Will mother-in-law/daughter-in-law problems ever disappear?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  July 16, 2009 06:00 AM

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What was that lyric from Huey Lewis: "Mother-in-law, if she leaves us alone, we could have a happy home..."?

Hi! Mine is the age-old dilemma of mother-in-law/daughter-in-law conflict. When I first began dating my now-husband, I got along with his parents, but over the last year or two, the relationship has become tenuous at best and otherwise virtually nonexistent. His mother feels the need to lash out verbally to him or his siblings and she made the mistake of assuming she could treat me the same way. When I reacted by pulling away, she began a campaign to criticize me and my family at every opportunity (both to my face and behind my back via lengthy phone conversations with my husband). Last year, we had our first baby which I hoped would help the relationship. I was wrong.

At first, I tried to include his mother as much as possible. His mother, when we told her that I intended to breastfeed, offered less-than-helpful and frankly unsupportive tidbits like "you'll never make it more than three months" and "I wanted to preserve my breasts, so I used formula" so I haven't actively sought her opinion or advice recently. Now she's complaining that we "only listen to [my] mother" when parenting our baby. My real concern is that my husband has lobbied very hard to get his mother to watch our baby when I return to work this fall. I do not trust her. I feel like she has a blatant lack of respect for me and my parenting decisions (a fact she continues to make known as she calls my husband and his siblings constantly to complain about me). She feels like I'm keeping her from having a relationship with her grandchild; I feel like she's incapable of keeping herself in check enough to have a good relationship with her grandchild. At this moment, I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of her taking my child unsupervised as she will most certainly be unable to filter herself and will also break several of our rules in parenting. I wouldn't hire a nanny who actively breaks our parenting rules, why should it be any different with family?

I also don't think mending the relationship between us is possible at this tie. Is there anything I can do? I've tried speaking with my husband but he just shuts down as he is firmly in the middle of two very strong-minded women who cannot seem to talk to each other without lashing out.

Thank you very much for any advice, information, or support you can provide!

From: Jenny, of Easton

Hi Jenny,

You may not like my answer, but I think you need to mend this. Wait, let me rephrase: you at least need to make the effort. You need to try again.

Why does this fall to you to try to fix? Because it's in your best interest; otherwise, this relationship will get worse over time and it is your children (and possibly your husband and/or your marriage) who will suffer. For children to have grandparents in their lives is a gift, even if the grandparents are not people you admire or love or want your children to spend a lot of time with. And you are the only one who can make this gift happen.

I know you've tried already and you may even have tried these strategies. Try again:

Show a genuine interest in her ideas. The next time she criticizes you, or rolls her eyes at something you say or do, instead of responding in kind, say in a sincere tone of voice, “You know, I’m really struggling with this. I’d love to hear your ideas about how I could handle it differently.” That doesn’t mean you have to follow through, only that you listen in a genuine way and give her a thoughtful response, even if it’s only, “I’m going to give that consideration. Thanks.”

Show a genuine interest in trying to explain to her why you do/did what you did. The key is not to be defensive, rather to be clear that you want to share with her how you came to your decision. It’s your tone of voice more than the words you choose that is going to get you over the hump. Not that one pleasant exchange is going to turn things around. But you have to start someplace. One thing to consider is that many aspects of parenting today are very different from 30 years ago. She may feel threatened, even intimidated.

Also, don't underestimate the toll this strain puts on your husband. Even if he secretly (or not so secretly) sides with you, this is still his mother. The more he feels caught between you, the deeper the trench you are digging for him and for your relationship.

I’m not saying what has happened is your fault; I’m not saying your mother-in-law is not to blame. (I’m also not saying that you are.) I’m not saying that she will ever be your best friend or even a once-in-a-while babysitter. But I do believe you do not want this to fester.

You may be interested in a book coming out this month, “What Do You Want from Me?” by Terri Apter, interviewed here in Time magazine, or in this column by yours truly.


I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with
some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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66 comments so far...
  1. Although I agree with the response that you need to try to mend this relationship, for the good of your family, I do not think this means you should let this woman care for your child. Children are very aware of tension and hear and understand more then we give them credit for. I would personally hire a nanny rather then have someone you do not trust help raise your child while you are at work. Giving her this control will only give her more power to criticize or parent in a way you do not value. Who forgoes breastfeeding to save their breasts....what a selfish and self involved statement and decision and it clearly speaks volumes about who she is as a person.

    Posted by mj July 16, 09 08:29 AM
  1. I couldn't disagree w/ you more! If there are problems w/ inlaws it's the spouse's responsibility to straighten it out. Her husband needs to man up and put his mother in her place! Her husband needs to show he is on his wife's side and is supportive of her. If not, the demise of the marriage is his fault. Love, respect & support your wife! Otherwise only resentment builds not a relationship. Who the hell cares about the mil breasts!! The mil is shallow! I absolutely would limit my time with mil and not allow her to be with my child unsupervised. Yes, a lot has changed in 30 years yet, respect always works well. I lived this over 30 yrs+ no relationship!

    Posted by bea July 16, 09 08:52 AM
  1. take some advice. tolerate it but if she gets out of hand and she will. speak your mind. if she likes it or not.. if they think they get at you they will do it all the more. trust me 19 yrs of marriage you learn !

    Good Luck

    Posted by Mom of Two July 16, 09 09:08 AM
  1. This letter hit a nerve with me as I've been in this situation myself so I am admittedly biased in my opinion. My husband did nothing to stop his mother's antics as she constantly criticized me, my parenting skills, my home and inserted herself into situations that were none of her business. He refused to ask her to back off and even started echoing some of her criticisms. We have since divorced.

    I feel like the advice to the LW suggests that she kowtow to her MIL in order to keep the peace. It sounds like she has already made a good faith effort at getting along with her. How is she supposed to listen in a genuine way when she hears things like “you’ll never make it three months breastfeeding”? Is she supposed to paste on a smile and say “Yes, thank you, I appreciate that opinion”? A person can only take so much!
    If the DIL does not get more support from her husband and the MIL is allowed to continue her bad behavior, this won’t get any better. If you're uncomfortable with her watching your child, put your foot down and say no. Indeed, this is probably putting a strain on your husband, but it's putting a strain on you, too. He's married to YOU, not his mother. The MIL is the one digging the trench for her son. I do understand that’s his mother, but would he let anyone else treat you this way? Why does his mother get a free pass?

    I can’t say I have a good solution for you, perhaps you could ask your husband to sit down and hear you out about all of this without shutting down. Let him know you really need him to listen, that you’re not against your MIL, that you don’t want him to feel caught in the middle, but you do need help here. I just don’t agree with you continuing to try and try and try to fix things while the MIL just continues doing what she’s doing.

    Posted by justsayno July 16, 09 09:43 AM
  1. Hello,
    I heard the response from Barbara and I understand where she is coming from, however, I disagree that it is up to Jenny to resolve this situation. I believe that it is the husband's job in this situation to step up and take control here.
    His mother is the one starting the problems and he has had a relationship with her all of his life and it is unreasonable to expect his wife to simply take on his mother without causing complications and further isolation.

    They share informatikon with his mother about how they want to raise THEIR child, they did not ask for an opinion. His mother was out of place to make those comments and this should not be allowed to happen. SHe had her turn to raise her children however she wanted so she should step aside and allow her son and his wife ot raise their child as they see fit. That is not to say that she cannot offer an opinion or advice if solicited. For her to expect that her opinion of how to raise the grandchild is GOD given is wrong and should not be tolerated. This sort of behaviour is what has led to the popular adage about grandparents spoiling grandchildren to some extent.

    The husband should understand that he is living with his wife and raising their child and getting input is should be important, however, the person offering the input should not expect that their opinions are the final say in the matter. If he wants to see the peace maintained, he needs to have a talk to his mother about how she behaves towards his wife and also talk to his wife about how she interacts with his mother. There is no way that his wife should have to shoulder that responsibility. The mother needs to learn how to interact with people in a non-confrontational way and his wife needs to do all that she can to maintain the peace including being flexible.

    Finally, I do realise that there are two sides to every story and the other side is missing right now. Unfortunately however, history and reality has shown these situations to be all to common but not to the extent that they cannot be amicably resolved. It will take work on all fronts but the husband has to be the main middle person here and take charge. Personally, I have not had to deal with such extreme circumstances but I have had to defend my wife in a couple of situations and step in to make the peace where circumstances required it.
    Best of luck to you in dealing with this situation..

    Stan

    Posted by Stan July 16, 09 10:00 AM
  1. My husband and I have struggled with this over the 10 years we've been married. In my experience, Barbara is right. You need to give it an honest shot. This woman is your husband's mother, the one woman in the world he loves almost as much as you. The conflict puts a strain on him.

    What you can ask your husband to do, is to tell his mother that she cannot speak ill of you in his presence or that of your children. (And in return, you cannot speak ill of his mother in the presence of him or your children.) It will take the stress off him, and demonstrate his commitment to you.

    Consider it a gift to your husband and children to put in an honest effort of at least a year in duration.

    Posted by HollyP July 16, 09 10:03 AM
  1. While I would agree that mending the relationship is probably best, the mother-in-law has to be willing as well. And Barbara's comment "You have tried this once but try again" if Jenny has tried this (I would guarantee more than once) and it didn't work why advise her to continue? If it hasn't worked up to this point chances are IT WILL NEVER work. And more importantly, why is this being put on only Jenny's shoulders? Marriage is supposed to be about teamwork and what better chance/opportunity than this? After all IT"S HIS MOTHER and he seems hell-bent on having his mom watch their child, maybe he should stick up for his wife and talk to his mother (calmly & rationallyI) and say that he does not appreciate the verbal attacks on his wife and if she would like to play a more active role than please keep your comments and actions regarding my wife in check.
    As for the mother-in-law caring for her grandchildren: some tricks that may work: Start off with baby-steps (1) have her come over when you would like to cat-nap or get some housework done etc. and have her watch your child this way you can observe for yourself how she is (2) Jenny, you & your husband should sit with her and anyone else that will be caring for your child(ren) and tell them how you plan on raising them would aprreciate it if eveyone would stick to your plans. If anyone notices room for change or has a suggestion you will welcome it but please consult us 1st.

    Posted by Raynee01 July 16, 09 10:41 AM
  1. HI Jenny...I just wanted to say that I'm on your side! i agree that you should take all measures to try to mend the relationship with your MIL, BUT, you do not need to have her be part of your childcare plan when you are at work. I agree that she would likely undermine the choices you and your husband have made in raising the baby and SORRY, these are YOUR choices, not hers. Good luck.

    Posted by Pippi O'Connell July 16, 09 11:04 AM
  1. This mom needs to get over herself. The best part of having a grandparent watch your children while you work is that they are truly loved the whole time. So your mother in law may give your child cherios or let him have things he normally would not have. The point is as long as you show consistancy at your home and remember that she would never do anything to hurt your child
    you will be fine. The difference is a nanny is paid by you and only loves your kid because you pay them. Your mother in law loves this child unconditionally. Also tell her husband to grow a set an fix this situation himself inst of playing two ends of the street.

    Posted by Italianmom July 16, 09 11:18 AM
  1. You need to do 2 things: have a united front, and communicate the limits of what is acceptable.Sit with your husband and quietly tell him that you are upset by all this and do not want to put strain on him or on your relationship going forward, so you two need to work out a common strategy. Tell him exactly what you want him to do or say to MIL, or ask him if it's ok if you say it yourself. Develop a "code word" for when you feel MIL is pushing your buttons and come up with a way you guys can react as a team (starting small and if it gets bad, packing up and leaving immediately. Not with drama, just do it...) Then, talk to MIL. Tell her calmly and clearly that you feel that her doing A, B and C have put your relationship in a bad place, and that you don;t want it to affect her relationship with the kid. Tell her the nw ground rules. Then let her try to meet them. Do not nag or belittle her. Give her the information, and then step politely away. She will rant, rave, and then likely fall into line. She is testing who is the boss, and you are, but you can;t trow that in her face. Just make sure she knows it. Heck, plan a Christmas away and she will get the picture that she is optional going forward....

    Posted by all July 16, 09 11:32 AM
  1. Italianmom - sorry but you are overgeneralizing. My MIL may love my child, but she is not a responsible care giver. She thinks it's okay if the dog nips at the baby and refuses to cover the fishpond or latch the door to keep the toddler away from it. It's not just about cheerios, it's about judgement. Some MILs do not have it, they are too worried about themselves and just do not "get" childcare. My MIL sits the kids in front of the tv the whole time. She wants to sit so she can brag to her friends that she does so, not for any real interest in the kids. Oh, and the nanny? LOVES my kid. Loves her like a sister and friend. You know nothing beyond your own situation, so put your bias away and recognize that jenny's family is not your family and she has different choices to make.

    Posted by all July 16, 09 11:41 AM
  1. I think most men should be stay away from their mother once they married to
    their wife that's very clearly written in the bible. Leave your mother, father,
    brother, sisters and be with your wife. If he doesn't the chance of having a
    happy and health home is basely impossible. I been there. When I was pregnant with my second son, and doctors said there is a chance that your
    baby might be have down Symdrom, when I come home told my mother -in
    law about this the first she said was to get rid of it. I have not even go through
    with the test that the doctor suggested yet, she never care what I want but
    becuse she got so spoiled by me and her sons with all the little trip we took
    having another baby just killed that. I was so pissed I told my doctor I will not
    go take whatever the test was to determined if the baby might be not normal.
    I will have the baby regard what he or she going to be. I was so glad that
    I gave brith to my second son. He was a beautiful baby. I loved him with
    all my heart and becuse of the complication during the child birth that I lost
    alot of blood and with unsupport of husband and mother-law that I started
    losing myself, I had a post-partum depression, and she told her son to divorce me. It was so disrepectful and mean and I would never do that to
    anyone's daughter someday if I get a chance to be a mother-inlaw that's
    how I feel.

