Ask Amy: My mother-in-law is undermining my wife in front of our daughter

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Dear Amy: I am the husband and father of an 18 month old daughter.

I’m worried about how my mother-in-law treats my wife and daughter.

She calls my wife several times a day for FaceTime with her granddaughter. My wife answers as often as she can.

The problem I have is that my mother-in-law keeps saying things to our little child like, “Don’t worry. When Grandma talks to you, you don’t have to listen to your mother.”

Or when my wife asks my daughter to stop doing something, her mother will say, “Grandma says it’s okay.”

Last I heard it, I would pick up the phone and say, “Mom makes the rules, and if you can not follow them, you can not see our daughter,” and hang up.

My wife says it’s not my place (I agree), but she has not set boundaries. My MIL comes to visit and I have been constantly stressed about it.

She sleeps on our couch for three days and I do not think I bother to hold her tongue if she tries to say the same thing when she is in our home.

I absolutely love grandparents pampering their grandchildren, but when my daughter throws food on our floor and Grandma says, “It’s okay, get your parents to clean up,” I want to ground Grandma.

Nervous: Stay cool. The calmer and more consistent you are, the more effective your reaction will be.

If your mother-in-law directly disproves you, and if you’re sure she’s not just playful, you can say, “Oops. I’ll have to stop you. We’re her parents, and we have to make the rules for her, even if you do not agree with them. Can you help us here and not contradict us? ”

She might say, “Oh, I’m just kidding, do not take it so seriously.” And you can answer with, “I understand that, but we’re trying to be consistent, and her sense of humor is not quite developed yet.”

Dear Amy: My sister has been with her fiancé for four years.

They live together and plan to get married in July. This will be the second marriage for both. They are in their 50s and both have grown children.

They live in a wonderful city and enjoy a nice lifestyle, play tennis, travel, etc. He is a doctor and she is a business employee.

My sister could not be happier. (Her previous marriage was full of grief and frustration.)

Everything went well until her fiancé’s daughter (in her 20s) dropped out of college and moved in.

Apparently, her father covers this daughter’s expenses and does not demand much (if anything) in return. He lets her pretty much do as she pleases, and that means she sleeps for dinner, does not work, and asks my sister, “What’s for dinner?”

You can probably see where this story is headed. My sister’s happy phase before the honeymoon is interrupted by this third person’s constant presence. It frustrates my sister (infinitely) that her fiancé has not laid down any ground rules. My sister works from home and feels she has lost her peaceful “space” because of her daughter’s laid-back lifestyle.

She also fears that the daughter may end up living with them for many years to come, something she did not negotiate about when she moved into his house and accepted his proposal.

Affected: It’s “his house”, “his courtship” and “his daughter”, but that’s it her life.

This is not the way to get into a family system where two smart, successful and advanced adults have to hold hands and basically agree on their marital partnership.

This also prepares your sister for failure, as the hard-working future stepmother of a young adult.

Every couple should receive premarital counseling, but especially couples who mix families, finances and property.

I would suggest that your sister put the wedding on hold until she and her fiancé get on the same page with regard to all their children.

Life will deliver many unpredictable events that will require them to turn around, but this situation is easy to remedy.

Dear Amy: Not a question, but a comment: Why are some of the questions raised in your columns so trivial? It seems like people are really working hard to get busy with things.

Tired: I generally think that if someone is not interested in a particular cultural issue, they will find that topic trivial.

My view is that our world is wide enough to accommodate problems of all sizes.

© 2022 by Amy Dickinson Distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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