Your situation reminds me a lot of the one my long-suffering grandmother found herself in. Like you, she had an overbearing mother-in-law (and sister-in-law) who lived nearby and thought nothing of stopping by unannounced. This went on for so long — until they both died! — that it was still happening by the time I was a child and my great-grandmother and great-aunt dropped by unannounced to visit me when I was in town. If my grandmother were answering your letter right now, she would warn you not to let this go on for two generations, and to set clear boundaries now.
Obviously, you’ve tried setting boundaries by politely asking your MIL to pre-schedule visits with you, but she has ignored that wish, so you have to be more assertive, no matter how much you fear creating tension. Trust me, there will be much, much more tension between you if you allow this behavior to continue indefinitely. For the sake of your sanity, and your relationship with both your MIL and your husband, you have to put your foot down. Explain again that you appreciate how active your MIL wants to be in her grandchild’s life, but you simply cannot have her stopping by unannounced anymore — that your schedule doesn’t have room for unplanned visitors. And then, the next time she ignores your wishes and comes a’knockin’, don’t answer the door. Let her ring and knock and call your cell phones, but don’t let her in. Later, tell her that you were taking a family nap and didn’t hear her. Another option is to open the door and say, “Oh, I really wished you would have called first! We would have saved you a trip over since we’re actually on our way out.” And then — and this is crucial — get your coats on, grab your diaper bag and leave your house. Get in your car and drive away. If your MIL asks where you’re going, make something up — you’ve got a pediatrician appointment or a play date or tickets to the freakin’ opera. It’s not enough for you to tell her that you’re too busy for unannounced guests — you have to show her.
Employ these tactics every single time your MIL comes by unannounced until she gets the message. If she expresses resentment that you’re never available when she comes by, remind her that by simply giving you a head’s up, you’ll make sure you’re available so she can have plenty of time with her grandbaby. Maybe you’d even like to set up a regularly-scheduled time she can stop by — say, every other Friday night so that you and your husband can get out and have a date while she babysits. You say you moved to your in-law’s area so you’d have help and you’re still waiting for that help to materialize. Maybe, if you’re a little more explicit about what your needs are, you’ll have better luck getting the help you crave. It’s obvious that your MIL wants to spend time with your baby, so use that to your advantage. Give her some times that work for you where she can see her grandchild and you can have a date with your husband, get some errands run or do things around the house. Win-win for everyone, no?
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.
Christy September 21, 2011, 7:45 am
I am literally printing this article out and saving it for when my best friend’s future wife (whomever she may be) has to deal with his INCREDIBLY overbearing mother.
PS: Print button option?
The_Yellow_Dart September 21, 2011, 8:26 am
This will be useful for my sister too! Her future MIL is a controlling nightmare, and she has yet to put her foot down.
soandso September 21, 2011, 9:30 am
It will be on the internet for the next 300 years or so. Just save it as a favroite.
LTC039 September 21, 2011, 10:24 am
I feel bad for her! I know marriages that have ended bc of mother-in-laws! I hope your friend regulates his mother : (
LTC039 September 21, 2011, 10:26 am
Sorry..I read that your friend was getting married lol. Skipped the parenthesis & I can’t remove my comment : l
Christy September 21, 2011, 10:33 am
No, I feel bad for her too, whomever she may be. I already have to deal with crazy MIL stuff from her, and I’m just his friend. He’s going to have to find a very strong-willed woman who will marry him. In other words, he’ll have to marry a replica of his mother.
Skyblossom September 21, 2011, 8:27 am
I think it’s imortant to stress that it is your husband’s responcibility to talk to his mother and draw a boundary and make her respect it. If you’re both working then your MIL is probably dropping by evenings and weekends when your husband is also usually home and he needs to be the one to meet her at the door and not let her in. Discuss ahead of time tactics to use and back each other up as you use them. Definitely draw a boundary or she will always continue to do what she wants and that will extend to other areas of your life. As your child gets older she may also try to tell you how to discipline, when to discipline, how to dress your child, what they should eat/not eat, where they should go to preschool, etc. It’s hard enough to negotiate all of those things with your husband without his mother’s involvement. Boundaries are critical.
I love the idea of leaving every time the MIL shows up unannounced and would do that when you can. I also know that you don’t always want to have to go out with a small baby, especially when the weather isn’t good or if you spent ages getting them down for a nap and they’ve just gotten to sleep. I think it’s fine to meet the MIL at the door and tell her that the baby has just fallen asleep and you’re going to take a nap because you lost lots of sleep last night and it’s too bad she didn’t call because you would have let her know that it wasn’t a good time, you’re sorry she wasted the drive over and tell her good-bye and shut the door.
