How Do I Deal With My Pushy, Controlling, Negative Inlaws?

by Happy Mom (USA)

I have a very happy son, happily married, and I am very sensitive. I like to look on the bright side of everything.

My inlaws are very negative, controlling, and when my son said mama first, instead of praise, they belittled and explained how that just shows how little time I spent trying to teach dada.

I get excluded and even the sister in law who is younger tries to take credit for things/words/high fives, that I have taught him.

You would think they were at the site where the baby was made. I have had to tell my mother in law to not feed my son things like cake and deep fried twists from fast food. She corrected me four times and even after I said, I’m trying to say this as nice as possible-don’t feed my son junk. I will have food with me for when he eats…

I mostly nurse, which they have all tried to get him to stop, they want me to give it up, but I don’t want to yet. By the grace of God, with His help, I won’t.

Also, I am a full time mom, my son is with me always. I love it. My husband says stuff but he told me that when he’s not around, I’m going to have to take up for myself. They try to do it to him too, but he puts his foot down. I’m not so brave and bold. How do I deal with my pushy, controlling, negative inlaws?

Answer

Hi HM,

I know how you feel. It’s so hard to think of standing up to someone, especially when said person or people like to “trample all over you.”

But despite how hard it is, your hubby is right – you have to stand up for yourself. I have personally found it easiest to do this if I think not about standing up for myself… but think about standing up for my child.

You know that you’re doing the best you can for him.

You know that nursing is best for him (it’s best into toddlerhood – and the World Health Organization stands behind you on that!)

You know that junk food is very harmful to his body.

Simply take the stance that Yes, you are going to give your son the best – that means nursing him, and it means not giving him junk food.

Ignore comments like those about the “mama” before “dada” – or simply say you can’t wait to hear him say “dada” and other words. If they say something about you not teaching him to say “dada” you can just look them straight in the eyes and say “look, I love and adore my husband – I can’t wait to hear my son say “Daddy” and I can’t wait to see how much my son wants to be just like his Daddy.”

Another thing you can try is to look straight at them and say “are you trying to make me feel guilty?”

This tends to make people (who are trying to manipulate you) just kind of splutter around. Just repeat “Are you trying to make me feel guilty?” as long as they keep trying to make you feel guilty. Be a “broken record” so to speak.

Or when they say something like that simply meet them with silence. Refuse to play their games.

You know you love your husband, and you know how hard you work to help your son learn new skills. You know you’re a good mother and that you’re raising a happy baby. Just remember all these things when you’re in a situation with them, and stand your ground.

For things like nursing, sleep, and other issues you can also use the classic “the doctor said I should” – you can “hide” behind the doctor’s authority. It doesn’t really matter that your baby’s doctor may not have said that… there are plenty of doctors who do say to nurse on demand, not to feed babies, junk, etc.

I have found that as my children have grown out of babyhood I have to stand even more firmly in my convictions about what I feel is best for them (no television, no junk food, no “character” clothing, etc.) – it unfortunately doesn’t get any easier.

Like yours, my husband is much more comfortable “putting his foot down” than I am – but I’ve also found that by standing firm in my convictions myself, when he’s not around, is very empowering for me, and in the end I feel much, much better.

One more thing – taking a few minutes to close your eyes, pray, and collect your thoughts before you go into a situation where you know you’ll have to deal with your in-laws may help :)