How to deal with a mentally ill mom in law?

NB asks from Albany, CA
6 answers

Long story...if you have time to read and a better option to help me,please advice.

Hello everyone..first of all and beforehand ,I m sorry if I have offended any mother in law's in this group, the mentally ill part is literally true in my case ,as she is under treatment for it. Now I will explain the matter.

It's not that I have the classic daughter in law / mom in law issue here. Atleast from my part it's all clear. I understood all her problems....problems that she is a widow,she lost one of her son to cancer, her other son married against her a women I understand that it's all too much for a woman to deal with. My husband is the eldest,...I know she is feeling unsecured in someway, thinking inspite of she giving birth to 4 kids,( 3 boys and 1 boy lost to cancer) she is left alone. She is not a evil minded mom in law. But she do have the habbit of interfering in everything. And so itself I do feel that her kids don't like her being near them, even my husband was not ready to bring her and stay with us, as he already knew her habbit of interfering or doubting,or even bad mouthing about the people whom she stay with...its not that she is doing all this on purpose,it's just that, that's the way she is, she acts or say things without thinking,how the other person feels. But I felt sorry for her,when she stayed alone at her house so I was the one to pressurise him to bring her here to stay with us..that's when the problems started. And we understood that it's not her character flaw,but some metal illness...

She said I did black magic on her,when I take my mobile she can feel the radiations from it, she feels breathless,she feels as if her head is spinning, some invisible thing is hitting her head etc, when this ouccred her BP was as high as 180/ wonder she felt all paranoid. But she don't listen to that,,she is believing that I did black magic,my parents are doing black magic etc sort of things.

Now something about her character, don't think that I m complaining about my mom in law..because she said all these things about me...Inderstand perfectly well how the relationship of mom in law and daughter in law is...

She is immature, I m telling immature ,because as said earlier, acts or says without thinking the consequences, she is stubborn likes child who don't understand, or take no for answer. Keep interfering in small might even tell you this is not the way to properly brush your teeth..she is absent minded and careless..memory loss,keep asking things over and over,..but all this I was somehow adjusting for past 10 years of my marriage. But i have to extra vigilant when she is with our kids, though it's her grandchildren,since she is absent minded and careless.i have to say NO to her when she plans to take the kids out to the park without me..this is did mainly because of two instances,one was with my son,he is 3,and never like holding hands while on road..she took him to park which is far from our place ,and there is main road to cross all by walking without my knowledge ( I was gone out just for a half hour appointment with doc , emergency so had to make mom in law baby sit). The second one is with my daughter,she is 9 , she took her to the garden accompanied by a pub,at this age of my daughter I feel that might give way for a bad mom in law is a village lady from India,she don't know what a pub that I know is not for purpose,but still I didn't like both this incidents,so after that I started forbidding her from taking kids out...and as she don't take no for answer ,I have to be sometimes bit harsh or rude to make her understand..

And all became a reason for her to hate me. But I was just protecting my kids ,and I don't feel I did any wrong in that.

She started overthinking,all negative thoughts about me, ultimately it broke on me itself..

Though the phychtrist had told to keep her away from me at least for a time being, we are left with minimum I feel my bro in law and sis in law, are kind off taking the whole senerio for first they had offered that mom in law should go and stay with sis in law..but now she is saying excuses, and the other bro in law, mom in law has already created a mess with his I don't think that option is open.

Now my problem is I feel I m stuck with this for life...she keeps bitching about me on my back, we both have to stay under same roof, see each other daily, keep doing small talks, I still don't hate her,I feel sorry for her, because of her illness she is feeling or saying all that...but still at time I get stressed out..because I feel I m under surveillance camera 24/7...she doubt me to the extend that she don't eat or drink anything which I make, search in the trash, keeps coming and checking on me every few minutes..

I don't understand,how can the other kids of her not take her for a will definitely give her some relaxation and me husband is very supportive,he told me to jus not take anything personally..but I guess, it's easier to say for him, as he is sitting in the office the whole day and I m left alone to be under surveillance đź“·.

How can you avoid someone under same roof?..unless she understands that the problem is in her head,how can thing be normal, ...she thinks everything is perfectly normal with her...she actually believe I did black magic on her..I know it's cruel ,but I feel someone has to tell her she is mentally ill..till now all r treating her as if she is normal.

It would be nice and very helpful to find some support here,as I feel I m in near verge of breakdown..cos of all this stress ,my immune system had taken a dip...every now and then I suffer from infections,head acha, sleeplessness,,sometimes I just cry it out.

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6 Answers


Suzi F.

answers from Phoenix on

Where is your husband in all of this?


Doris Day ..

answers from Miami on

I appreciate Diane explaining your post - it's really hard to read through.

Among several problems I see is that you call her immature at the same time you call her mentally ill. Which is it? People can be just awful without being mentally ill. They're just awful. We sometimes wish that it is mental illness so that we can "feel sorry for" them or make excuses for them. And there are people who believe in black magic and they aren't mentally ill. My God, there are conspiracy theorists everywhere who believe the most hurtful, absurd things, and they aren't mentally ill.

Maybe your mother-in-law is mentally ill, and maybe she just knows that you will take her in if she acts like this. But it doesn't matter which one it is, because you aren't going to change her.

Another problem is that you seem to think that a woman can't bear the burden of being a widow, losing one of her kids, having a child marry "against her will" and her other living adult kids not having her live with them. Are you not aware of women in all walks of life being widowed and losing a child and her other children growing up and leaving home? Why are you acting like a woman can't "bear" all these things? Do you really think women are so weak that they can't? It's like you are generalizing women as so weak that this in and of itself is a reason for them to act like your mother-in-law. Your MIL being a drama queen about a child "marrying against her will" is not something to feel sorry for. She doesn't have a right to demand that her child not marry someone, no matter how much she doesn't like the person he's marrying. It's not up to her to get to decide.

