How do you “play nice” with a mother in law (or dragon lady as I’ve come to fondly refer her as)?
I take her shopping once a week and the entire time she treats me like a child and completely inferior to her. She makes me read out her list to her and most times has little notes like, “half chook – Deli” As if I wouldn’t know where to find cooked chickens.
Everything I do is never enough and constantly questioning my parenting (ie Do I read to my children everyday? YES. What books do you read them?). As if the way she raised her children, back in the 60’s and 70’s, is far better than how I was raised in the 80’s :/
She argues with me all the time and has commented on how I can’t possibly know as much as her.
I’m beginning to really dread the coming day I take her out and often come away depressed. I’ve talked about all this with my partner but he just explains it away as “she is just set in her ways”. My mother thinks I should leave the responsibility to my partner but I think that’s too harsh.
Please help I need a way to deal with a difficult mother in law

Posted by anon 17/06/2013

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  • I hope your situation has improved since posting this post =) But I do not believe it is too harsh for your partner to take his mother shopping… Why should you be left to deal with it?
    Mother-in-laws can certainly be hard to deal with – my partner talks to his mother and that’s as far as it goes. She hasn’t met our almost 2yo daughter yet and has met our 3yo son once, maybe twice and she has only seen our 4yo son a handful of times…



  • Ahh the dreaded mother in law, I dont even know…just wishing you luck!



  • you sure had some answer among the 238 replies here……. this is one question that haunts most of us…me too !! Mine is coming here soon………and I dont have an answer to this question yet !! nothing ever seems to help !



  • There was an article on this site with tips on how to deal with in laws, I found it by typing mother in law in the search box. I think people like what you described are often insecure, feel threatened and hence have to lash out, be rude or put others down. I find the more you listen to them and encourage what they have to say and say things like thanks for the input but I like to do it this way helps. The article goes into all this. The post says you sent this question in 2013 so hopefully it all worked out!



  • Y is it too harsh to leave the responsibility of his own mother to him?i don’t understand. If she makes u feel so bad then u should let her do her own shopping. She might learn that way



  • You need to set her straight, these are my kids and I am the parent here, this is the way I do things and if you don’t like it suck it up other wise they may see less of you until you understand that my judgement it what comes first and if you have input you can let me know and I will take it as advise but may not use it. Thanks.
    That is what I had to say to my mother-in-law and now she respects me for what I do with my kids and she thinks twice before she says something again.



  • What did you decide to do ??



  • Wow that’s awful. I would just suggest to her that you are raising your child the way you and your partner see fit. It’s a harsh reality but if something is not said you may find this an ongoing problem. You will have to do it gently but in a firm way to establish you are the mother and know what’s best for your children. you’re a great person in the beginning to endure this weekly shopping trip



  • Can’t help but wanted to offer my sympathy! Can relate!



  • I feel for you, I don’t get along with my MIL but at least mine lives on the other side of the world. I dread going there to visit because she hasn’t been any better since my children were born. I’m at the point now where when my husband talks to her on Skype I have a shower or go shopping or anything really. I hope your able to find some common ground but I would be making my hubby take her shopping if I were you.



  • I feel for you. I also had a difficult relationship with my mother in law for a long time. But things started to improve hugely since bub was born. There’s no point in arguing with her if she thinks she knows everything, lip service is not really that bad a thing. I’d only bother to object when she starts forcing her ways on you and your children, e.g. giving your child sugary treats or letting them watch TV – that’d be when I put my foot down.



  • Ouch, i feel for you. You have to sit this woman down and have a good talk to her, maybe with hubby present. The sooner you explain to her how shes making you feel the better. It may help her see it in a new light or she might just stay the same…. Sorry. If it does stay the same after your chat, wipe your hands clean of her til she figures it out.



  • I think either way you approach this some one will be upset.
    Maybe just give her little hints. Or just take into account she has been like this for a long time and she may find it hard to change. Older people look at thing differently to us.
    May try to find a happy medium ,,



  • My mother in law hated me from the moment we first met, she was rude to me several times when we were first married, we would stop in to see her on the way home from work on Fridays and on one visit she had some friends over and introduced her son to them and not me I was not even invited to sit and share their food, my hubby sat down and started chatting and eating with them. I quietly ask my hubby for the car keys and told him to ring me when was ready to come home, I said goodbye and I drove off. We had a huge argument that night and I never went to see her again but I did not stop him from seeing her. She soon learned to give me respect when our daughter was born as she did not see her until she was 4 months old as I refused to go there until she apologised . She died in 2000 but she had a very close and loving relationship with both of my children she may not have liked me still but she respected me. Why don’t you offer to do the shopping for her stating that maybe it’s too much for her and she could stay home and relax while you do her shopping. invite her over for dinner and when the kids are going to bed suggest maybe grandma would like to read to them tonight, if she doesn’t do it the way you do they will soon tell her Mummy doesn’t do it like that she does it like this. It’s hard but you need to stand your ground and try to establish some kind of mutual respect. If not tell your partner that he can take her shopping.



  • My mother in law hated me from the moment we first met, she was rude to me several times when we were first married, we would stop in to see her on the way home from work on Fridays and on one visit she had some friends over and introduced her son to them and not me I was not even invited to sit and share their food, my hubby sat down and started chatting and eating with them. I quietly ask my hubby for the car keys and told him to ring me when was ready to come home, I said goodbye and I drove off. We had a huge argument that night and I never went to see her again but I did not stop him from seeing her. She soon learned to give me respect when our daughter was born as she did not see her until she was 4 months old as I refused to go there until she apologised . She died in 2000 but she had a very close and loving relationship with both of my children she may not have liked me still but she respected me. Why don’t you offer to do the shopping for her stating that maybe it’s too much for her and she could stay home and relax while you do her shopping. invite her over for dinner and when the kids are going to bed suggest maybe grandma would like to read to them tonight, if she doesn’t do it the way you do they will soon tell her Mummy doesn’t do it like that she does it like this. It’s hard but you need to stand your ground and try to establish some kind of mutual respect. If not tell your partner that he can take her shopping.


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