How can I deal with my domineering mother-in-law?

How can I deal with my domineering mother-in-law?

domineering mother-in-lawI’m 28, newly married with a daughter, and have been living with my in-laws for 2 years. My daughter was unplanned and I found out I was expecting after I lost my job. I’m now studying full time and my husband hasn’t found full-time work in his field in 2 years.

My problem is my mother-in-law. She’s interfered with our lives from day one, threatening to kick us out if we didn’t keep the baby. She’s a judgmental Christian and I hate her, frankly. To make it worse, her bossy, aggressive daughter has also chosen to quit her high flying career and move back in – and she also likes to interfere. She has no children, but that doesn’t stop her from telling us what and how to do everything. I have too much resentment to keep living here, but am not sure what to do. Please help. Megan

Yeah, two years of living with even the nicest in-laws would probably edge into grin-and-bear-it territory (for all parties) so you must be in all shades of hell with a monster-in-law like her. That said, moving out’s not an option with zero income coming in. And until it is, your survival-of-the-fittest living situation requires strategy: being assertive but not aggressive, explaining but not justifying, and definitely not entering any slanging matches about who’s right / wrong etc. You may be living under your in-laws’ roof, but you’re an adult and you don’t need to put up with constant harassment over your choices.

Always be pleasant, but firm. So if she makes a comment about how you’re doing XYZ with the baby and shouldn’t be, say, ‘You did things differently. I understand. But Matt and I are finding our own way as parents and we’ve chosen to do X’ (whether that’s feed her formula / use disposable nappies / practice attachment parenting – or whatever it is she takes umbrage at). Similarly with the sister-in-law’s unsolicited parenting tips, say, ‘Thanks for the advice on sleep training – that’s interesting, but we’ve chosen to do X’. And leave it at that. Don’t engage further if you can possibly help it.

You don’t mention much about your husband and I imagine being out of work for two years must grind you down. That said, can he take a job, any job? He can still search for something in his field, but it’ll mean you guys can move out of what amounts to a pretty toxic environment and make a fresh start in a new home – even if it’s a small flat. In the meantime, I’d also be asking him to go to bat for you with his mother and sister if he doesn’t already. He may think it’s easier to let the women in his lives fight it out, but if you’re stuck under his hostile mother’s roof, the least he can do is have your back.

Love, reality chick

Freelance journo, blogger, self-appointed advice-giver and co-author of Get Lucky. If you've got a dating or relationship issue, feel free to ask a question. (PS. You can also find me at The Mama Files and Letter To My Ex).


  1. Megan 6 years ago

    I still have too much resentment against my mother in law who completely interfered and threatened suicide if we didn’t keep the child- despite having financial hardship. She is a bossy, meddling cow.

  2. Megan 6 years ago

    My sister in law constantly judges, yells orders, personal insults and goes complaining to her parents. She threatens to call DHS on us, even though my child isn’t abused or neglected. My mother and father in law constantly make excuses for her. Of coarse she has no children! Once I told her to shut up and my father in law told me to apologize to her. Yet has never made her apologize to me.

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