Interfering in-laws

I never thought I would have the age old cliché of a horrendous mother in law as we have always got on well, but since our daughter arrived she has been like a different woman.


She force feeds our child, both food and cuddles, she lies next to her when she has her nappy change, she has forcibly removed our daughter from my lap. 

When we confronted her she simply said “well my in laws were a nightmare too…get over it!”

This seems a strange response as it really means we just won’t see them much which all seems rather sad given that she is clearly besotted with our daughter (she used to email daily asking for her latest “fix” of videos and photos.

Maybe you think I’m being cruel? I wondered that too, but it’s the way she thinks she has a right to mine our daughter of love and attention which I can’t cope with. Our daughter is here in our lives for her benefit, for us to love and take care of her, *she* is the focus here, not her crazy grandmother.  And I get that she is excited, and she loves her etc. but messing with our developing attachment and altering the boundaries in our home just isn’t ok.

Eurgh. Rant over! Any thoughts?!

Have you encountered similar with your in-laws? Perhaps it’s your family that are interfering? How should this person handle the relationship with their mother in law? Add your comments and advice below.

7 thoughts on “Interfering in-laws

  1. lastmum

    Blimey, what a nightmare. My advice:

    I think what you need to do is seriously lay the boundaries down. What she is doing is completely unacceptable. She may love her but yanking her out of your lap and trying to force feed her is not remotely OK.

    I know you won’t want to be causing a huge stink – but look at your daughter and try and focus on her needs to the exclusion of all else. Yes, your MIL will probably be hurt. But she’s an adult. Your daughter will be more hurt in the long run if MIL’s behaviour is traumatising for her.

    She doesn’t sound easy to communicate with in person, so maybe a conversation by email or telephone may be better. But you both need to make it very clear that whilst you know she loves DD, her behaviour will hurt DD. Therefore in order to help DD, you will not be seeing MIL frequently, or even at all, unless she undertakes to stop holding DD without permission, feeding her without permission and whatever else you would like.

    If she argues then she will have to remain content with email, picture and video updates and not with visits

    She is entirely wrong to tell you to get over it. What she is actually saying when she says this is not that YOU should get over it but that DD should get over it. After all, DD is the one who’s not benefitting from this. But your daughter shouldn’t be expected to put up with this and get over it.

    In fact honestly, if my mother or anyone said to me ‘get over it’ I would honestly just turn around and say ‘No, I make the rules here, YOU get over it, or get out of my house. No discussion’

    But i appreciate that I’m a bit more blunt and confrontational than many people are comfortable being.

  2. notthemummy

    So we need to turn our thinking to the other side , or at least see past it .
    Granted the MIl very annoying but it sounds like she,s trying , too hard but she trying .
    Sometimes the heartache and guilt , for me at least , expends to my mum , who will never be a grandmother by me . Fortunately she is a grandmother of three , and believe me she been a rock over my 15 years of trying for biological child .
    It sounds like shes trying really hard to bond with daughter, and it sounds like most mother in laws , i,m in no way advocating force feeding , but think hard did she wrench the baby from you arms or just thought she was helping out .
    I don,nt mean to do your story down or take sides , but look from a different view , she been waiting andlonging for this little girl as much as you two have been .
    Best advice if you need to be therapeutic on bonding , then ” lend” her a book or at . Least quote it . I,m sure things will settle for all of you .
    good luck be happy x x

  3. Rachel

    What a nightmare indeed, and the last thing you need to be dealing with at the moment when your own emotions are probably all over the place, never mind your daughter’s.

