Author Topic: Insight requested  (Read 3016 times)

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justme

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Insight requested
« on: February 09, 2011, 01:25:40 PM »
I am looking for some insight regarding a particular situation that I have been experiencing with my mother-in-law.  She is a wonderful woman and on most levels we get along extremely well.  However, some problems have emerged since our children were born.  The difficulty is that she is overtly critical about how I parent our children, and she speaks her criticism in front of the kids.  Sometimes the problems emerge because our philosophies differ (i.e. she was upset that I didn't have the children potty trained by the time they turned two - we have had the same discussion for each of my three children).  At other times I have (like most mothers) not handled a situation well - and sometimes not known how to handle it well - and rather than helping out, she makes it clear that she thoroughly disapproves of my actions (i.e. when my usually-happy infant son cried incessantly at dinner one night, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong.  In the end, I took him out of his seat and cuddled him until he settled, but she was angry because I was missing supper).   I am sure that our differences drive her crazy sometimes, and I hate to cause her such anger.  The fact is, sometimes she is right; sometimes I am right; sometimes there are no rights, just different ways of doing things.  I am sure that her comments must be said because she loves us, but I feel crushed when she speaks to me with such disapproval and I become tongue-tied.  Can anyone provide some suggestions in terms of how to handle this situation?  Mothers-in-law, can you give some insight regarding your perspective, so that I can understand and communicate better with my mother-in-law?

Offline Pooh

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Re: Insight requested
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2011, 01:38:51 PM »
Welcome justme.  Since you say you get along extremely well on most things, have you tried talking to her about it and how you feel?
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

justme

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Re: Insight requested
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2011, 01:47:12 PM »
Hi Pooh, Thanks for your note of welcome.  I think you've hit the nail on the head, and this is where I'm struggling.  How do I approach the subject?  For me it is such an emotionally-charged issue, and I'm scared that my own anger and frustration will overwhelm the message that I want to communicate.  Any suggestions?

LaurieS

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Re: Insight requested
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2011, 01:48:33 PM »
Wine first

Offline Pooh

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Re: Insight requested
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2011, 02:08:44 PM »
Well, since you recognize you are emotional on it, I would say the first advice I have is to try and take a step back and get a handle on your emotions so you can approach her calmly.  Once you can do that, be honest but temper it with niceness.  Us MILs that are also Moms, tend to think we are "helping" when we offer advice, and some don't know how to do it without sounding like they are "telling" you what to do.

All you can do is try and say things like, "I appreciate all your help and wisdom, but sometimes it makes me feel like you are angry and that you think I don't know what I am doing.  There are times, when I am lost and learning and I could use your advice.  And there are sometimes I just need to struggle through it on my own.  So please don't think I am ignoring you or not listening when you say something that I don't agree with.  I do value your input and help and I don't want to feel hurt when I know that's not your intention.  Can we agree to let me try it my way first, and if that doesn't work or I can't figure it out, ask you for advice?  Can we do that?"

I am only saying that because you said she is wonderful most of the time, so I would like to believe that she doesn't realize she is doing it.  And if she continues after that, then at least you have set up your boundaries and made your intentions clear.  She may not realize she is coming across that way.  I certainly hope thats the case.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Insight requested
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2011, 02:33:57 PM »
I have a horrible time with direct confrontation...since I never saw it when I was growing up. I know every way in the book (and out of it) to avoid it and nothing works. If, no, "when", you can get past your anger, which will sink the ship, probably, if you try to mask it...just tell her you know you are not perfect but you are doing your best and appreciate her support...however, (there's that word) please don't criticize me in front of my children. Later is OK, but not in front of them, please.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Louey0727

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Re: Insight requested
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2011, 02:40:27 PM »
Welcome Just me:
You have come to this forum where you will get support and prespectives from DIL's and MIL's. 
You sound like a very nice DIL, and I would say, that I would be proud to have you as such.
Pooh, gave very good advice, and I would have said the same thing.
I do not know how to hi-lite the section of Pooh's reply, so it as below.
Pasted from Pooh:-
All you can do is try and say things like, "I appreciate all your help and wisdom, but sometimes it makes me feel like you are angry and that you think I don't know what I am doing.  There are times, when I am lost and learning and I could use your advice.  And there are sometimes I just need to struggle through it on my own.  So please don't think I am ignoring you or not listening when you say something that I don't agree with.  I do value your input and help and I don't want to feel hurt when I know that's not your intention.  Can we agree to let me try it my way first, and if that doesn't work or I can't figure it out, ask you for advice?  Can we do that?   End of paste

