Ask Joanne - Interfering Mother-In-Law

14/12/2009 12:10 | Updated 22 May 2015

What's your question about life as a parent? Send it in confidence to our life coach Joanne Mallon using this form and let us know if you'd like your name changed.

Miriam asks:

My baby is 8 weeks old, the first grandchild on both sides. I used to get on well with my mother-in-law, but since the baby's been born she just interferes all the time. She comes round and snatches him away from me to hold, it's like no one else exists. I'm breastfeeding, but she keeps saying she wishes I'd give him a bottle as well so she can 'help' with feeding. She phones all the time - usually when we've just got him off to sleep. And she keeps telling me how to do things, like she always knows better - help! It's driving me insane!

Here's our life coach's reply:

Dear Miriam

There's a reason why the interfering mother in law is a comedy staple - this is a situation many of us can recognise, either in our own, or in our friends' lives. But try not to judge your mother in law too harshly. This is a time of adjustment for all of you - she is adjusting to her role as Granny, and you are getting used to being a mum. Plus those post-pregnancy hormones won't help, meaning that things that wouldn't have bothered you before now seem hugely irritating.

I know right now you can't bear to let your baby out of your arms, but one day you will be immensely grateful for a granny who wants to help. And as you will discover, it's not just mothers in law who want to give you advice as a parent - the rest of the world will chip in their 10p's worth too (see, here I am doing it right now). I find that an enthusiastic "Really? How interesting" whilst you carry on doing your own thing, is often the best response. They're trying to help, not trying to criticise you.

On a practical basis, since this is your partner's mother you're talking about, it may be the most sensible course to get him to have a word, or at least to back you up more when she's around. Explain gently that it's better for her to text rather than phone, in case it wakes the baby. If all else fails, unplug the phone when the baby's asleep.

Remember that she cares, and even if it feels like interfering to you, from her perspective it's coming from a place of love. As the mother to a boy, you may one day be a mother-in-law yourself, so try to look kindly on yours right now.

Best wishes to you and your family


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