Stop making excuses for her. You do not owe your MIL a place to live. She is causing havoc in your home. It doesn't matter now that you allowed it. What matters is that you need to get her out of your home. Just because you let her in doesn't mean that you have to keep her.

Move heaven and earth to get her somewhere else that is not with you. Stop apologizing. Stop accepting her behavior. You aren't responsible for her. Stand up and just do it. You are right that your husband sits in an office all day. Tell him that you are done. You don't have to be a prisoner in your own home.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Red River on

You have done nothing wrong. Her doctor needs to hear all the ways she is acting mentally ill...every detail. Can you and your husband schedule a meeting with him? Perhaps there is some medication she can be put on that will help her act less crazy? Can she get on medication and also see a psychologist (therapist who can prescribe meds) weekly? I feel bad for you...I don't know how you can live with her. It sounds very hard. You need to take care of yourself! The stress is getting to you. Talk to your husband about there anywhere else his mom can go for a while? It's not fair for his siblings to not take a turn caring for her.

1 mom found this helpful

Diane B.

answers from Westborough on

If I understand you, your mother-in-law is from a small town in India and doesn’t know the ways of the world. I have a friend from India (she’s from Kerala, which may or may not have similar customs to where your family is from) and her mother-in-law is a horror as well. My friend doesn’t want to move back to India because then the mother-in-law (MIL) will move in with them because my friend’s husband is the oldest son. Even when the MIL visited here, it was horrible. She expected my friend to cook for her at certain hours (not with the grandchildren), yelled at her for “dressing like a slut” (going to the gym in long pants and a top with sleeves instead of a sari), and kept saying she wasn’t a good wife, wasn’t a good mom because she didn’t beat her own daughter enough. And my friend’s husband just went to work and left his mother there, getting away from the problem himself and not wanting to take sides between wife and mother. So that caused horrible resentment between my friend and her husband and now they’re moving toward divorce. (There are other problems as well, but his disregard of her feelings and needs in many categories is the big reason.)

So maybe these cultural differences make some of the solutions we would suggest, having grown up in the US with parents who also grew up in the US, much more difficult.

I’m sorry your MIL lost a child to cancer, but this does not give her the right to abuse everyone. It sounds like you talked to a psychiatrist (not sure if it’s for your support or the MIL’s treatment), but it’s not enough. The other siblings have refused to have her around, because they value themselves and their spouses and their kids. You, however, feel the pressure to take her on because they say no, rather than find a way to say no yourself. Moreover, you are in a bind because you are the one who argued to bring her into your house to begin with. So perhaps you feel like you brought this on yourself – I know you did it to be kind, but the fact is, her mental illness is taking a toll on everyone else, and your husband sees this and does nothing about it?

Your MIL is mentally ill, and her behavior is abusive. She abuses you, and she abuses your children with her talk and by endangering them through poor decisions and distraction. Your daughter is learning that women should be treated badly and they should just put up with it. Your son is learning to walk on women and no one will say anything about it. Your health (mental and physical) is taking a beating. But because you “feel sorry” for her, you aren’t making a change.

What if you talked to MIL’s doctor and the psychiatrist, and worked on another plan? Why are you the only one who has to say “yes” to abuse, just because everyone else says “no” to it? What if your MIL was in a facility that cared for irrational and angry people, as well those with memory loss, got her into therapy, made sure she took her medication, helped her find enjoyable activities appropriate for her limitations, and protected her? Is there are language barrier that prevents this entirely? Can you get some personal care attendants to help, ideally in another facility outside your home but at the very least within your home?

You have to hire a babysitter for your children, and have that person take the kids out of the house if your MIL is home. Otherwise, the personal care aides or companions need to take your MIL out of the house so the babysitter can safeguard your children at home. It is unsafe, and it’s mentally traumatizing, to continue to have her in your lives unsupervised and unrestricted. At least give your children the knowledge that she is irrational and ill, and that you are loyal to her care but also to theirs?

Please work with a psychiatrist or counselor to find out where your backbone is, and to find a way within cultural constraints to have your husband care enough about everyone else in the home besides his mother.

3 moms found this helpful

Margie G.

answers from Portland on

I couldn't read all this and honestly, what I read didn't make much sense. Sorry.

Just reading your last paragraph, if you need support and need a break from your MIL, then ask your husband to get her some help if she's mentally ill. I just saw in your post that you've left her with your children (in a pinch) but obviously don't do that if not safe.

How to avoid someone under same roof? Doesn't sound like right fit for any of you - so you'll need to find new accommodations for your MIL. Or find a house with a mother in law suite.

I would have your husband have a family meeting with his siblings.

The cardinal rule is - this is not your responsibility - it's for the family to deal with. You should not be involved with his mother to this degree. It's for the children of the mother to handle. You just support your husband. Boundaries.

Your husband should respect you - you should not be caring for his mother, or overseeing her, if it's not what you want to be doing, or if it is stressing you out to this degree. Counseling if you can't communicate this to him.

4 moms found this helpful

LadyBug C.

answers from Delaplane on

You need a break! Contact her doctor and explain the situation. He should be able to refer you to a local elder care place to drop her for a few hours. She needs a purpose and friends. Do you have a church group where you can take her to volunteer?

As for the other children, call them up and tell them that they need to take her for a month each. Tell them you’ll be dropping her off in 30 Days with whichever one. Then the other one gets her for the next 30days. Change is hard for the elderly, but in this case you need a break!

1 mom found this helpful
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