Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A READER ASKS: How Can I Manage My Monster-In-Law?

Dear Lily,
my mother-in-law is always full of 'advice' on anything and everything I do. I say advice to make it sound better but the truth is she is always criticizing me in a way she disguises as advice. My cooking is never as tasty as hers because she cooks with love and it seems like a chore for me. My house is always messy and if she could raise 3 kids, work full-time and keep a spotless house why can't I get myself more organized so we (by we she means her son) can come home to a tidy house after a long day at work. If my daughter gets a cold, she will say that she must not be getting proper nutrition or she'll mention that I take her out without a hat. After the initial criticism, she will go into a 'lesson of tips' about how I can be a better cook, wife, mother, etc. I've held back so far but I really feel like telling her off. I never have yet because I don't want to cause a family blowout but I'm sick of it. How can I get her off my back without major family drama?


Dear Susan,
Telling off your mother-in-law will only make things go from bad to worse. Any response to her advice could be taken as fighting back and potentially make your relationship with her even more strained.
First, understand that biting back at her won't change her behaviour, she might even love the fact that she is getting to you and ramp up her fault-finding and 'lessons'. Instead of mirroring her negativity, go in the opposite direction and use your good manners to silence her (good manners were made for sensitive situations exactly like this one). When she makes a negative comment to you, kindly thank her for her advice and immediately move on and change the subject. Cut her off before the moment escalates as nicely as you can and I emphasize the 'nicely' part because if she detects aggression coming from you, it might just make things worse.
Have you spoken to your husband about it? If you see that he is aware of his mother's behaviour and is empathetic to your feelings, encourage him to involve himself when it's appropriate with a compliment to you about whatever his mother is criticizing whether it be the delicious dinner you cooked last night or what a super mom you are in general (tread lightly though and continue to read his reaction to your issue, most sons don't like it when they feel someone is bashing their mom and might get defensive himself if he senses you are going in for the kill) When your mother-in-law becomes clear on the fact that she is not getting the reaction she wants and expects from you and/or her son, she will hopefully begin to lose steam and move on to someone else (anyone else will do 😂). Bottom line is the next time she is on the attack, take a deep breath in and out, compose yourself and handle the situation with care and the very best manners you can muster!

From one daughter-in-law to another,

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