I’ve mostly focused my posts on the relationship between the mother-in law and daughter-in-law. But the on screen drama that has played out on both The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and on the Bravo TV special, “Kandi’s Wedding”, between Mama Joyce, Kandi, and her fiancé Todd, proves that the dysfunctional relationship, the inability to leave and cleave, and the Single Mother-in-Law Syndrome can definitely go both ways. The amount, and level of disrespect not only to Todd and his family, but also to Kandi and her childhood friend Carmen is truly heartbreaking and so difficult to watch. And even more cringe-worthy is watching Kandi’s consistent inability to hold her mom accountable on so many occasions. She epitomizes the concept of still relating to her mom as a child, despite her financial independence, and not understanding that she will never have a healthy relationship long term until she understands what it means to “Leave and Cleave.”
Among Mama Joyce’s many deplorable moments, one that stood out was when she referred to Todd’s mother and deceased father (who passed when Todd was three) as a pimp and a prostitute to Kandi; claiming that he “learned the game” from his parents. You see, Mama Joyce questions Todd’s motives, and is convinced that Todd and his mother are after Kandi’s/”her” money. Yet, the only reason I would actually question Todd’s intentions would be because he is knowingly committing to having Mama Joyce as an in-law. Instead of telling her mom that what she said is wrong and disrespectful to both Todd and his mom, and that she wouldn’t stand around to hear it, it seems Kandi’s way of coping is to laugh off her mother’s inappropriate and disrespectful actions. However, as I discuss in the blog titled, “Therefore Shall a Man Leave His Father and His Mother”, once you get married you are One. Meaning if someone is disrespecting your spouse they are in essence disrespecting you, which is something that Kandi doesn’t seem to grasp. There is no sense of oneness or accountability. Instead she has chosen to be in the middle. Kandi feels like so many husbands in that she can’t control what her mother does and says. But what she doesn’t realize is that she is the only one that can. If Kandi stopped making light of the situation each and every time her mom was “at her best” and actually held her accountable, Mama Joyce would start to realize that whether she liked it or not, her behavior will keep her from being around as often as she would like. As it stands now, there is no incentive for Mama Joyce to change or start to be respectful in any way. But unfortunately, to hold her mom accountable translates into disrespect to Kandi, and the question becomes will her inability to do this be the straw that breaks the camel’s back over time.
While I’m sure Mama Joyce loves her daughter, what she seems to really love is her daughter’s money and the security it provides her. It seems anytime someone gets close to Kandi she starts to feel as if the financial security she denies Kandi provides her is at risk and she goes into sabotage mode, using her power over Kandi to dissuade her from moving forward with marriage. She says she just wants Kandi to be happy, but of course she doesn’t think Todd is the one to do that. And all of her reasons for disliking Todd have to do with money and the fact that he doesn’t make as much as Kandi. As I describe in “The Single MIL Syndrome”, because Mama Joyce has an overly excessive physical and financial dependence on her daughter, she is unable to develop any sort of relationship with Kandi’s fiancé. She simply sees Todd and any man that doesn’t make as much, or more money than Kandi as a threat. And unfortunately, because Kandi is trapped in the role she has held and fulfilled for most of her life, she will have trouble fostering a long-term successful marriage and understanding her role as a wife.
While it is Kandi’s right and her business to financially provide for her mother given her success, what’s sad is seeing how Mama Joyce denies her daughter’s financial help and makes it seem like she owes her for the hard work and sacrifices she went through to make a good life for Kandi. As I’ve discussed before, while children should honor, respect, and be eternally grateful for what their parents do to make a good life for them; children don’t ask to be brought into the world. It seems as though Mama Joyce would be happier with Kandi marrying a professional athlete that would more than likely cheat on her and give her a life full of worry, or if she were single for the rest of her life all for monetary security. My question, where’s the line and at what point is enough, enough?