Your mother-in-law is great -or, at the very least, she raised the love of your life. Luckily for me, I’ve avoided drama with my mother-in-law, but I’ve heard some serious horror stories revolving around something the husband’s mom said to the wife. Even if she means well and just wants the best for you and her son, her comments can be very hurtful (especially if we tend to take things personally).
And with the holidays right around the corner, you’re probably gearing up to spend a lot of time with family, including your in-laws. When you’re in such close quarters, you’re bound to run into potentially horrific situations with your mother-in-law … but knowing how to respond to her will make for a happier, less stressful holiday season.
Here are four things she’ll say to you and how you should respond:
1. What she’ll say: “You need to give me a grandbaby.”
How to respond: “It’ll happen at some point, we’re just not there yet.”
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been married or if you already have kids … your mother-in-law will always want a new grandbaby. You might feel aggravated when she asks about when you’re planning to have children, but she genuinely wants to know. Hopefully she will respect your choice when you say you’re not quite ready yet. Reassure her that you’ll have one eventually (if you’re planning on it).
2. What she’ll say: “Your child needs … “
How to respond: “I really appreciate your feedback. However, I think something else is best.”
Unsolicited advice (especially mothering advice) is irritating, but still listen to what your mother-in-law has to say. She knows a thing or two about parenting. Even if you don’t agree with what you hear, don’t freak out! Let her know you appreciate her advice, but you think something else might be best. At the end of the day you know what’s best for your child, and you and your husband ultimately make the calls when it comes to parenting, no matter what your mother-in-law says.
3. What she’ll say: “You don’t need pie; you’re watching your weight.”
How to respond: “You’re right, but it’s Thanksgiving and I worked out extra hard this morning.”
This one is super touchy. Even if you’re eating well and exercising to lose weight, you still deserve a piece of pie on Thanksgiving! Your mother-in-law might say something about it, but only because she wants you to succeed in your goals. She means well, even if it comes off as rude.
4. What she’ll say: “You need to spend more time with us.”
How to respond: “I’m sorry we haven’t been around enough; we’ll do our best to visit more often.”
This comment is hard – especially during the holidays. One of the hardest things about marriage is deciding how much time to spend with each family, and one family usually ends up getting the short end of the stick.
If your mother-in-law demands more time, make an effort to make it happen. If you live too far to visit more often, make time to call and check in.
When you handle these conversations with grace and dignity, you avoid so much drama and tension. Although you might be raging on the inside, know that she means well and she wants you and her son to be happy. And when you respond maturely to these conversations, you’ll only encourage a positive relationships between you and your mother-in-law.