    Posted by Natick, mass. Stephanie July 16, 09 12:16 PM
  1. I have a similar situation with my sister-in-law, who is from Egypt, so there are added cultural differences that strain my relationship with my husband. It has been 2 years now that she is caring for my 5 year old and my new 1 year old baby. We are still defining our relationship but it came at a huge price on my relationship with my husband. I found that I kept taking a lot of what she was saying personally - when it was merely her opinion - not a mandate that I needed to follow as gospel. I stopped taking it all on myself and let my husband get involved with some of the situations and he is now realizing how much I went through with his high maintenance sister. He initially kept telling me that it was cultural and that I needed to be more receptive to differences - and then I reminded him that I was an equal part in this and that they (him and his sister) had to also respect my culture and my opinions. It is getting better but still has its bumps. Right now we are approaching how inaffective I am at potty training - they are better than I am. I initially resisted the difference at starting times but then I thought - if someone else wants to wipe up poop all day - more power to her - I have to realize my limitations and take some help when offered and stop fighting it so much. I had to find a way to make it work. No real advice here - just commiserating.

    Posted by You can't choose your family July 16, 09 01:00 PM
  1. Jenny, I am very sympathetic with you because I am in a very similar situation, although thankfully not as extreme. Other commenters are correct that it is not your responsibility to solve this. You can't solve it unless your MIL is willing to meet you halfway. But I do agree with Barbara that it is in your interest to try. It is not clear from your letter whether you have tried the suggested strategies. If you haven't, I can testify to the usefulness of "That's interesting. We'll take that into consideration. Thanks." Also useful are "That's one way to do it. We've decided to do it this other way." and "That's interesting. So much has changed since you were raising {husband}. The pediatrician said ..." Said with as respectful & neutral tone you can manage, you're not making any promises to do it her way, and you're not making any judgments about how she raised her son (at least not so she knows). By citing the pediatrician, you're citing a neutral authority that she will probably respect. And do your best to just ignore comments that are simply negative, like the ones you mentioned about breastfeeding.

    I also agree in principle with the commenter who said the husband needs to have a role in mending this relationship. Notice that I used "we" in my examples above. Do involve your husband, but realize that it will probably be much more difficult for him to try to change the relationship with his mom than it is for you. He's had a relationship with her for a lot longer, and if his strategy with her up to this point has been appeasement, she will not react well.

    Another great thing about the strategies that Barbara is suggesting, is that if you stay very calm and don't react to her outrageous suggestions or negative remarks, she may, eventually, stop. It's a well-known trick from animal training & works well with humans of all ages - any reaction is a "reward", even a negative reaction so no reaction, no reward, and the subject will try something else, hopefully the behavior you want. This goes hand-in-hand with rewarding the behavior you do want - more enthusiastic thank yous for truly helpful comments, for instance. I know it will be difficult - I am also strong-willed woman with a strong-willed, drama-queen of a MIL & I am not always successful in controlling my reactions to her nonsense. BUT when I am successful in managing my reaction, it works wonders! Both for modifying her behavior & for reducing my stress level.

    As for letting your MIL take care of your child when you go back to work, I was in a similar position. She really wanted to take care of our son, but I was worried, not so much that she'd spoil him, but that she'd do something that we now know is unsafe - like giving him honey, or do something deliberately in opposition to our parenting decisions because she disagreed with us and end up confusing him. Fortunately, my husband felt the same, and we had the advantage of seeing & hearing about how she took care of our nephew before we made a final decision. Our compromise is that she takes care of him one day a week and babysits occasionally so that we can go out with friends or have a date night. Since it is only once a week, it has been a lot easier to let go of certain parenting choices for that one day. The other 6 days he has very consistent care from us & the daycare we chose. Perhaps that's a compromise that could work for you, and perhaps you can have some trial runs as another poster has suggested to help build trust & confidence. But you will still need to lay the ground-work now, both with efforts to repair & "retrain" the relationship & in order to set her expectations. Half truths we had prepared for any opposition to "only once a week" were that we were concerned about her being too tired to enjoy her grandsons if she took care of both our son & our nephew at the same time & that we wanted our son to have the socialization advantages of daycare. Both true, if not the entire story. I still worry, I still have to let go & accept that she will do things differently than I would, and I will admit that a couple of times that my hormones plus the clash of wills has been a bad combination, but so far it is working out. I know she loves her grandsons dearly and would never deliberately harm them or neglect them.

    However, if your MIL has demonstrated, either by what she says or her behavior with other grandchildren, that she is likely to err on the side of neglect or risky practices, rather than on the side of spoiling her grandchild, then you need to have a serious (but calm) discussion with your husband about which is more important - his child's safety or his mother's feelings. Be prepared with examples of her behavior or statements that he has been present to see/hear. For instance, I'd be very concerned if she habitually left your baby or another grandchild unattended on a changing table or bed but not so concerned if she is likely to rock him to sleep far past the age when he should be able to fall asleep on his own. The former is a big red flag. The latter - well, kids are smart and quickly figure out what they can "get away with" at gradma's.

    Posted by Strong-Willed Mom Also July 16, 09 01:00 PM
  1. You're husband needs to man up. However, having an MIL capable of such comments, criticism, and other "helpful" quips leads me to believe he's too far gone. Having been raised as such, I have no faith that he'll do anything at all. That leaves you. You need to establish some boundaries ASAP. I recommend reading "The Toxic In-laws" by Susan Forward. You'll have more compassion for your husband afterwards. If nothing else, it will offer some insight as to how you should NOT be raising your own children. Unless you want them to be spineless yes monkeys of course.

    Posted by all2often July 16, 09 01:03 PM
  1. It sounds like the MIL has some real relationship issues if she lashes out at her children as well as you. Although she could certainly try to reach out to this woman, I'm not sure if this is really something that Jenny alone can resolve. I have to agree with the majority here that leaving the child alone with this woman may not be in the best interest of the child. After all, it seems like she's done a number on her own kids...wouldn't want that to happen to the grandchild too.

    Posted by Katherine July 16, 09 01:17 PM
  1. While this issue is about boundaries, it’s not about being Switzerland. The only way the MIL is going to learn and change is to have a lion tamer bring her to her knees. I know the husband wants to preserve peace, but after you implement Barbara’s advice, you’re empowering the MIL to believe she is right and act accordingly. It’s Jenny’s child and it will be done HER way. Giving quarter to the MIL just invites years of compromise. I say, “NO WAY!!” I wouldn’t let her near my child. Soooooooooooo, Jenny…How about your mom? Hahahahahahaha.

    Posted by val July 16, 09 01:58 PM
  1. Of course, this story is only half-complete, it's a bunch of accusations at a woman who has no means to defend herself. I'm relatively sure she has part of the story that you aren't telling. And somewhere in the middle is what really happened.

    LW, you and the MIL ultimately need to work it out. Maybe your husband is involved. Maybe he isn't. Maybe you need a trusted person to facilitate (family counselor, priest/pastor, etc), but in the end, you need to get the issues out in the open, air them out, work through them, or agree to disagree. Maybe all you get out of the deal is to act with some civility when you are together, maybe you become good friends. Certainly not doing anything about it isn't going to improve a thing, and it will just make things worse.

    Your husband is playing Stretch Armstrong in the middle, and that will eventually cause him to break, along with the pressures of being a husband, father and bringing home half or all of the bread. Your point about "he just shuts down as he is firmly in the middle of two very strong-minded women who cannot seem to talk to each other without lashing out" indicates that he feels that he either already tried to help and got burned, or he feels like he's in a no-win situation. You need to get that sorted out, too. I'm betting you are also starting to talk about having another kid, and that's likely driving him up a wall, as well -- as in you've just found the way to possibly make his life worse.

    I will agree that having her provide childcare is a horrible idea at this point. Consistency is key with children, and if grandma does it one way and you do it another, the kid is going to be confused. I'd look into other options. If you can get things worked out, then maybe grandma can come into the picture.

    Posted by X July 16, 09 02:10 PM
  1. Just reading this makes me feel alot better. I am too married to a man who cannot stand up to his mother - and really not all the sure he wants to. You are the mother - you do what you think is right for your child. I did not let my MIL take care of my children either and it was the best decision ever!!

    Hang in there and be strong! I hope that your marriage survives this - as you can see in other postings - lots do not survive - I am in the process of getting divorced after 12 years of marriage.

    Posted by Maggie May.... July 16, 09 02:46 PM
  1. I didn't trust my MIL with my infants, but as the kids got older, it became less of a concern. This may not be the case here, but as the years go by, keep an open mind.

    Posted by Ally July 16, 09 03:36 PM
  1. Jenny, I have dealt with MIL issues for 15 years now and I have learned a thing or two about handling this sort of situation. I will say this much -- it is going to get worse -- much worse. Your husband needs to find a pair and stick by you or you are going to have a MIL problem and a marriage problem. It wasn't until my MIL committed a felony offense against my husband (her son) and was absurdly verbally abusive to me (recorded on our answering machine) -- that we finally found a capable counselor. We have a VERY limited relationship with her now and things are better, esp. since our children are a little older. Good luck and do not have her as a nanny!!!!!

    Posted by hadley July 16, 09 03:44 PM
  1. I side with the MIL here. Since when do these 30somethings think they know more in 30 years than someone who's already been there and done that. If she did such a bad job, why did you marry the result? Get a hold of yourselves and understand that people don't always have the same beliefs and opinions as you. This is something you should have qualified before you entered into the relationship. I'm sorry, but cry me a river. The MIL is right and you should respect her opinion even if you don't listen to it. If I was your husband I'd divorce you for speaking out of line about my mother.

    Posted by Steve July 16, 09 03:48 PM
  1. I side with the MIL here. Since when do these 30somethings think they know more in 30 years than someone who's already been there and done that. If she did such a bad job, why did you marry the result? Get a hold of yourselves and understand that people don't always have the same beliefs and opinions as you. This is something you should have qualified before you entered into the relationship. I'm sorry, but cry me a river. The MIL is right and you should respect her opinion even if you don't listen to it. If I was your husband I'd divorce you for speaking out of line about my mother.

    Posted by Steve July 16, 09 03:52 PM
  1. I think there are 2 issues here. For the sake of my kids, I do my best to maintain a good relationship with my in-laws and I can tell you this isn't easy but they do love my kids and my kids can't have too many people in there lives that love them.

    I think having her as a caregiver is a completely different story. I would only allow someone to watch my kids who was (1) totally in synch with my parenting and (2) I had an open, honest relationship to deal with the kid issues (potty training, discipline, ..) together. Sometimes this can be a relative but relative does not always = best care giver.


    Posted by Jayne July 16, 09 04:22 PM
  1. Steve - shouldn't both sides have to show respect? The DIL doesn't seem to be disrespecting her MIL - she seems concerned that her MIL's lack of respect for her husband and her decisions regarding the baby will impact how the MIL "cares" for the child. Since when is "you'll never make it three months" a respectful approach to a conversation about breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding??? I agree that the DIL should listen to and respect her MIL's differing opinions and advice (when it is actually given as something other than a negative smarmy response), but the MIL should also listen to and respect that a lot has changed in 30 years of child-raising and that some things she did are very out of date and have fallen out of favor!

    Posted by plainjane July 16, 09 04:27 PM
  1. Jenny, I went through the same thing with my mother-in-law about two years ago. My MIL was disrespectful to me on so many levels. For example when they would come to visit, she would literally hijack my life, take over my house, push her ways of doing things on me (which by the way were very stone-aged and backward) complain to my husband about what she didn't like about what I did. Because of this, my husband and I had several huge fights. Then I had an epiphany...It was his responsibility to rein in his mother, not mine. He had to decide where his loyalties were... with his wife and family, or his mother.

    Posted by Terry July 16, 09 04:37 PM
  1. I'm guessing that Steve is single.

    Posted by lucky with my MIL July 16, 09 04:50 PM
  1. Jenny, I agree that you should try to mend this again. It may not seem like it now, but things can get a lot better. When my husband and I had our first child, I became extremely protective of our daughter and very over-sensitive about any comments anyone made about how I was doing things- I'm not saying that's what you're doing, but my MIL got the brunt of it because she's an outspoken person and probably didn't realize how she was affecting me. Looking back it was me who was feeling a bit insecure, I wanted to be the best mom in the world and I felt anyone who didn't cheer for me wasn't on my side. After 2 children, a lot has changed. I'm very confident in my parenting
    and my relationship with my MIL has blossomed. She's a wonderful help and she's crazy about our kids. She sometimes does stretch my rules( never anything I feel strongly about- just small things)- but it's been a good experience for my children to learn- different house, different rules. My husband knows how hard I tried to make it work and has thanked and praised me for it very much. He has always stood up for me though- which I think is very important. He would talk with her if she was ever inappropriate and I think she took it better coming from him. I've always had a rule about not arguing with her and it's been a good thing.My final thought is that as your kids get older, many people will have strong opinions about how you should or shouldn't parent- you have to learn what you think works, take advice from those you admire and respect and let the rest roll off your back. Your family though, is the most important thing in the world- friends come and go, but family will always be there for you. Try and make it work and best of luck. Keep an open heart. She raised your husband and you love him and think he's wonderful so she obviously has the capacity to do good things!


