Mother-in-law Issues - Fort Lauderdale,FL

Updated on October 23, 2009
S.D. asks from Fort Lauderdale, FL
42 answers

I have a dilema and was wondering if anyone else has advice or similar issues. I have been married for almost 12 years now. I have two girls, an 8-year-old and a 4-year-old. My mother-in-law is a divorced woman( and has been for 20 years) who lives alone and my husband is her only child. I am a very happy woman and love my family sooo much. All my life I have dreamed about having a girl and I am so lucky because I have two and they are healthy, beautiful and beyond anything I could have every dreamed of. I love my husband soooo much. There is so much to this story, but I will try and make as short as possible. My mother-in-law has caused so much difficulty in our relationship. My husband moved in with me before we got married, we lived together and every time we would leave his Mom's house to go to my house where we lived she would say to him "Are you sleeping at home tonight honey?" Every single time. We would try and hang out there as much as we could so she wasn't alone. I will just give you a few examples of things that really stick out in my mind, but just know that there are just so many events similar to the ones I explain. Before we were married we were trying to save our money to get a house of our own so like on a typical Sat. night we would go and rent a movie. We did this one night and brought the movie his room so we could just lay on the bed, be ourselves chill out and watch a movie (to let you know we were 25 yrs.old), she came in the room got in the bed with us right in the middle of both of us and started watching the movie. If we were to go out to dinner, just the two of us, she would say "how come you didnt invite me?" We were young dating couple??? Things got worse when we got married. It was if she was mad about the marrige. The first few years of your marrige we would have to sit at her house every weekend and stare at the walls. We had no life, no friends. She has no friends. It is like a completely dysfunctional trio. When I had my first baby, she nearly went off the deep end. I breastfed and she questioned everything I did. I took a breastfeeding support group and they passed out a broucheure that was for the grandparent of the breastfed baby and things you should not say to the mother and she said them all to me. It was horrible. After I had the baby she insisted that because this was her grandbaby I should have an open door policy and she should be able to come over whenever she wanted. This was after she came over univited one day and I just asked her to please just give me a call so I know she is coming. She was so angry with me. My husband talks to her about twice a week for about an hour each time. She now lives about 1-1/2 hour away, but she is still manipulative and controlling and tries to take over every situation and Christmas forget it. It is a nightmare. All the things I used to look forward to when I had kids of my own it is hard to enjoy because she makes so many demands when it comes to holidays and birthdays, everything from wanting to get every present they want to picking out their dresses.

I will try and get to the point now. We see her probably on average twice a month, more around the holidays, and this is usually an all day event. Which really is fine with me. If she was nice to me and respectful I wouldnt mind seeing her a lot more often. She smokes. I have asked several times and she knows me well by now I dont want my kids around the smoking. She still takes them outside with her on smoke breaks and carrys them while she smokes, etc. Total disregard for my wishes. If my girls have an ice cream or food she will just grab their hand and lick off their food. Maybe I am crazy, but to me this is bizzare??? A few days ago my little one wanted to put her hand in a fountain in a downtown area, where a lot of homeless people live and I told her "NO" Right in front of me she says "go ahead honey you can put your and in it." I turn around and I see a homeless man on the other end taking a bath in the fountain. Even if I am crazy, I thought it was disrespectful to go against a childs mother and tell them to do the opposite. She shows poor judgement for taking care of children. She loves to carry my little one and take her around big dogs and bend down and say look at the doggie. We are talking about German sheppards and big breed dogs that arent used to children. She had my husband when she was very young and my husband was mostly raised by his grandmother. Needless to say I do not feel comfortable leaving my kids alone with her. That is about where we are at. She is now trying to push the issue and wanting to take them places requesting she take them "ALONE" Even though I try so hard to make other arrangements to include her and myself, but NO, it is never enough for her. Please help. She has never complemented me on being a mother or never ever has a kind word for me. I will admit I am definately a hands on Mom. I love being a Mom and my efforts are evident in my children. My older daughter is always top of her class, smart, sweet and amazing and happy. My little one is following in the same footsteps, yet she has always questioned my parenting. I wish more than anything that it wasnt this way. This is the person in my life that I have had the most problems with and it has to be my mother-in-law. I really dont have any problems with anyone else in his family (and he has a big family) or anyone in my family. It is just her. My husband does recognize there is a problem, but says that this his mother and what is he supposed to do. I even feel embarresed having to talk to him about it, but I can't even be comfortable when we do get together because she acts as if she is examining me to find something I am doing wrong or licking off my kids food, etc. and when we get together it is always to talk about when and what we are going to do the next time we get together and it is like come on, we are here now just enjoy it. I really feel like she uses the exucse with my husband that she never gets to see the kids, but what was the excuse for the 5 years before we had kids and she wanted to be with us constantly. Sorry this is so long any advice would be greatly appreciated.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.P.

answers from Sarasota on

Sorry but she sounds like a nut job. Find her a boyfriend... My husband and his mother are very close (not like you mentioned) and when we first moved in together he used to talk to her several times a day. It never bothered me because she is not the typical mother in law. She never wants to over step her bounds. The licking part??? If anyone licked my kid i would punch them in the face, i don't care who they were!!!

More Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.J.

answers from Tallahassee on

No disrespect to you S., but this woman sounds like a complete quack and you have done far more with and for her than I could! PLEASE, please never leave your children alone with her - not even when they are a bit older. Do not compromise your instincts as a mother - you are right to think she is crazy and has no ones best interest (but hers) at heart. I can relate with the mother-in-law who smokes. It is INFURIATING! I tell her - I don't care what you do, but do not smoke in or outside of my house or my car. Do not wear smoky clothes when you try to hold my child and do not touch her without washing your hands. And as long as she is smoking in her house - we will not visit there. Period. It's her choice as far as I am concerned. It's my child (I would FLIP at an "open door" policy, by the way) and it's my rules. She got her chance with her kids, now it's about me, my child and my husband. She gets the "privilege" of us "letting" her in that circle when we see fit - not her. Girl, put your foot down. Your husband has to put the best interest of his wife and children first and deal with his mother. Make him read this - my husband and I have been there. It can get VERY ugly if he tries to choose her over you. He can't. You and he are supposed to be one now and you should be. As a united front, the grandmother may actually get her act together. But he should know by now that there has been a role reversal - he is now in the parental role and she is in the child-like role. She won't straighten up until he stands up to her as well.

Good luck to you. Like I said - been there.

2 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.C.

answers from Jacksonville on

So sorry for your issues... It sounds really stressful and draining. I could give you all kinds of "counselor" advice and make it sound so easy, but that wouldn't help. My suggestion to you is to read a book called "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend. It is great at not changing the other person (your mother-in-law) but teaching you how to set up firm boundaries that will allow you to have a relationship (or not in extreme cases) with that person. It will involve you and your husband buying into the same philosophy and the same set of boundaries for it to work. It can be so hard when dealing with boys and their mothers!! I actually read Boundaries for Children which is another fabulous parenting resource. I wish you luck. Unfortunately this will not be easy to correct because it has been going on so long. Just try to remember that everyone is a broken person, but that does not mean someone else's issues need to dictate things in your life. For example, putting your foot down about the smoking thing (boundaries book will help you with how to do that) is a matter of your health and your children's health. That is something she HAS to respect even if she doesn't respect her own health. She will probably ignore oyu and be defensive because she knows it menas you do not approve of her choice to smoke but that is where you and your husband have to decide your daughters' health is more important than your mother-in-laws feelings... hope some of this has been encouraging. Best of luck!

2 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.M.

answers from Miami on

Hi, Suzanne. Take a deep breath. I see this woman is driving you crazy, and it sounds like it's because she has no concept of reasonable boundaries. This is a big problem, and it's made even worse by the fact that your husband, her son, has not done his part as your partner and the children's father, and stood up in a reasonable way to his mother.

It also sounds like Grandma has some emotional problems, too, but I'm not here to dianose her or anyone else.

You and your husband have GOT to sit down together and make a reasonable plan to set up reasonable boundaries, and HE, NOT YOU, SHOULD BE THE ONE TO ENFORCE THEM. If necessary, you should go to a trusted counselor TOGETHER, to help the two of you work out what boundaries you need and to cope with the backlash from Grandma that is sure to come. He has no idea how to handle this -- he has to learn, and learn fast, before this crazy woman does something stupid by being alone with your daughters.

She is clearly used to getting her way 100% with her son. You are correct that she is jealous of your relationship. A lot of mothers, especially in her generation, are quite jealous of losing their grown sons to a "younger woman," so to speak.

In my opinion -- NEVER, EVER ALLOW HER TO GO PLACES AWAY FROM YOUR HOME AWAY WITH ONE OR BOTH OF YOUR DAUGHTERS. She sounds like a prime candidate for the kind of unbalanced relative who could run off with a child "for the child's own good." Clearly, she does not approve of you, and may even have it in her head that she needs to rescue the children from you.

I do suggest having a merciful attitude toward her -- she doesn't seem to understand the consequences of her actions, not having raised her son herself, and I don't think you should cut off all contact, but you MUST set up reasonable boundaries -- call before you come, limit the amount of time you are together, she has to abide by your rules for second-hand smoke, she can't contradict you or their father in front of the children, etc. All these things are simple rules of courtesy and simple common sense child-rearing.

Do not -- DO NOT -- let her take off with the children. You don't have to justify this to her or anyone else. And your husband does NOT have to make excuses for his mother. If she cannot abide by common courtesy and common sense, then she is not a suitable caregiver for a young child. That's all the justification you need.

I'm not a psychologist or a therapist, but I have had many, many, awful encounters with people (relatives included) who could not or would not respect any personal boundaries at all. Some of these people have turned out to be mentally unbalanced -- I've been stalked, and they have done other things to really hurt me emotionally and have even threatened me physically -- and such people do not respect the boundaries of the law, either. I really, really think that people who constantly and even deliberately violate everyone's boundaries are not to be trusted at all. They are capable of just about anything.

I will say a prayer that your family can resolve these issues swiftly and for the best possible situation for your marriage and the children. Try not to worry -- just make yourself and your girls safe.

