27 answers

Mother in Law! - Fort Worth,TX

My partner and I are currently living with our mother in law.
First I want to admit that I am not the cleanest person in the world. However, I do not keep a dirty house.
My mother in law has been telling me that when we move out on our own "someone" will call CPS on us because we are so filthy. She keeps saying that CPS is going to take our daughter away because I don't keep things clean enough.
Okay so I don't put the dishes in the dishwasher so neatly and sometimes I leave my breastpump parts in the sink so I can wash it all together. Oh yeah and I don't vacuum everyday. But am I filthy enough that CPS will take my baby away? And any way who does she mean when she say "someone" is giong to call CPS?
I am getting very worn out by her. Today when I came home from class she had cleaned and rearranged our room that we share with the baby. She was using the broom to sweep the walls and ceiling when I walked in.

I really need some advice on how to deal with her because I have just been keeping my mouth shut so far and I am afraid that I may lash out at her.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

This situation only got worse over the course of the week I posted this and about four days after this post she kicked us out.
She pretty much told me and her son that she wants nothing to do with us or the baby and we are not really sure if she has called CPS yet or not.
It's pretty scary not knowing when or if CPS is going to show up.
So... I would recommend that no woman EVER agrees to living with in laws.

Featured Answers

Move out - if it is this bad with MIL already - it will only get worse and she will be the one to call CPS. Sorry you are going through this - I don't get along with my MIL very well either.

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I'm going to comment only on CPS and taking away your children. From what you've described they would NOT take away your children. They would not be concerned about a dirty or messy house, dirty dishes and breast pump in sink, clothes scattered about, floors not swept or vacuumed in weeks.

Their only concern is the safety of your children. They will only take away your children if they think that their LIVES are in danger. If they find some safety issues they also have the choice of opening a case and working with you and your children together in your home.

I've removed children and here are the reasons. 1) not having adequate nutrition 2) having moldy food all over the house and/or animal feces on floor 3) uncared for illness and such things as broken bones/unexplained injuries or injuries that are not consistent with explaination 4) drunk and or high parent unable to care for child 5) lack of supervision 6) unwillingness to talk about any of above or any other concerns expressed by caller when there is no way to determine if the situation exists or not and child may be in danger.

In summary: Children are only removed when the person doing the investigation is concerned about the safety of the child. You have not listed anything that would cause CPS or the police to send an investigator.

I do want to make a comment about your mil. I also recommend that if at all possible find your own place. You are probably eligible for state assistance which will give you a low cost apartment, food stamps, and perhaps child care while you and/or your husband train for and find a job. They will provide training and job search help. At least this is the way it works in OR. My daughter and her boyfriend got their start with the state's help. Her boyfriend left, I think because he couldn't handle the responsibility, but my daughter now has a career and is able to take care of herself and her family on her earnings.

Your mil is making idle threats. It's obvious she doesn't want you to live there. She may word it that IF you kept house according to her standards you could stay. But she isn't showing an ability to compromise or accept the possibility that there is more than her way to do things. She is angry. She is not loving or understanding. You don't want your daughter to live in that kind of negative environment. I urge you to find a way to move.

Until you are able to move, I suggest that you put a lock on your bedroom door. You have the right to privacy. How you keep your room should not be of concern to her unless there are safety issues, such as spoiled food, over flowing ash trays, furniture or clothes, bedding too close to a heater. She isn't living in it. You are the same as a renter. Hopefully you do contribute, at least a small amount, towards your living expenses.

You could try enlisting the help of a Neighborhood Mediation Office. They will make an appointment for both of you to come to their office and lead a discussion towards finding a solution that is acceptable to everyone.

7 moms found this helpful

Everyone has their own idea of clean. She seems to be on one side of the scale and your somewhere in the middle. However, you are staying in her house so you need to maintain her level of clean.

As far as CPS in concerned, although very mean and uncalled for, this may just be her way of telling you that your standards are not good enough. Or since she is at the extreme end of the scale, she may beleive this to be true. Either way, I wouldn't worry about it. And once again, since you're in her house, there's not much you can do or say. Your partner could have a talk with her.

Let's face it. You have worn out your welcome. It's time to move out.

6 moms found this helpful

That's what can happen when you live in someone else's home. Try to get your own place asap and it won't be a concern! My friend works for CPS and in order for kids to be removed, some serious messes have to be made (Major dirty dishes everywhere, feces on the ground, laundry everywhere, bugs, dirt, etc) before the kids will be removed so no worries there.