    Posted by Kay July 16, 09 05:25 PM
  1. Mothers-in-law, 2 words: but& out! If the couple was old enough to marry, they are adults, and can manage their own affairs. Give advice, intervene, only when invited. Did you like it if/when your mom-in-law interfered or criticized. As the Bible says, the man and woman shall leave their parents, and cleave unto one another (not continue cleaving in to their parents.)

    Posted by gaudete July 16, 09 05:41 PM
  1. My advice would be to let your mother-in-law sit for one day a week, but I would NOT have her be the full time caretaker. I think that is a happy medium, that allows her to nurture her relationship with your child and it doesn't put too much stress on you. Going back to work and continuing breastfeeding -(which I would say is TOTALLY worth trying to do for six months at least) are stressful enough. Don't put yourself through too much all at once.
    Don't forget some date nights with the husband too..
    Good luck!

    Posted by Suzanne July 16, 09 05:45 PM
  1. I really disagree with the advice given here. It sounds like this woman is toxic. Being around her and kowtowing to her will drain your valuable energy and negatively impact your kids, your sanity and your health (and maybe your marriage). If this were me, I would distance myself completely. It also sounds like this woman's husband is in denial of what is going on. Does he still have issues from being raised by a critical, narcissistic mother? Perhaps he needs some help dealing with that. Get away - and don't worry about the badmouthing. Do what you need to do to protect yourself and your family.

    Posted by alyssa July 16, 09 08:23 PM
  1. I have lived with this exact situation now for 10 years. My mother in law is a nightmare. When I had my first child she got worse. The criticism, the complaints that my family dominates, the gossiping within the family, the backhanded comments etc are all my reality. To me this is simple. You need to get your husband to stick up for you, your nuclear family and the decisions you and he are making as parents. I recommend yelling and screaming until he does this. He grew up with a very difficult mother and is used to doing what she wants and saying nothing to defend himself, so unless you teach him (read force him) he won't do it. Now is the time. In our case we then had a cooling down period of several years. My MIL now respects that we are the parents and we're going to raise our children as we see fit, and she has finally realized that she's not going to get what she wants (to know our children well) if she makes our lives miserable. So she tries hard to be nice. Being her, that ends up being acceptable in her behavior if not exactly what I'd call nice, but it's good enough that I can spend a weekend with her without needing to leave or throw her. And I trust her enough to send my older children to stay at her house alone (she breaks all the rules, but who cares after the age of 3, really...) This is a major success story for our family. I hope that over the years you can find success too. But don't cave like so many people want you to-- that's what she's hoping for and she'll only get worse if she sees weakness! Oh and I could never, ever have her watch my children while I work. A great nanny is definitely the way to go.

    Posted by ProvidenceMom July 16, 09 09:17 PM
  1. Jenny you need to feel secure with whoever you trust to care for your child. If you have concerns you need to voice them - its your job to as a mother. Do not have your MIL watch your child if you are not 100% okay with it. Your DH needs to think long and hard about the situation since he is smack dab in the middle. A manipulative MIL will only cause more problems if you allow her to - and she will if becomes a daily caretaker of your child. Don't be manipulated. Stay strong girl!

    Posted by Red Sox Mama July 16, 09 09:36 PM
  1. Poster named Suzanne had great points on this. I am so surprised by all of these stories echoing yours. I have a great relationship with my inlaws, and it's good to be reminded to be grateful for it, since that isn't necessarily a given it will turn out that way. I had a tumultuous, unhappy childhood, so i value it even more. Good luck.

    Posted by local July 16, 09 09:39 PM
  1. PS. Stephanie in Natick, if you are reading this, I hope you have the support of your own family or friends. I used to live in Natick, so I know it's a very family friendly and open hearted community. I hope you are in touch with some local moms there for friendship and support. Is the Natick Cooperative Playgroup still meeting in one of the churches (basement) near the town center? You could also stop by the recreation department. I forgot the name of the exact program, but Natick has a grant for FANTASTIC free programs for kids 0-4 that are run in a space in the rec building (including a drop in playgroup that can be a nice place to go). Find out when signups are. Just reading your message has me worried for you, but please know you are not alone as a young mom. There are a ton of people out there who would support you if you seek them out.

    Posted by local July 16, 09 09:54 PM
  1. It is very hard for a daughter-in-law to change the behavior and mind-set of the mother-in-law. She is who she is. It is as hard for a daughter-in-law to change the behaviors between her husband and her mother-in-law, since it is the way the husband was brought up. She is always going to be the husband's mother. Try to change the mother-in-law could be futile. Try to convince the husband how unreasonable his mother is can only make the husband defensive and make the husband-wife relationship worse.
    However, I don't suggest to buckle in. The daughter-in-law needs to make herself happy first before she is in a position to make everyone else happy. As time goes, as the daughter-in-law grows, the interactive behavior beween daughter- in- law and mother- in- law will change for the better as the mother-in-law realize the power within you.
    My mother-in-law was an extreme. She barged into my bedroom while I was nursing, touched my breast and declared that I did not have enough breast milk, therefore I should give up breast feeding and stop making her grandchildren hungry..........However things change. A few perspectives and actions worked for me for dealing with an opiniated, strong will, and wants to take over mother-in-law.
    1. Grandparents want the best for their grandchildren. It is okay to let them to watch the baby from time to time.
    2. Minimize the contact to reduce conflict and influence. But when interact, keep calm. Assert calmly that I will make my own decision.
    3. Let the husband to deal with the in-law and make it husband's responsibility to keep the in-law happy and in-check. Lay out boundary calmly with the husband: what is acceptable and what is not. Yet, not emotionally lash out against the mother-in-law in front of the husband.
    4. It helps to have a couple of girl friends.
    5. Knowing in-law will get older before you do. As a mom, you will have much more impact on your kids than the in-law on their grandchildren.

    Posted by Nancy July 16, 09 10:21 PM
  1. Great topic! I had a similar problem with an ex-MIL (who actually has diagnosed mental issues)- she started moving around to follow us; demanded control of my husband's holidays; and ignored or criticized me (behind my back) repeatedly... It does get worse. It all started when she made a few offhand catty remarks about my career, husband, my engagement ring. I wrote it off as weird. She also played games with our wedding plans and my husband did try to stand up to her, as necessary. But, the threat was ever looming!... When she moved nearby, it hit the fan. Her cruelty when I did nothing to her except love her son has been extremely
    hurtful!!! I did not want a divorce after 10 years together, but she eventually came out and pressured my husband! She was brazen and outrageous. My husband was weak in this instance. Get professional help. Both of you need to take this seriously NOW!!!!

    Posted by Ellen July 16, 09 11:15 PM
  1. A wife can be replaced...numerous times. You can be as stubborn as you want with your mother-in-law but be prepared for the consequences. You're just a wife. There's always divorce and child support. He'll find somebody with less drama and complications.
    And now being a mother yourself, how would you behave if your baby ends up marrying somebody you (almost) despise. Do you really expect your child to abandon you for this spouse?
    'Respect your parents' goes before 'Thou shall not commit adultery'. You can be replaced.

    Posted by jenny July 16, 09 11:55 PM
  1. The odd thing about the DIL not trusting the MIL with the kids is that, if I've read correctly, it has nothing to do with safety or love for the child; it's about the DIL's parenting style not being followed. To that I say "so what?" It doesn't matter one whit to the child that the MIL has a different way of caring than Mom does. We were thrilled to have my parents-in-law care for our kids, we knew that the kids were treated differently in their house than in our house, but to the kids it didn't matter. The grew up knowing that Nana had different rules than Mom and Dad, and that was OK with everyone.

    As for the other problem . . . her husband has a spousal responsibility to be on his wife's side dealing with troublesome people outside the marriage . . . even if they are in the family.

    Posted by Kei July 17, 09 01:19 AM
  1. Ugh, MIL sounds like a jerk. My advice would be to talk to the hubby about your concerns instead of trying to tackle them alone. He may have coping strategies for dealing with his mother's personality that may work for you or work with your strategies. Ultimately, though, if your MIL does not care that she is upsetting you (telling her directly what she's doing and why it's hurtful may also help, for she may actually not be aware of the effects of her words), then you may just want to limit contact with her (as much as your husband will allow). You can only do so much to mend the relationship; she has to want to get along with you (and contact with her grandchild may or may not be enough of an incentive for that).

    Posted by momofone July 17, 09 07:20 AM
  1. Thank you all who posted to my problem - the number of supportive emails has been truly astounding. I really don't think I elaborated enough on why I don't think my MIL is the best choice of caretaker (other than she has promised one of the siblings that she will break our rules). First, in the last 5 months, she has seen our baby only a small handful of times. She never offers to hold the baby and never likes talking about the baby. The day after the birth of the baby, MIL and FIL took a THREE WEEK long trip and I can count on one hand the number of times they have come visit us. When we visit them, if I'm nursing, she suggests when the baby falls asleep that I leave the baby on her bed unattended (our baby rolls vigorously). I have told her several times that we're usually around and she should come by (shes 25 minutes away) but she never does. In the past, she has made hurtful and cutting remarks to my face, has attacked my family in front of me and the baby, and has shown a blatant lack of disrespect for me and my family. I'm terrified she'll use her "face time" with the baby do continue her verbal war. This is more than just giving a baby cheerios (although it wouldn't surprise me if she tried to give cow's milk to our baby as she has a clear disregard for breastfeeding).I don't think she always makes safe decisions and I don't think she can help herself from speaking ill of me and my family to our baby (when she can't stop herself from doing it to me, my hubby, his siblings, etc.). Hope that clarifies the issue a bit! Thanks again to all!

    Posted by Jenny July 17, 09 08:51 AM
  1. oops, I meant lack of respect, not disrespect in my previous post. I hope that was obvious.

    Posted by Jenny July 17, 09 09:08 AM
  1. I know how you feel...I say you should avoid her like the plague and enlist your husband to seriously develop a strategy NOW or you will either face ongoing abuse and resentment for life or she can wreck the marriage, trust me. My MIL had an incurable mental disorder and it never let up. It sounds like this lady is similar. She needs her own spouse, right? My MIL was so bad that I couldn't even imagine having children with her always popping in uninvited and throwing scenes... Good luck!

    Posted by Ellen July 17, 09 10:28 AM
  1. Oh, I see your MIL is still with a FIL. My MIL also was/IS on a hate rampage against my FIL, her long-suffering ex, who supported our relationship. Maybe you should give your situation one last concerted effort to salvage a relationship for the children, but do limit contact. Good luck!

    Posted by Ellen July 17, 09 10:44 AM
  1. I read this orginal post and just bursted into tears. It's exactly what I'm going through right now. My daughter is 6 months old and my MIL in out of control. It started the day she was born, I had a great relationship with her before but it all changed. Nothing we do is right, and is silly or stupid. Doesn't respect our wishes to keep their Shih tzu (who has snapped and bit my husband in the face and my FIL) away from her face, etc etc...I could go on and on. They have threatened us twice. The first time was that they were going to try to take her away from us, and the 2nd time was 2 weeks ago......they said "you hurt us, we will hurt you". I'm just sick over it all. I don't trust her. I could go on and on......I'm just miserable. My husband is FINALLY standing up to his mother, but I feel so bad for him. They are treating him so badly. Good luck with your situation.

    Posted by Allison B July 18, 09 08:31 PM
  1. If a MIL really cares about her child's happiness she will "Butt Out" and not be a problem maker. I have three sons, and have always told them the key to a happy marriage is to always put their wives feelings first. Some MIL's never grow up and continue to lean on their children for emotional support. Get a life MILS. The reason my DIL love me is because I respect them, it does swing both ways. Dudes grow some b***s and stand up to your Mothers.

    Posted by Brenda Holmes Gilbert July 19, 09 06:22 PM
  1. It's amazing how much parents can forget in 30 years. We also know more about safety and may have different standards on things like spanking or yelling. My MIL's great advice was to give the newborn a pacifier dipped in honey (and when we pointed out infant botulism, not for infants under 1, she suggested using starbucks coffee flavoring syrup or pasta sauce instead). The baby was clearly hungry and needed to nurse, but no, plug it up! My own mother picked up the newborn for the first time and damn near dropped her, letting her head loll around. Neither one of them got to watch the kid alone until she was old enough to talk and rat them out ;) And I love them both dearly, they were just quite rusty.

    Jenny, I wouldn't be surprised if your MIL does not respect your feeding instructions if you are pumping breastmilk. She'll microwave it, shake it, or just happen to have a can of formula around, and then you'll hear some bs about "he likes it better! he sleeps longer!"

    What I would do, if you can afford the daycare: Convince husband that it will be a hard transition from solitary care to preschool when baby is older and wants/needs to be around peers. Additionally, if a sole care provider gets sick, well, one of you is staying home to watch the kid that day. Daycare will not call in sick. I have found both of these things to be true w/ my own nanny situation. Find a child care location you really like, and sign up for 4 days. Grandma gets Fridays or something. Tell her you don't want to overburden her and that this will be a special treat for the baby once a week, and oh how grateful you are.

    If you catch her doing something unsafe or violating a rule that is important to you, then go up to 5 days at daycare and make an effort to have supervised visits on weekends. I'd hope your husband would be more sympathetic if you have at least tried out the arrangement. An actual violation is harder to ignore than a theoretical one. If she's coming to your home (I hope), then at least you have more control over the environment and can set up babyproofing as you see fit.