Also, I love the idea of scheduling the MIL at a time that is useful to you and also works for her. Maybe she is waiting for you to invite her over, maybe you already do, we don’t know. Find times for her to visit and make sure she feels welcome at those times.
Christy September 21, 2011, 8:43 am
Honestly, her husband probably resigned himself to this fate long ago. He won’t be able to draw a line because he’s probably never been able to reign his mother in. If the LW wants a change, she is going to have to push on her own to make any sort of change herself, without the help of her husband.
Riefer September 21, 2011, 1:24 pm
I wonder if the MIL *does* think she’s helping by coming over, so you’re not always alone with the baby? Who knows. Anyway, Wendy’s right, that by scheduling it it’ll be more helpful and less annoying to you.
SGMcG September 21, 2011, 9:02 am
Along with Wendy’s excellent suggestions LW, have you talked to your FIL (if he’s still around) about reigning in the MIL’s enthusiasm for visiting the baby? If he can give you a call saying that his wife is dropping by unannounced, perhaps you can plan on avoiding her better. You can also talk to the MIL about having the baby come over the MIL’s house and schedule those times accordingly. She may be less likely to drop by unannounced if she knows her grandchild is coming over later that week and spend the time baby-proofing her house accordingly.
GatorGirl September 21, 2011, 9:02 am
My family does the same thing at my parents house…except worse. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents- the whole lot on my fathers side just open the door and walk in, anytime of day or night, without even knocking. Personally it drives me absolutely insane- thank goodness I like 900 miles away and they can’t do it to me.
I second everything Wendy said and have two more suggestions.
1- Have your husband have a sit down with your MIL. He really needs to take the reigns on this one, otherwise your MIL may resent you or think you’re trying to keep her son and new grandson away from her.
2- I’ve seen this suggested on a few blogs- put a sign on your door stating if you come in unannounced, you need to do a chore. Keep a list on the fridge of chores that need to be done…running a load of laundry through, cleaning a bathroom, loading the dishwasher, ect. It is pretty bold to do this- but if you have to deal with her continuously barging in, you may as well actually get help out of it.
Definitely stop this now. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a towel and had an uncle drop by, or been sick in bed and had an unannounced 5 year old cousin jump on my head. Be strong and set your boundaries- you will be seriously disappointed and frustrated with yourself later if you don’t put your foot down now.
Skyblossom September 21, 2011, 9:11 am
Expect her behavior to escalate before going away. If she drops by on Mondy evening and you don’t let her in then don’t be surprised if she repeats on Tuesday and then again Wednesday and so on. If she comes by Saturday morning she may be back later in the morning and again in the afternoon and evening. If she is occasionally successful at getting what she wants she will also continue so you can’t ever give in.
If she just walks in without knocking then you need to get the key back or change your locks to establish your autonomy.
Kerrycontrary September 21, 2011, 9:13 am
I think there’s definitely a difference between occasionally dropping by and doing it all the time, and it seems like your MIL and her little posse are doing it all the time. All of my mom’s extended family lives in the same town, so occasionally (as in once every three months) a family member will stop by on a Saturday to chat. This is a welcome unannounced visit (except for the time I had a migraine and my very loud uncle was over! haha). But your MIL is taking this too far and I think you need to take Wendy’s advice. I’m really glad you’ve at least spoken up about this situation already. Best of luck!
Lindsay September 21, 2011, 9:15 am
From what the LW said, they’ve already spoken to her (son included) and it’s not working. So, I think Wendy’s ideas are good. I’d probably be more inclined to just answer the door and tell her it’s a bad time and remind her to call first. Ignoring the door, you run the risk of her seeing you when you presumably check to see who it is or hearing talking or a tv or something. My mom used to do the thing where you put your coats on and leave, and it was seriously inconvenient, but I’m sure it would do the trick. The point is, you have to enforce the boundaries you set for her or she won’t learn.
Flake September 21, 2011, 9:19 am
Do what Wendy said, that’s one of the best mother-in-law advices ever!
P. S. Depending how comfortable you are, and if you are breastfeeding, my friend met her MIL at the door with literally her boob hanging out. Took only that one time… Then again, that is definitely not for everyone…
LTC039 September 21, 2011, 10:43 am
That is awesome.
Kristen September 21, 2011, 1:06 pm
Hahahaha… what was the MIL’s reaction?
justpeachy September 21, 2011, 3:33 pm
I have a similar plan I may have to use with my sister. We just moved into a house up the street from her and my husband and I joke about how if she stops by too frequently, when we see her coming, we’ll just have to run to the bedroom, start making moaning noises, and hope she’ll realize she shouldn’t just drop in on newlyweds.
