28 answers

Dealing with a Mother-in-law Who Knows Everything

I recently returned to work after having my first child. Fortunately, my mother and mother-in-law are both retired and have agreed to each babysit a few days per week. My mother-in-law even insists on buying diapers, etc. to keep at her house, even though I have told her numerous times that she doesn't need to spend her own money and my husband and I will send whatever she needs to care for our son. I greatly appreciate everything our parents have done to help. However, it seems that my mother-in-law thinks she knows what is best for our son, and it is making me furious! She voices her opinion about how his clothes fit, how much she thinks he should be eating, how often she thinks he should recieve gas drops, etc. She even proceeded to tell me how my son likes to be held, iIgnoring the fact that that I am his mother and still spend more time with him than she does. I often feel like she is telling me how to care for my own child. Also, my son is breastfed and, on several occassions that we've been together, she has fussed about how hungry he seems, as if he is being tortured. Yet, she continues to hold him, rather than handing him to me so that he can be fed. So far, I have kept my mouth shut, but I don't know how much more I can take. I realize that she is my son's grandmother and wants the best for him, but I feel like my mother-in-law questions my ability to be a good mom. Should I say something or just keep my anger to myself?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

My ex (now deceased) MIL was like that and it drove me crazy. It extended to everything I did. Her house was always dirty but she always had to tell me the proper way to clean, load the dishwasher, do laundry ect ect. After 5.5. yrs I started to look for a divorce attorney and filed for a divorce. It wasn't the only issue we had, she also enabled my ex to not work and support his family. I didn't speak up and I should have. It got to the point that when we would go to visit I would let her play with the kids and talk to my ex and I would sit and read a book. When it was time to go home I would put in a bookmark and place to book back in her bookshelf and take my kids home.

1 mom found this helpful

Seriously... Do we have the same MIL's?

The first time my son spent the night at his dad's house was hard for me. I was missing him the whole night and by the time I went over to his dad's house to join them, all I wanted to do was hold him. My MIL and I arrived at the house at the same time. I picked up my son and got to cuddle him for maybe a minute before she walked over and wanted to hold him. I told her that I just got him and I would give him to her when I was ready. She ignored me and TOOK him out of my arms. Just picked him up, walked away, and sat down in her chair. I squeezed my boyfriend's hand harder than I did when I was in labor. Lol.

I keep my mouth shut because I know that talking to her will only piss her off and she isn't going to change. My SIL and BIL have 4 kids. She still thinks she knows more about their kids than they do.

I just try to ignore her, and do what I know is best.

More Answers

Well, I am never a fan of bottling up your feelings, so I don't think you need to bite your tongue completely, but you can try to phrase things in such a way that you can get your point across without hurting her feelings. Also, you need to decide if something is really worth getting peeved about or not. If she wants to buy and keep diapers at her house, let her do it - it makes her feel happy and useful. Otherwise I would probably be saying things like.

"Thank you for sharing, I'll keep that in mind."

"Don't worry, I'm his mom, and I know what is best for him. You were a new mom once too and your kid turned out fine."

"Well, he IS being breast-fed so why don't you hand him over and let me nurse him if he seems hungry."

5 moms found this helpful

To me it sounds like she's trying to do what's best for ALL of you. My theory on "meddling" Grandmothers is that they were once first time moms who obsessed over getting all of the information and tips they could for raising their children (hmm..kind of like all of us on this site, eh?) And now that their kids are grown up they have nowhere else to funnel all of this information they've gleaned over the years except to new moms. She's offering to keep supplies at her house so you don't have to worry about it: that sends a huge hint that she really is trying to help you out and she isn't trying to put your mothering skills down.

Almost every first time mom feels like this, it's very primal to feel that you are the only one who knows your baby and every thing should be your way. Just picture yourself in 30 years when your little boy has a baby that you love and adore just like your own: I have a feeling all of us will be giving our future daughters-in-law advice and it will break our hearts when we are told to butt out.

4 moms found this helpful

I disagree with SLM for calling you arrogant. You're not being arrogant at all... you're concerned for the well-being of YOUR child, and your MIL is obviously out of line. I too have a very overbearing MIL, and have gone through many of the things you're describing. I would speak to your husband about all the things that are concerning you, and have him address your MIL. Oftentimes, when addressing differences in parenting styles/beliefs, etc. with your in-laws, I've found that it comes best from their child rather than their son's wife.

As far as the breastfeeding, I would definitely stand your ground. If your son is hungry, you simply take him from her arms, and you feed him. I breastfed my son for 14 months, and I believe in feeding on demand. If he's hungry, he wants you, not your MIL. Don't deny your son simply to save her feelings.

If she continues to be overbearing about how you are caring for him, back it up with research or advice from your pediatrician. Many things have changed from when our parents were raising their children (for example, my MIL insisted on feeding my breastfed only infant water out of a bottle because she did that with my husband, which is both unnecessary and not recommended).

My advice to you is this: this needs to be addressed now, rather than later. Otherwise, you're setting yourself up for a lifetime of conflict with your MIL. I'm sure she thinks she's doing best for her grandson, but what she needs to be reminded of, is that she is his grandmother, not his mother. She had the opportunity to raise her children, now it's your turn to raise your own. Being a grandparent is such a special time, it's a shame that some grandparents thrive on reliving their own parenting years, rather accepting their new roles.

4 moms found this helpful

She could be intrusive and bossy, or she could feel a bit inadequate and nervous about caring for an infant after all these years. Or somewhere in between. Sometimes the bossiness is really her trying to convince herself that she knows what she's doing, that she remembers everything from when her kids were little, or that things haven't changed too much for her. If your baby is breast fed, then she may be worrying that SHE'S not doing a good enough job when you aren't there. She may be insecure or even jealous that you are working. She may think working is wrong because it wasn't done in her day. She may feel that you doing things differently from what she did (or what she remembers she did) is a challenge to how she raised your husband.

