Dear Diamond to About to Really Blow Up

By Diamond | May 19, 2016

Dear Diamond,

My mother-in-law is a problem for me. I try to be open to her, but I really feel like she is interfering with my family. I can feel myself getting more and more angry about her and I don’t know how to deal with this. I’m writing with hopes that this can be nipped in the bud, but it may have gone too far already. My mother-in-law is stepping over boundaries. I don’t really know her all that well because she recently moved near us, and it’s getting really awkward for me to speak up to her. We have two small kids, ages 2 and 4. A few weeks ago, she cooked an entire pound of bacon for them and let them eat the whole thing. This past week after I’d asked her not to give them hot dogs, she did it anyway. I buy special hot dogs without chemicals in them and I’ve brought them over for the kids to have at her house, but she says they like the regular ones better and that’s what she’s going to give them. I’ve asked my husband to step in help me with this and he won’t. He says he doesn’t know what to do either. This is a strong-willed woman who I’m learning does whatever she wants, whenever she wants. She also buys them tons of candy when they go to visit her. She wants to be "the fun Gramma," she says. Then they come home to me all jacked up from the sugar. I would rather that they not see her very much because she is so pushy with me. Like I said — I don’t know her well at all and I’m kind of shy so this is weird territory for me. I want her to respect how we are bringing up our children and she seems to want to make it her mission to override what I think is important. What should I do? I hope you answer soon.

-About-to-Really-Blow-Up

 

Dear About-to-Really-Blow-Up,

It’s hard enough to set boundaries with our own parents, but setting them with someone else’s parents? It’s not fair to be asked to do that. You are getting railroaded into a negative situation and pushed to go on her rail or go in a ditch. And it has to be stopped. Your husband has to back you up and help you to redirect the dynamics of your relationship with his mother. If he doesn’t do this, WWIII is going to break out and he will be wishing that he had stepped in sooner rather than later.

When people marry, they step into the culture of another tribe, and that takes some getting used to, but a couple’s first allegiance has to be to each other. It sounds like you had started your own little world of family without the pressures or the influences of either of your parents until your in-laws moved to town. It’s understandable that your mother-in-law is excited about being the grandmother, but that doesn’t entitle her to undermine and override YOUR mother instincts. You have the power as the mother and she will push you around only if you let her, i.e., “The kids won’t be visiting until you follow our rule.”

If giving the children all of those sodium-nitrates and candy bothers you, address it NOW. Set the boundaries before she intrudes, rather than afterward. With frequent clear communication you can avoid undercurrents; otherwise she’ll run right over you.

Your in-laws are from another tribe. Instead of thinking that their beliefs are "right" or "wrong," try to think of them as "different from yours." There’s give and take in families, and the last thing you want to do is alienate your husband’s family because it will only make matters worse down the line. Keep in mind the big picture of your mother-in-law loving her grandchildren and that your children have a right to have a special relationship with their grandparents.

You and your husband are the King and Queen of your family now and you need to be a united team who sets the values for your family. Communicate these values to your in-laws as often as you can. Give in on small things and inform what you want on the big things. You are the parents and YOU have the final say.

With grace and peace,

Diamond

Advice appearing in Dear Diamond is for entertainment only and does not reflect the views of Courier Publications or its editorial boards. This column is not intended to replace the services of medical, financial or legal professionals.

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