How to help mother-in-law join your parenting team

Sometimes an older generation has a hard time getting on board with your parenting plan. For your own mother, you probably spent your teen years figuring out how to tell her (nicely, of course!) to butt out! But for your mother-in-law, it can be hard to communicate your parenting needs so that she understands and can comply. What are your best tips for dealing with complications from your in-laws?

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8  Answers

31 16

My personal experience tells me at least I should be honest and express my feelings with my MIL in a respectful way. I did and it wasn't easy. I had to put in a lot of efforts to keep myself cool and clear-minded. My MIL doesn't know how to keep an open mind and she doesn't listen either. Whenever I open my mouth she's automatically in a defensive mode and ready to pick my own words to attack me. Whatever is different from her ways she thinks it's wrong and she's very judgemental too. I can't change that and I don't want to. But after I talked to her I've found she's not that critical of me any more. She's toned it down a bit. The main point of my talk with her is that I understand we are two different persons and I know her intentions are always good. Although her words hurt my feelings most of the time, I don't take it personally and I won't be upset with her. I feel so much better after I expressed how I feel in a mature and respectful way and how she's going to take it (or twist it) is not under my control but I'm at peace with myself.

3
9 23

It depends on everyone person. Really, I don't look at it as helping anyone join any team; my child, my rules.
My relationship with my MIL hit epic proportions when I was pregnant (it was ok before then). Then imploded within a few months after having my daughter. I was even close to leaving my husband over his attitude (and I think his mentioning, on at least one occasion, that I was making "it" up) and, as I felt it was, desertion. Finally I sat down and made notes and used them to write a (turned out to be 4 page) letter to my MIL explaining and outlining everything I had bottled up; as, by this point in time, the mere mention of her, muchless the possibility of her being around me spawned shattering panic attacks. She came back with the 'postpartum psychosis' and 'you did this just to hurt me' responses, as well as many other things (long story short...very short!). All of which led to a 10 month, give or take, shut out. My husband was free to see his mother, I never have, nor never will get in the way of their relationship; however, my daughter and I were off limits.
After 10 months or so my husband pretty much set me up and I was forced to face her again. Slowly we discussed things, and for the first time in our relationship, someone (she) actually sat down and tried to get to know ME.
She can be a pain still sometimes, however, our relationship has gotten to a VERY good place! I even contemplate calling her Mom.
I guess in saying all of this, my intent is to really say, one can't control anyone but oneself. I know from experience the ones that cause the deepest scars are the ones closest to us. I kept quiet out of respect for my husband, and fear of my anger. Confront the problem head on, lay down your 'rules' and authority, and let them know what actions you plan on taking should the issues continue. I have a 'rule of thumb', so to speak, that my experiences have created in me. If there is something I question, I ask myself:
If, one day, she comes back to me and asks me 'why', what am I going to tell her, and, in the very core of my being, is it good enough and can I live with it, knowing, in my heart of hearts, it was the best decision possible; OR am I 'throwing her to lions'?

2
13 61

with great difficulty!!!! :) my MIL and i struggle (to put it nicely) most of the time, she couldnt cope with the fact when i asked them not to give my child (only had one then) lollies she wasnt even 1 - they didnt like it when i brought food for my child she got her nose out of joint and wouldnt talk to me - it was like going back to school - my hubby was no good as he wouldnt say anything to her unless it reached epic proportions she has real issues! to begin with i didnt want to offend her but now i dont care - i have learnt to nicely tell her its my way or the highway - and if she gets her nose out of joint and i really dont care they are my kids.

2
1 23

My MIL feels she needs to be a good Grandma because she went through Depression when he kids were young and so she feels she missed out. Once before my 1st daughter was born she said something like I want to be a better Grandma then I was Mom. I want to actually play with my kids. That being said she doesn't understand me. We are total opposites(she is OCD about cleaning and I try to keep things clean but my kids are more important than my mess). I feel I get judged about everything I do. But I've come to the conclusion that in a sense "you love the sinner but not the sin". It doesn't necessarily have to be a sin but if I don't love the things she does or says I can still love her. I have to put the rest behind me or else I will be miserable. That or confront her about things but I feel she has the best intentions so it's best I let it go. She would never do anything to hurt my kids so therefore it's not worth the fight right now to me. It may be sometimes but for now I'm trying to let things go, and realize I'm a good Mom even if she doesn't think so.

1
3 27

It depends with your MIL.Some even after saying it respectfully some get offended, they take it personnally. In that case if she is with me for some time i let it go and deal with it while she is gone.

1
0 5

Do it honestly and respectfully. There are several things that my mother in law doesn't understand about my parenting style with my kids, but, after simply telling her that, while I respect her point of view, we are always going to differ on at least a few things.
It depends on the mother-in-law, as well. My first MIL was not at ALL respectful of my parenting style. She undermined and overruled me at every turn, making our relationship a difficult one. She was not good with criticism, either.

1
5 14

Id like to know about step moms. Mine double standards my daughter to her 8 yr old son. He gets away with everything and she gets in trouble for any little thing. She recently freaked cause i asked my brother to house sit and watch her and my step mim freaked saying she should always be first person for me to ask to watch isabelle. She is a my way or ill throw a fit kinda person. Its almost impossible to do anything but for her to have her way but its not fair. And its hard to confront her without her freaking out that shes wrong andmakes a huge deal out of it

0
9 23

Personally, I'd limit contact between your step mother and daughter! Have you tried speaking with your father about the issues you have with your step mother? He should be your first line of defense! Sounds like she's being self-centered (obviously, right?!) :) and manipulative. I've learned from experience, sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better. People have to realize what they lose before they realize it's worth working on. Maybe its just my frame of mind, however, I would start out with a conversation with your father. If that doesn't help the situation, I would write down the issues you have with her, examples and experiences that highlight those issues (or maybe I'm just too jaded from my past), and confront her head on. If you can arrange a situation where the kids aren't around, even better (If you're like me, it's got to be a moment of 'fed up' to push you into a confrontation). It's hard to explain, however, the largest mistake the general population makes when interacting with people like your step mother sounds like, is 'feeding the fire' so to speak. Were, without realizing or wanting to, 'you' allow them to generate enough emotion in 'you' that it turns into a confrontation. The idea behind the whole thing (It's been awhile since I heard about it) is to be mindful of reactions. Or, I guess, mindful of the need not to react. By stating your stance, not arguing, not launching accusations, or anything of that nature, one shuts down the ability for other's to manipulate and twist to fit their agenda. Sounds contradicting; however, confronting the issues (issues, not topics) head on, laying down your boundaries, and enforcing them without apology, might get the point across. Just be prepared for backlash...cause ya never know. Most importantly, remember and consider the possible/potential experiences your daughter will have and how it will affect her.

13 20

Shes from poland and only recently came here(the father of my child was 7 when he came here) so we have very different ideas of parenting. Everything I do is wrong in her eyes and always will be so Ive given up on even trying with her. I remain civil with his parents and just watch closely when my baby is with them(they do odd things imo). Doesnt help either that my BF wont say anything to them so I always look like the bad guy. His parents have never liked me in the 6 years weve been together and im sure they never will, oh well their loss. I wish we could be a "normal" family and atleast get along for the holidays and on the off times we actually all get together but I guess not =(

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