    If possible, have her start one day a week while you are running short errands or in another part of the house doing "work" or something. She may get sick of it before fall even rolls around if she is that self-centered. Tiny babies are not much of an audience to a narcissist. I might also suggest that you see a counselor for a few sessions to work through your feelings and play out strategies for how to balance these relationships. It really does help.

    Good luck! Sorry for the novel.

    Posted by Benita July 21, 09 10:32 AM
  1. "Mother-in-Law" was covered by by Huey Lewis And The News but it was written and initially performed by legendary New Orleans R&B artist Ernie K-Doe.
    Good luck with your M-I-L, Jenny. I really feel for you. My own is well-intentioned but lacks boundaries. When we married, she "surprised" us with a paid honeymoon -- just the THREE of us. In the same room. Still, she's pleasant enough. Yours sounds like a real meanie. I wouldn't leave my kiddo alone with her. It sounds like she'll deliberately flout your "rules" just to make a point.

    Posted by lemonmelon July 22, 09 01:58 PM
  1. I have no understanding of why people assume that mothers are dying to care for grandchildren! I love my two sons but have NO DESIRE to become a babysitter. I took care of my own kids and hired a sitter evenings when we went out or on some adult vacations. Now I have a whole other life.
    It is NOT SELF CENTERED TO want your own life----no different from the daughterin law wanting to go back to a career.

    Posted by Donna July 23, 09 07:55 PM
  1. Totally disagree with response! I don't really understand why it is that daughter in laws are supposed to tolerate unsolicited criticism or advice from anyone, let alone a mother in law who is motivated not by a desire to be helpful as much as a desire to prove that her daughter in law is incompetent as a mother. I don't tell my mother in law how she should live her life despite my many ideas on the subject - where does she get off telling me anything??? I think MILs should mind their own business. These are not their children and unless there is a serious problem, they should keep their snide remarks to themselves.

    Posted by Rebecca July 31, 09 01:31 PM
  1. I highly recommend the book "Toxic In-Laws: Loving Strategies to Protect Your Marriage" by Susan Forward. I am in a very similar situation and I can promise you it will only get worse. As Susan Forward writes, "If you have in-law problems, you have marriage problems". While this book may not solve your MIL problem, it will at least give you clarity and let you know that you are not alone. It will also help you to see the psychology behind your MIL's behavior.

    Posted by Carrie August 13, 09 01:59 PM
  1. This I do not understand. Why on earth does a DIL think she can control her in laws with a grandchild. This is exactly what you tried to do. Do not deny it. Call her Toxic if you like but you have no right to tell her how she should act or feel about anything. This is exactly why a son should "leave his parents and cleave to his wife". I told my DIL "I don't give refunds, you have him now". Just because she is a grandmother (not a choice of hers) is no reason to expect her to babysit. Her and her husbands business is not yours. You seem to think it is with your comments. Your transparent.

    Posted by Pat August 14, 09 06:40 PM
  1. I don't know what the other side of this issue is, but I have been a daughter-in-law and I am a mother-in-law. I won't say my mother-in- law was the best in the world, but I am now beginning to see the wisdom of her ways and respect her for her counsel.
    She has been dead for 4 years now, and I truly regret that I couldn't have been as enlightened in my 20s and 30s as I am now. I have two daughters-in-law, and from the beginning, I have tried to treat them as if they are my own children. They have two children each, and I do a great deal of babysitting on top of my job. I love my grandchildren, and I want to be a part of their lives; however, one daughter-in-law expects me to care for her children anytime and just be seen and not heard. I also buy most of what they wear. She doesn't have a job, and my son needs help with the expenses sometimes. I am glad to help if I can, but I feel they use me for money and childcare, but if I give a suggestion about anything, they punish me by keeping the children away from me. I am always very respectful with any advice I give. You see, I remember the way I felt when my own mother-in-law gave advice. I am being punished right now because I addressed a point in a respectful way that I was worried about. I have now had enough, and I am no longer available to be used by them. I find it interesting that most beefs are about the paternal mother-in-law instead of the maternal mother-in-law. Think about it. I know for a fact, my son's mother-in-law refuses to put herself out for the kids. I raised my three sons, and I know I did a good job, but I am not going to have my children use their children as a weapon to make me walk the line. I think that happens far too often. I have never gone against
    my children's parenting choices. I don't know what is going on with the case being discussed here, but believe me, it is not always the mean old mother-in-law and the poor innocent daughter-in-law. I am living proof of that. My son and daughter-in-law are going to meet my condtiions before I ever do for them again. I am tired of walking on egg shells to please them. I just wish they would grow up.

    and I

    Posted by Lynnetta September 3, 09 02:19 PM
  1. I don't know if anything that you do will make any difference. Your husband is like mine, trying to make both women happy or at time try to remove himself from the situation and forget to realized who or which one is the wife. I live with my MIL for over ten years now and it gets worse every day. Everything i do can not live up to her expectation or never good enough. She told me straight out in front of my husband to divorce me and that she will never accept me as a daughter in law. We been together for 20 years and have 3 kids. I blamed all my problems on MIL but now I am so depressed and tired of criticism that I think that I now becames the problem. My marriage has been very rocky for the last 2 years since we moved away from my family.

    Posted by tt November 21, 09 11:08 AM
  1. I am a mother in law. My son and his wife married a little less that 2 years ago. They dated for a long time before deciding to marry. I liked my DIL when I met her. She has a very strong relationship with her parents in Florida and they seemed to have accepted my son as a member of the family. But there was trouble brewing from the rehearsal dinner on that has erupted into a real fiasco. I am not here to place blame, but just to say that there are some MIL's who are good people and just get a bad wrap. I have tolerated so much, and my daughter and her family have too, trying to keep some kind of relationship with this girl. I am truly convinced this young lady would like nothing more than to see my son sever his relationship with me and his sister. I have deliberately maintained my distance to keep trouble from brewing in the house for my son. I send cards and emails and I visit once yearly from KY to FL. But other than that, I give her full reign over her own household and over my son. From what I have been reading, most DIL's start the trouble with their MIL's because they are immature and frightened of the control they perceive the MIL has over the son. DIL's why not try to look upon your MIL's as people? In my case, I have decided to allow the book to be closed. My nerves can't take any more bickering. My son and his wife have their own family unit now. I seem to be an irritation to them by my mere existence in the universe. I wonder how far away I would need to move to give my DIL the peace and security she needs to no longer feel threatened. But since I am still breathing, I will give this one up as a lost ball in very high weeds. My son and his wife will have to work through their issues. This MIL is going a much needed and much deserved extended vacation.

    Posted by Margaret December 18, 09 11:42 AM
  1. Oh Margaret Margaret, I can see exactly who you are. "I give her full reign". Was her household and husband ever yours to give away. NO! That is where your problem is my love.
    As for other comments above. I agree totally that it is the sons job to strap a pair on and sort the mess out. Tell his mum that if she is not willing to accept that he is a family unit and butt out she can butt off. I am going through similar issues now with my MIL who has turned the whole of her family against me, making up untruths about my treatment of her and telling my husband that he had his priorities all wrong and that he should side with with his family. (Thats not me and his two children btw, its her and his siblings. After a big fall out, he has now started up a relationship with them again and I basically do not exist. When they come to see my children I have to make myself scarce. I feel like a bit of a door mat and am unhappy about it but whenever I try to talk to my husband, he shouts and turns nasty.

    Posted by Helen May 4, 10 05:47 PM
  1. I'm a new mother-in-law and soon to be first time grandmother. I have been reading a lot of MIL & DIL stories on these sites. My concern is only the MIL get trashed and not their mothers. Do these women believe only their mothers know anything? I have been trying so hard to be a good MIL but everything I do is wrong. MIL's are just as excited about the new baby as the mothers parents. I'm not sure yet where things will end up when the baby comes but Im not expecting much time with the baby and that just about kills me. I think that if we raised our son good enough for you to fall in love with then we can't be all that bad. Just 1 more thing my son's where baby sat by my MIL and I knew they were with someone that loved them and not not a stranger. Am i supposed to ask for a do and don't list being the MIL and all?

    Posted by Debbie Woodfine April 4, 11 05:37 PM
  1. There are so much written here seems like regular scenes from my life. Today, I became so emotional from the morning after receiving her rude comments again. Just four months before, I didn't put too much attention to her comments or behavior. But, things changed a lot after my baby girl passed away 7 days after she was born. I know, I have become more and more emotional or should I say sensitive after the whole incidence. This sudden loss could not be blamed on anyone, it was just something we had to go through. She was born as a full term baby, but got infected with hospital virus after birth and passed away because of septicemia. The doctors never could identify the actual reason behind her getting septicemia and after four months, I know, we are never getting any answer. It just started enraging me when I understood that my grieving MIL was continuously saying if she was around, this wouldn't have happened or I was not strong enough to be a mother. After 2 nights of no sleep at the hospital, I have put my baby in the nursery and took some pills to get some sleep. She implies continuously that I was not strong enough to handle the pressure of being a mother. A mother has to be strong as an ox or maybe like her and I didn't do a good enough job. She was never concerned about my health or my getting any sleep. It became so much out of control that me and my husband finally sat for a confrontation with her. We talked for hours and she seemed to understand the reality. Its too painful to bear your own pain and then handle other people's absurd ideas and thoughts.

    I am not so sure, but have been trying for 4.5 years of marriage to make her feel like I do not want to change anything in her life. I may not say, I love her or thank her enough, but try to be polite and respectful to her. Its just, she is always judgmental and passing comments when I don't want any. It does hurt a lot and makes me not want to participate in anything. I should say, we live together with my MIL and FIL. I know, she is a good and sensible person and does a lot for everyone around her. She had been kind enough to buy me a lot of stuff (whether I need them or not). Its just that, she can't seem to erase the difference between a daughter and a daughter in law. She is always worried about her daughter's welfare but ignores mine. What can I say, Jenny, its something we have to live with, no matter what. Because, we just not married their son, his family too.

    Posted by Laila May 8, 11 04:46 AM
  1. Comment Post #2. I COULD NOT DISAGREE WITH YOU MORE!!! Barbara has it right in her original assessment. It is with out a doubt the responsibility of the two people having the problem to work it out. One of the two people has to take the initiative and want to make it work. The husband loves the mother and loves the wife. His only problem is the two aren't getting along. He can't fix it. No matter how thoughtful or hard he tries he is caught in the middle. IT IS NOT ABOUT TAKING HIS WIFE'S SIDE. From my experience when there is a conflict the two sides having it must mend the relationship. Look at history and you will see that this is the correct path.

    Posted by Tim July 24, 11 07:05 AM
  1. Under no circumstances should this MIL babysit this child! Even for a day! You would never accept a caretaker who not only didn't agree with your childrearing principles, but personally undermined you. She thinks her husband is stuck in the middle!?! How about a newborn? No!

    The core problem isn't the MIL, it's that the husband isn't sticking up for his wife. The MIL doesn't want to give up her son; she senses his weakness, and keeps hammering away at the wife. He's allowing his mother to criticize his wife and the mother of his child relentlessly, would he let anyone else do that? He has to make a choice, the wife or the MIL. When he does, and communicates that to his mother WITHOUT WAVERING AT ALL, she'll also realize that she has to choose to have a relationship with her son's family or not. The question is, will he? If he declines, I really recommend you go for couples' counseling ASAP.

    I also really recommend you find a good daycare, sign the baby up for it now. If I had had the finances to get a nanny I would have, and it would have been a mistake. My daughter LOVED daycare, she got to be with other children, and had wonderful, wonderful caretakers.

    Posted by susan July 24, 11 07:57 AM
  1. MIL's need o know their place, Period! I had a disastrous MIL situation for years, it is not perfect now and I still have alot of Drama with her and have to tell my husband to keep her in check or I will and he definately doesn't want that! Having granparents is a gift, if they are worthy of the gift of a grandchild and are positive healthy minded people. Obviously this woman has a problem with everything this daughter in law does and feels the need to voice it, (Tell her not too!) Keep your opinions to yourself is a good place to start! I would Never leave our infant son with my MIL !!! whether my husband pushed the issue to the Moon or Not!

    Posted by Fed up DIL daugfhter in law December 22, 11 07:09 AM
  1. Being a MIL stinks. We get the raw end of the deal. You lose your relationship with your son; the DIL runs the house and you barely get to see the grandkids. DILs are insecure and payback is a mother. Can't wait to see it when their son marries!

