What Your Daughter-In-Law Won't Tell You
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Intro_v011 of 9
Don't Judge2 of 9
When a mother-in-law makes negative comments, her daughter-in-law may feel like she's being judged, says Mandel. "Yet your mother-in-law may feel as though you're doing things differently than she did to undermine her." Meanwhile, she says, "a mother-in-law is smart not to offer unsolicited advice. If your daughter-in-law asks how you used to do things, tell her and leave it at that."
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Don't Tell Me How To Parent3 of 9
The topic of raising and disciplining your kids can quickly become a battleground because it's an emotional one. LeAnn* has curbed this intrusion by responding to her mother-in-law's suggestions with "They're fine" or "We raise them differently." She's on the right track, says Mandel. "Daughters-in-law should try to respond neutrally ('That's an interesting point') rather than negatively, which only fuels the fire."
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Don't Just Come Over4 of 9
For years, Anne* and her husband lived just blocks from her in-laws, who were fond of ringing their doorbell on Saturday mornings—without calling first. "This is the time for the husband to get involved," says psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D. "Suggest he try something like 'Mom, we love seeing you, but Saturday mornings are so crazy with the kids. Next time, call first so we can be sure the gathering is more relaxed.'"
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Don't Pressure Us5 of 9
Claire's* in-laws, who are Catholic, openly fret to her and her husband about how they have yet to baptize their son (something they have no intention of doing), causing uncomfortable feelings all around. Here, both sides have to come to the realization that the question of religion may never be settled. "It may be a core value for the in-laws, so if you reject their religion—especially for your children—they may feel personally attacked," says Mandel.
Don't Criticize My Home6 of 9
Margaret's* mother-in-law always adds her two cents about how her daughter-in-law cares for her own home. Even if the mother-in-law believes she's being helpful, her daughter-in-law may hear, "You're the worst housekeeper ever," says Lombardo. If the comments are frequent and become aggressive, then follow up with, "I'd appreciate if you didn't always point these things out." (Hint: This may be more effective coming from your husband!)
Don't Bring Up Exes7 of 9
Of course your in-laws should embrace you in their son's life and let all those old flames die out. "You can ask, mildly and neutrally, why they keep bringing up his ex," says Mandel, but it's not necessary if you feel good about your relationship. And if it really irritates you or goes on for too long, says Lombardo, then "have your husband pull his parents aside and tell them, nicely, that he's not happy with the comments." They may not realize they are upsetting you, after all.
Don't Baby My Husband8 of 9
"Whenever I go to my in-laws' house, my mother-in-law makes recipes that my husband loved as a kid, like icebox cake. It drives me crazy!" says Anne. Sure, it can be hard for a wife to watch her husband being coddled by the woman who raised him. However, unless she's offering to wash and iron his clothes or drive him to work, babying her baby is still allowed––with one major caveat, says Lombardo: "It has to be at her own house." In your home, she says, waiting on her son constitutes major interference.
Don't Guilt Me9 of 9
As if working mothers needed any more guilt, a mother-in-law sighing aloud about how your career may be hurting her grandchildren can only make matters worse. Maybe she's jealous of the career choices that you've been afforded. Or perhaps she really does think it's not the best choice for your children. Whatever the reason, she needs to be made aware of how you feel. Say something simple, like "I respect your choices, but these are the ones I've made," says Lombardo.
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