Handling In-Laws

My mother-in-law won't leave me and my baby alone!

Question

My mother-in-law won't leave me alone since our new baby arrived. She imposes her values and parenting style on us, but my husband just sits by and doesn't say anything. I disagree with many of the things she says and I need to figure out a way to get her to back off. I need my husband's help here, too. Any suggestions?

    Answer

    Have you spoken to your husband about this problem? The first step would be to talk to him, explain the problem you are having with his mother, and hopefully work out a solution together.

    You mention that he just sits there while she imposes her parenting style. Do you know why he just sits silently? Does she intimidate him? Or does he agree with what she is saying? How you and your husband deal with the problem depends on his answers to these questions.

    With or without your husband's help, you might want talk to your mother-in-law about the problem. Before you actually talk to her, a little preparation is in order. Keep the following points in mind:

    1. No matter how controlling she may seem, in her heart she probably believes she's doing what is best for you and the child. Recognizing that she wants to help will pave the way for solutions.

    2. You need to reframe the problem. This is not a battle between you and your mother-in-law. Though you may feel like wringing her neck, approaching her with that attitude will get you nowhere. View this as a challenge, not as a battle. Think about how you can accommodate both her need to be involved in the life of her grandchild and your need to be the mother in charge.

    You could start out by telling her that you appreciate her help. After all, since she probably is trying to help you, she will be less defensive if she knows you understand that. Then you could delicately add that, despite her good intentions, her parenting suggestions are causing a few problems for you. You might explain that while you are open to learning from the experiences of other mothers, you are also trying to develop your own style of mothering. It might be helpful to ask her to recall how she felt when she was starting out as a mother. Who knows? You might even wind up sharing a few laughs as she recounts stories of relatives meddling when her own first child was born.

    Together, you and your mother-in-law can think of ways she can be involved in the care of her grandchild: babysitting so you and your husband can have some time alone together, for instance, or taking the baby out for walks.

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