Some of us — myself included — are blessed to have wonderful mums-in-law. In the almost 10 years I’ve been married, I’m proud to say I’ve not had any disagreements or problems with my mum-in-law.
But the reality is, not all of us are lucky to have a mum-in-law that is as sweet and easygoing as mine. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about women who make their daughters-in-law’s life miserable.
However, this, too, is an extreme; and in most cases, the only complaint daughters-in-law have against their mums-in-law is the barrage of unwarranted advice they receive!
Usually, most of the advice has to do with how you choose to bring up your kids. Advice such as:
“You need to discipline the kids better, what I would have done is…”, or
“Do you really need to watch their diet so much? We never worried so much about what we fed our kids, and they’ve turned out fine”,
and when your baby cries 10 minutes after you’ve put him down for a nap, “Oh! The baby is crying again, are you sure he’s not hungry?”
Although this advice comes with the right intentions, it could be upsetting and downright annoying to a young mum who is trying to figure out what’s right for her kids.
The relationship between a woman and her husband’s mother can be a sensitive one and this ‘power battle’ is one that has been going on for centuries.
How to deal with mum-in-law problems
What’s great is that in this day and age, mums-in-law are more open-minded and modern than – for instance – their own mums-in-law.
But how do you react to your mum-in-law’s avalanche of advice? How do you bring up your kids the way you want to and not hurt her feelings at the same time?
Does this sound all too impossible? I urge you to give our tips a go before you heave a sigh of exasperation at the mere thought of the next lot of advice you are in for!
Try and build a good relationship with your mum-in-law from the beginning
Try and get to know your mum in law, after all there’s a reason her son loves her so much! | Image source: iStock
In-laws become family after you get married. Things will be much easier in the future if you have a great relationship with your mum-in-law now.
Get to know her — the ‘other woman’ in your husband’s life — by spending time together. There’s a reason he loves her so much!
Most mums-in-law these days are just wonderful mums and women, and have a wealth of knowledge about life, love and bringing up kids – just like your own mum.
So before you give up on her, give her a chance to show you who she really is. Try taking her out for coffee or cooking her a lovely meal.
Have an honest chat about your parenting style with your mum-in-law
We all have the right to bring up our kids the way we choose to. Mums these days are so well educated about parenting, and they know exactly how they want to handle their kids when it comes to discipline, nutrition, entertainment and education.
If your mum in law has a tendency to disagree with your style of parenting, sit down and explain it to her over a cup of tea.
Tell her that times have changed and that she needs to respect you and her son’s parenting decisions.
If she has a concern, hear her out
Grandmothers love getting involved in their grandchildren’s lives. So if she has a concern, try and hear her out. | Image source: iStock
All mums-in-law are different, and you know yours the best. If she’s the type that has concerns about everything you choose to do, then hearing her out is not the best option.
But if yours is a mum in law who has only a few concerns, then remember that she too has experience bringing up kids. She did a marvellous job with your husband, didn’t she?
So give her a chance to explain herself and keep in mind that it is alright to disagree with her. She’ll feel better that you listened to her opinion.
Don’t ignore rude advice
If your mum-in-law is the type that would give advice by criticising you and your choices, don’t ‘grin and bear’ it. Tell her upfront that you won’t listen to her concerns if they are voiced so negatively.
Tell her that you have your kids’ best interests at heart, that you think things through when it comes to decisions you make regarding your kids, and that her being critical about it hurts your feelings.
Try and keep the peace
The keyword here is ‘try.’ If your mum-in-law is always on your case and criticising your choices, it is very tough not to lose it.
Still, it is best to keep the peace for the sake of your husband and kids.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not asking you to keep your mouth shut when she criticises you. What we’re suggesting is for you to try and work things out.
Be upfront about your opinion on her advice but say you will consider what she said.
Laugh at trivial advice
When it comes to parenting, everyone is an expert! Remember, this doesn’t apply only to your mum-in-law, so it helps to have an open mind when it comes to advice you get from all around.
If the advice you get is trivial, just laugh at it and try not to take anything personally. After you are done laughing, change the subject.
Form an alliance with your husband
It helps if you and your husband agree on decisions regarding your kids, this way you can approach your mum in law together if you disagree with her advice. | Image source: iStock
If the unwanted advice is getting out of hand, approach your mum-in-law together with your husband.
Tell her that you make decisions with regard to your kids together. Your request might be better heard if it comes from her son!
So mums, how do you handle the unwanted advice you get from your mum-in-law? Do you use any of the techniques we’ve mentioned above? Let us know if they work by leaving a comment below.