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Follow-up to the thread on catering to in-laws' Midwestern tastes (boy, did I open a can of worms!!!)

I am the OP who posted about my in-laws and their aversion to what they call "exotic" restaurants. Let me clarify a little bit of what is really going on here regarding my son and his birthday dinner. My parents recently celebrated a big anniversary and we weren't able to join them for dinner due to the horrible weather we've been having. So we decided to do a celebratory dinner this coming weekend that would encompass both their anniversary and my son's birthday. My mother-in-law happened to call us last weekend to see if we wanted to join them at Red Lobster for one of their other grandchildrens' birthdays. We had prior plans, so declined. Then MIL asked if we could do it this coming weekend and I mentioned that we already had planned to do a birthday/anniversary dinner with my parents. She asked if they could join us and I said of course. She had to add the "Nothing too exotic" reminder after that, so I said I would book a table at an upscale seafood restaurant that we all like.

Fast forward a day, and the seafood place could not accommodate us. I decided on a new Greek restaurant that is getting rave reviews. I checked the menu and there is something for everyone--fish, chicken, beef, rice, etc. I gave my MIL the news and this was her response. "I guess we can find something to eat there."

My husband told me that when he spoke to her a few days later, she again told him, " I hear we're going to a Greek restaurant. I hope there's something for great-Grandma to eat." He then reminded her that great-Grandma, who was a world traveler in her day, has been to Greece and that she and my FIL have also! She said she hadn't thought of that. Then he asked her if she checked out the restaurant menu online and she said no.

I need to add that whenever she and my FIL invite us out to dinner or over to their house, there is not much thought given to my teenage daughter, who has celiac disease. She has repeatedly asked me to bring food with me when we go there, as though she cannot be troubled to even grab a loaf of GF bread at the supermarket. I have asked her very nicely, more than once, to please just get GF versions of things for my daughter so that she is not made to feel singled out by us hauling her food around. It is very, very easy to find GF versions of things these days, and I have been very specific about brands so she knows what to get. It has made us feel bad that there has been such disregard for my daughter's needs, which is why it pisses me off royally (yes, here is my agenda) that we are expected to cater to their bland tastes during an event to which THEY INVITED THEMSELVES. OK, I'm done venting. I really am not trying to be a total bitch here, but my in-laws' self-centeredness has taken on greater dimensions with each passing year and it is harder and harder for me to cater to them. By the way, they are not old. They still travel plenty and stay active. It is not a matter of them being frail and unhealthy. Thanks, all, for giving me such thoughtful answers to this dilemma. I appreciate it, even though it's sometimes painful to have the finger pointed at me!

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  1. Thank you. It's really helpful to have more of the back story. I can see you are working with a difficult situation.

    1. Even makes me more certain in my answer: One celebration dinner. Location of your son's choosing. In-laws can come or not.

      1. So rather than a lack of graciousness on your son's part, it's a matter of sheet chutzpah from your in-laws. My sympathies.

        1. Thanks for the followup! They just sound like difficult people....selfish and passive aggressive to boot.

          1. So do I tell them how I feel?????

            13 Replies
            1. re: lauriejgs

              I wouldn't, personally, but that's just me. I'd suck it up and go to Red Lobster a few times per year and continue to enjoy more "exotic" restaurants (you know, places with food on sticks) *wink* with your family separately.

              1. re: lauriejgs

                They don't take into account their granddaughter's needs? Either they are the most heartless grandparents to ever walk the planet or there is some more to that part of the back story.

                That said, if they invited themselves to your celebration then they go where you go (or not) and it is your husband's job to set the record straight with his mother. You should probably stay out of it.

                1. re: gourmanda

                  They take into account her needs when it suits them. For instance, they organized a birthday dinner last year and they did it a restaurant they know has GF food and that they like also. But this year they made another party and it was at a place near them that had a party room. It had a buffet and no GF. When I asked my MIL if there was going to be something there for my daughter to eat, she said she didn't know but I could call and ask. It did not occur to her to ask. At times in the past, she has asked on my daughter's behalf, but I think she is just tired of my daughter having celiac and having to make accommodations so she's making less and less effort. She sees that my daughter is alive and well and can't seem to be bothered anymore.

                  1. re: lauriejgs

                    That is really sad to read. They want to be accommodated but cannot do the same for your daughter, who has a legitimate disease.

                    I read the last thread but didn't respond. At this point, I think it would be best for your husband to be the one to respond each and every time the "exotic food" issue comes up or the issue of your daughter's celiac comes up. He can simply say "This is where Little Johnny chose to have his birthday dinner. You're welcome to come along - the menu's online."

                2. re: lauriejgs

                  Do you really think they give a damn about how you feel?

                    1. re: lauriejgs

                      In that case, only tell them how you feel if it'd make you feel better. In my experience, however, it won't. In fact, it may make you feel worse.

                  1. re: lauriejgs

                    I wouldn't unless by telling them it'd make you feel better for doing so. They won't hear you, most likely.

                    I would just, with commitment, tell them your son has chosen a restaurant of his choice, what the selected time of arrival is and let them choose whether or not they're coming.
                    My guess is that they'll come. However, they'll make it very clear what their discomfort level is, most likely.
                    They love attention.

                    1. re: latindancer

                      My response would be "You didn't have to come."

                      I wonder why I don't get along with my in-laws and step-father.... ;)

                    2. re: lauriejgs

                      Right now, focus on your son and your parents' celebration - do not let the in-laws take your joy.

                      From what you have written I don't know that telling them how you feel will get through to them - I mean, that whole thing with dismissing your daughter's celiac disease? That's just wrong.

                      I just really feel for you.

                      1. re: lauriejgs

                        Yours is the sort of situation that makes me long for vindication, but it's not going to happen. If your in-laws can't objectively see how selfish they are, you won't make them see. Also, there's a lot of truth in the old saying that blood is thicker than water, I.e., don't count on support from your husband

                        1. re: lauriejgs

                          Imagine the fallout if you do. So, I say don't. It isn't worth it.

                          Try to let it go.

                          Let birthday boy choose the restaurant.

                          It sounds to me as if your MIL has a lot of anxiety about strange food. For some reason this is a problem for her.

                          At some point you might point out nicely that your daughter and she have similar problems. There is a lot of food neither can/will eat. Then ask again if she won't accommodate your daughter.