Family life

How to make peace with your mother-in-law

Rival? Friend? Second mom? Witch? Is your mother-in-law a handful? Do you not know how to react anymore? Here are three scenarios and three solutions to help you.

Many things can happen with your mother-in-law. When everything goes well, there is nothing to add. When you appreciate each other, your relationship grows in a healthy environment. The real problems occur when we secretly call her “the witch”, when she sees us as a rival, when she compares or depreciates us or when she tries too hard to be our confident. This is a delicate situation because we already have our own mom who is “our mom” and we definitely don’t need another one. Furthermore, some stepmothers have power over their son and control them. It is not easy for them to leave their “little boy” even if he grew up.

Turf war

Your step mom calls every day. She brings dozens of frozen meals. Your husband gave her a key “just in case…” and she uses it to clean up the house and wash your clothes without your consent. She still calls her son “my baby”. She arrives without warning on Saturday and wants to know everything that goes on at your place.

Some step moms do not understand that their sons have a life away from them. They want to act like a mom from a distance… or in their son’s house. Is it to control their son’s life, a fear that he would not be completely happy without their intervention or a spurt of motherhood? It’s hard to tell! A mother can be so worried to see her son begin his adult life that she refuses to cut the cord. But it is necessary! Sometimes our husband can even be unaware of this because it seems normal to him that she takes care of him. A jealous stepmother can react strangely.

The solution

Talk frankly to your husband first. Here, you are not causing the conflict. You suffer the repercussions, of course, but the real problem is that the mother-son relationship is taking too much space. Tell your husband how you feel. Be diplomatic because this conversation could hurt him. Make compromises. For example, you can appreciate her visits if she calls first. Talk about her qualities (it is nice to have a full freezer all the time!) but ask your husband to reassure her. You can do this as a couple! Your spouse must first understand how this situation is affecting you if he wants to address this. Accept the efforts that they will make to regain their own territory. Everything will not change overnight!

You’re not my mother!

Since you became pregnant, she never leaves you alone. To say that she is taking care of you would be an understatement. She wants to know everything, and she assures you that you can call her anytime for any problem. She has a huge list of tips and recommendations. She tells you secrets and would love – you can feel it – if you did the same. She even subtly told you that she could be there for you when you give birth. Your step mom is already enjoying her future role as a grandmother, and you fear that she will become even more pervasive when baby arrives. She invades your space, and you feel suffocated. Plus… you already have a mother!

Sometimes step moms want to please their stepdaughters so much that they are trying too hard. She wants to become a good friend or a second mom, but we already have all that! In a way, we understand her intentions – and we respect them – but we really don’t feel like sharing our secrets with her, especially during pregnancy when we are emotional and protective of our child! It is normal to want your own space when you are pregnant, or you can have a solitary personality. Even if she is your husband’s mom, you don’t necessarily want her touching your belly. You don’t want to call her after every appointment like you do with your own mom. You don’t want to tell her about personal things like you do with your friends.

The solution

Talk to her. Go out for a coffee and talk to her in private. Explain how you feel. Tell her that you understand the excitement of becoming a grandmother but tell her that you are uncomfortable with her impulses. Reassure her about your relationship and tell her that she does not need to become your friend or your mother because you already have them but tell her that you would like to get to know her more. Give yourself time to build a relationship with her. This woman definitely has good intentions and will want to listen. She may be very clumsy and shy and everything she says might come out wrong. Take some time to talk and tell her that you need some time – and space – to build your relationship.

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