    Posted by Shocked January 1, 12 09:29 PM
  1. NO MATTER WHAT THE PARENT'S HAVE TO TRY N MAKE SURE THE GRANDPARENT'S STAY IN THE GRANDCHILDREN'S LIFE'S..THIS CAN LEAD TO LOW SELF ESTEEM PROBLEMS FOR THE CHILDREN...THINK OF THE KIDS ALL ADULTS NEED TO GROW UPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by at one time dil now mil January 8, 12 09:45 PM
  1. Mother in laws have a plroblem, their time with their sons is over. Now is my time. My husband and i, we want to make a family here. Mother in Law had her chance already to raise kids. No matter how noce you become to mother in laws, they do not appreciate. They just see daughter in laws as threats in their life time. They should not stress daughter in laws in their houses. Its even worse when a husband is mama's boy. I have been married for five years now and m tired of playing Mrs Nice to my inlaws but no one appreciates. My husband is also mamas boy. Because i am the daughter in law i am suppossed to say yes to everything they suggest. Hell No?suggest

    Posted by Mary July 7, 12 05:32 AM
  1. Mother in laws are are painful and from I have read, DO NOT leave your child with her. I have learnt the hard way. My mother in law loves my son, whom she adores, (there are 3 children I have but she only loves the one). She has been bad news for his mental health where she speaks to him like an adult and tells him things "not of his age". His only 7 years old. To me, she serious phscological help. My theory is this: If you know no better, you will do better." and his woman really knows NO better. Just because my husband agreed with me and stood by me when all hell broke loose, she drove him into depression by constantly calling him to tell him "how weak he is" "his not a man" "he should change his surname"

    Posted by nancy July 20, 12 09:25 AM
  1. I am a mother in law struggling with my daughter in law's disapproval of anything i say. I am not a critical person, and i certainly can understand how a brand new mother who is dealing with a lot of people trying to help her at once would get overwhelmed and defensive...however; I say very little and seem to be the one who gets blasted.
    I'm extremely sensitive and know i have to shore it up...however, it's painful to see the dishonest dynamics my daughter in law employs. My son is wonderful and loves us both...and will not speak ill of either of us...i know that about him and so does she.
    We do have our love for him and their baby in common! So, I will swallow the dreadful way she can attempt to put me down, or put me in my place...in hopes that she will some day know me enough to talk to me in a respectful way. (By the way, i made only two statements that i can think of that may have been construed as critical or interfering...one was...the cookies they made may have needed more of a certain ingredient (these cookies are a family tradition) and, that the baby's tummy might be hurting. That was all it took for me to be treated like someone she just didn't like or want anything to do with. Her mother is extremely overbearing and invasive...and she can do no wrong. The holidays were tough! As for your situation...it seems your MIL is offering unsolicited advice, and that is always difficult. Perhaps you can ask her to wait until you ask her for her recommendation about something....then try and think of something she might be able to help you with. She may be anxious. It's tough watching our children have children...she may be feeling confused about her responsibility with some regret about her own parenting. Good luck and thanks for posting this! A mother and a mother in law :)

    Posted by Karen January 13, 13 06:32 PM
 
66 comments so far...
  1. Although I agree with the response that you need to try to mend this relationship, for the good of your family, I do not think this means you should let this woman care for your child. Children are very aware of tension and hear and understand more then we give them credit for. I would personally hire a nanny rather then have someone you do not trust help raise your child while you are at work. Giving her this control will only give her more power to criticize or parent in a way you do not value. Who forgoes breastfeeding to save their breasts....what a selfish and self involved statement and decision and it clearly speaks volumes about who she is as a person.

    Posted by mj July 16, 09 08:29 AM
  1. I couldn't disagree w/ you more! If there are problems w/ inlaws it's the spouse's responsibility to straighten it out. Her husband needs to man up and put his mother in her place! Her husband needs to show he is on his wife's side and is supportive of her. If not, the demise of the marriage is his fault. Love, respect & support your wife! Otherwise only resentment builds not a relationship. Who the hell cares about the mil breasts!! The mil is shallow! I absolutely would limit my time with mil and not allow her to be with my child unsupervised. Yes, a lot has changed in 30 years yet, respect always works well. I lived this over 30 yrs+ no relationship!

    Posted by bea July 16, 09 08:52 AM
  1. take some advice. tolerate it but if she gets out of hand and she will. speak your mind. if she likes it or not.. if they think they get at you they will do it all the more. trust me 19 yrs of marriage you learn !

    Good Luck

    Posted by Mom of Two July 16, 09 09:08 AM
  1. This letter hit a nerve with me as I've been in this situation myself so I am admittedly biased in my opinion. My husband did nothing to stop his mother's antics as she constantly criticized me, my parenting skills, my home and inserted herself into situations that were none of her business. He refused to ask her to back off and even started echoing some of her criticisms. We have since divorced.

    I feel like the advice to the LW suggests that she kowtow to her MIL in order to keep the peace. It sounds like she has already made a good faith effort at getting along with her. How is she supposed to listen in a genuine way when she hears things like “you’ll never make it three months breastfeeding”? Is she supposed to paste on a smile and say “Yes, thank you, I appreciate that opinion”? A person can only take so much!
    If the DIL does not get more support from her husband and the MIL is allowed to continue her bad behavior, this won’t get any better. If you're uncomfortable with her watching your child, put your foot down and say no. Indeed, this is probably putting a strain on your husband, but it's putting a strain on you, too. He's married to YOU, not his mother. The MIL is the one digging the trench for her son. I do understand that’s his mother, but would he let anyone else treat you this way? Why does his mother get a free pass?

    I can’t say I have a good solution for you, perhaps you could ask your husband to sit down and hear you out about all of this without shutting down. Let him know you really need him to listen, that you’re not against your MIL, that you don’t want him to feel caught in the middle, but you do need help here. I just don’t agree with you continuing to try and try and try to fix things while the MIL just continues doing what she’s doing.

    Posted by justsayno July 16, 09 09:43 AM
  1. Hello,
    I heard the response from Barbara and I understand where she is coming from, however, I disagree that it is up to Jenny to resolve this situation. I believe that it is the husband's job in this situation to step up and take control here.
    His mother is the one starting the problems and he has had a relationship with her all of his life and it is unreasonable to expect his wife to simply take on his mother without causing complications and further isolation.

    They share informatikon with his mother about how they want to raise THEIR child, they did not ask for an opinion. His mother was out of place to make those comments and this should not be allowed to happen. SHe had her turn to raise her children however she wanted so she should step aside and allow her son and his wife ot raise their child as they see fit. That is not to say that she cannot offer an opinion or advice if solicited. For her to expect that her opinion of how to raise the grandchild is GOD given is wrong and should not be tolerated. This sort of behaviour is what has led to the popular adage about grandparents spoiling grandchildren to some extent.

    The husband should understand that he is living with his wife and raising their child and getting input is should be important, however, the person offering the input should not expect that their opinions are the final say in the matter. If he wants to see the peace maintained, he needs to have a talk to his mother about how she behaves towards his wife and also talk to his wife about how she interacts with his mother. There is no way that his wife should have to shoulder that responsibility. The mother needs to learn how to interact with people in a non-confrontational way and his wife needs to do all that she can to maintain the peace including being flexible.

    Finally, I do realise that there are two sides to every story and the other side is missing right now. Unfortunately however, history and reality has shown these situations to be all to common but not to the extent that they cannot be amicably resolved. It will take work on all fronts but the husband has to be the main middle person here and take charge. Personally, I have not had to deal with such extreme circumstances but I have had to defend my wife in a couple of situations and step in to make the peace where circumstances required it.
    Best of luck to you in dealing with this situation..

    Stan

    Posted by Stan July 16, 09 10:00 AM
  1. My husband and I have struggled with this over the 10 years we've been married. In my experience, Barbara is right. You need to give it an honest shot. This woman is your husband's mother, the one woman in the world he loves almost as much as you. The conflict puts a strain on him.

    What you can ask your husband to do, is to tell his mother that she cannot speak ill of you in his presence or that of your children. (And in return, you cannot speak ill of his mother in the presence of him or your children.) It will take the stress off him, and demonstrate his commitment to you.

    Consider it a gift to your husband and children to put in an honest effort of at least a year in duration.

    Posted by HollyP July 16, 09 10:03 AM
  1. While I would agree that mending the relationship is probably best, the mother-in-law has to be willing as well. And Barbara's comment "You have tried this once but try again" if Jenny has tried this (I would guarantee more than once) and it didn't work why advise her to continue? If it hasn't worked up to this point chances are IT WILL NEVER work. And more importantly, why is this being put on only Jenny's shoulders? Marriage is supposed to be about teamwork and what better chance/opportunity than this? After all IT"S HIS MOTHER and he seems hell-bent on having his mom watch their child, maybe he should stick up for his wife and talk to his mother (calmly & rationallyI) and say that he does not appreciate the verbal attacks on his wife and if she would like to play a more active role than please keep your comments and actions regarding my wife in check.
    As for the mother-in-law caring for her grandchildren: some tricks that may work: Start off with baby-steps (1) have her come over when you would like to cat-nap or get some housework done etc. and have her watch your child this way you can observe for yourself how she is (2) Jenny, you & your husband should sit with her and anyone else that will be caring for your child(ren) and tell them how you plan on raising them would aprreciate it if eveyone would stick to your plans. If anyone notices room for change or has a suggestion you will welcome it but please consult us 1st.

    Posted by Raynee01 July 16, 09 10:41 AM
  1. HI Jenny...I just wanted to say that I'm on your side! i agree that you should take all measures to try to mend the relationship with your MIL, BUT, you do not need to have her be part of your childcare plan when you are at work. I agree that she would likely undermine the choices you and your husband have made in raising the baby and SORRY, these are YOUR choices, not hers. Good luck.

    Posted by Pippi O'Connell July 16, 09 11:04 AM
  1. This mom needs to get over herself. The best part of having a grandparent watch your children while you work is that they are truly loved the whole time. So your mother in law may give your child cherios or let him have things he normally would not have. The point is as long as you show consistancy at your home and remember that she would never do anything to hurt your child
    you will be fine. The difference is a nanny is paid by you and only loves your kid because you pay them. Your mother in law loves this child unconditionally. Also tell her husband to grow a set an fix this situation himself inst of playing two ends of the street.

    Posted by Italianmom July 16, 09 11:18 AM
  1. You need to do 2 things: have a united front, and communicate the limits of what is acceptable.Sit with your husband and quietly tell him that you are upset by all this and do not want to put strain on him or on your relationship going forward, so you two need to work out a common strategy. Tell him exactly what you want him to do or say to MIL, or ask him if it's ok if you say it yourself. Develop a "code word" for when you feel MIL is pushing your buttons and come up with a way you guys can react as a team (starting small and if it gets bad, packing up and leaving immediately. Not with drama, just do it...) Then, talk to MIL. Tell her calmly and clearly that you feel that her doing A, B and C have put your relationship in a bad place, and that you don;t want it to affect her relationship with the kid. Tell her the nw ground rules. Then let her try to meet them. Do not nag or belittle her. Give her the information, and then step politely away. She will rant, rave, and then likely fall into line. She is testing who is the boss, and you are, but you can;t trow that in her face. Just make sure she knows it. Heck, plan a Christmas away and she will get the picture that she is optional going forward....

    Posted by all July 16, 09 11:32 AM
  1. Italianmom - sorry but you are overgeneralizing. My MIL may love my child, but she is not a responsible care giver. She thinks it's okay if the dog nips at the baby and refuses to cover the fishpond or latch the door to keep the toddler away from it. It's not just about cheerios, it's about judgement. Some MILs do not have it, they are too worried about themselves and just do not "get" childcare. My MIL sits the kids in front of the tv the whole time. She wants to sit so she can brag to her friends that she does so, not for any real interest in the kids. Oh, and the nanny? LOVES my kid. Loves her like a sister and friend. You know nothing beyond your own situation, so put your bias away and recognize that jenny's family is not your family and she has different choices to make.

    Posted by all July 16, 09 11:41 AM
  1. I think most men should be stay away from their mother once they married to
    their wife that's very clearly written in the bible. Leave your mother, father,
    brother, sisters and be with your wife. If he doesn't the chance of having a
    happy and health home is basely impossible. I been there. When I was pregnant with my second son, and doctors said there is a chance that your
    baby might be have down Symdrom, when I come home told my mother -in
    law about this the first she said was to get rid of it. I have not even go through
    with the test that the doctor suggested yet, she never care what I want but
    becuse she got so spoiled by me and her sons with all the little trip we took
    having another baby just killed that. I was so pissed I told my doctor I will not
    go take whatever the test was to determined if the baby might be not normal.
    I will have the baby regard what he or she going to be. I was so glad that
    I gave brith to my second son. He was a beautiful baby. I loved him with
    all my heart and becuse of the complication during the child birth that I lost
    alot of blood and with unsupport of husband and mother-law that I started
    losing myself, I had a post-partum depression, and she told her son to divorce me. It was so disrepectful and mean and I would never do that to
    anyone's daughter someday if I get a chance to be a mother-inlaw that's
    how I feel.

    Posted by Natick, mass. Stephanie July 16, 09 12:16 PM
  1. I have a similar situation with my sister-in-law, who is from Egypt, so there are added cultural differences that strain my relationship with my husband. It has been 2 years now that she is caring for my 5 year old and my new 1 year old baby. We are still defining our relationship but it came at a huge price on my relationship with my husband. I found that I kept taking a lot of what she was saying personally - when it was merely her opinion - not a mandate that I needed to follow as gospel. I stopped taking it all on myself and let my husband get involved with some of the situations and he is now realizing how much I went through with his high maintenance sister. He initially kept telling me that it was cultural and that I needed to be more receptive to differences - and then I reminded him that I was an equal part in this and that they (him and his sister) had to also respect my culture and my opinions. It is getting better but still has its bumps. Right now we are approaching how inaffective I am at potty training - they are better than I am. I initially resisted the difference at starting times but then I thought - if someone else wants to wipe up poop all day - more power to her - I have to realize my limitations and take some help when offered and stop fighting it so much. I had to find a way to make it work. No real advice here - just commiserating.

    Posted by You can't choose your family July 16, 09 01:00 PM
  1. Jenny, I am very sympathetic with you because I am in a very similar situation, although thankfully not as extreme. Other commenters are correct that it is not your responsibility to solve this. You can't solve it unless your MIL is willing to meet you halfway. But I do agree with Barbara that it is in your interest to try. It is not clear from your letter whether you have tried the suggested strategies. If you haven't, I can testify to the usefulness of "That's interesting. We'll take that into consideration. Thanks." Also useful are "That's one way to do it. We've decided to do it this other way." and "That's interesting. So much has changed since you were raising {husband}. The pediatrician said ..." Said with as respectful & neutral tone you can manage, you're not making any promises to do it her way, and you're not making any judgments about how she raised her son (at least not so she knows). By citing the pediatrician, you're citing a neutral authority that she will probably respect. And do your best to just ignore comments that are simply negative, like the ones you mentioned about breastfeeding.

