My husband's mother does not have a good hygiene and she oftentimes smells so bad.

Camille - posted on 02/06/2010 ( 36 moms have responded )

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I don't know how to ask my husband to talk to her about that. I don't know if he might be offended or think I don't have the right to bring that up. My girls have noticed and many times say something and I get embarrassed thinking she might end up offended (they are 5 and 3 so maybe she takes it as something little kids do). Every time she stays at our house, I notice that she does not brush her teeth among other things that are simple hygiene. I'm on constant watch not to let her give my girls some of what she is eating (well I don't let other people do that, just their dad and me and I should stop that). And don't believe that is the other thing I constantly watch, there are many others. I don't know how to even explain the situation well!!! Help!

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Shawna - posted on 06/13/2013

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I have been reading some of the comments bc I deal with a stepmom who showers every 7 days. She smokes cigs daily and often her diet is poor. My dad and her showed up at my house unannounced after not speaking to me for 1 yr and 8mos. They bring their dog that has fleas, knots, and caked on dirt. They are staying in my guest room which smells even into the hall way. I spray it with frebreeze everyday. I have brought her gift sets. My husband and I both mention towels several times. They are staying a 100 days. Now back to some of you that think we are being rude or judgemental. How many of you have a someone in your life with bad hygiene? Anyone walking in our shoes? I have older children who have seen this women be this way even when they were young. I told them grandma may not bathe regularly but she is still your grandma. They don't want to be hugged or touched by her. They do not want her to be with her in public. My step mom is 45. Why does the person who has bad hygiene get to be rude to everyone around them with their smell, oily skin, and greasy hair? Why cant I stand up for my rights in my home. Why should I feel guilty for not wanting to be hugged by someone who has not washed off their sweat, dirt, dead skin cells and oily skin? Why should my room stink? After they leave it will take removing the bed they slept on. Daily air freshening. Washing the carpet. I should do this so her feeling are not hurt? What about mine? Is she not being rude by leaving such a smell. I think the better option is to talk to her and help her. Most of my sibs and others that I know in my family avoid her and talk about her. So how is that helping her? Helping her would be getting the problem fixed not by ignoring the problem. SO Camille good for you for reaching out for help. Don't let the negative comments get to you. The problem with the world is that we ignore bad behavior or excuse it. You are not rude bc you want someone to have proper hygiene in your home.

Amanda - posted on 02/06/2010

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i would be straight up and honest about the smell with both your husband and your mother in-law. It might be harsh but if it's really bothering you this much you shouldn't sit back struggling with the issue alone. Yous husband should supportive what is going on. You don't want your kids to see your mother in-laws hygiene problems. Kids repeat what they see and hear. It's one of the many ways they learn. Keep up the good hygiene you have for your girls already. But you should be straight up and honest with your husband about everything that bothers you.

Jill - posted on 06/21/2011

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My mom is 80 and has had horrible hygiene her whole life. It is getting worse with her being elderly and I am really at my wit's end with it. Don't beat yourself up for getting mad or being embarrassed - of course you are. Any normal person would be. The sad part about the whole thing is that the unhygienic person just loses out on having good relationships because people are so repulsed by them. I tried for years with the hints, buying new outfits for her, taking her for spa days, etc. but no more. I just severely limit my time with her. If she doesn't care enough about me to do basic hygiene then why should I bother caring about her? Relationships require effort from both sides.

Patricia - posted on 02/08/2010

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Just go to her and be straight up. Tell her that it is nothing against her but her personal hygeine needs to be addressed and hit it straight on. Tell her that she is setting a bad example for your kids when she is around and since you and your husband take pride in proper hygeine that you would appreciate it if she would too.

April - posted on 02/06/2010

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If it was me I would ask him whos shirt that is and not tell him that its his mothers and just have him smell of it and and wait for a response. If he mentins the smell drop the bomb on him about being his mothers shirt, and just wait and see what he says about it. I know that is prob a mean way to do things but it just might help in the end so he doesn't think that you or your kids are making it up. Or just have your kids say something to him about it. That might help as well. Because you certainly can't keep ignoring the problem its only going to get worse for you.

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Jamie - posted on 03/02/2010

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I know a woman who has demintia. She is 52. A lack of hygiene was the first sign but by the time someone addressed it and convinced her to go to the doctor it was too late to change anything. If she used to have hygiene and now doesn't I would try to convince your husband to make her visit a doctor.

