How to keep interfering in-laws in line
The age-old stereotype portrays the husband at loggerheads with his mother-in-law. But wives and other in-laws may also come to blows. Here’s how to keep peace in the home while drawing up respectful boundaries.
In an Internet poll of 2000 users, women accused mothers-in-law of routinely knowing best – prejudging their parenting skills and publicly undercutting them. A third said they were made to feel they were not good enough for their husbands.
Many women moved house to escape their interfering in-laws and for some, the stress was severe enough to led to divorce.
Your relationship with your in-laws changes when your child is born. Attention is channelled from you to the new baby. What do you do when your in-laws start wanting to help but just feel as if they are getting in your way?
If you feel your interfering in-laws are driving you crazy, consider doing the following:
1. Begin with understanding.
Spare a moment’s thought for the concern of your in-laws, as they have raised or grown up with the person you love and married. What you see as interference could be well-intentioned offers of help. Siobhan Freegard, of Netmums, offers an alternative view on the classic example of the overbearing mother-in-law: “Mums feel their mother-in-law looks down on them, criticises their parenting and interferes in their relationship. However, mothers-in-law can be a huge support, especially for new mums.”
2. Unite with your spouse to set boundaries.
Well intentioned advice or comments don’t cross the line but watch out for red flags if your in-laws:
- Belittle you in front of your spouse or children.
- Make major decisions without consulting you,
- Undermine your main role as a parent.
Your spouse knows your in-laws longer than you, hence he or she would know how to manage them without generating more trouble. If your in-laws can see that you and your spouse are together on major issues they may come round to your way.
3. Be the parent in your home
Let your in-laws know their advice is welcome but this is your family; things may be different in your home. Gently state reassure them that you both will do your best because you love your family.
When your in-laws come across as interfering it is only because they feel they are more experienced when it comes to parenting. Express that, while you appreciate their help, you also want to try things out for yourself as part of your learning process as a parent.
4. Accept them for who they are
Although your in-laws are welcome in your lives, you and your spouse should be able to agree on how to raise your children. Therefore don’t let anger and resentment build up between on your part – clear communication with your in-laws is vital to avoid misunderstandings.
Regardless of your relationship with your in-laws they are here to stay in your life as a parent. You may not be able to change them but it’s possbile adjust your outlook for a more peaceful co-existence.
If you have any horror interfering in-law stories, please send it in to [email protected] We are compiling real-life stories from you to be published on theAsianparent.