ForeverYoung September 21, 2011, 9:31 am
My mother in law is a disaster (which i’ve mentioned before) but this actually isn’t one of her many annoying issues. But I think I can still help. I hate to admit it, but I had to start playing the game. I am not at all a passive aggressive person, I don’t like getting into fights or arguments – I always say I wish everyone would just act appropriate so THEY didn’t force ME to put them in their place. I love all of Wendy’s suggestions, and I would like to add one. Next time she knocks, answer the door wearing a matching set of sexy bra and underwear, tell her the baby is asleep and you and your husband have decided to use the time to “strenghthen the family bond” and hopefully she gets the picture.
As far as everyone’s thoughts that this should be dealt with by the husband – the problem with that is that the mother probably has run the show for your husbands entire life, and he is probably so used to giving in/ignoring her she will never take him seriously. My husband finally had to say something to her – and it.did.not.go.well. She said some things to him for putting her in her place that I wouldn’t repeat to my worst enemy. We then went 6 months (while living 5 miles away) without talking to them. I guess I just think it will be a lot more effective if the LW is the one to stand up to her, she probably won’t take her son seriously.
It’s been said but I would like to repeat – You have to do this EVERY SINGLE TIME for it to be effective. You want her to know that you are doing this on purpose so that she will call first. If you only do it 50% of the time she stops by she might actually believe that you are just busy. So stand your ground, otherwise this will never stop. First it’s with the kids, then it’s her inviting herself to parent/teacher conferences, then it is her throwing a fit when you go on family vacations (meaning just you, your husband, and baby) and she’s not invited. I played the nice card for far too long and the fall out was way worse than if I had just set boundaries and put her in her place sooner.
bittergaymark September 21, 2011, 10:03 am
Wendy nailed it. The best piece of advice is the throw on your coats and leave the house bit… Do that one. Do that a lot.
Skyblossom September 21, 2011, 11:01 am
I like that idea too and would do it when it’s convenient. The trouble is that sometimes it’s not at all convenient to take a baby out. Today it’s raining and cool here so I wouldn’t want to get the baby damp and chilled just to avoid the MIL. If I was about to feed the baby it would also be ackward to just leave with a hungry baby. Hungry infants and toddlers tend to cry until fed. My daughter would cry nonstop when in the infant car seat. We avoided going out with her as much as possible. She had a gassy belly and would cry until she could sit up and infant car seats are reclined and so she cried nonstop in the car. The moment she could sit in a regular car sear we switched to it but she had to hit the minimum weight before we could do that safely.
Britannia September 21, 2011, 2:50 pm
The only problem I see is that the MIL might react by saying, “Well, I’ll just wait here then!” or “Oh, could I just get a cup of tea? It’s so cold out…” and then she has her foot in the door to use the LW’s house even when LW ISN’T there.
If you give a mouse a cookie…
SpaceySteph September 21, 2011, 2:52 pm
Let her wait. She presumably knows where the kitchen is if she’s dying for a cup of tea. Disappear, and then don’t come back til her car is gone from your driveway.
Britannia September 21, 2011, 3:07 pm
She’ll start using LW’s house just like her own, though. That would piss me off big time if I were LW.
LSS86 September 21, 2011, 7:13 pm
Or she could follow you into your car.
bittergaymark September 22, 2011, 7:37 pm
Then just go somewhere you know she’d hate…
artsygirl September 21, 2011, 10:06 am
My mother in law once told me ‘you walk into your daughter’s house, you knock on the door at your daughter-in-law’s”. It sounds like your mother in law is comfortable with you (yay) but is now really overstepping her boundaries. I would also add that you might want to mention (politely) to your mother-in-law’s friends that unexpected visits are inconvenient for you. Hopefully these ladies will have more tact and the next time she rounds them up to visit you, they will insist that they call ahead.
bittergaymark September 21, 2011, 10:29 am
Actually, your idea here is well intended, but could soooooo backfire!!! So, I’d really avoid talking about this behind the MIL’s back.. Not with her friends…and not with the FIL either. (Somebody else suggested that…)
artsygirl September 21, 2011, 2:12 pm
I wouldn’t do it behind the MIL’s back. Rather I would casually bring it up at the beginning of the visit. Something along the lines “It is nice to see you all, I really wish you had called ahead of time because unexpected visits can be stressful on me and the baby”
SSBoo September 21, 2011, 1:10 pm
I really like you’re mother-in-law’s quote!
theattack September 21, 2011, 6:09 pm
Ehh, I’m not crazy about it. I don’t want my mother walking into my house or coming unannounced either. I would probably feel the same way about an MIL as I do my mother.
