Dear Family & Friends,
Daniel didn’t want to be deployed away from his family anymore and miss his children growing up, so he retired from military service. The couple moved back to Daniel’s home town. He was working with his dad again until he could find a steady job.
Michelle called me up and told me what was happening, “I have the world’s worst monster-in-law! When we go to visit, she starts drinking early in the morning and doesn’t stop until she passes out in the evening.”
How To Deal With A Difficult Mother In Law
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How To Deal With Your Mother In Law
“Keep in mind, while this is going on, she’s telling me how to be a mother and trying to take my daughter out of my arms (even if I’m nursing!). I love my husband and I want to be able to tolerate his mother so there isn’t a strain. How do I deal with her constant negative comments and drinking?”
Daniel’s parents, Dorothy and Jack, had been married for years… nobody really knew how long. Nobody really knew why. They bickered at one another constantly, they certainly didn’t seem happy. They both drank ridiculous amounts of alcohol when they weren’t working, and just seemed to be living their life in a drunken haze.
The relationship had turned into drinking buddies and they stayed together because they were earning just enough money to keep up the one house. Just enough money to keep doing what they were doing – not enough to make changes, let alone improvements. They stayed together because that’s what they became to know as their reality, and they accepted it.
Daniel was their only child. He was eager to grow up and move on with his life. Although Daniel loved his parents, he yearned for a real family life. A big family with caring, attentive parents, and lots of children playing and laughing.
Daniel grew up with plenty of cousins in the area, but he always yearned for siblings. Without brothers and sisters to play with, he grew up kind of lonely, no one to talk to but his dog.
As a teenager, he worked hard as a laborer for his dad’s business in construction, he was well mannered and respectful. He joined the military as an opportunity to explore the world and get out of the small town he grew up in.
When I met Daniel, he told me he wanted to get married right away. He and Michelle were only 19 years old and way too young to get married! They barely knew each other! They had only been dating for a few months. I didn’t understand why Michelle was in such a hurry to get married. But it’s hard to convince young lovebirds to slow down! They both seemed to understand relationships were hard and marriage is harder and not to take it so lightly… but married at 19?
Well, they did it. Daniel told me he was so in love with Michelle and he wanted kids one day, so he wanted to be married right away and start their life together as a married couple, right away. He couldn’t wait, he said. He came across so sincere. And Michelle was eager, too. It was her life, she said, and this is what she wanted.
Ah, the military life. A great time in anyone’s life, the discipline, the dedication, the devotion to self and duty, the diligence to better yourself and your country. For most soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors, their military service is a time of pride and purpose. It’s no wonder they want their soul mate by their side.
Within a few months, Daniel and Michelle were married and living on base. Before the first year passed, Michelle became pregnant. It was unexpected, but they were thrilled and excited to become parents. And as often happens, the second one comes pretty fast after the first one, so Michelle was pregnant with their second child.
That’s about the time that Daniel decided family comes first and they moved back to Daniel’s home town. Michelle was living in a new town staying at home with their baby while Daniel was out working and hanging with old friends. If they went out to socialize together, it was usually at his parent’s house.
Michelle enjoyed their visits over there, if were other relatives around. She got along with Daniel’s cousins and their spouses, and loved all the other little nieces and nephews. They would talk about family memories and bring her hand-me-downs for the baby.
She tried to cope with her in-laws, too, but they were mean to her. They still had Daniel’s old girlfriend’s picture on the wall. And they still talked about this old girlfriend like maybe they would get back together. And Michelle was standing right there in the same room. His bride of almost two years.
And then came the one night that Dorothy just tried to take Brianna out of her arms. “I know she wants to hold her grandbaby, but we were nursing! I am just sitting there, helpless, trying to tell her, ‘Just a minute!’ But she was so demanding, and intoxicated, and wasn’t listening. I just wanted her to sit down with my baby! I thought she was going to fall down.”
“But what really made me mad, was that Daniel didn’t stop her. He acted like he didn’t see what was happening, or didn’t hear me, but I know he did!” Michelle continued.
Michelle wanted her husband to stand up for her, but when it came to his mom, Daniel didn’t know what to say. He had a hard time speaking up to his mother and instead he made Michelle feel like she was making too much out of the situation.
I know family get-togethers can be nerve-wracking even when you don’t have to deal with a drunk mother in-law! I would avoid a drunk at all costs, especially if the safety of my baby was in question.
I do not know if Dorothy is negative and demeaning because she was drinking, or if she is always that way. I would limit visits to early in the day before her drinking gets out of control, or only allow visits in public places where her drinking and belligerent behavior would be kept in check.
The only other option would be to not allow any visits at all until she agrees to not drink during the visit. If you want to see your grandchild, you can skip drinking for a few hours, it really shouldn’t be a problem.
“How does your husband deal with her? Where was he when you were nursing?” I asked Michelle.
It is his mother, but you are his wife and his first responsibility now. He needs to stand up for you and his baby. While he is not to blame for the situation or his mother, her outbursts are not pleasant for him either. But he should have let his mother know that he won’t allow you to be treated that way.
I talked with Michelle for a little bit, and let her see things from both sides. Daniel has been her only son forever and he has always looked up to his mom. All the while growing up, both Jack and Daniel were more-or-less afraid to confront her. She has been speaking her mind freely for years.
Daniel grew up being bullied by his mom… So how do you deal with a bully? You ignore them. Daniel ignores his mother when she is mouthing off.
So you have to stand up for yourself and your baby now before the situation grows out of control any further. You are the mother and you can tell her point blank, “We prefer to do it this way.”
You may be the one who has to speak up if Daniel won’t step in. Mother or not, you wouldn’t allow someone else to treat you this way, so you can’t allow her to treat you this way.
If you don’t put a stop to unruly behavior right away, the culprit keeps trying to get away with it. They keep crossing the line until you finally stand up for yourself, until you put a stop to it and tell them you will not tolerate it.
Always respond politely to her know-it-all parenting, telling her that you and your husband have your own way to do things (without putting down her ways).
That’s how you respect your elders: Be polite, be respectful, but you don’t have to agree or tolerate anybody putting you down or telling you what to do.
Always be a united team in front of her so she can not try to drive a wedge between the both of you. Of course, you might want to let Daniel know, too. He better be on your side first and always! Happy Wife, Happy Life!
And maybe I would nurse my baby in another room, with the door closed.
P.S. I welcome your comments, please post below.