Catherine - posted on 02/09/2010

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when she stays let her know where you keep your towls and stuff incase she wants to take a bath and if she says she already knows just tell her that you werent shure if she did or not. she should get the hint. thats what i did to my mom

Keturah - posted on 02/09/2010

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why dont you send her a homade dollar store gift basket of deoderant,shower gel, you can even throw in some of those fancy bath sponges puff and a sented candle and be like her a basket of goodies i created full of therpy stuff. and say oh i know you can get stress out sometime or if her b-day coming up("oh happy b-day! a basket thepry set i made! lol:) )
or you can make it a nice in law valintine gift basket? that way it dont seem like your giving her basket full of hygen stuff and then offend her, u can just play it off:_) i hope this helps lol

Myra - posted on 02/09/2010

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Sorry you are having such a hard time just for asking about something that obviously is more common than other people think. On that note I worked at a shelter before for women, and when this became an issue we handled it quite effective. I would ask to speak with the person IN PRIVATE and then talk to them about having to take time for themselves. We would have bath giftsets there, so I would give the lady one and say something like go take a bubble bath and relax for a bit, while I (either watched the child/ren or did a chore for them) just so they can feel better. I then would also remind her that we as women need to wash our bodies on a daily basis because it helps us feel better about ourselves, our self esteem is lifted and we feel more empowered.



And then I would cross my fingers and hope and pray that it would last longer than a week, if it did, AWESOME, if it didn't I would say something like, "Are you still taking that "you" time, you seem a bit frazzled!!!



Good luck, and I don't see anything wrong with what you asked, nor do I think you were judging the lady! you should have control of what your daughters are being exposed to in your home. And you should always be able to go to your husband about this, just don't be mean or rude!



Again, good luck!

Laura - posted on 02/09/2010

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I no what your going through! My father is the same way. He has heart diease along with other things, and no just let everything go. He smells so bad and the house is gross. We don't go over there and if we do I don't let my girls in the house. It's a hard one, is she sick? Age? I think maybe that needs to be looked into. But we have talked to my father and he no's but doesn't care. I think maybe you and your husband should talk to her and see what's going on. Let her no and maybe see if you can get her some help. Maybe a visiting nurse or hire a CNA. Someone who will come to the house, help her bath or assist if she needs it. Maybe she's just forgetful if it's an age thing. They will also help with cleaning the house and laundry. Just something to think about. Or your'll just have to tell her the truth, sometimes a slap in the face is something a person needs. "you smell and we don't want the girls in a unhealth enviroment.

April - posted on 02/09/2010

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Just like the old saying goes "Don't judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes". I have walked that walk and I'm still walking it. So I hope that you can fix this problem b4 it causes anymore hardships for you and your family. Good luck and stick 2 your guns! :)

Camille - posted on 02/09/2010

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Thanks April! Circle of Moms should be a place in which I can ask questions w/o being judged and w/o having to explain myself. I do explain myself b/c, for me, is unacceptable that some people think I'm shallow when it's the opposite. I'm struggling w/ this b/c I feel like a bad person when I get mad because of her hygiene and also b/c I want my daughters to have a normal grandmother and to spend as much time as possible with her. I don't have my mom. It's sad to see how people give others a hard time when they are not going through the same situation. It would be really interesting to see what would they do (how would they deal with) in the same situation. It's easy to preach their good qualities of being tolerant and easy going even in the hardest situation (which I know it's not true b/c nobody is perfect). It is even easiest to mention God to make other people feel bad about how they feel when in a difficult situation like mine. I want to help the woman b/c I know I can't tolerate this situation for the many years to come. 7 years have passed and I have helped her a little but I can't let, say, 20 or 30 years to go by and see her in the same situation. I would feel miserable if I lived the same way as she does and I'm aware that it can happen to anyone. Life's situations can make a person end up like her and, if it were my case, I would like someone to help me. April, thanks many times for your understanding!!!

Jessica - posted on 02/08/2010

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Personally I think you should address it with her. I work in a bank and we have people that come in that have an odor to them. Other customers tend to stare and give them dirty looks. Just address it in a sensitive manner and explain to her that you are only trying to help her.