Peace,
Syl

2 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.D.

answers from Tampa on

Karen and a couple others have the right idea - YOUR HUSBAND ABSOLUTELY MUST BE THE ONE to stand up and put up the united front! She will continue to break you down, and mess with your head as well as your childrens respect of you - UNLESS your husband grows some kahonas and tells her that it is UNACCEPTABLE for her to treat you this way any longer.
It is one thing to love your mother unconditionally, however it is another to allow that mother to disinegrate your relationship with your wife, have her degrade your wife, show no respect for her parenting and rules.
You need to sit down and have a list of the top 5 things that are intolerable #1 NO smoking around the children #2 Do not go against our rules #3 Be cautious around animals you do not know We are trying to teach our daughters safety Etc Etc That way you have a set list of what the main issues are that can be addressed and hopefully will be worked on.
Good Luck Suzanne, I hope this situation gets better for you. I will pray for you and your family

2 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

D.T.

answers from Panama City on

Hi, S.,
Wow! I do not know where to begin. First, as an only child, I can understand part of the problem. Your husband needs to sit down and calmly set some bounderies with his mother. She has not cut the cord yer, and by not addressing her "neediness" it is only going to get worse.
Second, continue to be firm about the smoking issue. Do not allow the girls to be close to her when she chooses to smoke. It is alright to be outside when she smokes, but not right in the line of fire.
Third, when she licks the girls hands, ask her to stop being a human napkin. It is important that your children learn proper manners from the very start. Explain to your mother in law that she not encouraging your daughter to have good manners.
Holidays should be spent enjoyably. Where are your parents? Do you trade off each year? Does she come to your house for the holidays (whrere you cna better control the situation)? Explain to her that by purchasing every gift that the girls may want is not teaching them to be appreciative nor to understand that their are boundaries.
Talk to your husband about the situation, often. Do not allow her to come between your marriage. I have been down that road, and only because my husband was strong enough to tell both my own mother and his mother to lay off of me, did it get any better.
Make your own plans for the holidays, and stick to them.
I had to learn to do that many years ago, and it has become a lot easier.
We now have a grend child that lives in Jacksonville, so we do go there for Christmas, but the other holidays they come to our home, and I try to make sure that my son in law does not feel like I am bossing him around.
Instead I encourage them to tell me what they would like to do.
I know that is not much help, but you are doing the right thing by venting your feelings. But, do not allow your daughters to be caught up in the middle. It is not fair to them.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

Y.F.

answers from Orlando on

You put up with waaaaay to much. I am a christian woman and I tolerate alot, but this is ridicolous. In the future when you say NO to your children and she steps in, take control back and say to your children, mommy said no. Dont let her get away with her manipulations. Im sorry but you need to stand stronger in your ground or she will control you for the rest of your LIFE!!! Stop it NOW!

Hope for the best for you and your girls!

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

R.P.

answers from Tampa on

First of all I would like to say from the looks of it, you are doing a great job with your girls! I have a daughter too and I am the same way! Like with the fountain water with the homeless men, I would have been like NO WAY! Also she sounds like Marie on Everybody loves Raymond! You have to just be strong and hang in there. I know it sounds easier said then done. I would definitly talk to your husband more about this. Maybe he could sit down with her and explain to her how you feel and that its a problem. And it seems like you just cant make her happy or get through to her, but maybe he could. I wish you all the luck.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

L.R.

answers from Tampa on

You need to put her in her place because if not she will continue to disrespect you which will eventually lead to your children to think its cool to disrespect you. Your husband need to speak up as well I had this same issue in my marriage husband don't want to say anything.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.W.

answers from Miami on

Well, dear, you are too late to "nip this in the bud" but not too late to weed out the garden.
Take a stand for yourself, yourhusband and your children. You are giving her too much control; and you want to be the one in control of your life...so DO IT!!
No more smoking around the children, no licking food off their hands, no outings with her alone, NO, NO, NO!!!
If she has anything nasty to say to you, you will take it with grace and turn the other cheek.
If she asks what got into you it's :self respect. Enough of her shenanigans. Bottom line: she will never change; but you have the right to change.

Most men are "mama's boys" and cater to their mothers.

Put your foot down, gently, make a list of pros and cons. Hopefully there are a few things she does that are even keeled...like buying presents for the girls? Why not? If that is her pleasure, and it saves you money, then allow her that joy.
Your instructions to her will not be in front of the children; but in front of your husband and or to her alone. Be firm and take your stand.
Being miserable is your choice, honey, not hers.....

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.E.

answers from Tampa on

Okay, I have had problems with my MIL (my husband too was an only child) and my BFF has also had problems (her husband had brothers and sisters). I am going to say this as nicely as I can but it is crucial information!!!

YOUR HUSBAND HAS TO GET INVOLVED!!!

As long as it's just you and you a) gloss over the problems or try to ignore them b) are the only one to speak to her about the problems or c) avoid them by stepping out of the pictures - NOTHING WILL EVER CHANGE! I hate to put it that bluntly but it is true. My husband and I actually got a divorce and then got back together once he learned how to stand up to his mother. My BFF had to go to counseling for herself and then later included her husband and then eventually MIL for solutions. I am telling you now, she will never change if your husband doesn't stand up to her.

1) You need to tell him you concerns in a reasonable way (not when you're extremely upset) and offer examples - ones he's witnessed and those he hasn't. he can't do anything if he doen'st have information.
2) Ask him to talk to his mother with or without you. It is important that a) he tells him mom he loves you both but b) you are his wife and mother of his children and you both have family values and ideals on raising your children and he expects her to honor those.
3) There may be some overflow tension for a period of time and if so, try to talk it over but you must draw the lines or it will only get worse. Counseling is a great avenue because it involves a third party and that person can direct the conversation and give an unpredjudiced point of view.

