Setting boundaries for MIL - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 06-27-2011, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
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I want to begin by apologizing because this is going to be long winded but i really need help.  I have no where else to go for advice.

Where to begin with my MIL drama.  I am happily married and had my first child in march of this year.  In the beginning (when i was dating her only son), i had a great relationship with my MIL.  Once we were engaged I started to see her for who she really was.  I have always been very respectful of my MIL which is why when she invited herself to visit (we live in two different states) for the first week of my sons life I didn't say no. Even though I knew form the wedding drama she caused me that the baby drama was probably going to be much worse. She had taken it upon herself to tell my mother that she will be coming to visit first (since this is her first grandchild, my mothers second), and that my mother can visit after her.  My mother reluctantly but respectfully agreed.  However, when I found out that i was going to be induced i got scared and asked my mother to come anyway. After having a C-section my mother went into help mode and did everything that i needed her to do.  She cooked, cleaned, helped me with the most personal of issue that one deals with after giving birth and was supportive of mine and my husbands need to bond with our new baby. She only took the baby when I gave him to her and needed her help.  My MIL was the complete opposite. She had the our son in hand every opportunity that she could and never gave him to anyone else, not even her son, to hold except to me when he needed to be breastfed.  Being a new mom I was battling my breasts with a lot of difficulty, trying to build up my milk supply and get my newborn to latch on.  This task was made even more difficult by my MIL who did not breastfeed my husband and tried to convince me that it wasn't necessary for my son.  Whenever my son was hungry she would promptly come and ask "can i give him a bottle"  to which i would reply "no, i'm going to try and breastfeed".  My response was always followed by her rolling her eyes in disapproval or she would say "make sure you bring him right back to me when you've finished feeding him".  This frustrated me to the point where i couldn't relax enough to feed my son which made the whole experience that much more difficult.  In fact, the only time that she wasn't holding my son was when I was trying to feed him.  On a separate occasion I had fallen asleep with my son after feeding him and awoke to my husband taking him away from me.  When I got up to see where he took him I see her holding him.  She even drank out of my mug that has "NEW MOMMY" in big writing on it before i did, then was pissed off when my husband jokingly scolded her for it. I was so annoyed but never said a word and just reminded myself that she was only here for a week and would eventually go away, and she did but to my dismay now she's back.

She's currently visiting for three weeks, to which i did not agree but my husband did.  She planned her trip at this time because she wanted to make sure that she would have uninterrupted alone time with our son since i am now back at work. I am ready to pull my hair out.  She acts as if she gave birth to our son.  She is over helpful and way too aggressive.  Now that i'm back at work i miss my son terribly so when i get home i want nothing more than to just spend every moment with him.  My MIL, not in front of my husband, will still try to do everything for him despite the fact that i am home.  When i'm playing with him she butts in and trys to play too or when im holding him she always comes over and competes for his attention.  At bath time she will say "I'll bathe him".  Or when he's not in her view she says "where's my baby". She always refers to our son as her baby. We went out to a friends BBQ and she came along, she told our friend "I'll let you have him now but only because he's mine during the week", like we needed her permission. Then when i was being asked questions about his sleeping and eating habits she jumped in and answered the questions for me.  She is driving me crazy and i'm reluctant to tell my husband because when i have tried previously he became very defensive.  He even through me under the bus by relaying my conversation with him to his mom.  I am at a loss.  I have to deal with her for two more weeks and i'm doing everything in my power not to blow up at her.  I need to know how to set boundaries for her in a way that wont hurt her or my husband.  My frustration with her is affecting my relationship with my husband, I'm at a loss.  Please help............. 


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#2 of 10 Old 06-27-2011, 01:36 PM
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I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this. My first suggestion is to talk with your husband and explain your frustrations. You two need to figure out what kind of relationship you want your child and your MIL to have. Then, the three of you need to sit down and discuss it. Tell her, I am so happy that you want to be so involved in our child's life, but I feel like you are overstepping some boundaries. Then clearly state what is ok/not ok for her to do. Be sure that your DH is backing you up on this.


It may seem difficult to do this, but remember that you are not just picking a fight to be mean. You are sticking up for what you believe is best for your child. Remember that being assertive now when he is still young and nipping these problems in the bud now will help you all have a greater relationship for years to come. Good luck!

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#3 of 10 Old 06-28-2011, 11:41 AM
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  Hi:   Your MIL sounds really difficult. I'm guessing

your husband would rather not get involved as after

all the two most important women in his life are

involved and he naturally would rather not take sides

or appear to as concerns you and your MIL. I think

he should back you up but it might be very hard for


    Though she's very difficult there may be a time

in your child's life when that pushiness of hers might

be just the thing; aren't our faults sometimes gifts?

So best all around not to offend her though it seems

that's probably easily done.

   Is there a parenting book that you have, especially

one that both you and your husband value that you

might lend to her. Can your husband ask his mother

out to dinner and a movie very soon so you can have a

whole evening with your baby... as a thank for being such

a "help?" Maybe he can do it a couple of times before she

leaves. He might also say you and he need some "couple

time" where you can be together unsupervised. Can you

nurse in you and your husband's bedroom where she might

hopefully hesitate to invade? Have the hubby stay in his

undies for the next time she barges in if she does.

   You might tell her and husband you need to be alone while

nursing as it helps you relax and focus; that way, it's not personal

and just her.