Michelle - posted on 02/08/2010

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I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM MY PARENT IN LAW ARE STINKY...

YOU COULD SMELL THEM FROM A MILE AWAY.WE NEVER STAY AT THEIR HOUSE WHEN WE VIST BECAUSE THEIR HOUSE STINKS IT'S BAD WHEN THEY LEAVE FROM VISITING I HAVE TO WASH EVERYTHING

April - posted on 02/08/2010

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My mom is 53 and she doesn't do this, and my MIL is in her 60's and the only problem I have with her is the strong perfume that she wears and that her house has a closed up oder all the time. I feel sorry for you because of the hard time people are giving you on here. I mean this is suppose to be a place to ask questions and get answers without having to explain yourself, and I feel like that is what you are having to do with this situation. You do what you feel that is right, and teach your children the same(cause obviously you are teaching them good manners with having respect for others things even if it has a odor!) In my opioion she good be doing all this just get some attetion b/c some people tend to be that way when they think the focus is not on them.

Camille - posted on 02/08/2010

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And I don't think she needs that (elderly assistance). She had some events in her life that somehow traumatized her (divorce) and it seems over the years that she has let herself go. When I met her 7 years ago, she used to have the teeth the same and she dressed the same but she didn't have the body odor. I want to help her b/c I want her to live a normal life. I'm inviting her to my daughter's kindergarten "graduation" and I'm thinking about the suggestion Angela gave me, I'll convince my husband to buy her the outfit for that event. And I want to buy her the makeup and assist her b/c she uses makeup the wrong way, all caked and colors that don't suit her. I hope this helps her. And I know she will feel more important if she's invited to the girls' events.

Camille - posted on 02/08/2010

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Brandi, thanks for your help. I forgot to say she is only 53. She is a strong woman. Many of you have mention assistance for the elderly.

Brandi - posted on 02/07/2010

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I am just curious as to why she isn't as hygienic as she used to be?? My grandmother (she is 74 and has dimensia) also used to carry a strong odor. To help her, I go to her home once a week and help her to bathe herself. (i would like to go out more often than once a week, but I really don't have any more free time and I think that is better than nothing). My grandfather cannot do it as he is also in poor health. I am not sure what your MIL's situation might be, but perhaps there is another condition you are not aware of? Just a question. You don't mention how close/far she lives from you, perhaps she could use some in-home assistance or maybe her bathroom needs to be updated for special needs she might have? Maybe instead of trying to find a way to tell her that you don't appreciate her smell, you might try to solve whatever the problem is that is causing her to let herself go. If it is sheer laziness, however, I'm afraid you might just have to let it go. I like the idea of providing her with a toothbrush and such when she comes to visit and hope she gets the hint. Often elderly people go thru severe depression as they age, perhaps this is contributing to her poor hygiene? Good luck and I hope you and your family can find a way to fix/ignore her odor and enjoy her good nature, as from all you have had to say about her, she seems like a very nice woman, who maybe needs a "refresher" in hygiene.

Camille - posted on 02/07/2010

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Angela, I forgot to say that that is exactly the way I feel. I let her stay b/c I want her to spend time with my daughters and b/c I wouldn't say no b/c I don't want her to feel left out. I have health concerns too b/c if she does not shower and she is walking the town all day and touching everything, then my efforts in washing my girls hands and bathing them when we get home from the mall (for example) are worthless the time she spends at our house. Swine flu is still out there and she does not have the consideration of having hygiene knowing that. We were talking about that and she said that I have to keep the girls' hands clean and use sanitizer but she does not do that and she knows the health risks. I explained before that there are serious reasons for the way she lives so the way to deal with it is more serious. I have to admit that I hate to get mad when she comes here and the smell but I'm not perfect. I'm honest enough to admit I hate feeling that way (she does not know that b/c I keep my being mad for myself-not even my husband knows) and my tolerance is being put to question here. I have the right to get mad but I don't have the right to offend her. If I offend her then I would be totally wrong and mean, even evil. It is like people expect other people not to even have bad thoughts about something. The important things is not to act over those thoughts. Just keep them to myself.

Camille - posted on 02/07/2010

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Laura, I have never said I fear my girls are going to become dirty if they spend time with their grandmother. I have other reasons as I have explained. Angela, thanks for your advice. It is very helpful.