It is so important to communicate with your husband and for him to understand that you are not just being silly and that this is a serious problem that he needs to get involved in.

I wish you the very best and hope things work out. I will say it's not easy. I was divorced for 14 months before we got back together. My BFF went to counseling for 9 months before her husband and MIL finally attended and then it was another 5 months before everyone was at ease with what had happened. Sometimes the MIL knows what she's doing and sometimes not. Husbands feel in the middle between two women they love the most but when he married you, and you started a family, you and your children became his priority and she needs to understand that and the fact that ya'll have your own rules for raising your children and she needs to honor them. Good luck!!! Keep us up to date with a follow up. For my BFF and myself, I am happy to report that everyone has a wonderful relationship now and boundaries are honored. If you don't speak up, you will never be able to expect anything to change. Best wishes!!!

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.S.

answers from Sarasota on

I'll try to keep it short. My sister has been married to her husband for at least 25 years. Mother never liked him and she really did take as much time away from the two of them as she could possibly manage. She wanted my sister for herself. She wanted someone to fill her days especially after daddy left and remarried. She should have made a life for herself! It's not like there's nothing to do in Sarasota!!!!! She really wore my sister down but she kept going over there trying to make her happy until the day she (mother) died. It has taken a tremendous toll on my sister. I really don't even like her very much anymore. She is very very crass. Mother was probably right about the husband but there's nothing she could have done and she just made my sister and husband miserable for years! No children involved. But I wouldn't leave the girls with her unsupervised. There are other ways to hurt children besides physically; trust me, I have been there! It will take lots of counseling especially for your husband because his mom has set out to create a child who will never ever leave her! That has been done on purpose. Good luck. I know it's difficult but my sister never addressed it and she should have.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.L.

answers from Dallas on

I really think that you should talk to a counselor who specializes in family counseling. Don't ever expect your MIL to come with you or understand - I recommend you don't tell her. A counselor will help you sort out the situation and teach you emotional tools to deal with the situation. A common phrase is, "I can't control anybody's behavior but my own" and this is a great example of that. Your MIL is never going to change, but you can change your behavior with her in order to get the results that will keep you sane. Good luck!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.B.

answers from Miami on

Hi S.. So it is your husband who has to take care of HIS mom. My advice is to talk with him, make him understand what is going on between his women and try to fix it together. you have to create an strategy and work on it. It seems to me as he is always letting her because she is alone, But he is not alone, he has a family,so you can be a better family just if she tries to be more friendly. Good luck

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.M.

answers from Orlando on

Ohhhh my dear S....seems like you are a great person and you been suffering for some witch that is trying to make your family miserable ON PURPOSE believe me she knows what she is doing!! You could save so much sad times in your live if you will be strong and direct with her without showing it since the begining...I advice you for now on to always address things from the beginning, what you can do have a serius conversation we her in front of your husband and tell her that what you are going to say doesn't compromise your love for her, that you understand she might feel lonely and she is more than welcome to be "the grandma" but she needs bonds!!! and you set them!!

Good lock.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.A.

answers from Sarasota on

Dear S.,
First let me say... I feel your pain! I have been in yor shoes. Here's my advise. You AND your husband have to sit her down to have a "heart to heart". You have to do this in a delicate mannor but yet still remain firm in your stance. It has to be you and your husband together, as a united front. It can't be just you and her or your husband and her. It must be the two of you, together, talking to her. You and your husband need to sit down first and decide what the ground rules are going to be. And you have to make sure that the two of you agree on this and he's not agreeing with you just to appease you. Then you talk to her, again TOGETHER!!! Let her know that you understand that these are her grandchildren and you know how much she loves them and wants to spend time with them, BUT, these are YOUR children. They are your responsibility and you have ground rules. Would you tolerate your husband smoking around your children? Probably not, so by no means should you tolerate her smoking around them. You explain your ground rules with love and compassion and explain to her it is her choice. Tell her that you want and expect her in your childrens lives, but you will not allow her to undermind your authority or harm them by smoking around them. If she's holding your daughter and has a cigarrette, then take the child away! If she wants the child to go outside with her while she's smoking, tell her and the child no! It's your child....you have that right to protect them! If she tells your child that they can do something after you tell them they can't. Speak up for yourself right then...not later...right then. Tell her and your child..."Mommy said NO". Be firm!!
I was married for just over 10 years to a man that allowed his mother to undermind me and never spoke a kind word to me. And he never stood up for me to her. I have now been married to the most amazing man for almost 5 years and his mother is the ideal perfect mother-in-law. It is the kind of relationship I always dreamed of.
You can have a great relationship with your mother-in-law but she has to understand that her "little boy" is a grown up now and she is no longer the primary woman in his life. His wife and daughters are.
It sounds like you are raising beautiful smart daughters. They are learning how to be a good wife by watching you. Do you want them to grow up and get married only to let their future mother-in-laws walk all over them? I know I don't want that for my daughter! Just remember to be compassionate yet firm when you talk to her. And make sure that your husband is with you in this, because if he's not, it will be a lot harder to make things work.
Sorry this is so long, and I hope something I said may help you.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

H.J.

