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Help Me Deal With MIL!!! Lock Rss

I'm wondering how other mums out there deal with family members who are critical and/or overbearing? Specifically the mother-in-law? I had "words" (read "a huge argument") with my MIL this afternoon and I'm so upset from it that I can't sleep and I need some advice as well as the chance to have a good rant!

It's getting to the point where I actually don't want her to come visit and I refuse to go and visit her. Naturally this is stressful for my DH and I hate putting him in an awkward position or making him feel like he has to "take sides" but she is just impossible!!! Or maybe I'm being over-sensitive? Help!!!

DH and I are "cuddlers" while my MIL is firmly entrenched in the "tamer" camp. DH and I are pretty much using "Attachment Parenting" as our guide to how to deal with our brand new four week old daughter. I should add that both DH and I are first time parents and we didn't actually make a conscience choice to use the attachment parenting model. We were just doing what felt natural for us and then found out later that what we were doing had a name. My MIL seems to have a huge problem with the attachment method. For example, when bub needs a feed she tries to tell me how I should be breastfeeding. "You shouldn't feed her in that position" (my midwife is also a lactation consultant and has spent hours with me talking about and observing me breastfeed and she says I'm a natural) or "I don't think she's getting enough milk" (bub has put on two kilos since she was born so I'm pretty sure she's getting heaps) and when I point out that I've worked with a lactation consultant and bub has gained approx. 500 grams every week she says "Well maybe you should bottle feed just to top her up. It's good for them to have formula it fills them up more than breast milk." I should point out here that MIL bottle fed all four of her kids from birth. Today she tried to tell me that bub needed some water and when I tried to explain to her that breast fed babies don't need anything except breast milk, not even water, she said "You don't know what you're talking about. You've never breastfed before." I wanted to say "Neither have you" but I refrained.

When bub was born she asked about sleeping arrangements and I stupidly blurted out "Oh she sleeps with us". The conversation that followed went like this:
MIL: "What? In your bed?"
Me: "Yes. We're co-sleeping".
MIL: "Co-sleeping? That's a hippie thing. You can't have her in your bed. You'll never get her out. You're just creating a clingy baby. And how are you ever going to have any quality time with your husband?" (Given that it was two days after I had given birth "quality time" with my husband was the LAST thing I was thinking about!)

She loves to comment on my diet and tell me all the things I "can't" eat because I'm breastfeeding. The other day I was eating a piece of wholegrain toast with hommus and having a cup of tea and apparently bread and tea are "bad" for breastfeeding. When I asked her how exactly they were bad she couldn't tell me. I asked my midwife/lactation consultant about bread and tea and she said they were fine. According to MIL other things on the list of foods to avoid when breastfeeding are tomatoes, jam, potatoes, milk, brussell sprouts, broccoli, peanut butter, pasta, cream, eggs, juice, bananas, green apples, any kind of seafood, pork and butter. I know some foods can cause an allergic reaction in bub but our daughter has not shown ANY symptoms of having a reaction. The other day MIL tried to tell me that bubs milk spots were caused by something I ate. I tried to explain to her that they were perfectly normal and the midwife had checked them and said they were fine and MIL had a sulk about it! I'm talking an actual sulk where she refused to talk to me for half an hour.

None of that is what caused the argument though. My MIL is a smoker. As an ex-smoker myself I'm not judging. I know how addictive cigarettes are and how hard it is to quit. But I do not want my child exposed to any kind of tobacco toxins and my MIL knows this. I've asked her to wash her hands before she holds bub so I never thought I would have to ask her not to smoke around her grand-daughter. But today I come outside and she has bub in one arm and a lit cigarette in the other! It was the last straw and I absolutely lost it!!! We had words and MIL left in a huff. And now I feel really bad. I'm still angry that she thought it was Ok to smoke around a baby and then get angry with me when I told her otherwise but I'm also worried that I'm being over-sensitive about everything. DH has told me I have to learn to tune her out but I don't think it's unreasonable to make demands about things that affect my childs health. As I pointed out to DH, we know what's best for our child and as the grandmother she should be supportive. Shouldn't she? How should I deal with people who try to tell me how to raise my child? Did any other mums feel this vulnerable and sensitive with a new baby?

Thanks for letting me rant I really needed to get that off my chest smile
She sounds so completely clueless that I'm surprised your husband survived childhood. You, on the other hand, sound like you're doing a great job.

Get some booklets about breastfeeding and any other contentious topic...keep them handy to shove in her face when she starts with the crazy talk.

There seem to be a lot of mums from the formula generation who feel threatened by breastfeeding, and do everything they can to undermine it in their daughters and daughters-in-law at every opportunity. I think they feel the need to defend how they parented. So glad my mum isn't like that!

As for smoking while holding the baby...outrageous! You were right to react strongly...it's something you owe it to your baby to make clear is 100% not on. She reacted so strongly out of - again - defensiveness. She knows it's the wrong thing to do, and has some shame there so she gets angry at you to cover that up. That's my guess anyhow.