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what ever happened to respecting the elders.. you're not giong to invite her to gradustions and/or other events.. thats just mean .. and wrong.. your girls arent going to become dirty just b/c theyre around her.. theres nothing wrong with explaining to them that gramma should try to be cleaner but we cant make people change like that.. i think as long as you keep up with your girls hygiene and keep teaching them about taking care of themselves they will be fine.. dont throw out the gramma experience with this grammother just b/c shes not "normal"..try to help her gently if you want to like the other suggestions i saw..

Camille - posted on 02/07/2010

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Sorry, I took your advice the wrong way [as if you were judging me].Well, I'm not perfect and I have things I don't like. And for not inviting her to the girls' important events is not to make the girls feel bad b/c they don't have a "normal" grandmother and she won't go anyway. My daughters love her and want her around. Her lack of hygiene makes me uncomfortable but I don't think she is less of a person or that she is not worth enough. I want to see if she could do something about it so she feels better. Everything will improve! If she fixes her house, my daughters can go there. As for the medical reasons, the body odor and her teeth is just lack of hygiene. Why has she let herself get that way? That I think could have been a depression. My husband talked to her about her mental health after she had some situation with her neighbors for not keeping the yard clean and it was resulting in harm to their property. She promised she would go to a psychologist but now she refuses b/c she says she is well. But I know a person who lives in her condition is not well emotionally. I know she doesn't feel well, she tries to hide. Now that I read your post I realize the problem is beyond the body odor. Maybe I get mad b/c I would like things to be normal.

[deleted account]

I have the same issue with my mother in-law, and her hygiene. My husband talked to her about it and she freaked out crying. He isn't mean, but her feelings were hurt. I couldn't handle it when I was pregnant (actually made me sick on more than one occassion). Anyway that was a couple of years ago. Instead of going to their house they come over here now. It is hard for me to let her hold my children because of it, I also hate to admit that. But for me on the rare occassion that we do see her, I change my childrens clothes when they have left. There is NO way I would be able to let her stay with us, and I don't know how you do it. The one thing I have on my side is the fact that she will put the effort in to look nice for important functions.... with direction from her husband. Maybe you could purchase a few things that you would like her to wear and give them to her as a gift. The next time she stays with you. It may help her to get clean when she's over if you lay out the towels in the bathroom with a tube of tooth past, a toothbrush in the pack and dental floss and jammies or an outfit laid out as well, you could be taktful and say everythings ready in the bathroom "i wanted you to feel at home as possible" so she wouldn't be offended. A thoughtful gesture.

You want her to be a possitive influence in your childrens lives, so help her. If you couldn't care less and neither could your husband than let it go. Ultimately you two are the ones who are going to have to figure out. best of luck to you. oh and my sister in-law knows how her mom is so she buys her nice clothes for important functions and sends them to her in the mail so that helps. Maybe you could take that approach. Just throwing idea out there. And about the perfume ask her to not wear it as it gives you an allergic reaction.

Mary - posted on 02/07/2010

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I'm not judging anyone just giving my own opinion.. From my standpoint it seems as though the woman embarasses you.. and to prove my point I am taking excerpts from your previous posts these are statements that you made:
If she does not clean up, well I'll have to suggest my husband not to bring her home
I can't invite the woman to their important things like graduations in the future.
Just this morning one of my girls grabbed a shirt she left in a bag in the closet and it had an awful combination of perfume and stink...it is indescribable!!! No, no, no!!! And I got a bit mad and took it from her and told her she can't touch what's not hers much more if it something that stinks.
she looks like a homeless person
She also has her house in a way, the mess is indescribable. They cannot share with their grandmother as normal.
eventually, they'll think that that way of living is normal

Those are your statements not mine and it does seem as though your being harsh. I don't know you, therefore I am not judging you, but this woman you do know and it seems pretty clear that you have made your mind up about this woman and it seems to me that you don't think she is good enough to be around your children. Now I will say this.. if the woman you are speaking of didn't treat your kids the right way that would be a completely different issue and I would see the point of not wanting her to be around your children. But saying that you can't invite her to their graduations and future events like that.. you have to admit it is because of what you think other people will think.. This womans actions are not a reflection of you.. There are many different reasons that this woman may smell offensive ranging from medically as I mentioned before, or it could be personally. She may suffer from depression and if that is the case, not wanting her to be a part of your familys lives could only make that worse. Not to mention how it would make your husband feel. She is his mother and he loves her no matter what. Why not wait and let your daughters decide if they want to be around her and have a relationship with her. Until they are old enough to make that decision themselves then I would suggest tollerance and manners like I said before. This is my opinion and you can take it for what its worth.

