Gwen’s relationship with her mother in law has become very strained since her daughter was born. How can she cope with the change in their relationship? Do you have any advice for this week’s A Problem Shared…?
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Help me please, my mother in law is driving me mad! I’ve just had a baby, the first grandchild in my family and my husbands as well. The trouble with this is that I’ve gone from seeing my mother in law once a month say, to once or twice a day, and I can’t cope.
It’s hard enough coping with a new baby as it is, we’re trying to find our feet as new parents and trying to get used to the tiredness and being responsible for this little thing that relies on you for everything. When she comments on how I’m doing something wrong I’m screaming inside my head. I’m not a violent person, and I would never do this, but I just literally want to slap her sometimes and shout at her to go away. I can’t cope with the judging and her being there all the time, but I’d feel awful telling her to keep away as I know how much she loves little Abi and she’s just excited about being a Nain for the first time.
It’s even started to cause arguments between me and my husband as he can’t understand why I’ll take my mum’s advice but I get angry at his mum’s suggestions. I know it doesn’t seem fair to him, but I’ve been taking my mum’s advice all my life, that’s what she’s there for. I don’t know how to explain to him why it’s different.
Am I being unreasonable? I suspect I am but I can’t change how I feel either. How am I going to cope with this without causing a big row in the family or upsetting someone? Please help.
Our FamilyPoint Advice to Gwen
Hi Gwen, thanks for getting in touch with us here at FamilyPoint about the problems you’re having with your mother in law. It sounds like you’re really struggling.
Becoming parents for the first time can be a wonderful experience. However, as you’ve also described it can be tiring and stressful. It really can feel like an emotional rollercoaster.
Your daughter is obviously surrounded by a lot of people who love them. This is exactly what you would want I’m sure but it sounds like you’re feeling a little overpowered and undermined by your mother in law. I’m sure many new parents feel like this at times. However, dealing with this situation now before things get any worse is probably the best approach.
It is understandable that you are closer to your own mother and value her advice. Perhaps you could point out to your husband that he probably feels the same about his own mother.
In all likelihood your mother in law is not intending to hurt or undermine you with the things that she is saying, however she is, and it needs to be addressed so that you can continue to enjoy being a new parent.
You will need your husband’s support with this matter. You will need to tell him exactly how you are feeling about his mother’s very frequent visits and her telling you what you’re doing wrong. It will probably not be an easy conversation, as he will feel like you are attacking his mother. Try to do it at a time when you are both relaxed and can talk calmly. Try not to make comparisons to your own mother. If you don’t think you can find the words without getting upset or angry, perhaps you could write him a letter explaining how you are feeling. Writing it all down will give you the chance to think carefully about how you word it.
Once he knows how you are feeling you need to work together on a plan to make things better. This will involve speaking to his mother and telling her how you are feeling. Again this needs to be done very carefully. Whilst it is likely that she will feel hurt, the damage can be limited by you making it very clear to her how important it is that she continues to play a part in both yours and her granddaughters life.
If you would like further information on national or local support services, then you can contact us at FamilyPoint Cymru via phone 0300 222 57 57, text 07860 052 905, or IM/Chat. We are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.
I hope this has been of some help. Take care of yourself and good luck 🙂
The FamilyPoint Cymru Team
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