I hardly know of anyone who didn’t complain much about their mother in laws. Only very few women will say that their mother in law is a very nice person who is not imposing and is very easy going. Mother-in-laws who are humble and accepting of their daughter-in-laws are a rare breed. Most of us do not belong to this fortunate group who has mother in laws that are not domineering. It becomes harder to deal with them when we have children. Here are 6 secrets to help mothers deal with their difficult mother-in-laws:
- First of all, it is very important to know and truly belief that you are the best mother for your child, no matter what other people tell you. Difficult mother-in-laws are very fond of putting you down, and telling you (or hinting to you through their actions) that you are not capable for the job (of a mother), in one way or another. But, do not doubt yourself. Since God has given you this child, He must have known that you are the best mother that your child can ever have, so why should anyone tell you otherwise? So, don’t doubt yourself, ever.
- It is important for us to be as independent from our mother-in-laws as possible. If your mother-in-law feels that you cannot live without her, she will want to take over. This could mean not asking for their help out of convenience. It could also mean trying to do everything by yourself, or getting help from friends or other relatives (or hire one) instead. It is important that you do not show that you are not confident, or that you are unsure of what you are doing, or that you are not able to cope. I know that we shouldn’t try to be supermoms, but in front of your difficult mother-in-law, you’d better be – because that’s what they expect of you (unfortunately), since they think they are supermoms. So moral of the story is – avoid getting help from your mother-in-law.
- One of the most effective ways to deal with your difficult mother-in-law is to have your husband to be on your side, and to get him to deal with your mother-in-law. Share with your husband how you feel about the whole situation, and get him to understand what you are going through and empathize with you. Your husband needs to stand up for you, protect you and be the head of your household. He needs to tell his mother to give you a chance to manage your own household and your own children. He needs to help his mother be aware that she already had her turn when her children were young, and now it’s your turn to take care of your children.
- At every opportunity that you can, try to be as firm as possible with your difficult mother-in-law and tell her that you can do it, or that you want to take over the children. This is easier said than done, but you just have to pluck up the courage and open your mouth to say no to her, rather than bury everything inside and keep quiet. It is better for you to tell her that you can handle things yourself when you are calm and in control than to do it when you cannot contain all the hurt any longer and have an outburst.
- It is probably helpful for you to realize that your difficult mother-in-law became difficult not without a reason. She probably has a lot of issues of her own that she doesn’t want to admit and face them. So try not to take it personally. She’s probably not enjoying herself while she makes life difficult for you. She is probably just spreading her ‘issues’ to you. So, try not to get contaminated and allow her unhappiness to affect you.
- Lastly, if you are living with your mother-in-law – move out. The more she knows about what is happening in your family, the more she wants to take over. So the best way is to let her know as few things as possible. Even if you have to move just a few houses away from her, it is still better than living in the same house with her. It is really liberating when you don’t have your mother-in-law scrutinize (and criticize) everything that you do, or everything that you have. When she doesn’t see everything that happens, the urge for her to take over will be less, because she will not see so many imperfections that she needs to fix. She will not know exactly how many times your baby cries that day, etc. She might still want to barge in to your house like it is hers, but when that happens, you probably have to work with your husband to find some things to keep her busy in other areas.
I think we should stop dreaming that we will one day have a perfect mother-daughter relationship with our mother-in-laws, because it rarely happens. We come from different backgrounds, values and beliefs and it is very difficult to expect two women who didn’t choose to be together (well, you married your husband, not your mother-in-law) to gel together. If your difficult mother-in-law cannot respect you as a person, then keeping a safe distance from her is the most practical remedy.