answers from Tampa on

Wow! You and your husband need to talk about what is acceptable behavior and what isn't. Sit down and talk it out. He is married to YOU. If he wanted to live with Mama he shouldn't have gotten married. Sorry if this seems harsh but honey he needs to grow a pair and you need to be firm too. Don't argue or cajole or fuss with this woman. She is selfish and has gotten her way for too darn long. Love her, yes respect her yes, respect yourself and your family first or she will tear you apart. We had to do this with my inlaws. The only difference is my husband was on board and supported me. Yours may need councelling to deal with his needing to please her. If he was raised by grandma then he may have guilt and abandonment issues. He's afraid if he stands up to her he'll lose her again. Well which one would he rather lose, Mama for a little while (she may get mad but she'll buck up when she realizes if she wants her family in her life she has to grow up)or his family. Because even though you love him this may become so unbearable for you that you are done period. I wish you luck whatever you decide.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.F.

answers from Tampa on

Well the point of your story is that she is doing things with and to your kids that you desire not to be done. And if this woman would be able to compromise or at least respect your way of raising YOUR children maybe you would let her be involved. But now that she has disrespected you in your own presence, imagine what would happen when you are not there! Now,she needs to prove herself to you, just like your husband had to prove himself when you were dating. Have you comunicated these things with her? I would. And I know you need to have a certain level of respect for her and be civil, but that doesn't mean she can step all over you. You absolutely cannot let her take over your life in these aspects.
I strongly feel that this should also be spoken with your husband. After all this is his mother, and him being YOUR husband he needs to understand that his family comes first and that his home should always be his priority. Let your guard down a bit when it comes to having to speak up for yourself. The things you accept today could be the things you regret tomorrow.
Hope my advice is not harsh. Just wanna help!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.M.

answers from Tampa on

What is he suppose to do? Handle it. Say no. And say no.
You are the mother, how your kids are raised is up to you.She may not reverse your vwishes, or pack the girls up and leave. Do it.
Is how mad she'll be worse than what you have now?

You knew what you were getting- you give the examples yourself, now if you want it to be different you'll have to FINALLY take a stand. Are you up for it, or are yougoing to continue to show your daughters that being a doormat is the way girls act? Is this the example you want them to follow?
Get a spine, honestly.

And where is your family? Holidays need to be split between.

You have waited a long time to stand up, so don't think this will be w/o crying and name calling and guilt peddling.But really is your husband blind?
What he needs to do is honour his family, his wife, and not be a lap dog to his mother.
This is such an unhealthy situation.
Check out YokaReader.com for some help.
Better late than never- get a spine- or be responsible for what you are showing your daughters.
best,k

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.

answers from Boca Raton on

S.,

Geesh I was getting ticked off just reading what you have had to deal with. You should be proud that you have handled this as well as you have so far. However, very soon the resentment is going to cause so many problems. Know that you will not be able to change your MIL. The person who needs to change what is happening is your husband. This is his mother and she is treating you so unfairly. He should not be allowing this to happen. With that being said,him being an only child and it appears it was just him and her mostly growing up it is very difficult for him to choose sides. And he really shouln't have to. He needs to set some boundaries with his mother. I would strongly suggest that the two of you together get some family counseling. This is not an issue for you only. There is nothing you will be able to do to resolve this and change what is happening. Your husband needs to understand that he will need to change the family situation and support you. A good counselor will help him to see this and help you both come up with a plan on how to gradually change this situation. I wish you a lot of luck-this will take some time to change.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

T.S.

answers from Tallahassee on

Hello S.,
I think that all the advice columnists would agree with what I'm going to say. First, your husband and you together need to confront her very directly but calmly and nicely. He should do the talking, but if he cannot bring himself to say this, then he must be by your side and when his mother looks at him in shock at what you are saying, he must say that he agrees and supports YOU.
Tell her that you welcome her being so involved with her grandchildren and you understand her desire to be involved in her son's life. However, if she will not respect your wishes when it comes to your home and your children and follow your rules, you will have to limit her time around you all until she can be so respectful. Your husband should tell her that when it comes to your marriage and your children, she needs to respect those boundaries. This will make her a better mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother. Her advice should not be given unless asked for. Holidays will be rotated if she won't respect your rules and wishes. And then allow her an opportunity to respond when you are finished - no interrupting. You do not have to respond to what she says, actually, probably best that you don't! Just simply say, thank you for sharing your feelings. End of discussion. Then, hold firm when she does things with your children you disapprove of. Your children need to understand that grandma doesn't overrule mom!
Finally, I strongly recommend you go to a book store and buy this book: "Boundaries" By Henry Cloud.
I hope your husband will do this and support you and let his mother know the boundaries. Best to you!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.V.

answers from Tampa on

wow... it really sounds like she's a VERY lonely woman.. and her son was raised by his grandmother so it seems to me like she is trying to relive being a better mother. Unfortunately, her methods appear to be outdated (dare i say.. F-IN CRAZY!) and she has no desire to change her ways.. but have you tried seriously setting her down, you, your husband and her.. and told her how you both felt on this matter. seriously have an open, honest dialogue session with her and let her know that if she can't respect your ways of parenting then you don't respect the amount of time she desires to be around you all. May i even suggest.. family counseling? perhaps hearing it from an outsiders point of view will help (especially since its a professional opinion.)