Until you can move into your own home, be happy she is cleaning and you don't have to!

5 moms found this helpful

Yikes, time to find your own place Mamma! prefereably a few hours drive from her house!

5 moms found this helpful

I have to agree with "momof2girls". It sounds like you may have worn out your welcome. This is probably why she is being so mean.

Even if you have to get a small apartment for now, i would do it. Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful

I'm sorry. It would be so hard to live with in-laws. If I were you I would try to find a place of your own asap. And I would just try my hardest to be up to "her standard" of clean. After all it is her house and she has her way of doing things. Now please don't get my wrong I don't agree with what your MIL is saying and the way she is talking to you. And it doesn't sound like you are a dirty person at all.....but to make peace and to keep her from making as many rude comments to you I would just try to do things as much her way as possible while you are in her house. Also ask your partner to help out too so it's not just you trying to keep up on all the house work.

4 moms found this helpful

Well, it's her house, I guess if you don't like you should move out. Easy, and problem solved!

3 moms found this helpful

Since you said you were living with her I'm guessing that she is letting you guys live there for some financial or relocation reason, not that she needs to live with you. That is what I am basing my answer on, just FYI.

I think she is hinting to you that she doesn't appreciate you leaving things in the sink, and that she doesn't like how you clean and how you pitch in. I think she sounds controlling about the housework, like she has pretty high standards and wants things done a certain way. Whether she is saying you guys have worn our your welcome or not, I am sure she is saying she is unhappy with how you are sharing in the housekeeping with the situation.

Unfortunately, since you are in her house, you really can't complain. Even if you are paying rent to her, it is still her house. If you are paying rent, you can ask that your room be off limits, but as for the rest of the house, she likes things done her way, and you are probably going to have to do your best to comply. As for the CPS comments, that is just nasty and mean, and completely untrue. No, they will not take your baby away for dishes being left in the sink or not sweeping the walls (who does that?). If she ever actually called CPS, she would look foolish because that is ridiculous.

As far as dealing with her, your partner should be the one to speak to her, not you. The best rule in dealing with in-laws is that everyone deals with their own family. My hubby talks to his family about issues, and I talk to mine, even if the issue with them is my hubby's. Your partner can ask that some boundaries be respected, and ask what exactly is expected from you guys. Then everyone needs to agree to try their best to follow through until you are able to move out. And you just need to keep quiet for the sake of keeping the peace. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful

Clearly this woman has some resentments about you. Her obsession with cleanliness (which may not be normal) may be the only way she can express her general disapproval, of who knows what unless she says? For example, she grew up in a generation that saw having children outside of marriage, or having to live with one's parents, as a failure of morals or ambition.

If you see having to live/communicate with this woman as an ongoing feature in your future life, then I strongly recommend you investigate the communication techniques offered by Non-Violent Communication (google this for lots of descriptions, examples, books, classes…). This is a life-changing approach to all relationships, especially difficult ones.

My best to you.

3 moms found this helpful

You sound very young - maybe teenage or very early twenties. You don't mention who else is living in the home or the size of the space, but with three adults and a baby, things are bound to get messy. You also admit that you're not the neatest person. (I wasn't either, but I learned.) Does your boyfriend clean?

Most people don't vacuum everyday, but when you are staying with someone else you should be neater than usual out of common courtesy. There are a few fundamental things that you should do every day: make your bed, put away your clothes, put away your bathroom essentials, clean your dishes, pick up after your child, keep your laundry out of the way. That is the very minimum! A wise person would be taking the trash to the curb, cutting the grass and cleaning the floors!

She is your child's grandmother, and you should hope to cultivate a nice relationship with her. She is offering you her home. You don't have to love her, but you are going to know her for the rest of your life. Plus, you want to be a responsible and thoughtful adult. Don't worry about her comments. People say things they don't mean when they are stressed out. You take the "high road" and whip that house into shape. When you look back in 10 to 20 years, you'll be glad you did. If you can't, then find a place of your own.

3 moms found this helpful

Her house, her rules. If you can't abide by them, you need to leave.

2 moms found this helpful

L. & Partner,
With all due respect. CHANGE THE LOCKS!!!!! I have been married for 20 years. My husband is retiring from the Navy July 1st. It's best to put a little distance between those you love as to appreciate them more and set boundaries. Congrats on your baby!!

