Get Your Mother-in-Law Off Your Back Right Now

5 Ways to Maintain Your Sanity and Dignity When Dealing with Your Mother-in-Law

A picture of a mother-in-law criticizing her daughter-in-law
Get your mother-in-law off your back right now so you can focus on motherhood. Photo © Stuart Hughs / Getty Images

You're a rockstar mom and no one can tame tantrums, get a house full of children all of the places they need to be and still be able to get dinner on the table every night like you can. However, one snide comment from your mother-in-law butting her nose into your business can crush your feelings and make you feel like your SuperMom cape just got shredded with her claws. Get your mother-in-law off your back right now so you can maintain your sanity.

1. Get Your Mother-in-Law Off Your Back about Your Parenting Skills

Ah, mother-in-laws. Can't live with them, wouldn't have your spouse without them. She wasn't a perfect mom but now your mother-in-law has made it clear she has a problem with how you're raising her grandkids. She doesn't like your choices on discipline, education or how you comb their hair. Nothing can raise a mom's hackles like being criticized for her parenting choices. Add in the mother-in-law factor and you've got the perfect setting for another world war.

  • What to do about it: Put the brakes on the conversation. Tell your mother-in-law how you parent your children is not up for discussion. The choices you and your spouse make regarding how you bring up your children should be between the two of you and that's it. As long as you and your spouse are on the same page, it doesn't matter what your mother-in-law thinks.

2. Get Your Mother-in-Law Off Your Back When She Overrides Your Authority

Your darling boy insisted he was hungry enough to eat two kid-sized burgers.

The order arrives, he takes a bite and declares, "I'm full!" You tell him he needs to clean his plate and then your mother-in-law goes right behind you and tells your child he only has to take one more bite before she'll buy him ice cream.

  • What to do about it: Stick to your original plan. Don't let your authority be tested. Once you tell your child he has to do something, follow through. Take your mother-in-law aside and tell her you have rules in place for a reason. Your children know those rules. Your mother-in-law should too. She doesn't have to agree with your rules but she does need to respect them.

    3. Get Your Mother-in-Law Off Your Back about Your Choice to Be a Working Mom or a Stay-at-Home Mom

    It doesn't matter if you're a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, your mother-in-law may say something about the choices you're making about working or not. Yes, she may criticize your decision to stay home/work, even if that was the exact same route she took!

    • What to do about it: Her comments can be hurtful, as if you staying home or working is harming your family. The first time you hear a comment like this, tell your mother-in-law that your decision to stay home or work outside of the home is best for your family. If she continues to make you feel bad about your decision, it's time for your spouse to step up and tell her that you two made the choice together because that's what's right for all of you.

    4. Get Your Mother-in-Law Off Your Back about Your Housekeeping

    You've got a dishwasher full of clean dishes and a stack of dirty plates from breakfast on the counter. The dog found his way into a mud puddle and now you've got paw prints all over your floor. The laundry is sitting in a pile on the couch. The closest thing you've done to actually cleaning this morning is to take the toilet brush out of your toddler's hand.

    And just when you think it can't get any worse, your mother-in-law rings your doorbell and proceeds to critique your less-than-immaculate house.

    • What to do about it: It's nearly impossible to keep your house spotless when you have children roaming within your four walls. You can politely ask your mother-in-law to come back later because now isn't a good time. Or simply laugh it off as if it doesn't bother you in the world with a comment like, "For every mess I clean up, there are three more messes being made. You know how it is with kids." Whether you spend your days scrubbing a toilet or letting the housework go for the day so you can spend more time with your children, it's completely your decision. The dishes can wait. Your kids won't wait to grow up.

    5. Get Your Mother-in-Law Off Your Back When She Makes Demands

    Your little one is turning one and you've planned the perfect party for her.

    Surprise! Your mother-in-law calls to tell you she's going to invite her friend from church, a neighbor, a lady from her pottery class, someone she met in the grocery store line and her postman.

    • What to do about it: Think about a compromise. Your mother-in-law may have a list of people she would like to invite to your child's birthday party but you simply don't have room nor feel comfortable about having a bunch of guests you may or may not even know at your child's party. Explain that you're having a small get-together or that you only have a couple of spots for guests. Ask her to pick one or two friends to invite. Keeping the peace will make your party go much smoother and, hopefully, your mother-in-law will understand. Don't let the additions to the guest list get you down either. Just remember, your mother-in-law probably does a lot of bragging about her grandchildren to these people so she's simply wanting them to share in the celebration.