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

B.C.

answers from Ocala on

first i would say you and hubby need to talk and set some ground rules for her and stuck to them. and then maybe togethr have a heart ot heart with her about not disrespecting you and telling your children yes when she knows you have already said no. tell her you love her and you want her to be a part of the kids lives but she needs to respect you as their mother and as far as that goes as her daughter in law. maybe your husband can suggest she join a church or some groups where she can meet people and make friends then she would not be bothering you so much.theis would give her a life--and seems like she needs to get one. does she play cards maybe she could find some card groups to join. something--anything so she can meet people.
and yes she should call before coming living that far away how does she know you are gonna be home or that you do not have prior plans. hubby needs to address this issue --by saying mom we love when you come to visti but plkease try to give us heads up in case we have other plans.do not let her think that you do not have other friends to do things with. in fact you need to find other couples to do things with that maybe have kids -- so you can have plans like a BBQ or an outing.
she just seems lonely to me. my ex husbands mom was the same way until she got remarried and got herself a life then she left us all alone for the most part.
as far as holidays you and you hubby are gonna have to take the bull by the horns so to speak just tell her this year we are gonna do it this way. tell her she is welcome to participate with you but it is gonna be this way and stick to it. you do not wanna cut her completely out of holidays because she has no one but your hubby and your family.'
good luck but you need to take control back in your family you and hubby both need to do that. just say hon i know she is your mother and i do love her and want her to be part of the kids lives--but i am your wife and they are our kids and we have to have control over that.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.T.

answers from Ocala on

Since your husbands only response is what can I do she is my mother you have a real problem. Find her a man of her own. I just happen to have a son who is married with two sons 8 and 4. My daughter in law and I have a great relationship. Your Mother in law on the other hand needs to get a life. Sorry.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.R.

answers from Sarasota on

I can't add much to what others have said. You do need to stand up for yourself but you can't do it alone. I wonder why your husband and his views on this didn't come up in your dilemma. Does he have a problem with it? He really needs to be the one to address this problem with his mother.

Good luck.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

L.H.

answers from Miami on

omg, i seriously feel for you. i thought my mother-in-law had issues, but you are in it deep. your husband really needs to step in and you all need to have a discussion. you need to have her over and have a loooong conversation with her about her behavior and how you are raising your kids. we had to do this and it was extremely difficult, but it needs to be done. my kids will never be alone with my mil either.
your husband, you and the kids are a family- and she needs to be told that yes, she is yor family, but she is not a decision maker for your children. she needs to understand that she had her child, and now this is your time.
it doesn't matter what she says about you or what she thinks- all that matters is what you think and do. who cares if she ever compliments you- be strong within yourself- it sounds like your kids are doing just fine without her input. she obviously has some serious issues and i agree that her behavior is bizarre. if your husband will not intervene and try to help then you will have to do it yourself, plus him not sticking up for you is a totally different problem.
i really feel for you. if i was in that situation i can guarantee my child would never see her grandmother unless she understood and respected how i raised them. period.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.G.

answers from Miami on

seriously, have you tried calling Dr. Laura? She gives great advice and I think this would be a good topic for her....but I know what she would say.

She would say that your husband needs to be the one to set limits on his mom. She would also say that if you married a "man", not a boy, he would do that because he would realize that his wife and new family are the priority. He is the head of a household now and his responsibilities are to you and the kids, not to his mother. I don't know if you are a religious person or not, but today in church we heard the Old Testament reading about how a man leaves his mother and father, and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh. It is very interesting that this topic came up just today!

In my own relationship with my husband, I was the one who needed to set limits with my own mom. It was very hard to do. My dad died when i was 10, and I was an only child....my mom essentially replaced my dad with me, to meet her emotional needs. It isn't fair to do that to any child, because kids needs to grow up and then have families of their own....that is just life! Anyway, the biggest problem with my mom was her drinking. I needed to set limits that she could not drink alcohol while she was watching my daughter. It wasn't easy, but it was my job as a mom to protect my children! So I did....and she was very offended. She made sarcastic comments about it for a long time (after she started talking to me again!). But, she did comply. The other thing was that she backed off me, because she saw that my husband and i were a team, and that we just weren't going to let her overstep that boundary. I think she resented my husband at first, but came to respect him. One night she was drinking and fell down in front of him....I think that event embarrassed her so much that she was able to give up drinking altogether. She had a health scare as well. So that was the good news! My mom was sober for about the last 10 years, and was able to have a decent relationship with her grandchildren until she passed away in 2007. My husband followed her 9 months later. I had a dream that she told him to watch out for me....and i think he does! My point is that if your husband is able to set the limits, his mom might be hurt at first but may come around to the point where the relationship can actually be functional, and good for all concerned! Now, that may not happen either, as with my husband's father...but that is another story! (He is actually mentally ill so may not be capable of a normal relationship....we actually have had no contact with him at all). But it sounds like your mother in law is not crazy, she just needs some limits set.

Another option is for you and/or your husband to see a good therapist to help you both through this process. I can recommend some good ones....but you need to do this for the safety and sanity of your children!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.C.

answers from Miami on

Oh honey, be thankful that she lives 1 1/2 hrs away, and not across the street. Have you ever watched "Everybody Loves Raymond?" LOL. I do feel for you, but when you are bothered by something remind your husband that its his mother, he has to stand up to her, she will never hate him, but already shown she dislikes you as she has never given you the respect you deserve. And never give in to her requests to have the children alone. I too would not be comfortable with that. Its understood this is her only son and she is jealous of you, but This is your family, you get to say what and when!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.K.

answers from Pensacola on

Yikes! What a nightmare. I don't see your situation improving until your husband gets on board with "doing something." If your insurance covers a family therapist, it might be worth the time.

