Google “mother-in-law” and you’ll see this: “a horrible beast. The letters in ‘mother in law’ can be re-arranged to spell ‘Woman Hitler’. “ All right then. Are you deserving of the title? Let’s see. Here are the top actions of ‘woman hitler’ albeit, well meaning:
- You try to take over events that should be the decisions of daughter and her partner. Start with the wedding. Did your opinion trump your daughter’s more than once? You probably need to back off. Christmas? Fourth of July? Kid’s Birthdays? Here’s the standard to decide who is in charge: Your house, your rules. Their house, their rules. Middle ground, ask. Respect the answer and enjoy the event.
- You try to be your son/daughter’s spouse’s best friend to stay closer to said son/daughter. You invite yourself to go to the outlet mall with your daughter-in-law. What better time to find out if your son is staying on his low-fat diet? Nix this idea. Your daughter-in-law is on to you and cut her shopping short because you rode shotgun. Wait for the invite and don’t get personal unless she chooses to talk about the low fat diet.
- You want to be with “the kids” All. The. Time. And by kids I don’t mean grandkids. Son and daughter-in-law are going to Amish Country for the weekend? Two is company, three is more fun, right? Your “kids” are adults who deserve a life separate from you. Wait for the invite. (And don’t hint to get the invite!)
- You touch on “hot topics” when both are there then sit back and watch the fireworks. “So, Janey, Scott tells me you’re at work ALL the time. I tell him to be patient with the messy house, a wife can’t do everything!” You didn’t mean to start an argument. Did you?
- You clean their house and do their laundry. Here is the scenario: Scott and Janey ask you to stop by and water their plants while they are on a three-day trip. They come home to laundry done and folded and the house sparkles. Want a thank you? Don’t hold your breath (except to avoid the overwhelming smell of bleach).You just told your adult kid and his/her spouse that their house is dirty and they are lazy. You’re welcome.
- You negotiate for time. Whatever your son did with you in the past is, well, in the past. Always at your home for Christmas Eve breakfast? New spouse, new rules. The quickest way to fracture a marriage and lose your son’s respect is to force him to choose between her and you. If he is emotionally healthy you will be spending a lot of holidays alone. Fill your own life with new traditions, welcoming the young couple when they are available.
- You insist on being the third opinion on any decision. This is a new twist on the “don’t ask don’t tell” rule: if you’re not asked, don’t tell.
- You still treat your son or daughter like they are 9. After all, your child is always your child, even when they are 41. You insist on checking on him when he driving long distance, or secretly slipping her money when she spends too much on her credit card. Not your job anymore Mom – let them grow up.
- You dictate your child’s life. Your son is considering a move to Dallas for a new job. (“How could you even THINK about moving that far away?!?”) Your daughter has decided she only wants one child. (“Here honey, here is an article I read on how only-children turn out to be ax-murderers.” ) Give advice when asked. Once. Drop it.
- You ignore her rules for her kids. Kids are not supposed to have fries? Don’t stop by McDonalds. Kids are supposed to say “please” and “thank you”? Don’t say “Oh, it’s OK, I know little Susie is thankful. She doesn’t need to say it.” Yes. Little Susie does. Mom said to. Support that.
- You conspire against your son-in-law with your daughter. She wants to go out with girlfriends, you lie and say she was with you. Woman Hitler. Unless abuse is evident and your conspiracy involves getting her to a safe house, zip your lips and stay out of their business.
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