Camille - posted on 02/07/2010

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Also, if I get mad b/c of the way she smells when she's at our house, I'm human and I have the right to get mad if something bothers me. But I do not have the right to be mean to her when I get mad. When in that situation, I keep it to myself and I'm nice and kind to her. I'm not using the internet to talk about her like she's not good enough. I use this circle of moms to get insight b/c all my close friends are not mothers, are not even married so they don't know how to deal with a situation like this one. I'm not at risk nor I'm talking behind her back b/c nobody here knows her. I'm not turning to her friends or other family members to intervene b/c that would be to make a show out of it. I want to be discreet b/c I don't want to embarrass her. I am being respectful. I have decency. You don't know me so you should evaluate yourself of not doing the things you criticize, like judging other people.

Camille - posted on 02/07/2010

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Mary, I appreciate your different view on this. First of all, I have taught my daughters tolerance. They love her and respect her even if they notice she's different. They are the most tolerant girls I have ever seen. I'm not saying that b/c they are my daughters, I do say this b/c I have met other kids who go to church and are raised in that environment being mean and not tolerant in every aspect. They are even racist. I want to bring this subject to her because I want her to benefit from it. Not because I'm embarrassed of her. Let's face it: we live in a society. There are basic concepts to follow to be functional and hygiene is one of them (among manners but she has manners). I have seen many times how when we are at the supermarket she gets stares and an employee desperately wanting to show her the door. It hurts to see her being rejected and I don't want my daughters to suffer b/c of that. I want her to be treated with dignity, I don't want to strip dignity from her. I want my husband to talk to her into being functional. Nice clothes???? Nice clothes??? I have never talked about nice clothes. I want her to dress in clothes that are whole. They don't have to be expensive or nice. I know she will feel better being clean and wearing clothes that are whole. When she was young she was clean and she used to dress nicely. She had to go through some situations that made her end up like that and I want her to recover feeling well. I know she does not feel well. I respect every opinion I read here due to the fact that I posted this to get a variety of responses and I would be really wrong if I were mean to someone just because I don't like their opinion. You were not very nice to me. You judged me. You didn't write this but you told me the following with your post: that I'm shallow and that I'm not tolerant. That is not nice. You don't know me and you said that but I respect your opinion.

Mary - posted on 02/07/2010

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Okay okay okay.. I read some of the other posts as well... and I'm going to say that some of you people are really mean... It must be really nice to sit on a pedestal and judge other people for the way they are. How would you like if someone picked you apart. Lets get to the bottom of this.. You arn't worried about your kids being embarrased to be around their grandmother, you are worried because it embarrasses YOU!!! You can't controll how other people live, but to sit and talk about about your mother in law like you don't think she is good enough to be around your kids, this is absolutely a disgrace!!!! You should be ashamed of your self.. We are all GOD'S children. This is absolutely ridiculous!! You might as well strip away this womans dignity as well if you follow the advice of some of these post.. for instance put her shirt in a bag and let her smell it... When people ask what has happened to the world.. I now know the answer to that question.. People that are rude, self centered, and that think they are superior.. What happened to kindness, understanding, thoughtfulness, manners and basic human decency!! Since when did it become anyones RIGHT to judge other people... the Bible says HONOR thy father and mother, and I belive that includes mother in laws and father in laws as well... Not, pick them apart on the internet because you seem to be embarrased by her. This truly is a sad world we live in.. There are FAR too many things in this world to be concerned about: rape, murder, starvation, drugs, the list goes on and on... and your focusing on your mother in law that isn't tidy and doesn't wear nice clothes, and has a smell... OH COME ON!!!!!