    I also agree in principle with the commenter who said the husband needs to have a role in mending this relationship. Notice that I used "we" in my examples above. Do involve your husband, but realize that it will probably be much more difficult for him to try to change the relationship with his mom than it is for you. He's had a relationship with her for a lot longer, and if his strategy with her up to this point has been appeasement, she will not react well.

    Another great thing about the strategies that Barbara is suggesting, is that if you stay very calm and don't react to her outrageous suggestions or negative remarks, she may, eventually, stop. It's a well-known trick from animal training & works well with humans of all ages - any reaction is a "reward", even a negative reaction so no reaction, no reward, and the subject will try something else, hopefully the behavior you want. This goes hand-in-hand with rewarding the behavior you do want - more enthusiastic thank yous for truly helpful comments, for instance. I know it will be difficult - I am also strong-willed woman with a strong-willed, drama-queen of a MIL & I am not always successful in controlling my reactions to her nonsense. BUT when I am successful in managing my reaction, it works wonders! Both for modifying her behavior & for reducing my stress level.

    As for letting your MIL take care of your child when you go back to work, I was in a similar position. She really wanted to take care of our son, but I was worried, not so much that she'd spoil him, but that she'd do something that we now know is unsafe - like giving him honey, or do something deliberately in opposition to our parenting decisions because she disagreed with us and end up confusing him. Fortunately, my husband felt the same, and we had the advantage of seeing & hearing about how she took care of our nephew before we made a final decision. Our compromise is that she takes care of him one day a week and babysits occasionally so that we can go out with friends or have a date night. Since it is only once a week, it has been a lot easier to let go of certain parenting choices for that one day. The other 6 days he has very consistent care from us & the daycare we chose. Perhaps that's a compromise that could work for you, and perhaps you can have some trial runs as another poster has suggested to help build trust & confidence. But you will still need to lay the ground-work now, both with efforts to repair & "retrain" the relationship & in order to set her expectations. Half truths we had prepared for any opposition to "only once a week" were that we were concerned about her being too tired to enjoy her grandsons if she took care of both our son & our nephew at the same time & that we wanted our son to have the socialization advantages of daycare. Both true, if not the entire story. I still worry, I still have to let go & accept that she will do things differently than I would, and I will admit that a couple of times that my hormones plus the clash of wills has been a bad combination, but so far it is working out. I know she loves her grandsons dearly and would never deliberately harm them or neglect them.

    However, if your MIL has demonstrated, either by what she says or her behavior with other grandchildren, that she is likely to err on the side of neglect or risky practices, rather than on the side of spoiling her grandchild, then you need to have a serious (but calm) discussion with your husband about which is more important - his child's safety or his mother's feelings. Be prepared with examples of her behavior or statements that he has been present to see/hear. For instance, I'd be very concerned if she habitually left your baby or another grandchild unattended on a changing table or bed but not so concerned if she is likely to rock him to sleep far past the age when he should be able to fall asleep on his own. The former is a big red flag. The latter - well, kids are smart and quickly figure out what they can "get away with" at gradma's.

    Posted by Strong-Willed Mom Also July 16, 09 01:00 PM
  1. You're husband needs to man up. However, having an MIL capable of such comments, criticism, and other "helpful" quips leads me to believe he's too far gone. Having been raised as such, I have no faith that he'll do anything at all. That leaves you. You need to establish some boundaries ASAP. I recommend reading "The Toxic In-laws" by Susan Forward. You'll have more compassion for your husband afterwards. If nothing else, it will offer some insight as to how you should NOT be raising your own children. Unless you want them to be spineless yes monkeys of course.

    Posted by all2often July 16, 09 01:03 PM
  1. It sounds like the MIL has some real relationship issues if she lashes out at her children as well as you. Although she could certainly try to reach out to this woman, I'm not sure if this is really something that Jenny alone can resolve. I have to agree with the majority here that leaving the child alone with this woman may not be in the best interest of the child. After all, it seems like she's done a number on her own kids...wouldn't want that to happen to the grandchild too.

    Posted by Katherine July 16, 09 01:17 PM
  1. While this issue is about boundaries, it’s not about being Switzerland. The only way the MIL is going to learn and change is to have a lion tamer bring her to her knees. I know the husband wants to preserve peace, but after you implement Barbara’s advice, you’re empowering the MIL to believe she is right and act accordingly. It’s Jenny’s child and it will be done HER way. Giving quarter to the MIL just invites years of compromise. I say, “NO WAY!!” I wouldn’t let her near my child. Soooooooooooo, Jenny…How about your mom? Hahahahahahaha.

    Posted by val July 16, 09 01:58 PM
  1. Of course, this story is only half-complete, it's a bunch of accusations at a woman who has no means to defend herself. I'm relatively sure she has part of the story that you aren't telling. And somewhere in the middle is what really happened.

    LW, you and the MIL ultimately need to work it out. Maybe your husband is involved. Maybe he isn't. Maybe you need a trusted person to facilitate (family counselor, priest/pastor, etc), but in the end, you need to get the issues out in the open, air them out, work through them, or agree to disagree. Maybe all you get out of the deal is to act with some civility when you are together, maybe you become good friends. Certainly not doing anything about it isn't going to improve a thing, and it will just make things worse.

    Your husband is playing Stretch Armstrong in the middle, and that will eventually cause him to break, along with the pressures of being a husband, father and bringing home half or all of the bread. Your point about "he just shuts down as he is firmly in the middle of two very strong-minded women who cannot seem to talk to each other without lashing out" indicates that he feels that he either already tried to help and got burned, or he feels like he's in a no-win situation. You need to get that sorted out, too. I'm betting you are also starting to talk about having another kid, and that's likely driving him up a wall, as well -- as in you've just found the way to possibly make his life worse.

    I will agree that having her provide childcare is a horrible idea at this point. Consistency is key with children, and if grandma does it one way and you do it another, the kid is going to be confused. I'd look into other options. If you can get things worked out, then maybe grandma can come into the picture.

    Posted by X July 16, 09 02:10 PM
  1. Just reading this makes me feel alot better. I am too married to a man who cannot stand up to his mother - and really not all the sure he wants to. You are the mother - you do what you think is right for your child. I did not let my MIL take care of my children either and it was the best decision ever!!

    Hang in there and be strong! I hope that your marriage survives this - as you can see in other postings - lots do not survive - I am in the process of getting divorced after 12 years of marriage.

    Posted by Maggie May.... July 16, 09 02:46 PM
  1. I didn't trust my MIL with my infants, but as the kids got older, it became less of a concern. This may not be the case here, but as the years go by, keep an open mind.

    Posted by Ally July 16, 09 03:36 PM
  1. Jenny, I have dealt with MIL issues for 15 years now and I have learned a thing or two about handling this sort of situation. I will say this much -- it is going to get worse -- much worse. Your husband needs to find a pair and stick by you or you are going to have a MIL problem and a marriage problem. It wasn't until my MIL committed a felony offense against my husband (her son) and was absurdly verbally abusive to me (recorded on our answering machine) -- that we finally found a capable counselor. We have a VERY limited relationship with her now and things are better, esp. since our children are a little older. Good luck and do not have her as a nanny!!!!!

    Posted by hadley July 16, 09 03:44 PM
  1. I side with the MIL here. Since when do these 30somethings think they know more in 30 years than someone who's already been there and done that. If she did such a bad job, why did you marry the result? Get a hold of yourselves and understand that people don't always have the same beliefs and opinions as you. This is something you should have qualified before you entered into the relationship. I'm sorry, but cry me a river. The MIL is right and you should respect her opinion even if you don't listen to it. If I was your husband I'd divorce you for speaking out of line about my mother.

    Posted by Steve July 16, 09 03:48 PM
  1. I side with the MIL here. Since when do these 30somethings think they know more in 30 years than someone who's already been there and done that. If she did such a bad job, why did you marry the result? Get a hold of yourselves and understand that people don't always have the same beliefs and opinions as you. This is something you should have qualified before you entered into the relationship. I'm sorry, but cry me a river. The MIL is right and you should respect her opinion even if you don't listen to it. If I was your husband I'd divorce you for speaking out of line about my mother.

    Posted by Steve July 16, 09 03:52 PM
  1. I think there are 2 issues here. For the sake of my kids, I do my best to maintain a good relationship with my in-laws and I can tell you this isn't easy but they do love my kids and my kids can't have too many people in there lives that love them.

    I think having her as a caregiver is a completely different story. I would only allow someone to watch my kids who was (1) totally in synch with my parenting and (2) I had an open, honest relationship to deal with the kid issues (potty training, discipline, ..) together. Sometimes this can be a relative but relative does not always = best care giver.


    Posted by Jayne July 16, 09 04:22 PM
  1. Steve - shouldn't both sides have to show respect? The DIL doesn't seem to be disrespecting her MIL - she seems concerned that her MIL's lack of respect for her husband and her decisions regarding the baby will impact how the MIL "cares" for the child. Since when is "you'll never make it three months" a respectful approach to a conversation about breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding??? I agree that the DIL should listen to and respect her MIL's differing opinions and advice (when it is actually given as something other than a negative smarmy response), but the MIL should also listen to and respect that a lot has changed in 30 years of child-raising and that some things she did are very out of date and have fallen out of favor!

    Posted by plainjane July 16, 09 04:27 PM
  1. Jenny, I went through the same thing with my mother-in-law about two years ago. My MIL was disrespectful to me on so many levels. For example when they would come to visit, she would literally hijack my life, take over my house, push her ways of doing things on me (which by the way were very stone-aged and backward) complain to my husband about what she didn't like about what I did. Because of this, my husband and I had several huge fights. Then I had an epiphany...It was his responsibility to rein in his mother, not mine. He had to decide where his loyalties were... with his wife and family, or his mother.

    Posted by Terry July 16, 09 04:37 PM
  1. I'm guessing that Steve is single.

    Posted by lucky with my MIL July 16, 09 04:50 PM
  1. Jenny, I agree that you should try to mend this again. It may not seem like it now, but things can get a lot better. When my husband and I had our first child, I became extremely protective of our daughter and very over-sensitive about any comments anyone made about how I was doing things- I'm not saying that's what you're doing, but my MIL got the brunt of it because she's an outspoken person and probably didn't realize how she was affecting me. Looking back it was me who was feeling a bit insecure, I wanted to be the best mom in the world and I felt anyone who didn't cheer for me wasn't on my side. After 2 children, a lot has changed. I'm very confident in my parenting
    and my relationship with my MIL has blossomed. She's a wonderful help and she's crazy about our kids. She sometimes does stretch my rules( never anything I feel strongly about- just small things)- but it's been a good experience for my children to learn- different house, different rules. My husband knows how hard I tried to make it work and has thanked and praised me for it very much. He has always stood up for me though- which I think is very important. He would talk with her if she was ever inappropriate and I think she took it better coming from him. I've always had a rule about not arguing with her and it's been a good thing.My final thought is that as your kids get older, many people will have strong opinions about how you should or shouldn't parent- you have to learn what you think works, take advice from those you admire and respect and let the rest roll off your back. Your family though, is the most important thing in the world- friends come and go, but family will always be there for you. Try and make it work and best of luck. Keep an open heart. She raised your husband and you love him and think he's wonderful so she obviously has the capacity to do good things!


    Posted by Kay July 16, 09 05:25 PM
  1. Mothers-in-law, 2 words: but& out! If the couple was old enough to marry, they are adults, and can manage their own affairs. Give advice, intervene, only when invited. Did you like it if/when your mom-in-law interfered or criticized. As the Bible says, the man and woman shall leave their parents, and cleave unto one another (not continue cleaving in to their parents.)

    Posted by gaudete July 16, 09 05:41 PM
  1. My advice would be to let your mother-in-law sit for one day a week, but I would NOT have her be the full time caretaker. I think that is a happy medium, that allows her to nurture her relationship with your child and it doesn't put too much stress on you. Going back to work and continuing breastfeeding -(which I would say is TOTALLY worth trying to do for six months at least) are stressful enough. Don't put yourself through too much all at once.
    Don't forget some date nights with the husband too..
    Good luck!

    Posted by Suzanne July 16, 09 05:45 PM
  1. I really disagree with the advice given here. It sounds like this woman is toxic. Being around her and kowtowing to her will drain your valuable energy and negatively impact your kids, your sanity and your health (and maybe your marriage). If this were me, I would distance myself completely. It also sounds like this woman's husband is in denial of what is going on. Does he still have issues from being raised by a critical, narcissistic mother? Perhaps he needs some help dealing with that. Get away - and don't worry about the badmouthing. Do what you need to do to protect yourself and your family.

