I get a lot of letters from women asking for help in dealing with difficult mother-in-laws. The letters run the gamut from mothers who still smother their adult children to what I would refer to as the interfering, insufferable witch. My initial reaction when I get these letters is to think, “Wow, you don’t have a mother-in-law problem you have a husband problem. He needs to man the hell up.”
All of these letters and the “man up” issue got me thinking that perhaps the best way to improve the mother-in-law experience is for parents to raise better kids.
Yeah, that’s right I said to raise better kids and by that I mean as mothers we need to make sure we’re raising strong children so when they become adults and marry they’ll be able to stand up to the most formidable of live forces – their mothers.
So that said, here’s my list of 4 Ways to Mother-In-Law Proof Your Kids.
1) Don’t use the guilt trip as your primary parenting tool. When your go to is guilt you’re raising kids who as adults will be susceptible to any and all forms of emotional terrorism. Long-term exposure to guilt makes people weak, fragile and oh so very manipulatable. No parent can possibly want that for their child.
2) Teach your child to be independent, that’s it’s okay for them to slowly learn to separate from you and become their own fully functioning human. I know many mothers like the fact that their kids are clingy and some take it as a compliment as in, “Look my 11-year-old loves me so much she can’t let go.” Fast forward 20 years and it’s not so cute when your 31-year-old is living in your basement with three kids and on her second failed marriage.
3) It’s okay to say no to family. Be a role model, have your children see you putting your immediate family first and not being bullied into doing something just because “it’s always been done that way” or because your husband’s mom’s grandma will get angry if you don’t have Christmas at her house every single freaking year.
4) Know that your long-term parenting goals is to raise an adult who no longer needs you. Sure, they love you, but they don’t need you involved in the day-to-day minutiae of their lives.
In fact, I believe the best marital advice I can give is when you get married your spouse occupies the number one spot on your “List of Awesome”. When you have kids they start filling up the number 2,3 (and so forth) spots. You, as a mother of an adult child, have to not only be prepared to be bumped from that number one spot, but to be joyous about it for it means you have done your job well.
If you have questions for Dear Snarky “21st Century Advice with An Attitude” please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.