When we’re all huddled together, these are the things we’re talking about. Even when we’re online, we don’t stray all that far. The first four are pretty typical. The last, however, is never boring. I consider myself lucky because my mother-in-law is amazing and I love her dearly. Others are not so fortunate. There are tales of meddling, judging, fighting, and generally harmful behavior.
One of the most common offenses is a mother-in-law who just loves to give you advice. Occasionally it’s useful. Other times it’s either in direct conflict with how you choose to parent or outdated. It ranges from “breastfeeding is only beneficial during the first six weeks” to “whiskey on the gums is the best remedy for teething.” Usually, these women mean well. They raised their children successfully and consider themselves experts among newbies. The main difference in our parenting experiences, of course, is the availability of information. God bless you, internet!
When our moms and mothers-in-law were pregnant, their only sources of information were doctor visits, books, and, drum roll please, assistance from their mothers. If anyone is to blame for setting a precedence that isn’t terribly relevant anymore, it’s your grandmother and great-grandmother. The internet was a game-changer for everyone, it seems. No longer do the majority of grandmas have this spot of honor as the go-to resource.
When it’s your own mother butting in and making you feel incompetent, the conversation often flows pretty easily. “Mom, stop!” With in-laws, it can be tricky. Washington Post columnist, Carolyn Hax addressed the issue with good suggestions on how to respond to unsolicited or unhelpful advice. I’ve got one to add to the mix.
Assuming you’re just getting unappreciated suggestions (rather than a mom/mother-in-law not following your instructions or actually fighting with you), there is an easy way to save yourself the emotional drain of a confrontation. A simple nod, and “you might be right/I’ll think about it/I’ll look into that,” goes a long way. It doesn’t matter if you actually intend to research a darn thing. Sometimes these women simply want to be recognized as someone who is knowledgeable on the topic of parenting. It’ll be us one day, know it!