    Throughout our years of IVF and our subsequent adoption, I found dealing with other people’s hopes and expectations the hardest thing. I grew a much thicker skin during those few years…

    My wonderful MiL has been an absolute rock, but we did have to do some serious reeling-in in the early days. Like your MiL, she was brimming with excitement, desperate to bond with her new grandchildren, and trying her best to support me by diverting their attention to give me a bit of breathing space (I was very obviously overwhelmed and struggling in those first months). She would bowl into the house bearing presents, cuddles and intense attention, then disappear again leaving us all reeling. Within weeks the kids were expecting gifts and treats every day and would rush to the door like expectant fledglings every time they heard her car draw up. As Christmas approached, and their expectations went off the scale, I became more stressed about the whole thing. And more sneaky. I printed out this article and asked her to do me a very big favour by explaining to other members of the family for me why we needed to keep things low key for the sake of the kids… suffice it to say, problem solved and not a cross word spoken.

    I think that’s great advice from notthemummy to give her some relevant reading material. It saves you having to try to put such difficult feelings into words; perhaps your social worker can recommend something? Difficult though it is you need to remain focused on your daughter’s need to settle and attach to you. Not to mention your relationship with your partner and new life as a family. Everyone else can wait their turn – there’s no hurry, they have the rest of their lives to get to know each other.

    Good luck xx

  4. claire

    We have the exact opposite here, inlaws that couldn’t give a stuff and would rather spend all their time with their ‘real’ grandkids instead.

    I don’t have any advice, but I like ‘suddenly mummy’s’ advice!

    Good luck, sounds very tough indeed!

  5. Sally

    I’d say be kind to your mother-in-law. She’ll calm down soon. She perhaps just needs some gentle educating. My mother in law passed away just before we started the adoption process and my father in law just after our children came to live with us. They would have loved our children.
    As you move through the next few years you may find that you need all the help you can get and your mother in law could turn out to be the support that you need.

  6. Lindsay

    Eeek! It’s a tough situation and I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to go about it. Just as you have to continually feel out your relationship with your new kiddo, the same goes to feeling out your MIL and continually putting in boundaries, educating and explaining adoption etc.

    I like the idea of giving her some material to read and help understand where your daughter, and you, are coming from, and maybe asking her to help in a very specific way so that she feels like she is important in this process too but it is directed by you so you have some control over what is being said/done.

    I didn’t read any books when preparing for Jonathan to come, but I did find this one particular book and I passed it around family and friends. I absolutely loved it – it’s simple, straight forward and easy to read. In On It; what adoptive parents want you to know about adoption By Elizabeth O-Toole

    Good luck!

  7. Gem

    I really feel for you and it’s a delicate problem that you have because it’s made more difficult by the fact that it’s your husband’s mother. What does your husband say about it all? Has he spoken to his mother about it?

    I do think you need boundaries but maybe some education about adoption to help her understand about the importance of your daughter bonding primarily with you and your husband might help. BAAF do books for the relatives of adopters and something like that might help if she would read it? Lindsey’s book above looks helpful too. Maybe if she was able to understand that you need a period of *however long you feel* whereby no-one else picks up your daughter then she might be able to handle that, especially if she knows it’s a blanket rule. We had lots of hassle from my sister with our new addition because I wouldn’t let anyone hold him for the first few weeks. It didn’t go down well at all.

    We have a problem with my MIL as well. She now has Alzheimers and is incredibly forgetful and also very unpredictable and can be quite unpleasant in her behaviour. She seems to have targeted Katie for picking up on everything she says and does. She said to my sister last Christmas that “Katie was a little madam, just like her mother!” and since then picks on Katie all the time. Katie behaves very badly when MIL is around because she knows she is being picked on. I’ve had to stand up to MIL and say that she doesn’t have to worry about parenting Katie because that is our responsibility and she can just be Nana. My husband finds it very hard to say anything but I’m getting really cross. I know she can’t help it but I won’t let my daughter be bullied under my roof so am left with trying to tactfully handle the situation.

    I can understand the delicate nature of your problem as a result. Maybe meeting out of the home might help because at the park, for example, there are fewer places for a child to be picked up. They can push a swing instead. Being out of the house can remove any territorial feelings as well and also enable you to not feel so hemmed in.

    Good luck. I really hope you get it sorted out as I’m sure it’s marring what should be a lovely time for you.


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