Dear Snarky – 4 Ways to Mother-In-Law Proof Your Kids

40d640b17d33c77824444cb08e1d270eI 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 or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.

13 thoughts on “Dear Snarky – 4 Ways to Mother-In-Law Proof Your Kids

  1. Macy Trotter says:

    You are a genius! I was married to a man for five years who couldn’t or wouldn’t stick up to his mother and she micro managed every thing about his life. Finally, I realized he would never change and got out before we had kids. I’m pretty sure his mommy will always be number 1 on his list “awesome.”

  2. Polly Unsaturated says:

    Nice. It’s easy to lose sight of the long term when you are so caught up in the day to day. I’ve been very lucky – my MIL not only lived a long way away, but was a wonderful women who didn’t interfere in our lives – thinking about that now she did raise 8 very independent children.

  3. Holley says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said for future generations & yes my husband should man up which is what I’ve begged him to do for many years. But since I live with my grown man-child who won’t stand up to his rude mother how do I continue to deal with her? I didn’t grow up dealing with people behaving like this towards others & it breaks my heart. We spend holidays alone just to avoid drama, our kids are upset by their grandmothers behavior & his sisters are not much better. The whole situation is sad & I just wish there was a way I could fix it rather than being left in tears & not feeling supported by my husband on this situation caused by his family.

    • Sassysmom says:

      Holley, I so feel your pain. Is your husband the baby of the family? It is typical behavior for the baby to not stand up to their mommies’ interference. Unfortunately there isn’t anything you can do to fix it.

      My first husband (he was the baby) had to ask his parents whenever we bought anything and I do mean anything. Television, vehicle, vacuum cleaner, a mobile home; you name it we had to ask permission to purchase it. The best thing to happen was he joined the military and we moved half a country away. With husband #2 (he was the baby too) it was his sister who wanted to control our lives. He worked 12+ hours a day with one day a week off. She could not understand why he didn’t drive 3 hours one way on his day off to go see her and mommy. Um, it’s called yard work, home maintenance and down time. Without consulting us, sister made plans for mommy to go with us on our honeymoon when we got married. Um, what was mommy gonna do; watch to make sure we were doing “it” right? The red flag started waving 6 weeks before the wedding when he asked “would it really be so terrible if mom went with us”? I should have called off the wedding, but I didn’t. Husband #3 (he is the oldest) keeps his family at arm’s length. For the most part they stay out of our business anyway. Course it also helps that they are 3 states and an 8 hour drive away.

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