Dear Snarky – Do I Need to Ban My Mother-in-Law From My Daughter’s Life?

Dear Snarky,

I’m afraid I’ve caused a family rift and I’m feeling a little bit sorry, not sorry about it. The rift is with my mother-in-law. My husband and I have a seven-year-old daughter and since we all live in the same town we see my mother and father-in-law frequently and I include them in all of my daughter’s activities from soccer games to school performances.

I noticed starting when my daughter was in kindergarten that my mother-in-law would get very critique happy after every soccer game or school event. She would compare my daughter to the other kids and say things like, “Who was that beautiful little girl who read that poem? She was amazing” and then followed that up with telling my daughter she “needed to try to be more like that girl” It’s the same for soccer games. She always points out some girl on the team she thinks is pretty or “such an amazing player” and never compliments our daughter.

My husband and I always intervene and pump our daughter up after this but things finally came to a head last month after our daughter told us that she didn’t want her grandma at any of her soccer games or to “ever go to her school” because it always “makes her sad.

That’s all we needed to hear and my husband and I both agreed to stop inviting his mom to any events that occurred outside the family. This past weekend my mother-in-law just showed up at my daughter’s soccer game furious that we didn’t tell her about it. 

I’m the one that had to talk to her since my husband was coaching our daughter’s team. I led her back towards the parking lot and told her that we stopped notifying her of events because her critical behavior was affecting her granddaughter’s self-esteem. 

She went crazy and has vowed to never speak to any of us again unless she’s allowed to be a “full participant” in her granddaughter’s life. Honestly, I’m okay with that but my husband, getting an immense about of pressure from his dad and mom, says there needs to be some compromise. 

Do I stand firm or agree to a compromise to help my husband?

Signed, Undecided

Dear Undecided,

I sat with your letter for a long time and imagined how bad the grandma critique sessions had to be for a seven-year-old to say she didn’t want her grandma at any of her events. My takeaway was – really freaking bad. 

In my opinion your loyalty is one hundred percent with your daughter – a child. Not your mother-in-law – a fully formed adult with years on planet Earth. The fact that your young daughter had to be the one to intervene in her own mental health and tell you “no more grandma” should be a huge wake up call for both you and your husband.  

I recommend that the only compromise you should accept is that your mother-in-law get into therapy and maybe, just maybe, you’ll see her at Christmas 2024. I also don’t think it would be a bad idea for you and your husband to talk to a mental health professional about how to handle this situation and what impact having a grandmother who for your daughter’s entire young life has made her “sad.” 

Because here’s the deal – you only know what was said by your mother-in-law in front of you. I imagine it was much worse when your mother-in-law was alone with your daughter. I urge you to put your child’s mental health over placating your mother-in-law who quite frankly sounds like a horrible human being.


I don’t know about you but I need a pick me up after that letter. So, in an effort to lift your spirits I’m recommending my newest book EMPTY. 😍 It’s been called everything from “wildly funny” to “I couldn’t put it down.” Click on the link to take a lookie-loo 👀 or hear some of the audiobook 🎧.