Oh yes, I would move FARTHER away. That might help, too.

S.

P.S. Until then, let it get ugly. Put your foot down. Announce you are spending Christmas at home or with your family. I remember the first time we didn't spend the holidays with hubby's family. Happy times.... But, once you lay the foundation, it gets easier the next time.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

P.H.

answers from Orlando on

Susan hello I am not sure if he is the only son or only child. I would pray first and ask God to help me in this area. Secondly I will sit down and talk with my husband and tell him how i feel about the things that his mother is doing. I will asked him to talk with her with you cheering him on and discussing the do's and don't, and give her the holidays that she can be involved maybe you can have Thanksgiving with your family and Christmas with her and the rest of the year to your self without any family involvement. Truthfully between work and school and church you should not have much time for family member to be around other than the holidays, and the spare time you carve out should be for you and your spouse to spend time together.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.A.

answers from Jacksonville on

Wow, you are about 12 years late dealing with this one, but I do understand why.

Let your MIL know things are not okay. I would try a take her to lunch alone approach to talk. You have given her respect and you have a right to expect she do the same. Let her know you love her, and you really do want her to visit as often as she does, you really want her to be a part of the family, but in your home you are in charge, not her. She may offer advice about the children ONLY in private, and not in front of them, and she may NOT contridict your rules or instructions. If she cannot treat you with respect, you and your children will not be home when she comes to visit. And by all means do you have a right to expect a call before she comes over.

I am the mother of three grown children and I would not dream of just showing up, even if I am only a block or two away I call. (one of my girls used to live 2 blocks from a store we both frequented).

Keep in mind the rules work both ways, in her house she is queen.

When you talk to her, be nice, but let her know it's just not okay anymore. Treat her the way you want your children to treat you one day (because that day will come). Her feelings will probably get hurt, we all get hurt when someone points out our shortcomings, but if done kindly and with love you will both get past it and your relationship can grow.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.S.

answers from Miami on

It plainly sounds like you need to assert yourself and tell her what you think of her behavior and her subversion and make it clear that she'll be seeing the kids even less if she doesn't respect your parental authority. If she doesn't like the criticism then tell her she needs to stop criticizing you - if she dishes it out than she should expect to get it back. You have to look out for your girls' well-being as a priority over maintaining a relationship with your mother-in-law.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.E.

answers from Orlando on

I think your mother in law she has a lot of free time, dosn't know what to do with her life, and has no one else but your family, you have to come up with a way or a gift or any thing to introduce her to some men to get her married or with someone to hang on with. I don't blame your husband cause I have husband who is extremely week with his mom and I know how it feels cause he can't do anything to her frequent demands, imagine he would fly from FL to MI to fix her car for her over the weekend and come back when she has 3 more sons with her in the same area!!!!!

GET HER HOOKED WITH SOMEONE AND GET RID OF HER PROBLEMS
Good luck

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

V.

answers from Boca Raton on

Hi, S.
WOW...It is really hard... I feel for you...
May be you can do a rooting schedule for 7 days what you are doing with your family. So girls need some time with Daddy, with Mommy, some family time. So lets say on school days, after school - lunch, homework, time in the park,(you can find moms group in your area, or some activity, go to the library, etc), dinner, quiet time, shower and bed time. Also you can get some play dates with yours daughters friends on rooting schedule. On weekends also everything scheduled, from the morning till bed time, and you are doing some specials things, also you can take turns and get each girl to have fun with Daddy only, and Mommy only, they are going to love that time and will wait for it. One special day with whole family, including Grandma. So this way you will be in control of your day, and let her know that all this organized schedule only for the girls benefits. Hope this helps...
Best wishes!!!
V..

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

R.L.

answers from Tampa on

S.,
Wow! This is a difficult situation to be and the first thing that I would suggest is have a talk with her. 1 on 1 you and her. There is no reason for confrontation, but if you are uncomforatable or rather she is making you uncomfortable and constantly disrespecting you and looking for something to bring you down she definately needs to know. You do not have to be confrontational, but you are allowed to speak your feelings this is how a relationship works. Any relationship and if she does not want to cooperate then maybe she does not understand relationships. It is always better to try and work through rather then wonder and I think that is what your trying to do. If you have had this discussion with her and it has not helped then you need to stand your ground. Especially when you tell your child no and she says yes. If not this will cause huge problems down the road in many different ways. Hope this helped some what and you will be in my prayers. Many blessings and you can always contact me if you want to talk more @ [email protected]____.com

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.G.

answers from Gainesville on

S., I had a very large problem with my M-I-L for 22 years and 3 years before she died she was my best friend. The biggest thing is not to get your husband in the middle as he will have a hard time with whoms side he should take. And most of the time the mother wins because the men are pre-conditioned. Now the hand licking and telling your kids the opposite of what you say, I would put a stop to it. Don't let her screw with your kids as it sounds like you are doing a great job. Sit down with her and stay nice but lay down the law and tell your M-I-L that they are your kids and only her grandkids. Hang in there if you really love your husband but get strong and try to get M-I-L to meet you half way. As far as the smoking make her feel guilty about killing the kids with the smoke in thier little lungs. Good Luck Sweetie....and if nothing else remember she will not live forever.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

T.B.

