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Common Mistakes Mothers-in-Law Make and How You Should Handle Them

Common Mistakes Mothers-in-Law Make
Conflicts with mothers-in-law is a story as old as time. To mend the bond between the two of you, take a look at some common mistakes mothers-in-law make and how you can handle such situations.
SocialMettle Staff
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
"The mother-in-law frequently forgets that she was a daughter-in-law."
- Author Unknown
Mothers-in-law are difficult to handle, but not impossible. You don't necessarily have to become best friends; it is essential to be on good terms with her. If she's making any mistakes that offend or demean you, there are only two things you can do―either forget about the words exchanged or find a way to resolve the issues.
Difficult Mothers-in-law and their Mistakes
Acknowledging the issues and finding a solution is the best way to handle family matters. In this SocialMettle article, you will find ten of the most common complaints about mothers-in-law and suggestions to build a better relationship.
Mother-in-law Gives Guilt Trip
What she does - You're planning for a nice Thanksgiving dinner at your parents' house, and here comes the mother-in-law. She wants you all to stay put and be with her for the holidays. So, what does she do? She tries the "guilt trip" treatment and makes you feel ashamed of wanting to leave her in the first place.

What you should do - Before making such plans (where she can manipulate you into altering the plans), tell her about it from the beginning. Also, give some kind of incentive, so she doesn't feel like her family is leaving her behind. For example, if you are spending the holidays with your family, tell her that Christmas dinner and New Year's celebrations will be with her.
Mother-in-law Stops by Unannounced
What she does - You've had a long day at work, and now it's time to prepare dinner for everyone. Just when you think you can have a relaxing dinner with your husband, your mother-in-law drops in ... unannounced.

What you should do - It's not that you don't want her to visit. Being able to spend quality time with family is always a good thing. But not letting you know ahead of time can be troublesome for all. Tell her, as politely as you can, to always call before she wishes to come over. Or, you can decide which day(s) of the week she can come over.
Mother-in-law Undermines Your Every Decision
What she does - You choose a particular school for your kids, but the mother-in-law wants to put her two cents in. If you and your spouse give your kids any chores, she tells you it's not right.

What you should do - The decision on how to raise your family lays entirely in the parents' hands. Of course, since your mother-in-law has done this before, with your wife, she will feel the need to voice her opinions; and sometimes, they may be correct. However, you should make it clear to her that this is your family, and even though inputs will be given, it is not in her place to tell you that you're always wrong.
Mother-in-law Gives you Unwanted Advice
What she does - Nobody wants unsolicited advice, but your mother-in-law makes it a point to give you one; even when you haven't asked for it. Whether it is about how to raise your kids or any financial decisions you make, you can be sure to hear from her.

What you should do - Regardless of who gives an advice, if it hasn't been asked for in the first place, it's never well-received. Even though she means well, it can ruin things between the two of you. Don't feel threatened by her inputs, and instead, let her speak her mind. Once you know what she "feels" you should do, and you don't approve, tell her what your decision is; and she should leave it at that.
Mother-in-law Criticizes your Kids
What she does - Saying something to you, even if the words are masked as jokes, is one thing. But criticizing your kids is a whole new ballgame.

What you should do - As a grandparent, it is her responsibility to love and spoil the kids. The way you wish to raise your kids will be different than how she wishes you did the job. There will be unavoidable conflicts, and someone has to recognize their boundaries―the mother-in-law in this case. Tread carefully while broaching the subject as she may be defensive with her replies.
Mother-in-law Wants to Move In
What she does - She wants to what? Move in with you guys? OMG! I don't need to say this, but this decision, which I'm sure she has made on her own, is a recipe for disaster.

What you should do - Whether she has told you guys about her "moving" plans directly or indirectly, if the talks are in the air, be sure that she wants them to happen. I know that you're all for taking care of the family, but does your mother-in-law really need to be taken care of or is she taking it too far? For any concerns, which I'm sure you have many, you definitely need to have a long, long talk with your wife and come to a decision.
Mother-in-law Competes with You
What she does - You married her son, and now she thinks she's lost him to you forever. Thus, begins the never-ending battle between the two of you. She wants her son to visit her more often, pay more attention to her health and well-being; you, on the other hand, don't mind all of that, but there's always a limit.

What you should do - If you feel that you have to go over the top in order to keep your man as close to you as possible, there's something wrong here. You need to explain to her that just because you married her son, it doesn't mean that she's not going to see him, ever. He will always be her son, and you don't want to keep him away from her. Hopefully, the truth should set you two free.
Mother-in-law Never Admits She's Wrong
What she does - Your mother-in-law makes an inappropriate comment or gives your husband false information about you. All this and much more has happened, but she has never apologized for her mistakes.

What you should do - At one point in life, all of us can be wrong; and there is no harm in admitting your mistakes. But perhaps the reason she isn't accepting her errors is because she thinks that if she did, you'd probably hold it against her forever. Sure it's tempting, but it's not the right way to go. Be honest about how her behavior is hurting you, and listen to what she has to say as well.
Mother-in-law Meddles in Your Personal Affairs
What she does - She wishes to know where you are, what you're up to, who you're with, and why have you made certain decisions in life. Is she your wife or your wife's mother?!

What you should do - Being a wise observer and frequent advice-giver is understood. But when it comes to meddling in people's lives, it can be too much to handle. And all this can affect your relationship with your wife. Your next move can be a simple conversation with your wife and mother-in-law. Nothing says "I'm the man of the house" like a friendly family meeting.
Mother-in-law Wants to Dictate Your Life
What she does - "Do this ... don't do that. Learn this ... keep away from that." The constant need to tell you what you should do and how you need to lead your life is her goal. Since you married her son, it seems like her right to dictate and direct your life.

What you should do - We always look up to our elders for advice. Their valuable experiences can save us from making irreversible mistakes. But that doesn't mean her advice should compel you to stop leading a life. Mistakes are bound to happen, because that is what life is. Without making a few mistakes in the past, you would not be standing where you are right now.
Where there is a mother-in-law, trouble seems to find a way to haunt you. Maintaining relationships takes a lot of work, and the responsibilities rest on the entire family. It is common for two people, whoever they may be, to have disagreements about something. But that shouldn't lead to tension building to a point of no return.