2 moms found this helpful

You are living in her house so you need to live by her rules. My Mother is also a neat freak and would never allow a dirty dish in the sink or leave her bedroom in the morning before her bed is made. We always joke about if my Father has a heart attack Mother would need to dust and vacuum before she called 911. I have always had a very small laundry room and put my clothes on the couch or bed to fold them. She tells me how disgusting that is I should fold the clothes in the laundry. It is not like I do not immediately fold them and put them away it is just not the way I do it. I also sweep down my walls but I use a dust mop not a broom since it has been on the floor and I would not think of using it on my walls. We each have our little things that drive us crazy, like my Mother cleaning must be her main hobby. When you have your own home you can do what you want and clean as you desire but you are in her home now. She is doing you a huge favor allowing you to live there so follow her rules and wash your dishes when they are dirty.

2 moms found this helpful

I agree with the ladies that say to clean up more and make it seem as though you are visiting and not living there. I would not leave any of my messes anywhere. Her house would always be in tip top shape. Remember, you are living in HER house, HER rules. Don't like it, get a place of your own and leave the dishes in the sink and clothes everywhere.

2 moms found this helpful


You did not mention how much rent you pay, so I am wondering if you and your “partner” and child are living rent free in someone else’s home? When you are living in someone else’s home, it’s important to pick up after yourself and I wouldn’t want a breast pump in my sink, on my table or in my bathroom.

I don’t like the fact that she was in your room, but then again the room you’re staying in is in her house.

The CPS thing sounds like an idle threat, since she repeats it so much. It seems that she is a neat freak and you are a little sloppy. You and your family need to find your own place, even if it’s small. Bottom line, if you can’t have a civil conversation and intend on remaining in her home, I would keep quiet and do more cleaning until you move.


2 moms found this helpful

i think your mother-in-law may be a control freak, and you and your partner should find your own place to live, i work a full time job and my fiance works third shift so EVERYTHING around here is left for me to do and sometimes, well it all just doesn't get done, and that doesn't make me a filthy person she may also have an undiagnosed case of (ocd) why does it matter how the dishes are put in the dish washer and what are a few dishes/parts in the sink, and as for her cleaning and rearranging y'alls room even though y'all live with her that was completely out of line on her behalf!!! and maybe she thinks she can run over you for the simple fact that you haven't said anything to her about what she is doing, sometimes mother-in-laws (as well as own mothers) need to be put in place sometimes, i had to do it when my future mother-in-law took it upon herself to cut my childs hair for the first time, to this day she asks permission to do things, so maybe thats what she needs!!! hth!!! :)

2 moms found this helpful

I had the same situation when my nephew & his wife moved in with me when I was in my 30's. If you are living in someone else's home, I feel you must abide by their rules. In my opinion, it is out of line to leave a breast pump in the sink. Yuck!

My advise is to live by her rules in her house, then when you have your own home, you can live however you desire.

2 moms found this helpful

No they will not take your child away.

Your partner needs to speak with MIL and tell her to back off. Also, your partner can remind mother in law, if someone were to report you for being an unfit mother and saw that it was a false call, the caller could be charged with a federal offense for false reporting..

2 moms found this helpful

Maybe this is her passive agressive way of telling you she wants you to find a place of your own.

Sorry, but I think you need to deal with this internally and say NOTHING to this gracious woman who has taken you in. As much as we all like to think that we deserve to be taken care of by our parents while we are getting our lives together, that is only true while you are a child. It is certainly not any adult's rigtht (or teenage parent's right) to live at home, and if she allows you then you'll have to put up with her personality.

If you don't like it, then suck it up and get your own place. I bet she'll just be happy to have her home back and all CPS talk will end. Until then, just thank her for letting you stay there.

I'm not trying to be snarky or harsh. My MIL took us in with a small child while we were in her town for a few months so I could go to school there. (We were residing out of the country and were here for a semester of school.) There were times when the woman would grate on my nerves, but I'm sure it was worse for her having to put up with us and getting very little in return.

Good luck to you.

2 moms found this helpful

Perhaps you should try to keep a cleaner house and be very grateful that you, your partner and baby all have a place to stay. It can not be too easy for your MIL to have three extra people to provide for. Who takes care of your baby when you are at class? Try very hard to placify her and be pleasant, otherwise where will all of you go?

