Mother In Law Problems, quite honestly, can be resolved over a serving of hot or cold tea. The act of selecting tea and accessories, preparing the tea, allows all to drop their guards and begin difficult conversations. Drinking tea together is intimate, is equal and is tranquil. Importantly, it calms the mind.
It’s taken decades of living to understand the dynamics and nuances of the mother in law/child relationship. Here are clues that my family, friends and I have learned from insights of marriages lasting 60 plus years with individuals living beyond 90 years. Teas are always on hand.
Mother In Law Problems – She has experience raising many children, is the Grandmother, is the local expert, and doesn’t need to learn anything new, kids and moms have not changed.
Child - Always the new parent, it's simple biology. Don’t argue about breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding or whether your newborn Matty should sleep on his stomach or back
Suggestion - Let Mom help, but set boundaries for the type of care. Don’t overreact as your children won’t break or become ill from some exotic disease. Mom’s not perfect but your spouse turned out OK, else you wouldn’t be married. Of course, if there are health issues, explicitly state details.
Mother In Law Problems – She has had a loving, successful, long-term traditional marriage but remains dependent on the man for most decisions.
Child – You have a modern marriage, as equal partners in sharing household duties. Daycare is a central part of your lives taking both emotional and financial tolls.
Suggestion – Gently explain the financial hurdles faced now versus back in the 1950s and 1960s when the cost of living was in line with take-home pay. Single income, heads of households are rare today and many women earn more than their guys.
Mother In Law Problems – Very knowledgeable with life skills but quick with emotional responses, strong-willed.
Child – You are incredibly stressed from work, lack of time, lack of sleep and kids schooling. You are strong-willed.
Suggestion - Bite your tongue! Your Mom is a beautiful person and wants the best for you and the kids. Acknowledge her life lessons but gently explain to her that one solution does not solve all problems. It may be time to let your Mom have the kids for a whole day while you and your spouse get caught up with tasks and each other.
Mother In Law Problems – She is a widow.
Child – You have a happy marriage and are sincerely grateful.
Suggestion – You are not your Mother's entertainment coordinator. She needs the friendship of people her age. You should make introductions at any local town and nonprofit groups. Also, we recommend a paid companion for simple tasks like shopping for groceries or sightseeing. Be gracious and generous with your time in this effort as it will pay longtime rewards for your Mom’s ability to make friends and your alone time.
Mother In Law Problems – She is living with you.
Child – Room is limited; you may share bathrooms. Virtually no one understands your décor. The family schedule is commonly known as “controlled chaos.”
Suggestion – If money permits create a private bedroom for your Mom. Kids can bunk up anywhere in the home. Allow a décor change in Mom’s bedroom.
Mother In Law Problems - Is an amazingly good cook but not interested in trying new ideas.
Child – You are a good cook but don’t have time to become an expert.
Suggestion - Start with a cup of tea and let your Mom plan and cook a single meal. If you have restrictions, like peanut allergies, gluten, no meat, tell her and let her modify her time tested recipes. Let her relieve some of the day-to-day pressure.
Mother In Law Problems – Needs to be part of all family and friend visits and conversations
Child – Mom is part of the family, but you need time alone with friends and family.
Suggestion – You should be straight forward and tell Mom that we would like to be alone with certain people to share deeply personal issues.
Mother In Law Problems – I worked very hard all of my life; therefore I (Fill In The Blank).
Child – You work hard too, who doesn’t?
Suggestion – Work in later life perhaps can be voluntary and hopefully enjoyable. Hopefully, there is some pension income for Mom. Having work, or a purpose, keeps the brain working and by definition, keeps the body healthy. Mom needs to keep her mind and body working. Check with local businesses or non profits for volunteer or paying job opportunities.
Mother In Law Issue – Still practices her faith.
Child – You have left your childhood religion or do not practice any religion.
Suggestion – All mainstream religions seek understanding and improvement of the human mind and body and community. Ask your Mom to respect your choices as you do not push your beliefs on her. Quite honestly, spending an hour in worship with your Mom, once a year won’t kill you.
Mother In Law Problems – Overweight.
Child – Healthy and in great shape.
Suggestion – Unless your Mom asks for suggestions, leave the issue alone. She has lived far longer than you, and she is doing something right.
Mother In Law Problems – In Great Shape.
Child – Out of shape.
Suggestion - Try to get more sleep and drink more water. Take a 90-day survey of your food intake. Make your Mom aware that you are trying to understand your relationship with food and exercise. Take suggestions from your Mom as good intentions.
Mother In Law Problems – Asking personal questions.
Child – Deeply private.
Suggestion – Assuming your Mom is looking for solutions, give her the benefit of the doubt and ask her why she is concerned. Perhaps a partial answer is OK. But it may require you to gently tell your Mom, that the issue is profoundly private, and you would prefer to keep it that way. Mutually respect boundaries.
Mother In Law Problems – Feels worthless, useless.
Child – You are independent and have the family and life solutions figured out, at least partially.
Suggestion – Honestly seek help from your Mom. How about asking for a cooked meal, give your Mom full rein. Ask her how she and her mate stole time for themselves while raising kids. You don’t have all the answers, so ask! Check with local businesses or non profits for volunteer or paying job opportunities.
Mother In Law Problems – Gossiping.
Child – Deeply private, this is not you.
Suggestion – Ask your Mom not to talk this way in front of you. You cannot stop this habit when she is on her own.
Mother In Law Problems – Does not ask for help.
Child – You are deeply private, you hate to intrude.
Suggestion – When it comes to safety, you cannot look the other way. Do you notice bruising from falling, is her car dented? Safety affects your Mom and the neighborhood. You must get to the bottom of the issue in a direct and caring manner. Be firm!
Mother In Law Problems – Severe Illness, may need home or institutional care.
Child – You hate to pry.
Solution – You need to get answers. You and your mate must work together. Get a Power of Attorney signed allowing you to talk with your Mom’s professionals, doctors, accountants and lawyers. Get at least one bank account in the Mom’s and your name to avoid being locked out of accessing funds should your Mom pass.
We hope that our words have given you a laugh, something to think about, and perhaps a beginning to a course of action.
Many Mother In Law problems can be solved with a cup of tea sitting alone, sitting with friends or sitting with your Mother In Law.
All The Best.
Your Loose Teas