She has never posted my children on Facebook but posts pictures of her other grandchildren everyday.

Last Christmas, 2019, i was very disappointed when the other grandchildren opened their Christmas gifts from their grandma and my children had none. My children on the other hand had beautiful gifts for their grandma which she accepted while wearing gloves in her hands. My children cried all day.

We discussed this and other preceding discrimination acts towards my children with my husband and we agreed to cut off links with her mum, at least for now. My mother-in-law has threatened to cut him off her will.

Now my mother-in-law is holding her 72nd Birthday party. Believe it or not she has invited my husband and the rest of her children and grandchildren but she has left me and my grandchildren out.

My husband is torn between our family and her. He has firmly refused to attend. She still keeps calling him all the time to confirm if he will attend the party and our phone just won’t stop ringing!

I think she wants to break up our marriage. I do not plan to ever talk to her again.

Please advice.

Frustrated Bella, Oregon.

Dear Bella.

Thanks for opening your soul up to Aunt Dora. We appreciate this gesture as a privilege and not a right.

Racism is a sensitive topic worldwide and I am glad that you are able to have the conversation and face the matter head on. Your mother in-law is racist.

She may be suffering from color-phobia. This is the uncountable Fear, Hate or Dislike of people of color.

It sounds like you love your husband. You have your husband on your side and that is already a big advantage.

You feel hurt, sad, betrayed and helpless and that is okay.

Interracial marriage is a form of marriage outside a specific social group (exogamy) involving spouses who belong to different races or racialized ethnicities according to Wikipeda

American Flag. Interracial Marriages were banned in America until 1967

In the past, such marriages were outlawed in the United States, Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa as miscegenation. It became legal throughout the United States in 1967, following the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren in the case Loving v. Virginia, which ruled that race-based restrictions on marriages, such as the anti-miscegenation law in the state of Virginia, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.[1][2]

Your mother-in-law seems to have been raised at a time when interracial marriages were outlawed and has not outgrown her prejudices and beliefs.

Without indulging in the complexity of the situation, your mother-in-law is totally wrong What she is doing, which is discrimination against her grandchildren is illegal in the US. Do you have pictures or video recordings of some of her actions/ It is always important to keep a documentation trail to use later in court.

Domestic abuse is not just physical but is often expressed subtly through verbal and body language. You or your children do not deserve to be disrespected and humiliated.

You have made a remarkable step by separating the children from their grandmother as being around her is not a safe space for them.

You cannot cure your Mother-in-law’s racism but you can do something to change your own situation.

Families are known to be the greatest abusers and many people put up with it to save face. You should be able to cut off links with your mother-in-law for the sake of your children. It is okay.

You can sue your mother-in-law for discrimination against her grandchildren. Talk to a family lawyer. This is really up to you and your husband.

Kenyan Flag. Some Kenyans in interracial marriages end up with cultural shock when it dawns on them that the man’s family has racial biases towards them and their mixed children. It is important to have this conversation with both families.

Find a surrogate grandmother in your other circles such as church, Kenyan women groups, anti racial caucus groups such as “Roots of Justice” or in your Teacher/Parent Association. If your children have a genuine godmother, she can definitely stand in the gap.

Educate your children on their own history as well as their father’s history so that they grow up understanding where racial tensions arise from, and encourage them to develop their own strong sense of identity. It not easy being a child of two different worlds which can lead to identity issues and lack of a sense of belonging. Shower your children with love and interact with other interracial families. Many are warm and welcoming.

People are cut off from the will by their parents everyday so this is not a big deal. Besides, you can always contest a will. Support your husband through this – family separation can be painful!

A big issue like this will no doubt carry some psychological discomfort and distress as you and your family stand together on your decisions. At the very least, make sure you, your husband and children seek counseling so that you can both express your emotions freely and in a safe space.

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