2 moms found this helpful

If this is your home, you have a right to speak,, if it's not your home, you're only recourse is to put up with the criticism or find a another place to live. I feel your pain,, i had to live with my mother-in-law for a short period with our 8 mo. old while my husband was on deployment to Iceland. She raised 5 children and felt that she was the expert on childrearing. She was very critical of how i dealt with my son's waking at night, and it caused some hard feelings between us. That was 29 plus yrs ago and all has been forgotten but I finally had to go and find another place to stay. If you have to live under this, I pray that you will be able to talk to her at some point (without anger) and explain to her how damaging and hurtful her words are. Ultimately,, what is more important,, how we treat our children or how clean our homes are?

1 mom found this helpful

Is there any reason you can't move out, or find a retirement home for her? This sounds like a toxic situation that will probably escalate with time. You're in a turf war with her, and ultimately she's going to do whatever it takes to rule your roost.

If you and your partner have not been able to reason with her by now, your only recourse is to distance yourself now. Boundaries are in order because clearly there are none.

As for the "someone's going to call..." comments, I suspect "she's" the one who will be calling CPS. I wouldn't underestimate her doing this. If she's this meddlesom now, she's probably working toward a big ugly situation in hopes of busting up your home.

CPS will probably investigate if she calls. And it could turn into months or years of trouble for you...even if you're doing nothing wrong. But who needs that sort of trouble and stress?

You and your significant may even want to consider family counseling if you get a sense that you're not being supported by him when it comes to facing off with his mother. If you're not a unified front you will NOT weather any horrid thing she tosses your way. It could end up with your partner having to choose between you and his mother...and that could be disaster for everyone.

1 mom found this helpful

Move out - if it is this bad with MIL already - it will only get worse and she will be the one to call CPS. Sorry you are going through this - I don't get along with my MIL very well either.

1 mom found this helpful

Well its her home.

Next, where the heck is your Husband in all this? Is he saying something or just being submissive under her?
He should be on your side...
but still, the omnipotent fact that you both live with HER... hangs over your heads.
Still, you are not her maid, nor she yours.
But its her home... and she has a right to feel comfortable in it... and the level of how clean it is or not. But, she can clean it too... which she seems to be doing... but it is not your 'style' of cleaning.
It is also the way she is.
It has to be a team effort, but it is her home.

1 mom found this helpful

I know it is difficult relying on others especialy family for shelter, I have to as well, and I get the messy speach all the time. I still am in the process of finding out how to deal with it, biting your tongue is probably best. Other suggestions that may or may not apply, look up on the net narcissitc mom's, also, have a plan and a time frame for moving out, it makes the day to day easier. Instead of getting insulted or angry be very thankful to her and express that her cleaning helps you out and that you appreciate it and that you are sure that she may recall a time when she was very busy or someone close to her was, and that an extra hand is helpful, and if not tell her that you are sorry she didn't have any help. Mostly, hang in there. This women has no boundaries, she allows you to stay with her, gives you your own space but doesne't really by dictating the way you should act. She has no boundaries, so that means you have to really establish and enforce yours. This is toxic as another put it. This isn't easy as I still struggle with it. It isn't healthly for families to be enmeshed- but perhaps a smiple promise and a little effort will take the heat off. Unfortunately if you share a kitchen, you have to respect her and try and share the responsibility with your partner- as long as you live under her roof. Hope this helped. Look up boundary issues and how to interact with those who don't have them. Short of moving out- I hope that a little co-operation might go a long way.

Also, It is important even at a very young age to teach your daughter to respect the house by seeing that you respect it, it will go a long way when it is time for her to help pitching in, belive me, I struggle with it now with a 6 year old.

1 mom found this helpful

You've gotten some good advice, so I'm not going to add to that. My only thought was "Ew! She's using the broom that picked up ____@____.com off the floor and is spreading that dust and stuff onto your ceiling and walls?" Call me a freak, but I would NEVER bring the head of a broom above knee level. If I had to get up there, I'd use the vacuum attachment. I would politely ask her to refrain from spreading all that broom head dust around your room. THEN move out.

Your mother-in-law is OCD. Ignore it. Hopefully you won't have to live with her very long. I had an OCD daughter who lived with me for almost 9 years. She ruined my carpet vacuuming it so much. You might even compliment her on her excellent housekeeping. She probably just needs love.

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