Sometimes, when we have raised our children, and then become MIL's or Grandmothers, we tend to forget that we were once young and raising children, that we also did not like a lot of advice from our own mothers and most of all MIL's.  We have to step back and let the our children and their spouses raise their children as they see fit (unless we detect some harmful actions involving our GC).
I would say that you have all the incite in making your relationship smooth with your MIL, just try to stay calm and have a nice chat with your MIL with no one else there.
It sounds like you have a lot of love going on there and it is worth saving, so meet or take your MIL out for lunch in a quiet atmosphere and have a woman to woman talk.

stilltryen

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Re: Insight requested
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2011, 03:21:41 PM »
I agree to chat with her, but if you don't want to outright come out and tell her, you could coach it a bit differently.  Go to lunch or dinner with her when you're one on one and start innocently chatting about raising children and how hard it is, etc. and maybe ask her, "Did you have a lot of help from your mom or your mother-in-law?"  Ask her how it was when she was raising her children.  Tell her that you know you're going to make mistakes, joke about it, say, you just want to be sure none of them sticks a bean up their nose and they have to have surgery years down the road -- keep it light, but stick to it.  I'll bet the conversation turns into something that will be productive for both of you. 


holliberri

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Re: Insight requested
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2011, 03:24:39 PM »
StillTryen,

That is the best segue I've ever heard. I think that will definitely work, and take the pressure off of saying the exact right thing. Plus, the words you're trying to say may just  come from her own mouth, and could create some common ground.

I'll bet this  could be applied to a lot of other situations too.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2011, 03:37:15 PM by holliberri »

justme

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Re: Insight requested
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2011, 04:37:09 PM »
Dear Ladies,
Thank you so much for your insight.  Your wisdom is so helpful.  (How I wish that one of you could have the conversation with my MIL on my behalf!)
And please be assured that many of us DILs do appreciate your advice.  The difficult thing is that we often receive advice from a huge variety of sources and perspectives (moms, moms-in-law, friends, parenting books, doctors, the unknown lady that walks past us in the mall, etc...).  We are often overwhelmed with (conflicting) advice, and eventually we need to choose the course of action that seems best for the situation.  Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don't.  Thankfully we learn, and when treated with grace, I believe we can flourish.
My favourite quote for today, from theologian N.T. Wright:  "Your tongue gives you the opportunity to bring God's grace to people, by what you say and how you say it, and it's a shame to pass up this chance."
Blessings to you for using your words to bring grace to my life today.

Offline Pooh

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Re: Insight requested
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2011, 04:47:31 PM »
That was a very sweet post justme.  And I can assure you, there are many MILs too that wish for great relationships and a DIL like you that is thoughtful enough to ask questions.  I remember as a Mom being lost, wondering if I was doing the right things, etc.  Heck, I'm still lost as an adult many times.  I never had a problem with advice being given to me.  Didn't matter if it was Mom, friends, other Moms, or whoever.  I listened to all of it and made my choices based on what I thought fit best for me, my personality and was best for the situation.  I did plenty of things right and I did plenty of things wrong.  Even now as an adult, I am a researcher and will google something to death looking for different opinions. 

But there are truly people that don't want to give you advice, they want to give you orders and hold animosity if you don't follow them.  I had a MIL like that and it was very hard to deal with.  I think you have a great attitude and just be youself and you will be fine.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

holliberri

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Re: Insight requested
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2011, 04:52:10 PM »
JustMe,

By that post, I doubt you'll have any problems saying what you mean without being hurtful. :)

holliberri

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Re: Insight requested
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2011, 04:59:19 PM »
BTW...please stick around here.  :)

LaurieS

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Re: Insight requested
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2011, 06:15:07 PM »
I still say wine first... A nice dinner out .. a evening by the pool .. to me you're not buttering someone up but setting the table.  If you really get along with your mil it's because she likes you as a person as well.. she may not even realize that she's stepping on your toes at times.  Just talk to her as if she is the friend that she truly is.

catchingup

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Re: Insight requested
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2011, 02:00:48 AM »
I Think your MIL is lucky to have such a nice DIL and "Vice Versa"--sometimes
Say it like it is. Get her to read your post here.