Mother-in-laws have been the subject of jokes for years. But for many women, their relationship with their partner’s mum is anything but funny. When a new baby is on the scene, the situation can quickly deteriorate. It's worth taking some time to work through any issues with a meddling mother-in-law before an important relationship is ruined.
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Take a deep breath
The first few weeks after the birth of a child are incredibly tiring. You are suffering from a lack of sleep and have hormones rushing through your system making you irritable and even depressed. When you feel like this it can be difficult to think and act rationally. So take a moment to really think about your issues with your mother-in-law. Are things as bad as you think? Are you being overly sensitive? Take some time to get a little perspective on the issue.
Talk to your partner
Tell your partner how you're feeling – you need him on your side with this issue. You're learning how to be a mum and you need your partner to have confidence in you and to support you when it comes to bringing up your child the way you want to. Explain what it is your mother-in-law does that makes you so angry and enlist his help in solving the issue.
If you're stressed and tired, issues can seem bigger than they really are. Staying calm will really help when dealing with an interfering mother-in-law. If she suggests something that you don’t agree with, smile politely, say you’ll think about it, and then change the topic. If she actually insists on doing something with your baby that you don’t agree with, then be assertive and clear – you are the parent and you don't want it done that way. Make sure your partner will back you up, but always be polite and reasonable, even when disagreeing.
The chances are your mother-in-law just wants to feel valued. Spend some time with her without the baby – go for a coffee or some lunch. Let her see that you like her (even if you don’t) and that you enjoy her company. Make friends with her and she will see you as less of a threat and hopefully learn to take a step back. Never use your baby as a weapon – threatening to deny access. This is cruel not only to your mother-in-law but also to your baby who will miss out too – grandparents can and should be a great source of fun for your child.
Look after yourself
Being a new mum is wonderful – but it's also tiring and emotional. It’s really important that you look after yourself, get as much rest as you can and accept offers of help. This is where your mother-in-law comes in. Accept her help - if she sighs at the dust, give her a duster or ask her to vacuum. If she moans there’s no milk in the fridge, ask her to go to the shop for you. It can be very easy to become possessive over your lovely new baby, but let your mother-in-law take care of him for a couple of hours while you have a long relaxing bath or a refreshing nap. She’ll appreciate it, and so will you.
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