I guess I would suggest that you choose your battles. If she finds a way that he likes to be held, fine, tell her thanks and that you'll add that to his other favorites or that it will be her special hold for him. If she thinks he's hungry, then take him away from her and say, "If you really think so, then give him to me and I'll nurse him." If he isn't hungry, say, "Well, that wasn't it. It sure can be hard for us all to figure out what he wants, can't it?" I'd let her buy the diapers if it makes her feel useful, as long as she doesn't throw it in your face. As for how the clothes fit, ignore it. For medical things like gas drops and more, say, "You know, as soon as you raised that issue, I asked the pediatrician about it. She says XYZ so that's what I'm going with. But I'm glad you brought it up so I could check." If she goes overboard, leave off the "as soon as..." and "I'm glad you brought it up" and switch to "I'll add it to the list of things you've said and will ask the doctor at the next visit." Make a point of keeping a list handy and then you can keep her from repeating herself by saying, "Yes, that's already on your list." If it's a long list (!) then make a joke saying, "They're going to charge me an extra co-pay if I have more than these 15 questions, Mom!"

It's so hard when you're figuring your own way and then someone gets in there and challenges it. I think you can reassure her and say how great it is that he has her in his life. As he gets older, she'll be able to engage with him in more ways. If she oversteps her bounds, your husband can step in and say, "Gee Mom, you aren't saying that S. and I don't know what we're doing, are you?"

My MIL was kind of a pain in many ways - mostly a worry-wart - but she did drive me crazy. (When I was taken to the ER by ambulance, she called there and made the nurse put me on the phone, telling me I needed to call my husband because he was so worried about me!) She died when my son was 18 months old, and I do wish that he'd had more years to watch her nonsense and enjoy her company.

4 moms found this helpful

Wow, SLM, you "wouldn't put up with that arrogance" from your daughter? Then mabey you are more controlling of your grown daughter than you let on.

New Mom, you can tell your MIL very kindly that you appreciate her advice, but you know what is best for your son and that her constant advice is making you feel belittled as a parent. There is nothing wrong with making her aware of how her comments are affecting you.

I am so sick of the people on here who defend grandparents behavior and expect that parents should just sit down and shut up because grandparents supposedly know best because their kids "turned out just fine".

If I were you, I would get a different babysitter and just allow MIL to be a grandma and not a care giver. Don't be afraid to say, "Thank you for your advice" and then do your own thing. And DEFINITELY get up and take your baby from MIL and feed him whenever you see fit. Don't wait for her to give him to you!

3 moms found this helpful

This is my take on it and I'm sorry if I'm wrong.
I'm going to have my first grandbaby in May. My daughter is the one having the baby. I'm not overbearing or meddling, but I have to say that I am so excited about her having a baby. It really does take me back to when I was expecting her and all the wonderful joys that came after. I, no doubt, will offer suggestions and support. In no way will I intend it to mean that she isn't a capable mother.
I think what you have to do is realize that you are not in competition with your MIL. As soon as you take that thought out of the equation, the better things will be.
You can try humor, you can say things like, "I enjoy hearing stories about my husband when he was a baby. I'm getting things figured out for myself and I really appreciate you."
If she wants to buy diapers, let her. It's not that big a thing.
Let her talk about how she did things, encourage it. Then say, "Being a first time mom is such a special thing. I hope that if I do things differently than you did, you don't think I'm not a good mom."
That's not threatening. That should give her some insight to how you are feeling. It might earn a little empathy from her.
Her voicing her opinions is all it is. Everybody has opinions.
Don't take it to mean that she thinks you're incapable.
Don't take it to mean you have to do everything her way.
We all find our own ways as moms and that's the way it works.
She may give you some tips that are great. She may give you some that you don't think you agree with.
When there's a new baby in the family, MIL's, extended aunts, cousins, sisters, brothers,......they all offer their opinions.
I think for the most part, they mean well.
Opinions aren't the same as saying you are doing wrong.

Hang in there!
You'll be fine.

3 moms found this helpful

I'd like to offer another perspective:

Your MIL loves, loves, loves her grandbaby. Should she be more sensitive to you, knowing how hard it must be leaving your baby daily? YES! However, count your blessings they are willing to have all of your baby's needs at their home...at no cost to you. Be GRACIOUS and say, Thank you - even if you'd rather supply yourself. Let HER have her time as a doting Grandma, just as you need time as a doting Mom.

Also know that having just given birth and while still BF you have tons of hormones making you a bit more sensitive to things than normal (I would imagine every Mom has been there).

We she tells you what's best for your baby, simply smile and say thanks...he does the same / different thing at home with me.

Remember that at the end of the day you only want your son to be with someone who loves and takes care of him the way you do.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful

This is about your MIL, not about you. It comes from her own insecurity and need to feel valuable.

Don't take it personally. Listen to her and if she shares information that you find useful, tell her. Let her help you buy diapers and thank her. Her kids are grown and she's probably been waiting for this opportunity to enjoy grandchildren... I know I am! It sounds like she's awkward about how to interact with you if she tells you your son is hungry but just sits there and doesn't hand him over. Maybe she's waiting for you to speak up and say you are ready for him.

Tell her if her comments make you feel bad, "When you say..... , it makes me feel feel like I'm not being a good mom". Try to be honest with her before you feel resentful. But also ask her questions to clarify what she means by her advice. It might be something you need to know.

3 moms found this helpful

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