An Internet poll taken by 2000 users revealed that women widely believe that their mothers-in-law think they know best when it comes to parenting. According to the results of the survey, the women felt prejudged and claim their mothers-in-law were always trying to undercut them. Many said their mothers-in-law made them feel as if they were not on the same level as their husbands, not good enough.

As a result, many of the women chose to move away to avoid having to constantly deal with their meddlesome in-laws. For others, the stress was so severe that the marriage eventually ended in divorce.  

How do you react when your in-laws claim they are only there to help, but they feel like they’re interfering or perhaps in the way? If you feel like you are going nuts because of your in-laws, you might want to consider taking the following approach:

1. Start out trying understanding them.

Think for a moment about your in-laws since they were the ones who raised the person you fell in love with and married.

Consider that what seems like interference to you might just be their way of offering to help.  

Netmums’ Siobhan Freegard offers a different point of view on the typical example of the domineering mother-in-law: “Many mums feel like their mother-in-law always acts as if she is superior, is critical of their parenting skills and meddles in their relationship. On the other hand, mothers-in-law are in a position to offer a huge amount of support and new mums especially need this.”

2. Get your spouse to work with you in setting boundaries. 

In-laws who are sincerely well intentioned in the comments or advice they offer are staying within reasonable boundaries. But, be on the lookout for red flags, which would include the following types of behaviours: 

  • Put you down in front of others, including your children and/or spouse
  • Make important decisions without asking for your input
  • Undermine you as a parent

Your spouse is far more familiar with your in-laws than you could ever be, so he or she is in a better position to deal with them without causing more problems. Once your in-laws are convinced that you and your spouse are totally unified on important issues, they may back off and become more agreeable. 

3. Be steadfast in your role as the parent in your family.

Welcome your in-laws’ comments and advice, while letting them know that

this is your home and family.

Gently tell them that things run differently in this household.

Reassure them that you and your spouse are doing what you think best out of love for your family. 

Consider that your in-laws may seem to be interfering when all they mean to do is help since they have more experience as parents. Tell them that you sincerely appreciate their offer of help, but that you need to try things yourself as you adapt and learn in your role as a parent. 

4. Accept your in-laws out of respect for who they are.+

While your in-laws are certainly going to be a part of your lives, you and your spouse must come to an agreement on how the two of you are going to raise your children. This is why it’s so important to avoid letting any anger and resentment come between you. Both of you need to learn how to clearly but gently communicate with your in-laws in order to minimize misunderstandings. 

No matter what you think of your in-laws or what kind of relationship you have, the reality is that they are an integral part of your family. You cannot expect to change them, but you can adjust your attitude and outlook to achieve a peaceful and hopefully enjoyable co-existence.


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