Suegras… you can’t live with them, you can’t live without them.
Even if you get along with your mother-in-law, we’re willing to bet you have moments of pure frustration when la suegra oversteps her bounds and tries to interfere with your parenting.
One of the most important skills you need to develop once you get married is learning how to set boundaries politely, and part of that is telling la suegra to stay in her lane.
But how do you keep your mother-in-law from meddling in your life without insulting her, or worse, creating tension between you and your partner’s family?
It’s a touchy subject and complicated relationship to navigate, but you’re not alone, and managing mother-in-laws is possible if you handle it with caution, care, and consistency.
Get on the Same Team as Your Partner
The biggest risk where your mother-in-law is concerned is a negative relationship with your partner and a negative environment for your kids.
So, first and foremost, get on the same page as your partner regarding what kind of relationship you want with both of your parents and what you collectively consider healthy boundaries. If you agree and are on the same team, it will be far easier to keep la suegra in her lane will be far easier. It will also create a united front, which sets a strong example for your children.
Maintain Open Lines of Communication
Relationships can quickly go from good to bad to worse if you don’t talk about what bothers you, what you find inappropriate, and what you appreciate in terms of motherly interference.
Set the tone early that you want to be able to openly communicate to one another when you need help when you want advice, and more importantly, when you don’t.
And ensure that you can talk to your partner about these needs.
Communication is essential, and “learning to communicate directly and supportively with the mother-in-law may be one way for the daughter-in-law to improve the relationship if it is a struggle,” explains Geoffrey Greif, Ph.D. author, and professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
Be Clear About Your Parenting Philosophy
The way your suegra raised her children may not be how you choose to raise yours, so you must be very clear from the get-go how you intend to parent.
“When each learns more about the other’s upbringing and parenting approaches, such knowledge may help them each to better understand not only themselves but what the daughter-in-law and her spouse are hoping to achieve with their parenting style (if it has not been made explicit already),” explains Greif.
Set Boundaries, but Be Reasonable
Boundaries are essential, period. But you’ll have to compromise at times to keep the peace. “If you want to cultivate a close relationship between your kids and your mother-in-law, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have boundaries, but we want to reduce conflict,” says Karen C.L. Anderson, author and life coach who specializes in mother-daughter relationships.
Look at it From Her Perspective
Try to put yourself in your mother-in-law’s shoes for a moment — think what it will be like one day when your child gets married and has children. Even if you feel your suegra is overstepping her bounds, approach the situation with patience and perspective. It can only help keep the peace and create a relationship you’re both comfortable with.