Ada is back with some advice and answers to our viewers' pressing questions:
I absolutely love all of the advice segments that you do!!! Some mornings around my house revolve around different segments or if there is a lot going on I record it. So, I am coming to you for help. Can you please do a segment on dealing with overbearing mother in laws? My mother in law was a dream come true until I had my twins a year ago. Now she just drives me insane with her whiney baby talk to them (and there is 2 of them so it is double annoying), suggestions all the time and always trying to fix something. It is about to the point I will go to all costs to avoid her. My husband swears it isn't to annoy me, but I swear it is. I feel like I need a downer before she comes, but I really don't want to medicate the problem...I just want the old mother in law back!!!
We enlisted the help of parenting expert and iVillage contributor Dr. Michele Borba. Check out her strategies to deal with meddling mother-in-laws:
I couldn't help but chuckle a bit when reading your email. I could relate to your issue. What is it about overbearing mother-in-laws and their need to offer "advice"? Here are a few tips that I hope will help you.
Let's start with the whiney voice she uses to your twins. That could be the harder behavior to change and you may want to weigh if it's worth bringing it up. When moms are around babies some darn maternal instinct just comes out of nowhere. We coo and make funny faces and just go bloody bonkers and look absurd. Actually, research now shows that those behaviors are exactly what our babies respond to best. Our "motherese" tone also enhances infants' cognitive and emotional development. Really! So you just may want to bite your tongue and ignore all the babbling she's now doing. The poor lady may not be able to help herself. Take a bit of comfort and know her behavior is actually helping your little ones. Can you live with that?
On the other hand, her "helpful advice, and suggestions and constantly telling you what to do" is more serious and should be dealt with (and can't be more easily changed). Those actions are also affecting your confidence in yourself and your relationship with your mother-in-law. You have two options:
The easier route is through your husband. Does he see this behavior and recognize how annoying it is? Is he willing to say, "MOM...." and then tell her that it's not helpful? Ideally he should address this only when he personally sees or hears her countering you or giving you overt advice. (i.e. don't have him say "my wife says...")--not helpful. That's one route... let's continue.
If she's really overbearing (I don't have a scale here on how over the top she is) you may have to address this yourself. (It could never hurt if both you and your husband express your thoughts). The trick is not to humiliate her and still protect your relationship. So here's the plan.
After you finish reading this pick up a piece of paper and write down your thoughts. What are the three most important things you'd really like to tell her? (Now be helpful. What is bugging you the most that you can change?) If you don’t want someone doing a particular behavior you cannot assume the person knows what she's doing that's bugging you or that she know it's annoying the heck out of you. You need to tell your mother-in-law WHAT SPECIFIC BEHAVIOR SHE IS DOING THAT CONCERNS YOU AND WHY IT BOTHERS YOU. Stick to facts. Be clear. Be specific. You need to do this at a time you are confident and ideally alone. It also helps if you address it AFTER she has just exhibited the behavior. The twins should be taking a nap or out of the picture so you can talk to her.
"Mom, I know you love my kids, but it really bothers me when you... (tell her exactly what is bugging you) it makes me feel (how----describe it - rattled...like I'm not a good mother... doubt myself). TELL HER! But then end with your own line... "I love to be around you but I want my old mother-in-law back." Then wait for her response and have a back up line. You want her to know: 1. You want to preserve the relationship. 2. You liked that old mother-in-law (what did you like) but you do not want her to continue doing (what behaviors) and because (why not).
Once you think it out, I'd suggest writing the lines on index cards like a script (seriously) and rehearse them in front of your mirror. It will help you gain confidence. Run the lines by your husband. He knows his mom best and can offer suggestions of a more effective way to get a point across or what works best for her. And then the NEXT time she's at your home and it's just the two of you (or three if you want your husband involved), bite the bullet and tell her.
You should look her in the eye (it will make you look more confident) and use a strong voice that is conviction. This isn't asking -- it's telling her what you want and where you stand.
Go practice. If you don't tell her it will eat at you and ruin your relationship. Her overbearing tendencies could also escalate. She will become even more helpful. (Think of it as bullying-like behavior. Once a bully knows it works, they continue).
If you really can't do this verbally, then put your thoughts in writing. A letter?
Need support? Go call your best girlfriend and the two of you can write the cards together and practice.
It won't be easy, but her behavior is eating you up.
You can do it!!!! GO!
Dr. Michele Borba
For more parenting advice check out Michele’s website HERE.
I was watching the show this morning, Monday the 23rd, and saw the story about 2 men in Ohio who are inventors and they made a church into their office. I need to know the name of them and their company. Can you help? Thank you so much!
-Shane Talbott (Chicago, IL)
Thanks for you interest in the story. John Spirk and John Nottingham are two of the most successful inventors in history. You can watch their story HERE and read Bob Dotson’s blog HERE.
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