I agree that you need to politely keep reinforcing that you and your DH will be making the parenting decisions for your child and ask her to respect that.
My mother and both my parents in law smoke (madness seeing my MIL has had throat cancer and still smokes). We are super strict and of course they think we are mad. It would have been WW3 if they had done what your MIL did.

I don't think your being sensitive at all. You need to politely but firmly remind them that they had their chance to parent and now it's your turn to figure it put even if you are going to make mistakes. I told my mother that I would ask for her advice if I felt I needed it. It drives her insane and she is forever giving unsolicited advice which I openly ignore (such as i should smack my son, that I shouldn't bf this new baby because I get stressed, that I need to yell at my son more blah blah blah!!).

Stand your ground you are doing all the right things.



Your child your rules tell her if she can't respect that then she's going to have a hard time when you stop her seeing the child. I did that with my sons other grandmother she even theatned to take me to court over it (i wont go into what she did for it to get that extreme) now shes careful to listen to my rules because otherwise I take him away.

If you can be a PurpleUnicorn, Why not a RainbowDragon?

I feel for you mumma. I live with my MIL or more so she lives with us. When I met my DH he had taken her in to look after her and her health as she is in her 70's. He never thought he would meet me and in hindsight would not have lived together had he predicted he would now be married. Instead two townhouses or a granny flat....any fast forward four years and here I am married and living in the same house as my MIL. She has noy accepted me and makes life very difficult for my DH and I to the point of me hiding in our bedrrom most nights. Just going out to make food and then going back to the room. The light at the end of the tunnel is we are finishing up renovations and hopefully will have this house on the market by xmas and will buy or build a duplex....she has one ..and we have the other...
I just cant wait to live normally again and have my own klitchen and my own laundry and be able to use the lounge room to watch tv or do laundry the way I like! (I dont hang washing out properly and waste electricity by using the machine through the day on weekends - even though my DH and I pay all bills!)

All I can say is just hang in there...be poilte but know you can always go home to your personal space and do things they way you want them done. Restrict the visiting times and control them by having places to be soon after she arrives or meet at parks and shopping centres or cafes to set the times short and restrict her smoking maybe??

I live with alot of guilt that I put my DH in the middle sometimes and keep alot of the hurt and anger inside to prevent him feeling it...but at some point, some one has to be one our side...thankfully my DH is and I hope you get the same support.

xxx
Oh my god what a nightmare of a mil. Firstly, your husband does not need to feel he has to choose between his mother or you. He can still have a relationship with his mother whilst having a backbone and sticking up for you. If that were my mil I would be telling my husband to grow some, its much easier to tell your own parent not to do something than it is to tell an in law.

You are certainly not over reacting. I have a huge problem with cigarette smokers lighting up around my kids too, and its just a great big no no. Most smokers are conscious of kids and will not do it. She is an idiot if she things its ok to light up around a brand new baby!!! Grrr

You are the parents, not her, and she has no right to tell you what to do or how to do things or what you are doing wrong. Being first time parents is definately a learning curve, but its one you can learn without input from an older mother who's techniques are now far outdated. She obviously feels a sense of entitlement and I think mothers feel like they have to step in if they can see its new to you seeing as they are the 'experienced' ones. I can tell you right now though that if your dh doesn't tell her to back off and let you learn how you wish to parent she will continue to critisise you throughout your children's lives... Because if you just keep on taking it she will never realise her advice is unwanted. I would be inclined to think that now you've had a big argument with her... Its a good time to say lets talk about that disagreement, and all the other issues can be brought up at the same time. I find when telling my mother to back off... Saying things like 'I know it looks like I need help and I don't know what I'm doing, but the only way for me to learn is to experience it myself.' It goes down much better than 'I hate when you do xyz.'

My mil was also one who bottle fed her children and had a whole heap to say about me bf... She was in my husbands ear saying things like all her sleeping problems are because she is bf, baby will never get fat (which she did), and you don't know how much they're getting. Consequently she turned my husband against me and I no longer had his support with bf. he thought we should bottle feed because of her, and it was tough trying to do it with them against me, but my stubbornness won out. With our second child she didn't say a thing because I had been successful first time round and fed her for 13 months. She already knew I wouldn't back down so she didn't try. I would suggest giving your mil an information booklet about bf.

Good luck!! X




Oh my goodness!!! Thank you all so much!!! You don't know how much it means to me that you all took the time to read and respond!!! I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks I was well within my rights and not being over-sensitive or making a big deal out of nothing. My daughter is so precious that it was/is a HUGE deal and you're support means everything to me!!! smile
Mum Of 3 Cuties wrote:
I don't think you are being too sensitive at all. You want the best for your child and that is all that matters here.

All I can suggest is that you perhaps tell her something like "you've had you turn raising children, this is our turn we would appreciate if you would respect the decisions we have made for DD and our family" say it kindly but in a manner that leaves no room for her to argue.

I got to the stage where I told my own mum "I thought I was his mother?" wasn't pretty but it worked wink

Just read back through you old posts, please tell me that you got the message through and she didn't attend the birth!