    Posted by alyssa July 16, 09 08:23 PM
  1. I have lived with this exact situation now for 10 years. My mother in law is a nightmare. When I had my first child she got worse. The criticism, the complaints that my family dominates, the gossiping within the family, the backhanded comments etc are all my reality. To me this is simple. You need to get your husband to stick up for you, your nuclear family and the decisions you and he are making as parents. I recommend yelling and screaming until he does this. He grew up with a very difficult mother and is used to doing what she wants and saying nothing to defend himself, so unless you teach him (read force him) he won't do it. Now is the time. In our case we then had a cooling down period of several years. My MIL now respects that we are the parents and we're going to raise our children as we see fit, and she has finally realized that she's not going to get what she wants (to know our children well) if she makes our lives miserable. So she tries hard to be nice. Being her, that ends up being acceptable in her behavior if not exactly what I'd call nice, but it's good enough that I can spend a weekend with her without needing to leave or throw her. And I trust her enough to send my older children to stay at her house alone (she breaks all the rules, but who cares after the age of 3, really...) This is a major success story for our family. I hope that over the years you can find success too. But don't cave like so many people want you to-- that's what she's hoping for and she'll only get worse if she sees weakness! Oh and I could never, ever have her watch my children while I work. A great nanny is definitely the way to go.

    Posted by ProvidenceMom July 16, 09 09:17 PM
  1. Jenny you need to feel secure with whoever you trust to care for your child. If you have concerns you need to voice them - its your job to as a mother. Do not have your MIL watch your child if you are not 100% okay with it. Your DH needs to think long and hard about the situation since he is smack dab in the middle. A manipulative MIL will only cause more problems if you allow her to - and she will if becomes a daily caretaker of your child. Don't be manipulated. Stay strong girl!

    Posted by Red Sox Mama July 16, 09 09:36 PM
  1. Poster named Suzanne had great points on this. I am so surprised by all of these stories echoing yours. I have a great relationship with my inlaws, and it's good to be reminded to be grateful for it, since that isn't necessarily a given it will turn out that way. I had a tumultuous, unhappy childhood, so i value it even more. Good luck.

    Posted by local July 16, 09 09:39 PM
  1. PS. Stephanie in Natick, if you are reading this, I hope you have the support of your own family or friends. I used to live in Natick, so I know it's a very family friendly and open hearted community. I hope you are in touch with some local moms there for friendship and support. Is the Natick Cooperative Playgroup still meeting in one of the churches (basement) near the town center? You could also stop by the recreation department. I forgot the name of the exact program, but Natick has a grant for FANTASTIC free programs for kids 0-4 that are run in a space in the rec building (including a drop in playgroup that can be a nice place to go). Find out when signups are. Just reading your message has me worried for you, but please know you are not alone as a young mom. There are a ton of people out there who would support you if you seek them out.

    Posted by local July 16, 09 09:54 PM
  1. It is very hard for a daughter-in-law to change the behavior and mind-set of the mother-in-law. She is who she is. It is as hard for a daughter-in-law to change the behaviors between her husband and her mother-in-law, since it is the way the husband was brought up. She is always going to be the husband's mother. Try to change the mother-in-law could be futile. Try to convince the husband how unreasonable his mother is can only make the husband defensive and make the husband-wife relationship worse.
    However, I don't suggest to buckle in. The daughter-in-law needs to make herself happy first before she is in a position to make everyone else happy. As time goes, as the daughter-in-law grows, the interactive behavior beween daughter- in- law and mother- in- law will change for the better as the mother-in-law realize the power within you.
    My mother-in-law was an extreme. She barged into my bedroom while I was nursing, touched my breast and declared that I did not have enough breast milk, therefore I should give up breast feeding and stop making her grandchildren hungry..........However things change. A few perspectives and actions worked for me for dealing with an opiniated, strong will, and wants to take over mother-in-law.
    1. Grandparents want the best for their grandchildren. It is okay to let them to watch the baby from time to time.
    2. Minimize the contact to reduce conflict and influence. But when interact, keep calm. Assert calmly that I will make my own decision.
    3. Let the husband to deal with the in-law and make it husband's responsibility to keep the in-law happy and in-check. Lay out boundary calmly with the husband: what is acceptable and what is not. Yet, not emotionally lash out against the mother-in-law in front of the husband.
    4. It helps to have a couple of girl friends.
    5. Knowing in-law will get older before you do. As a mom, you will have much more impact on your kids than the in-law on their grandchildren.

    Posted by Nancy July 16, 09 10:21 PM
  1. Great topic! I had a similar problem with an ex-MIL (who actually has diagnosed mental issues)- she started moving around to follow us; demanded control of my husband's holidays; and ignored or criticized me (behind my back) repeatedly... It does get worse. It all started when she made a few offhand catty remarks about my career, husband, my engagement ring. I wrote it off as weird. She also played games with our wedding plans and my husband did try to stand up to her, as necessary. But, the threat was ever looming!... When she moved nearby, it hit the fan. Her cruelty when I did nothing to her except love her son has been extremely
    hurtful!!! I did not want a divorce after 10 years together, but she eventually came out and pressured my husband! She was brazen and outrageous. My husband was weak in this instance. Get professional help. Both of you need to take this seriously NOW!!!!

    Posted by Ellen July 16, 09 11:15 PM
  1. A wife can be replaced...numerous times. You can be as stubborn as you want with your mother-in-law but be prepared for the consequences. You're just a wife. There's always divorce and child support. He'll find somebody with less drama and complications.
    And now being a mother yourself, how would you behave if your baby ends up marrying somebody you (almost) despise. Do you really expect your child to abandon you for this spouse?
    'Respect your parents' goes before 'Thou shall not commit adultery'. You can be replaced.

    Posted by jenny July 16, 09 11:55 PM
  1. The odd thing about the DIL not trusting the MIL with the kids is that, if I've read correctly, it has nothing to do with safety or love for the child; it's about the DIL's parenting style not being followed. To that I say "so what?" It doesn't matter one whit to the child that the MIL has a different way of caring than Mom does. We were thrilled to have my parents-in-law care for our kids, we knew that the kids were treated differently in their house than in our house, but to the kids it didn't matter. The grew up knowing that Nana had different rules than Mom and Dad, and that was OK with everyone.

    As for the other problem . . . her husband has a spousal responsibility to be on his wife's side dealing with troublesome people outside the marriage . . . even if they are in the family.

    Posted by Kei July 17, 09 01:19 AM
  1. Ugh, MIL sounds like a jerk. My advice would be to talk to the hubby about your concerns instead of trying to tackle them alone. He may have coping strategies for dealing with his mother's personality that may work for you or work with your strategies. Ultimately, though, if your MIL does not care that she is upsetting you (telling her directly what she's doing and why it's hurtful may also help, for she may actually not be aware of the effects of her words), then you may just want to limit contact with her (as much as your husband will allow). You can only do so much to mend the relationship; she has to want to get along with you (and contact with her grandchild may or may not be enough of an incentive for that).

    Posted by momofone July 17, 09 07:20 AM
  1. Thank you all who posted to my problem - the number of supportive emails has been truly astounding. I really don't think I elaborated enough on why I don't think my MIL is the best choice of caretaker (other than she has promised one of the siblings that she will break our rules). First, in the last 5 months, she has seen our baby only a small handful of times. She never offers to hold the baby and never likes talking about the baby. The day after the birth of the baby, MIL and FIL took a THREE WEEK long trip and I can count on one hand the number of times they have come visit us. When we visit them, if I'm nursing, she suggests when the baby falls asleep that I leave the baby on her bed unattended (our baby rolls vigorously). I have told her several times that we're usually around and she should come by (shes 25 minutes away) but she never does. In the past, she has made hurtful and cutting remarks to my face, has attacked my family in front of me and the baby, and has shown a blatant lack of disrespect for me and my family. I'm terrified she'll use her "face time" with the baby do continue her verbal war. This is more than just giving a baby cheerios (although it wouldn't surprise me if she tried to give cow's milk to our baby as she has a clear disregard for breastfeeding).I don't think she always makes safe decisions and I don't think she can help herself from speaking ill of me and my family to our baby (when she can't stop herself from doing it to me, my hubby, his siblings, etc.). Hope that clarifies the issue a bit! Thanks again to all!

    Posted by Jenny July 17, 09 08:51 AM
  1. oops, I meant lack of respect, not disrespect in my previous post. I hope that was obvious.

    Posted by Jenny July 17, 09 09:08 AM
  1. I know how you feel...I say you should avoid her like the plague and enlist your husband to seriously develop a strategy NOW or you will either face ongoing abuse and resentment for life or she can wreck the marriage, trust me. My MIL had an incurable mental disorder and it never let up. It sounds like this lady is similar. She needs her own spouse, right? My MIL was so bad that I couldn't even imagine having children with her always popping in uninvited and throwing scenes... Good luck!

    Posted by Ellen July 17, 09 10:28 AM
  1. Oh, I see your MIL is still with a FIL. My MIL also was/IS on a hate rampage against my FIL, her long-suffering ex, who supported our relationship. Maybe you should give your situation one last concerted effort to salvage a relationship for the children, but do limit contact. Good luck!

    Posted by Ellen July 17, 09 10:44 AM
  1. I read this orginal post and just bursted into tears. It's exactly what I'm going through right now. My daughter is 6 months old and my MIL in out of control. It started the day she was born, I had a great relationship with her before but it all changed. Nothing we do is right, and is silly or stupid. Doesn't respect our wishes to keep their Shih tzu (who has snapped and bit my husband in the face and my FIL) away from her face, etc etc...I could go on and on. They have threatened us twice. The first time was that they were going to try to take her away from us, and the 2nd time was 2 weeks ago......they said "you hurt us, we will hurt you". I'm just sick over it all. I don't trust her. I could go on and on......I'm just miserable. My husband is FINALLY standing up to his mother, but I feel so bad for him. They are treating him so badly. Good luck with your situation.

    Posted by Allison B July 18, 09 08:31 PM
  1. If a MIL really cares about her child's happiness she will "Butt Out" and not be a problem maker. I have three sons, and have always told them the key to a happy marriage is to always put their wives feelings first. Some MIL's never grow up and continue to lean on their children for emotional support. Get a life MILS. The reason my DIL love me is because I respect them, it does swing both ways. Dudes grow some b***s and stand up to your Mothers.

    Posted by Brenda Holmes Gilbert July 19, 09 06:22 PM
  1. It's amazing how much parents can forget in 30 years. We also know more about safety and may have different standards on things like spanking or yelling. My MIL's great advice was to give the newborn a pacifier dipped in honey (and when we pointed out infant botulism, not for infants under 1, she suggested using starbucks coffee flavoring syrup or pasta sauce instead). The baby was clearly hungry and needed to nurse, but no, plug it up! My own mother picked up the newborn for the first time and damn near dropped her, letting her head loll around. Neither one of them got to watch the kid alone until she was old enough to talk and rat them out ;) And I love them both dearly, they were just quite rusty.

    Jenny, I wouldn't be surprised if your MIL does not respect your feeding instructions if you are pumping breastmilk. She'll microwave it, shake it, or just happen to have a can of formula around, and then you'll hear some bs about "he likes it better! he sleeps longer!"

    What I would do, if you can afford the daycare: Convince husband that it will be a hard transition from solitary care to preschool when baby is older and wants/needs to be around peers. Additionally, if a sole care provider gets sick, well, one of you is staying home to watch the kid that day. Daycare will not call in sick. I have found both of these things to be true w/ my own nanny situation. Find a child care location you really like, and sign up for 4 days. Grandma gets Fridays or something. Tell her you don't want to overburden her and that this will be a special treat for the baby once a week, and oh how grateful you are.

    If you catch her doing something unsafe or violating a rule that is important to you, then go up to 5 days at daycare and make an effort to have supervised visits on weekends. I'd hope your husband would be more sympathetic if you have at least tried out the arrangement. An actual violation is harder to ignore than a theoretical one. If she's coming to your home (I hope), then at least you have more control over the environment and can set up babyproofing as you see fit.

    If possible, have her start one day a week while you are running short errands or in another part of the house doing "work" or something. She may get sick of it before fall even rolls around if she is that self-centered. Tiny babies are not much of an audience to a narcissist. I might also suggest that you see a counselor for a few sessions to work through your feelings and play out strategies for how to balance these relationships. It really does help.

    Good luck! Sorry for the novel.

    Posted by Benita July 21, 09 10:32 AM
  1. "Mother-in-Law" was covered by by Huey Lewis And The News but it was written and initially performed by legendary New Orleans R&B artist Ernie K-Doe.
    Good luck with your M-I-L, Jenny. I really feel for you. My own is well-intentioned but lacks boundaries. When we married, she "surprised" us with a paid honeymoon -- just the THREE of us. In the same room. Still, she's pleasant enough. Yours sounds like a real meanie. I wouldn't leave my kiddo alone with her. It sounds like she'll deliberately flout your "rules" just to make a point.

    Posted by lemonmelon July 22, 09 01:58 PM
  1. I have no understanding of why people assume that mothers are dying to care for grandchildren! I love my two sons but have NO DESIRE to become a babysitter. I took care of my own kids and hired a sitter evenings when we went out or on some adult vacations. Now I have a whole other life.
    It is NOT SELF CENTERED TO want your own life----no different from the daughterin law wanting to go back to a career.

    Posted by Donna July 23, 09 07:55 PM
  1. Totally disagree with response! I don't really understand why it is that daughter in laws are supposed to tolerate unsolicited criticism or advice from anyone, let alone a mother in law who is motivated not by a desire to be helpful as much as a desire to prove that her daughter in law is incompetent as a mother. I don't tell my mother in law how she should live her life despite my many ideas on the subject - where does she get off telling me anything??? I think MILs should mind their own business. These are not their children and unless there is a serious problem, they should keep their snide remarks to themselves.

