Your mother-in-law could be a great help for you during your pregnancy, or she might be a bother. Becoming overwhelmed during your pregnancy is not healthy for you or your baby. Here are some tips on how to set boundaries if you have a mother-in-law who is causing you stress during your pregnancy.
7 Create Limits
Rules and boundaries should be set in place from the moment you meet your mother-in-law, but if they haven't, it is never too late to start enforcing rules. If she is calling you fifty times a day, tell her to please only call you once, and give a time of day that is good for you to receive her phone call.
If she shows up at your door unexpected, remind her that it is not okay with you to accept unexpected guests (including family!). Tell her she needs to call first and ask your permission to come over. You do not want to create additional problems, so it is best, as long as you are happy, to still make your mother-in-law feel welcome and a part of your family. But always remember, your house=your rules, or better yet: your life=your rules!
When Rules Are Healthy
It is immensely important for your well-being, and the health of your baby, to have rules set for meddling mother-in-laws. Oftentimes, people do not change, so you need to step up to the plate and enforce rules, even if it may be uncomfortable for you to do so. Ensure that you follow through as well; if your mother-in-law decides to not respect your boundaries and continues her unwelcome behavior, it is up to you to remind her again what the rules are in your home.
Be prepared for her to act out once you have implemented your rules. Creating limits and boundaries can be difficult, but if you are in a situation that is causing you to feel unhappy, then it needs to be done, and that goes for anyone in your life, not just your mother-in-law.
6 Share Your Feelings
Is it possible that your mother-in-law does not even know how you actually feel? Believe it or not, not all mothers-in-law are monsters-in-law! Invite your mother-in-law out to lunch or over for some coffee, just you and her. Explain to her how your pregnancy has been making you feel. Share with her your feelings of stress and burden. It could be difficult to do this, but there are many tricks on how to begin your sentences and what not to say to help get you through it.
If you have trouble verbalizing your feelings, start off initially by writing her a letter. You may want her to read it in your presence and then you two can discuss, or have her read it alone and maybe write a letter back to you. If you feel that your mother-in-law may explode in anger or be completely upset, this may be the best option for you.
The bottom line is that you need to feel respected by your mother-in-law during your pregnancy, as well as after. It may just take a little conversation with her for her to see that she is overstepping her boundaries. Stand your ground and remind both her and yourself that stress during pregnancy is not an option.
5 Listen to Her
Your mother-in-law could be your ally, friend, and/or mentor. When you begin to set in place your boundaries and rules with her, make sure you take the time to listen to what she has to say. Talking to you, her daughter-in-law, may be just as hard as you find it to be when you must speak with her.
For the sake of your future children and her future grandchildren, you may want to find a common ground. Having a discussion with her and listening to her feelings may help mend a bridge that has been broken. It could open new opportunities that will not only help you create your boundaries, but put you on a path toward a positive relationship with your mother-in-law. You may even be surprised by what she has to say.
4 Make Her Feel Included
One day, you, too, could be a mother-in-law. You may want to keep this in the back of your head. How would you want your future daughter-in-law or son-in-law to treat you? Your future child is her future grandchild. Sometimes boundaries are overstepped because mothers-in-law just do not know their place in their daughter-in-law's lives.
They want to be included, of course, but maybe are not sure how much or how little they should be doing. I'm sure many mothers-in-law would agree that more than anything else, they just want to be included.
Just as you may be including your own mother (or sister, friends, etc.) in your everyday pregnancy going-ons, try to do the same for your mother-in-law. Share the ultrasound pictures with her, talk about your doctor appointments, let her in on those crazy food cravings you've been having. Even if it seems mundane and something she could care less about, the point is, include her. She'll understand -- she was pregnant once too.
Give the woman the attention she’s pining for!
If you have a baby shower, make sure to include your mother-in-law (or have those hosting it for you include her). She may have some great ideas or delicious recipes to share. Going shopping for newborn gear? Take her with you! Ask her opinion on which nursery set is the cutest or how many onesies should you really buy?! Point out different baby items you like and dislike; this will help her get to know your tastes, which could be helpful in the future!
You could even ask her if there was anything special she wanted to give the baby from his or her grandma. Perhaps she knits lovely baby blankets, paints beautiful pictures, or just enjoys going shopping. Having her know you want something special from her will make her feel special and included.
However, you do not have to go too far with including your mother-in-law. If you do not want her in the delivery room when you have the baby, that is a time it is definitely okay for her to not be included! But tell her in advance what your plans will be (so there are no surprises) and how you cannot wait for her to meet the baby.
During your pregnancy, and after you have your baby, YOU be the one in control. You (and your husband) need to be the ones to say when, where, how, etc. when it comes to the visits, calls, and more from your mother-in-law. But, continue to make her feel included and always remember: your baby is her grandchild.
3 Be Her Equal
Your mother-in-law is not your mother, and nor are you her child. Do not accept her treating you as such. The same goes for you -- act like her equal, not like her child! Your mother-in-law may be used to being in control of, namely, her son/your husband.
Giving up control is not easy, but now that you are pregnant, it is more important than ever that she hands that reign of power over to you. There should never be a power struggle, as long as she sees you as an adult and as her equal, and not like a child. You may need to remind her of this.
I'm sorry, our advice meter is full.
Many mothers-in-law love to give unsolicited advice. Advice-giving is, and should be, welcomed in a limited quantity and perhaps only when asked. Your mother-in-law may feel that she was the perfect mother and has all the answers (to which you can quickly point out all your husband's flaws!). Too bad for her, because you are going to be a mother now, and what you say goes.
You raise your child how you and your husband see fit, no matter what your mother-in-law may object to or mutter under her breath. Lay down the law if she attempts to take over and give orders. The moment you allow her even the tiniest bit of power with – especially -- important decisions is all it may take for her to feel that it's her rightful place to do so. Remember, you are her equal, do not allow her to treat you as if you are beneath her.
Hopefully, you can love each other like mothers and daughters, or even best friends. At the very least, make it your goal to give each other the respect you both deserve.
2 Work as a Team With Your Husband
They say that when you marry an individual, you are actually marrying the entire family. This saying can hold some truth when you are about to have a baby! People love babies and you are certain to meet some interesting relatives along the way. When it comes to relatives, and that mother-in-law of yours, the best game plan is to be on the same page as your husband. He should know his family and his mother the best.
Remember, she is his mother. Be careful making rude comments, complaining about, or criticizing her in front of him. That may put your husband in an awkward position. Instead, state your feelings to him calmly (especially if he does not feel the same way). Create a plan on how to best handle the situation you may both be in.
The future father of your child will deal with a lot throughout your pregnancy. Make it less stressful by taking care of any issues with your mother-in-law, and do so together, as a team.
1 Be Patient
Patience and pregnancy may not go hand in hand, as we all know that nerves can run close to the surface when you are pregnant! It is important to have some level of patience, though, and as tough as it may be to be patient with your mother-in-law, it is something you must learn to do. First and foremost, remind yourself that your mother-in-law is becoming a grandma, and you do want her to be a part of her grandchild's life.
You do not necessarily have to get along with your mother-in-law all the time, but for your child's sake, you do need to learn to love her. She will be in your life and there will always be a connection between her and both your husband and children. Create a mindset of patience and calm. Lower expectations if you have to, but, above all else, cherish the fact that you have someone who wants to be a part of your child's life. Grandma will not be around forever.