Congratulations on the arrival of your little one :wub;


I feel like the time has come for me to say something along those very lines!!! However, I'm a bit of a chicken! I hate conflict and try to avoid it if I can. But once my child is involved things change. I'm going to have to "bite the bullet" for my DD and if conflict is the result then so be it...

Yes, I got the message through. Eventually!!! I had a home birth and I ended up telling DH not to even let his mother know I had gone into labour. I knew if he called MIL and told her things were happening she would have been knocking on the front door wanting to be involved!!! We ended up calling her after everything was over and I had a beautiful birth experience- everything went just how I wanted it to go smile
nadz27 wrote:
do you have a SIL to back you up?
for me the smoking is a well and truly no go- luckily we don't know many people who smoke but if they do they do it outside and then don't go near bubs.
as for the "advice" on things thats why I ask about the SIL. my MIL is trying to get SIL to put her DS on solids at 3 months as he is a big boy but my SIL pulls outhe research etc (and he never seems hungry) then MIL will come to me and say that he needs solids so I pull out the research - after about 4 or 5 of these exchanges she usually gets the point..
so if you don't you could get her some light reading on breast feeding and attachement parenting - give them to her and say if she has any questions she can ask but you will raise you r baby how you feel comfortable.
I"m lucky as I've been around MIL for 12+ years now so I don't mind if I tell her whats what and if it gets her nose out of bent so what. my child my rules


Yes I have a SIL who is a similar age to me and has two boys. Unfortunately she isn't much of a back-up. She smokes too. In fact she didn't even quit when she got pregnant and smoked right through both her pregnancies and out the other side!
12 years!!! I've only had three with mine and for 14 months of that they lived a couple of hours away so I didn't have as much exposure as I do now sad
I agree totally. My child, my rules.
JellybeanIcecream wrote:
She sounds so completely clueless that I'm surprised your husband survived childhood. You, on the other hand, sound like you're doing a great job.

Get some booklets about breastfeeding and any other contentious topic...keep them handy to shove in her face when she starts with the crazy talk.

There seem to be a lot of mums from the formula generation who feel threatened by breastfeeding, and do everything they can to undermine it in their daughters and daughters-in-law at every opportunity. I think they feel the need to defend how they parented. So glad my mum isn't like that!

As for smoking while holding the baby...outrageous! You were right to react strongly...it's something you owe it to your baby to make clear is 100% not on. She reacted so strongly out of - again - defensiveness. She knows it's the wrong thing to do, and has some shame there so she gets angry at you to cover that up. That's my guess anyhow.

I agree that you need to politely keep reinforcing that you and your DH will be making the parenting decisions for your child and ask her to respect that.


JellyBeanIceCream you are a kindred spirit!
I've had similar thoughts re: how did my husband survive childhood but I have kept them to myself smile
I think you're right about her attitude coming from a place of defensiveness. Sometimes what bothers me is not that the advice is unsolicited, it's about HOW she delivers it. Very aggressively and with a "I'm-always-right-don't-argue-with-me" attitude. As I said, she has raised four kids and they did have some problems like low birth weights etc and I think, from things she has said in the past, she has some un-addressed guilt there. Like she realises her choices might have impacted the start her children had in life (like my SIL my MIL smoked through all four of her pregnancies) and maybe she wishes she could go back and do things differently? Or maybe she feels that because my choices about how to raise DD are so different from hers I'm judging her or that I think she didn't do a good job? Thanks so much for your insights/advice/support. It's always nice to know other people are having similar thoughts to you and you're not just being a b##ch smile
Little Miss's wrote:
Omg. I think you've done really well to bite your tongue this long. You are doing everything perfectly. I have no idea what to do about your mil, she just sounds awful. But know that this is your baby and I just used to smile and nod and all the 'advice' given and just continue on my merry way. As for the smoking I would be fuming and think you were perfectly within your rights to be upset over it. Sorry I have no advice though. smile


It's been an effort to bite my tongue this long! There have been numerous occasions where a sharp word has been about to explode but I have somehow managed to keep it in. That's what my husband says I should do- smile and nod. Or, as he puts it, let it go in one ear and out the other. But I'm finding it increasingly difficult and that's why I was worried I was being over-sensitive and hormonal smile
Thanks for your support smile
Darling, you either stand your ground now or brush it off. If DH is like mine, he will never say anything bad to his mother or support me over his mother - that's just the type of guy he is. I was biting my tongue for ages even when I was being told what not to wear or spoken to in another language which i couldnt understand. so it's my own fault for not sticking up for myself. After the years I have learnt to brush it off regardless of the comment she makes. Change the subject if you have to talk to her and she will realise what she is saying is being ignored.

As for the smoking around DD try and remove your daughter from your MIL each time she does it and tell her when you wash your hands you can have more cuddles if you like.

I really think keeping the peace is the key here, if your unhappy so will your daughter and DH is in the middle if it all. She is not worth your health or marriage so hang in there - being a mum is hard but doing your best is all that matters.
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