  You can also just tell her how dearly you want to be alone

with your baby when you get home. You miss him terribly at

work and would do anything just to have him to yourself for a

while when you get home to eat him up for a while.  Perhaps

your husband, hearing you express such feeling might because

you've told him to but mostly because he hears you say, "Sure,

but when you're done can you share him with Mom and I? I'm

looking for ways for you and your husband to lead your MIL to

what's appropriate for you.


"The most important thing a father can do for his children is to

love their mother" ~ Theodore Hesburgh

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#4 of 10 Old 07-02-2011, 11:09 AM
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Put your foot down and TELL her how it is going to be? If your husband doesn't like it, well tough. He should have been a MAN and dealt with his mother, not been disloyal to his WIFE.


She knows exactly what she is doing and she has the approval of her son.

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#5 of 10 Old 07-02-2011, 11:22 AM
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OMG, this is really really horrible.  I am sickened by the sentiment that men are somehow "caught in the middle" between mother and wife.  Cut the apron strings and grow up.  His job as your husband is to support you.  I do not blame your MIL for your current predicament, I blame your DH.  You need to have a heart to heart before it gets any worse.  Depending on his level of denial, enmeshment, codependency, and avoidance you may need to involve a counselor to help with the communication.


If you feel comfortable, I would also post your issues on this website specifically about IL issues (lots of helpful advice from people who BTDT).


Good Luck!

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#6 of 10 Old 07-02-2011, 12:00 PM
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You need to have a CLEAR, UNAMBIGUOUS discussion with your husband about his first priority being his relationship to his new family and not to his family of birth.  He must back you up in the discussion that you both should have with his mother.  This is non-negotiable and has already gone WAY too far.  Print out some articles about post-partum issues so your husband can see how important it is that he supports you.  I agree that you should involve a counselor if he refuses to "get it."  


If she doesn't agree to your guidelines, tell her that she will be staying in a hotel next time that she visits.

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#7 of 10 Old 07-04-2011, 02:13 PM
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Stick up for yourself!!! She is pushing it way too far. You will never get this time back with your son. I could understand maybe if she sees him for only 2 days every few months, but considering she is staying with you for weeks at a time this seems inappropriate. She honestly sounds to me like a character in a Lifetime movie -- creepy!!

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#8 of 10 Old 07-04-2011, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by imagine21 View Post

If she doesn't agree to your guidelines, tell her that she will be staying in a hotel next time that she visits.



Woman, you have the worst MIL problems I've ever heard of.  No advice other than you all may need to have a serious husband/wife agreement and have somebody very directly let this woman know what you are and are not willing to put up with.  Very little of what she does and says sounds like stuff that a reasonable person could put up with.  Good thing she lives in a different state, but it doesn't seem to dissuade her from much.


I am not too good at assertiveness and also care way too much if I am hurting someone's feelings.  I am also not good at debating.  If you feel the same way, perhaps you could write her a carefully worded letter (write it and review it over the course of a week)?  Maybe also have your husband look it over?  No, it won't be happily received and may cause problems.  However, you already have a herd of problems.


And...good for you about holding your ground about breastfeeding.  It's hard enough on its own without being surrounded by disapproval.


No more advice, just an affirmation that you are absolutely correct that she is totally out of line.  Totally, 100%.  Best of luck.  You are gonna need it.


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#9 of 10 Old 07-19-2011, 02:45 PM
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OP, I am so sorry you are dealing with this at such a special time. A new little person coming into to the family is an event that is particular to the immediate household, ESPECIALLY to you as the mama, as your and the baby's "work" at this time is to nurture the mother-child bond and establish breastfeeding. Anybody coming into your home that does not nurture and support this process is HURTING your family. Because you recognize this and your husband doesn't, you need to sit down with him and have a VERY honest heart to heart about your and your baby's needs during this very sensitive time. Sometimes the daddies are clueless, especially when their loyalties are inappropriately stretched to their own mamas, as it is apparent this is the case. He needs to cut those apron strings, and fast! irked.gif


You two need to be on the same page somehow, otherwise this situation will not change w/o fracturing your marriage and the relationship(s) you have with the MIL. 


Once he understands, acknowledges, and plans to act on what you need; approach MIL clearly and honestly with your expectations for the remainder of her visit. If she continues her inappropriate and interfering behavior, ask her to leave. That is, if you don't ask her to leave to begin with. I honestly would have no patience for anyone coming into my home and acting like this with my own child, especially my newborn.

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#10 of 10 Old 07-19-2011, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by TinkerBelle View Post

Put your foot down and TELL her how it is going to be? If your husband doesn't like it, well tough. He should have been a MAN and dealt with his mother, not been disloyal to his WIFE.


She knows exactly what she is doing and she has the approval of her son.

I know that would be my first gut reaction, but I'm not sure this would be successful since it could potentially stir up stuff between her and DH in addition to her MIL. I feel her DH should at least get the courtesy of being informed of her thoughts and feelings and have the opportunity to "join forces" with her before she acts on them by herself. I would imagine it would be embarrassing for DH to be called out on in front of his mama, and both he and the OP would not have the privacy or time to hash through her reasoning--- though completely well-intentioned. I know, I would have a hard time dealing with this gracefully myself. But I really think if this is going to be resolved as smoothly, peacefully, and effectively as possible; DH and the OP need to get on the same page privately, then deal with MIL hand-in-hand. I really hope the OP and her DH are successful at joining forces. Marriages don't work too well when one party is loyal to someone other than their spouse. :( Very tough stuff to work through, indeed.

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