Mary - posted on 02/07/2010

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Maybe now would be a good time to teach your kids about tollerance. The world is made of different people with different beliefs. There are also many different medical reasons that a person may have body odor, diabetes is one of them. Imagine if you were in your mother in laws shoes it would hurt your feelings very much to be told that you stink. Her personal hygeine is really not your issue. You should instead focus on teaching your children manners and teach them that saying what is on your mind isn't always the best thing to do when other peoples feelings are involved. I think the world would be a better place if people would teach their children tollerance. Children are honest and have a tendency to say what is on their minds, but this can be a hurtful thing. I personally think its best to focus on your responsibilities, on your family, and your children. Not on someone elses problems.

Desirae - posted on 02/07/2010

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I would simply put the shirt in a bag and return it to her... let her open it and smell it herself. If she has trouble standing for periods of time or showering I would address this problem in a delicate fashion also. I was able to help a friend with this problem by installing a grip bar and a shower seat in their bathroom. If this is not part of the problem, then you will eventually bring it up. Better to do it at a time when you are concerned about her health and the effect it has to the people around her than to bring it up when you are angry about the issue. I've had to bring this up to people before when it was not a medical issue as well. It is embarrassing for both people, but as long as it is out of concern for that personal connection you want to keep with her, hopefully, she will understand and not take it offensively. Good luck and keep it gentle hearted.

Camille - posted on 02/07/2010

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Thank for your help Laura and Amanda! It is not just she is stinky, is that she does not have hygiene. She does not brush her teeth and has some accumulation on them ( I don't remember the name of that). She also wears rags. Really, she looks like a homeless person. I have nothing against homeless people but she has family that can help so she shouldn't look like that. The problem with my daughters seeing that is that, eventually, they'll think that that way of living is normal. They know she is different and sometimes they mention the stink, but they love her and they are very young but they respect her like they were older and understood. I can't invite the woman to their important things like graduations in the future. Not only because what other people think, is how my daughters are going to feel knowing how basic things should be and seeing that other kids have normal grandmothers. She also has her house in a way, the mess is indescribable. They cannot share with their grandmother as normal. They have my grandmother (who is young) and my husbands' grandmother (who is also young to be a great grandmother). So they have some normalcy in their lives in that aspect but, anyways, they now that lady is their grandmother so I fear they feel, in the future, they lack something.

Amanda - posted on 02/06/2010

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Well as much as you want your husband to be open with you you should be open with him. Don't hide anything from him. It can lead to dis-trust. But also you should do what you think is best for your kids. Remeber Mom's know best for their kids than anyone else. I might not know much about being a mom yet cause I'm expecting my first in June but I have a few sisters with families of their own and I have learn't everything I know from watching them and babysitting for them. Put your kids first not your mother in-laws feelings or how she might react. Your girls should be able to learn the right way of things.

[deleted account]

you should just tell him.. hes prob already aware of it anyways.. im not sure how he or other siblings would go about telling mom but i mean that may just be something you'll have to deal with.. some people just have stinky grandparents.. sorry to sound mean or rude but i had one too!!.. just explain to your kids to be respectful

Camille - posted on 02/06/2010

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Thanks April and Amanda, I think I should do that. Really, I get utterly mad when she comes to visit, and sometimes stay, and I should not keep this to myself. There are many years to come and I don't want to be miserable every time she visits us. If she does not clean up, well I'll have to suggest my husband not to bring her home (just meet somewhere else). It's sad b/c I want them to share with the only grandmother they have (my mother died before they were born) and I wanted things to be different. It is just out of my control.

Camille - posted on 02/06/2010

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April, using too much perfume is really bad as well. Now that you mention perfume, she sometimes tries to mask her smell with strong perfume. She uses the whole bottle of Gloria Vanderbilt and that is just so mean!!! Just this morning one of my girls grabbed a shirt she left in a bag in the closet and it had an awful combination of perfume and stink...it is indescribable!!! No, no, no!!! And I got a bit mad and took it from her and told her she can't touch what's not hers much more if it something that stinks. My husband was sleeping... I hope he didn't hear b/c that's not the way I want to bring up the issue to him but I don't know another way than using the shirt and begin to fight about it. She forgot the shirt and maybe that has a purpose. I don't know what to do!!!

April - posted on 02/06/2010

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I am going through the same problem with my mother-in-law, she likes to wear a lot of perfume and it is strong stuff. I just told her that the perfume was strong smelling and that it set of my migrains(which is the truth). She still wears it heavy so I just go on about my business and after we have been around her I just tell husband about. So far we are still working on it. Good luck.

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