answers from Miami on

I have issues like this but with my own family. I have a family member that contstantly undermines my authority, in front of my children and I have lovingly told them to "butt out" but after having to be nice about it so many times and still get disrespect from him, I've had to be authoritative about it and be like a parent scolding a child with this particular family member. You are under NO obligation to (1) put up with being disrespected by your MIL, (2) put up with having your authority questioned, and (3) most important one, YOU ARE NOT OBLIGATED to allow your MIL to take your children ANYWHERE alone if you are not comfortable with it. You must remember and remind yourself that YOU are your childrens provider and protector. While your MIL may love them and protect them, you know, as well as every single mom reading this, nobody is more watchful and more guarded than MOM herself. Your MIL is the grandparent and you have every reason to question her judgement where your children's safety and well being is concerned. You must talk to your husband about your feelings and he must support you on this. You tell your MIL in a loving way, that you understand that she wants to spend alone time with the grandchildren, but you are not comfortable having her take them anywhere alone, without you. If she grumbles about this, you must not allow her to manipulate you into giving into something that makes you feel uncomfortable. As for the smoking, well, that's not a tough issue! You tell your MIL, again, lovingly, that you will not bring the children to her home if she intends to smoke around them. If anything, you invite her to your home so that the NO SMOKING in your house is enforced. People get defensive when you ask them to give up something in their own home for the sake of making someone else comfortable. If this is what you are up against, then have MIL over to your house and that way you ensure that there will be NO smoking around your home. As for the licking your children's food, I'm sorry, but even after a certain age, even the child's parent should not be sharing food. You must enforce this with your MIL and I know, I've been in your shoes, and my children are still young too. I've battled many issues, but you are the parent and the MIL must respect and show respect to you. The fountain issue, I would have very sternly and firmly INSIST that my child not put her hand in the fountain. If your MIL is going to act like a child, then you will correct her like one, but in a loving way. You must never give up your authority where your children are concerned. I hope this helps, S.. Good luck!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

N.J.

answers from Fort Walton Beach on

I myself have issues with one of my mother-in-laws. So I know the feelings you are gonig through.

My advice to you is to talk again with your husband and tell him point blank, that you don't feel comfortable with his mom taking the kids alone, and that it's basically not going to happen. They are your kids, not his mothers.

I've had to get to the point where everyone thinks I'm a b**ch, cause I wont let me kids go do things. It's not that they can't do whatever it is they are going to do, it's that I don't want them going with certain people.

Stick to your mommy gut, and what you know about your MIL. You are probably also going to have to be blunt with his mother, in telling her when you go to visit. Wen she starts talking about next time, just politely say "let's concentrate on us being here now.", or say "we'll see", or we'll check our schedule and see what we can do.

It sounds like you've already been trying to be the nicest you can be, but sometimes it takes a little bit more, and you husband needs to side with you, not his mom. He also needs to say something to her, and explain what he means.

If his mom has no friends, no one, there is probably a reason for it. I hope my two cents was worth something and helps some. Good luck..

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.S.

answers from Miami on

First let me commend you for your devotion to your children and wanting to set reasonable limits (ie no smoking around them, no putting hands in fountain etc.) You are doing the right thing and you will be blown away by the dividends as your girls mature.

I really feel for you, S.. I had similar inlaw issues for about 15 years. I didn't want to be a nag, but I felt that my husband had never truly left his family of origin. And was still a little boy in their eyes as well as his own. This leaving your mother and father and cleaving (clinging to) your wife is a judeo-christian concept which you may be familiar with. If you are not, you might want to look at the website familylife.com, or family.org. Or read the first three chapters of Genesis in the Bible. I feel it is such an important step to set your marriage off on the right foot. And the mother-in-law is the one who is out of line here. I am absolutely confident that phychologists would agree.

After years of struggling over these types of issues,, it was as if God turned on a light in my husband's head. And HE decided to set some appropriate boundaries. It was very difficult at first as my inlaws adjusted to the new order of things. But I feel that we are ALL better for it. It really needs to come from your husband.

I don't want to paint too rosey of a picture. I am currently listening to a book on tape called Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and am finding that I still have a lot to learn in this area, as does my husband. But that main step did a lot to get our marriage back on track.

I would venture to say that if his mother will not accept some appropriate boundaries, that your husband should recommend counseling for her. If she will not go, you might want to consider moving your family farther away, where popping in or even weekend visits really isn't an option. Perhaps there is even an aunt or another older adult who can talk some sense into that woman!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.S.

answers from Tampa on

Hi S.,
The bottomline is you are the MOM and you decide what is best for your kids. You do not have to proof anything to anyone .. you make the rules and yes, there is a bit of flexibility, but I go with the rule of No Smoking and that's it .. you love the kids, you do what is best for them. I would say .. set the time .. Once a month for whatever number of hours and no smoking is allowed when she is close to YOUR kids .. and that's it. If she is mad, she is big girl and can take care of herself ..
If she violates any rules, then you can take away the priviledge for the next month ..
You got to be tough because these are your kids .. the most imp. people in your life.
Take Care

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

T.F.

answers from Sarasota on

Your husband asks what is he supposed to do about it--he should be the one to talk to his mother about this, because if she's going to listen to anyone it's going to be him. I think you and your husband need to come up with ground rules regarding what is and isn't okay (especially not disrespecting you in front of the children) and he needs to be the one to tell her about it. Sounds like she is really jealous, and has never been expected to respect other people's boundaries.

T. F.
Venice

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions