10 Things It’s Okay to Say to Your Mother-in-Law

mother in law 1
Image via Amanda Rodriguez

The mother-in-law relationship is one many struggle with.

She gave birth to the man who helped you create the children you gave birth to.

In many ways, you get her protectiveness. You can probably empathize with her desire to be as close to and involved with the care and keeping of the babies her baby helped create.

But, also? Sometimes? You want your husband to grow a pair — a pair that will give him the gumption to tell his mama to butt out and get a life, along with a fairly long list of other things that you don't want to say out loud in polite company.

Image via iStock

Please don't give my child candy. Definitely not after you heard me say he can't have it. I don't need to explain my choice here because the dietary restrictions that I've set forth for my children are my decision.

But if you need a reason, here are a few: he's allergic to peanuts, and there are trace amounts in that chocolate, whose label you didn't bother to read. Also he just brushed, and it's 9 a.m., and he refused breakfast, and HE DOESN'T NEED ANY CANDY. Because I say so.

Image via Amanda Rodriguez

Please don't undermine my authority. My children don't need you to stick up for them, and I don't need to feel like the bad guy because you think a few hours of TV “isn't going to hurt anybody.” My kid, my rules.

Image via Amanda Rodriguez

Please don't make promises to my children that you can't keep. — Emily S.

Image via iStock

If you'd like to ask my permission, please don't do it in front of my child. Again, it puts me in a difficult position where I feel pressured to do what you/my child wants or to get into the I look bad, you look awesome situation.

For the record, I am awesome. Ask your son!

{ MORE: Taken Advantage of By Family Members }


Image via Flickr/ James Emery

Please don't show my child inappropriate things when they are at your home. Now, I know this one is hard because what you think is inappropriate seems to vary greatly from what I'd slide into that category — that's cool.

But I think we can agree on a few things: R-rated movies, violent videos, anything that involves swearing and nudity, and Spongebob are all a no-go.

If all else fails, just ask me.

Don't have my son call to ask. Don't ask me in front of my son. Don't passive aggressively say over dinner, “Welllll, we were going to go see The Hunger Games, but your mommy thinks it's ‘too mature' for you.” Just pull me aside, or send me a text, or call while he's playing out front and ask.

Image via Flickr/ Martin Cathrae

Please don't try to give my child a kitten every time she visits. — Ashley S.

Image via Amanda Rodriguez

Please don't make my child feel guilty for choices I make. I'm the one who said he's not old enough for a sleepover. I decided that he couldn't accept the kitten. I'm the one who purchased that house coat for your birthday instead of the cruise you asked for. He doesn't deserve to be made to fee like he doesn't love you enough. He loves you plenty, maybe even more than you deserve, based on this behavior!

Image via Flickr/ nerissa's ring

Don't baby him to the point of regression. He's off the binky. He's no longer wearing Pull-ups. We JUST transitioned him to a sippy cup. Please don't give him a pacifier, or put him in a diaper, or make him a bottle because “he's just a baby.” You just make his life harder while also making me want to ban you from my house.

Image via Flickr/ Jason O'Halloran

Please don't take them to their “first” anything because, strange as it is, I'm the parent, and I'd like to experience that “first” with them. — Meghan F.


Image via DudeMom

Please know that I have the best interest of this family in mind. THIS family. I have to put my marriage and the raising of my children ahead of pretty much all other things. But know also that I want you to be happy, and I want my children to have a close and a loving relationship with you. If not for you, then for them. Provided you act like a decent person. And stop judging everything I do. And buying me pants that are 6 sizes too big. And asking about my hair. Because, yes, I MEANT to do it like this.

{ MORE: Is Venting About Motherhood Actually Making You More Miserable? }

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What do you think?

10 Things It’s Okay to Say to Your Mother-in-Law

Amanda has been wowing the Internet since 2008 when she launched her pretty-much-useless guide for parents, parenting BY dummies. As it turns out, her parenting advice is not generally useful for more than a good laugh, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need! Amanda spends her offline time (which is embarrassingly limited) running a photography business, working as a social media director for a local magazine, writing freelance articles about stuff she loves, wrangling her 3 little Dudes ... More

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  1. Chena says:

    I really needed this article tonight….
    Not only my mother-in-law, but my own mother…..
    Do they not know this is my family and that its my turn……Maybe not!
    God please give me patience with these two ladies that live in 1970 and that everything they say and do is correct
    Should I mention that their kids are not even close to being perfect, and the reason they are somewhat awesome is because they dont try to mimic them.
    And yes, thank you Spongebob Square Pants is the not something I want my kids to watch…..ever if I can help it!

  2. Manuel says:

    you really don’t like her…. just say it. lol

  3. Noah says:

    I think you need to understand where the mother-in-law is coming from….you might want to put yourself in her shoes for a moment. Although all your points are good ones to follow and I would never do any of those things you mentioned. But you have to know that she does want to be included in your children’s lives, but she is the outcast now, you have replaced her in her son’s life, she is no longer needed by him, so when the grandbabies come it is a chance she hopes to be useful again, to have a purpose, so if she steps on your toes every now and then, just Remember some day you will be that Mother-in-law…..Now how would you like to be treated? I hope not unwelcomed, avoided, never answering your text or phone calls, the last one to find out anything about your grandchildren, or even worse have it posted on Facebook before you know. Nothing better than feeling last, unwanted, unneeded, by your family especially your son the one you gave everything to. I also notice you didn’t say anything about your Mother, I guess she’s not going to spoil your kids….Right?

  4. Angel says:

    Can we add to this:
    1. Please correct my child if they call you mama and don’t encourage them to call you mama.
    2. Please don’t tell me child that you raised them because you watched them as daycare when they were younger.

  5. Susan says:

    Why is the presumption only that the mother-in-law would want their grandchildren to put pitted between Mom and Gram?


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