Mother-in-Law Interfering with Child-Rearing

My mother-in-law, whom I call Mom, is constantly insisting on watching my seven-month-old daughter (her first grandchild). My husband and I don't feel comfortable leaving our daughter with her for numerous reasons. Once she nearly dropped the baby, and she thinks changing diapers is so disgusting she said she'd rather let the baby stay wet until we returned. Lately it has gotten personal. Mom is now criticizing the way I dress, feed and teach the baby. She even told me I had to go back to work and that she would be watching the baby. Mom calls almost every day and stops by the house unannounced. We make it a point to see her at least once a week, but she says that is not good enough for her. This is a lady I used to like, and now she has turned into someone I can't stand. I can't take it any longer. How do I tell her to back off? Do you think I am in the wrong? -- B


Dear B:

I think there's hope here, and I found it at the end of your post. You said your mother-in-law is a person you used to like. That's a great beginning. Her behavior has probably changed because she felt that you and your husband were judging and criticizing her. She got defensive and hurt. Both her reaction and yours were human and understandable. But you can and probably need to stop the escalation now, before it gets worse.

I suggest that you sit down with Mom. Tell her how much you miss being able to talk with her like you did before. See if you can clear the air. Begin again. Apologize if you need to, but don't ask her to apologize. We can't force apologies anyway. But at least you will be "clean."

As to your baby, I don't blame you. You need to protect your child from anyone you feel is a danger. Perhaps say something like: "Mom, this is my first baby. Maybe I am being overprotective, but I that's the way I am, I can't help it. It feels right to me. Can you please accept that? Thank you for understanding me." Often clear, non-judgmental and assertive communication can help a damaged relationship. I hope this helps. Good luck!

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