    Posted by Rebecca July 31, 09 01:31 PM
  1. I highly recommend the book "Toxic In-Laws: Loving Strategies to Protect Your Marriage" by Susan Forward. I am in a very similar situation and I can promise you it will only get worse. As Susan Forward writes, "If you have in-law problems, you have marriage problems". While this book may not solve your MIL problem, it will at least give you clarity and let you know that you are not alone. It will also help you to see the psychology behind your MIL's behavior.

    Posted by Carrie August 13, 09 01:59 PM
  1. This I do not understand. Why on earth does a DIL think she can control her in laws with a grandchild. This is exactly what you tried to do. Do not deny it. Call her Toxic if you like but you have no right to tell her how she should act or feel about anything. This is exactly why a son should "leave his parents and cleave to his wife". I told my DIL "I don't give refunds, you have him now". Just because she is a grandmother (not a choice of hers) is no reason to expect her to babysit. Her and her husbands business is not yours. You seem to think it is with your comments. Your transparent.

    Posted by Pat August 14, 09 06:40 PM
  1. I don't know what the other side of this issue is, but I have been a daughter-in-law and I am a mother-in-law. I won't say my mother-in- law was the best in the world, but I am now beginning to see the wisdom of her ways and respect her for her counsel.
    She has been dead for 4 years now, and I truly regret that I couldn't have been as enlightened in my 20s and 30s as I am now. I have two daughters-in-law, and from the beginning, I have tried to treat them as if they are my own children. They have two children each, and I do a great deal of babysitting on top of my job. I love my grandchildren, and I want to be a part of their lives; however, one daughter-in-law expects me to care for her children anytime and just be seen and not heard. I also buy most of what they wear. She doesn't have a job, and my son needs help with the expenses sometimes. I am glad to help if I can, but I feel they use me for money and childcare, but if I give a suggestion about anything, they punish me by keeping the children away from me. I am always very respectful with any advice I give. You see, I remember the way I felt when my own mother-in-law gave advice. I am being punished right now because I addressed a point in a respectful way that I was worried about. I have now had enough, and I am no longer available to be used by them. I find it interesting that most beefs are about the paternal mother-in-law instead of the maternal mother-in-law. Think about it. I know for a fact, my son's mother-in-law refuses to put herself out for the kids. I raised my three sons, and I know I did a good job, but I am not going to have my children use their children as a weapon to make me walk the line. I think that happens far too often. I have never gone against
    my children's parenting choices. I don't know what is going on with the case being discussed here, but believe me, it is not always the mean old mother-in-law and the poor innocent daughter-in-law. I am living proof of that. My son and daughter-in-law are going to meet my condtiions before I ever do for them again. I am tired of walking on egg shells to please them. I just wish they would grow up.

    and I

    Posted by Lynnetta September 3, 09 02:19 PM
  1. I don't know if anything that you do will make any difference. Your husband is like mine, trying to make both women happy or at time try to remove himself from the situation and forget to realized who or which one is the wife. I live with my MIL for over ten years now and it gets worse every day. Everything i do can not live up to her expectation or never good enough. She told me straight out in front of my husband to divorce me and that she will never accept me as a daughter in law. We been together for 20 years and have 3 kids. I blamed all my problems on MIL but now I am so depressed and tired of criticism that I think that I now becames the problem. My marriage has been very rocky for the last 2 years since we moved away from my family.

    Posted by tt November 21, 09 11:08 AM
  1. I am a mother in law. My son and his wife married a little less that 2 years ago. They dated for a long time before deciding to marry. I liked my DIL when I met her. She has a very strong relationship with her parents in Florida and they seemed to have accepted my son as a member of the family. But there was trouble brewing from the rehearsal dinner on that has erupted into a real fiasco. I am not here to place blame, but just to say that there are some MIL's who are good people and just get a bad wrap. I have tolerated so much, and my daughter and her family have too, trying to keep some kind of relationship with this girl. I am truly convinced this young lady would like nothing more than to see my son sever his relationship with me and his sister. I have deliberately maintained my distance to keep trouble from brewing in the house for my son. I send cards and emails and I visit once yearly from KY to FL. But other than that, I give her full reign over her own household and over my son. From what I have been reading, most DIL's start the trouble with their MIL's because they are immature and frightened of the control they perceive the MIL has over the son. DIL's why not try to look upon your MIL's as people? In my case, I have decided to allow the book to be closed. My nerves can't take any more bickering. My son and his wife have their own family unit now. I seem to be an irritation to them by my mere existence in the universe. I wonder how far away I would need to move to give my DIL the peace and security she needs to no longer feel threatened. But since I am still breathing, I will give this one up as a lost ball in very high weeds. My son and his wife will have to work through their issues. This MIL is going a much needed and much deserved extended vacation.

    Posted by Margaret December 18, 09 11:42 AM
  1. Oh Margaret Margaret, I can see exactly who you are. "I give her full reign". Was her household and husband ever yours to give away. NO! That is where your problem is my love.
    As for other comments above. I agree totally that it is the sons job to strap a pair on and sort the mess out. Tell his mum that if she is not willing to accept that he is a family unit and butt out she can butt off. I am going through similar issues now with my MIL who has turned the whole of her family against me, making up untruths about my treatment of her and telling my husband that he had his priorities all wrong and that he should side with with his family. (Thats not me and his two children btw, its her and his siblings. After a big fall out, he has now started up a relationship with them again and I basically do not exist. When they come to see my children I have to make myself scarce. I feel like a bit of a door mat and am unhappy about it but whenever I try to talk to my husband, he shouts and turns nasty.

    Posted by Helen May 4, 10 05:47 PM
  1. I'm a new mother-in-law and soon to be first time grandmother. I have been reading a lot of MIL & DIL stories on these sites. My concern is only the MIL get trashed and not their mothers. Do these women believe only their mothers know anything? I have been trying so hard to be a good MIL but everything I do is wrong. MIL's are just as excited about the new baby as the mothers parents. I'm not sure yet where things will end up when the baby comes but Im not expecting much time with the baby and that just about kills me. I think that if we raised our son good enough for you to fall in love with then we can't be all that bad. Just 1 more thing my son's where baby sat by my MIL and I knew they were with someone that loved them and not not a stranger. Am i supposed to ask for a do and don't list being the MIL and all?

    Posted by Debbie Woodfine April 4, 11 05:37 PM
  1. There are so much written here seems like regular scenes from my life. Today, I became so emotional from the morning after receiving her rude comments again. Just four months before, I didn't put too much attention to her comments or behavior. But, things changed a lot after my baby girl passed away 7 days after she was born. I know, I have become more and more emotional or should I say sensitive after the whole incidence. This sudden loss could not be blamed on anyone, it was just something we had to go through. She was born as a full term baby, but got infected with hospital virus after birth and passed away because of septicemia. The doctors never could identify the actual reason behind her getting septicemia and after four months, I know, we are never getting any answer. It just started enraging me when I understood that my grieving MIL was continuously saying if she was around, this wouldn't have happened or I was not strong enough to be a mother. After 2 nights of no sleep at the hospital, I have put my baby in the nursery and took some pills to get some sleep. She implies continuously that I was not strong enough to handle the pressure of being a mother. A mother has to be strong as an ox or maybe like her and I didn't do a good enough job. She was never concerned about my health or my getting any sleep. It became so much out of control that me and my husband finally sat for a confrontation with her. We talked for hours and she seemed to understand the reality. Its too painful to bear your own pain and then handle other people's absurd ideas and thoughts.

    I am not so sure, but have been trying for 4.5 years of marriage to make her feel like I do not want to change anything in her life. I may not say, I love her or thank her enough, but try to be polite and respectful to her. Its just, she is always judgmental and passing comments when I don't want any. It does hurt a lot and makes me not want to participate in anything. I should say, we live together with my MIL and FIL. I know, she is a good and sensible person and does a lot for everyone around her. She had been kind enough to buy me a lot of stuff (whether I need them or not). Its just that, she can't seem to erase the difference between a daughter and a daughter in law. She is always worried about her daughter's welfare but ignores mine. What can I say, Jenny, its something we have to live with, no matter what. Because, we just not married their son, his family too.

    Posted by Laila May 8, 11 04:46 AM
  1. Comment Post #2. I COULD NOT DISAGREE WITH YOU MORE!!! Barbara has it right in her original assessment. It is with out a doubt the responsibility of the two people having the problem to work it out. One of the two people has to take the initiative and want to make it work. The husband loves the mother and loves the wife. His only problem is the two aren't getting along. He can't fix it. No matter how thoughtful or hard he tries he is caught in the middle. IT IS NOT ABOUT TAKING HIS WIFE'S SIDE. From my experience when there is a conflict the two sides having it must mend the relationship. Look at history and you will see that this is the correct path.

    Posted by Tim July 24, 11 07:05 AM
  1. Under no circumstances should this MIL babysit this child! Even for a day! You would never accept a caretaker who not only didn't agree with your childrearing principles, but personally undermined you. She thinks her husband is stuck in the middle!?! How about a newborn? No!

    The core problem isn't the MIL, it's that the husband isn't sticking up for his wife. The MIL doesn't want to give up her son; she senses his weakness, and keeps hammering away at the wife. He's allowing his mother to criticize his wife and the mother of his child relentlessly, would he let anyone else do that? He has to make a choice, the wife or the MIL. When he does, and communicates that to his mother WITHOUT WAVERING AT ALL, she'll also realize that she has to choose to have a relationship with her son's family or not. The question is, will he? If he declines, I really recommend you go for couples' counseling ASAP.

    I also really recommend you find a good daycare, sign the baby up for it now. If I had had the finances to get a nanny I would have, and it would have been a mistake. My daughter LOVED daycare, she got to be with other children, and had wonderful, wonderful caretakers.

    Posted by susan July 24, 11 07:57 AM
  1. MIL's need o know their place, Period! I had a disastrous MIL situation for years, it is not perfect now and I still have alot of Drama with her and have to tell my husband to keep her in check or I will and he definately doesn't want that! Having granparents is a gift, if they are worthy of the gift of a grandchild and are positive healthy minded people. Obviously this woman has a problem with everything this daughter in law does and feels the need to voice it, (Tell her not too!) Keep your opinions to yourself is a good place to start! I would Never leave our infant son with my MIL !!! whether my husband pushed the issue to the Moon or Not!

    Posted by Fed up DIL daugfhter in law December 22, 11 07:09 AM
  1. Being a MIL stinks. We get the raw end of the deal. You lose your relationship with your son; the DIL runs the house and you barely get to see the grandkids. DILs are insecure and payback is a mother. Can't wait to see it when their son marries!

    Posted by Shocked January 1, 12 09:29 PM
  1. NO MATTER WHAT THE PARENT'S HAVE TO TRY N MAKE SURE THE GRANDPARENT'S STAY IN THE GRANDCHILDREN'S LIFE'S..THIS CAN LEAD TO LOW SELF ESTEEM PROBLEMS FOR THE CHILDREN...THINK OF THE KIDS ALL ADULTS NEED TO GROW UPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by at one time dil now mil January 8, 12 09:45 PM
  1. Mother in laws have a plroblem, their time with their sons is over. Now is my time. My husband and i, we want to make a family here. Mother in Law had her chance already to raise kids. No matter how noce you become to mother in laws, they do not appreciate. They just see daughter in laws as threats in their life time. They should not stress daughter in laws in their houses. Its even worse when a husband is mama's boy. I have been married for five years now and m tired of playing Mrs Nice to my inlaws but no one appreciates. My husband is also mamas boy. Because i am the daughter in law i am suppossed to say yes to everything they suggest. Hell No?suggest

    Posted by Mary July 7, 12 05:32 AM
  1. Mother in laws are are painful and from I have read, DO NOT leave your child with her. I have learnt the hard way. My mother in law loves my son, whom she adores, (there are 3 children I have but she only loves the one). She has been bad news for his mental health where she speaks to him like an adult and tells him things "not of his age". His only 7 years old. To me, she serious phscological help. My theory is this: If you know no better, you will do better." and his woman really knows NO better. Just because my husband agreed with me and stood by me when all hell broke loose, she drove him into depression by constantly calling him to tell him "how weak he is" "his not a man" "he should change his surname"

    Posted by nancy July 20, 12 09:25 AM
  1. I am a mother in law struggling with my daughter in law's disapproval of anything i say. I am not a critical person, and i certainly can understand how a brand new mother who is dealing with a lot of people trying to help her at once would get overwhelmed and defensive...however; I say very little and seem to be the one who gets blasted.
    I'm extremely sensitive and know i have to shore it up...however, it's painful to see the dishonest dynamics my daughter in law employs. My son is wonderful and loves us both...and will not speak ill of either of us...i know that about him and so does she.
    We do have our love for him and their baby in common! So, I will swallow the dreadful way she can attempt to put me down, or put me in my place...in hopes that she will some day know me enough to talk to me in a respectful way. (By the way, i made only two statements that i can think of that may have been construed as critical or interfering...one was...the cookies they made may have needed more of a certain ingredient (these cookies are a family tradition) and, that the baby's tummy might be hurting. That was all it took for me to be treated like someone she just didn't like or want anything to do with. Her mother is extremely overbearing and invasive...and she can do no wrong. The holidays were tough! As for your situation...it seems your MIL is offering unsolicited advice, and that is always difficult. Perhaps you can ask her to wait until you ask her for her recommendation about something....then try and think of something she might be able to help you with. She may be anxious. It's tough watching our children have children...she may be feeling confused about her responsibility with some regret about her own parenting. Good luck and thanks for posting this! A mother and a mother in law :)

    Posted by Karen January 13, 13 06:32 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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