Ways To Set Boundaries With Your Mother-In-Law

It’s safe to say that most times, your mother-in-law may not be your favorite person by default. In fact, many families have bad experiences with their mothers-in-law because they refuse to follow the rules set by their child and their partner and do as they wish. But being at odds with them doesn’t do you any favors, especially if your kids are affected. After all, the relationship between grandparents and grandkids is so special. But how to create a healthy environment for everyone when your mother-in-law keeps overstepping her boundaries and disregarding your wishes? Well, most mothers-in-law have a hard time letting a new family member into their close circle. So you both need to work on accepting each other and compromising. However, if there are some boundaries you wish to establish, then this is how you do it. Here are a few ways in which you can set healthy limits and boundaries with your mother-in-law.

In This Article

1. Communicate About Your Feelings Early On

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Communication is key in every relationship, especially one with your mother-in-law. She may seem unreasonable to you now, but that’s probably because you’ve never told her how inconvenient and stressful it can be when she drops in without any notice. People rarely know what you want or don’t want them to do if you never speak up and mention it. This doesn’t have to be an unpleasant conversation either. If you’re uncomfortable with starting the conversation, ask your partner to help. They can tell her mildly that they’d rather she gives you both a head’s up or plans out her visits a week in advance before you chip in. If you’re someone who gets snappy when they are tired or hungry, then it’s best to let her know about this earlier on as well.

2. Include Your Partner In Every Decision Regarding The House And The Kids

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Oftentimes, one individual usually has the monopoly over the running of the house and the kids while the other focuses on providing for the family financially. And this is perfectly fine. However, it’s beneficial for the kids when both the parents have a say in decisions made with regard to the family. But most men are not well prepared for this task when they first have a child. Usually they seek out their mothers and transfer the advice they get onto their wives.

This can cause issues when the mother’s opinions are completely different from that of her mother-in-law. And there arises the question, “Would you choose your wife or your mother?” But that’s the wrong way to go about it. As soon as your partner sees that the advice they receive is not applicable or beneficial to their specific family dynamic, they need to prioritize making decisions for the family and the kids. This way, you set boundaries with the in-laws without creating any hard feelings or misunderstandings.

3. Don’t Start A Competition With Them

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The “who knows them better” game might be fun, but it can get you into a lot of trouble if it stops being a game and becomes your life. You and your partner’s mother both have a special place in your partner’s heart and very different roles to play. So stop trying to play favorites and make your own life difficult. This is easier said than done if your mother-in-law is the type that likes to antagonize you. But try not to give in and fall into that trap. Instead of making it into a cook off or starting a competition with her, call her out on her behavior whenever it arises. Let her know that you are not trying to keep her son away from her and that you don’t intend to look after him the way she does. It may be even better if you encourage your partner to spend some alone time with his mom when he can. This way she won’t feel threatened by you and will be secure in the knowledge that their bond is not fading away.

4. Make A Schedule

This may seem like a chore but it will save you a lot of stress. If your in-laws are intent on visiting you or staying in touch but can’t keep to a specific time, tell them that you’ve made a schedule for them. You and your partner can discuss how often they come to visit you in a month and for how long. And you can tweak it as you go along. You can also schedule in phone calls for the week so that they can keep in touch with the grandkids without visiting every weekend.

Dealing with a mother-in-law who doesn’t understand the importance of setting healthy boundaries can be frustrating. But caving to their every demand might be worse. So take small steps towards setting boundaries and creating a safe space for open communication.

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Kezia John

Kezia JohnBA

Kezia holds a deep interest in writing about women adapting to motherhood and childcare. She writes on several topics that help women navigate the joys and responsibilities of being a new mom and celebrate every stage of their baby's development. When she is not writing for MomJunction, she sings in a classical Western choir and reads endlessly.