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09th Jul 2018

You and your mother-in-law: 4 very common issues that are sure to spark a row


Admit it. We are all guilty of judging other mothers at one point or another. 

Equally, we look at each other knowingly over supermarket trollies and roll our eyes in solidarity as another desperate mother feeds her child another bag of crisps to shut him up. We all lapse from our supposed-to-be-wholesome parenting methods from time to time.

But when it comes to judgement, eye-rolling, or ‘helpful tips’ about dealing with your offspring’s behaviour, there is one woman’s solidarity you could do without. Yep. You guessed it. His mother.

Some of us have generous, kind, child-minding mothers-in-law delivered straight from heaven. Some of us, however, have been assigned probation officers for the crime of marrying our husbands.

Here are four common parenting issues sure to spark a row between you and your mother in-law:

1. Discipline

It’s a question of discipline and a question of who and how? Some MILs are a completely discipline-free zone. However, if your MIL is overly-keen to share her gems of behavioural wisdom and thoughts on discipline (or dole out her own brand of punishment), you might need to clarify the chain of command. Let’s face it – times have changed since she was parenting. What worked twenty odd years ago can now be outdated or straight-up “someone call social services” dangerous. If you can’t get her to see your viewpoint after a ‘friendly chat, try linking her to a parenting book or article that influenced you; this might help her to see your perspective and also realise it’s not just you and your permissive modern ways…

2. Food

If your MIL is making her feelings known about how you feed your child, what you feed your child, or if she persists in feeding your kids in any way that makes you uncomfortable, you 100% have a right to reply. Try the “you’re not wrong, it’s just our choice” tack. If she continues to ignore your wishes, you will have to be more direct and let her know firmly that dietary instructions and restrictions are not up for further discussion.

3. Presents

Your little fella has been itching for that new Nintendo DS game for the last few weeks. You’ve told him to save his pocket money for it, or wait for an occasion to receive it as a present but hey presto Nana buys it for him anyway. Even though this over-rides your parental lessons in patience there’s really not much you can say about a grandparent spoiling her grandkids; it’s her prerogative. This one’s a case of choosing your battles wisely.

4. Clothes

If yourself and your MIL don’t share the same ‘taste’ in children’s clothing, there is a high risk your child could return home from Nana’s house wearing something you would rather use as a dishcloth. If nana keeps arriving with dodgy outfits for your little ones, simply smile, say thanks, take a picture of them wearing it, send it to Nana and then pass the sailor suit or offending items along to charity. One mama’s trash is another mama’s treasure after all.

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