6napkinburger September 21, 2011, 7:21 pm
What if you knew she was coming over? I gathered the point was that you are a guest in your DIL’s house, but you are “family” in your own daughter’s house (but hopefully well-mannered and appropriate family.) I can happily imagine when I have a house and baby, that I know my mom is coming over at around 4, to hear a vocal “knock knock, grandma’s here!” call through the house at around 4:15, rather than a doorbell. If, for example, I had married my recent ex, Id have wanted a doorbell, and the chance/choice to invite them in, with his mom.
Budjer September 21, 2011, 9:17 am
This is a really weird thing…I mean…my parents really try and enforce an open door policy with their home, but never drop by unannounced at my place….which I am very thankful for…there are somethings in my apt I wouldn’t want them to see, haha…so I think this really is a case of not respecting boundaries.
I definitely second that the husband should be talking to his mother and not the LW…it is the best way to keep the peace in the family. I’ve witnessed the in-law’s going at it a few times in situations that could have been avoided if the “blood” family hashed it out directly. I do like Wendy’s tactics though as it does seem you tried the most logical and straight-forward approach first and it didn’t work. SHOW(underline/bold/italics) her she can’t drop by.
Christina September 21, 2011, 10:21 am
If MIL has a key then you can rekey the locks on your doors without having to replace them.
Also consider the times she comes over to be free babysitting time and run and do errands or visit friends as soon as she gets there. That may get her attention. If she is interrupting a busy day then ask her to pitch in on a job around the house. She will either stop by less or become a bigger help when she does. She could become a valuable resource and also become more understanding of your wishes. Good luck!
DebMoore September 21, 2011, 12:07 pm
I think those are great suggestions!
cookiesandcream September 21, 2011, 11:04 am
Wendy gave some good advice, and consistency is key when dealing with people who overstep their boundaries. If you hesitate just once, I get the feeling that your MIL will just fall right back into her old patterns.
One caveat is that I think your MIL can easily feel very slighted if she sees you running every time she comes over. How about if you set up a specific time or schedule when she can come over and help you out? I’m sure she’s coming over to see her new grandchild and wants to feel wanted and helpful, so setting up a schedule can help you set clear boundaries of when she can come over. I know that there are many services where you can set up online calendars (like Google Calendar) where you can share your schedule with friends and family. That way you can set up a specific block of time when MIL and friends can come over. Also, if your MIL and the people she brings with her are among the people who promised to help you once the baby came, definitely don’t hesitate to ask them to help you out when they are over.
Congratulations on your newborn and best of luck! 🙂
bluesunday September 21, 2011, 11:14 am
Damn Wendy, although your advice is always great, it’s been consistently stellar this past few days. Pregnancy’s doing you good!
mf September 21, 2011, 12:25 pm
I’ve noticed that too. She’s definitely been on point lately!
McLovin September 21, 2011, 12:57 pm
I’m picturing Wendys little boy giving good advice to the other kids on the playground. “No! Definitely don’t eat THAT!”
LTC039 September 21, 2011, 10:42 am
Honestly, this situation SUCKS! I cannot imagine how incredibly annoying it must be to have uninvited guests over your house on a frequent basis. Do people not understand the meaning of privacy & respect anymore??
I feel that w/ the MIL situation you need to approach your husband & tell him he needs to be stern w/ his mother. It seems he is in agreement w/ you as you mentioned “we have told her…”
It is not ok for her or anyone for that matter to show up to YOUR house whenever he/she feels like it. If she wants to come over & see the baby (help?) she needs to call you/ your husband first & check if you’re available.
Your husband must explain this to his mother, once again, & be assertive with her. If she chooses to ignore, use the tactics Wendy explained. It is true that the tension will be worse letting her get away w/ this then stopping it now. Hopefully in that aspect, your MIL is a reasonable person & will understand. But you absolutely need to put an end to this NOW. You are in the right.
P.S. Did anyone think “Everybody Loves Raymond” after reading this letter???
6napkinburger September 21, 2011, 10:51 am
(I’m about to split a couple hairs, because I think its interesting, and because I have nothing really to add to this chain because I just broke up with my BF partially because of his refusal to set boundaries with his mother, so I’m just doing a little dance in the corner that isn’t very helpful)
I take issue (in the like, most academic and not controversial kind of way) with your rhetorical question of “Do people not understand the meaning of privacy & respect anymore??” I feel like the act of “calling ahead” is a pretty new phenomenon, and in the past, people, especially close family, would stop by all the time without notice (think of the little kid knocking on the door, asking if Jimmy can come out to play). I personally wish it was less weird to stop by friends’ places if you happen to be nearby. However, it IS weird, now. The cultural norm is to call first; really, is to ask first, giving the visitee the chance to decline. which is why I totally agree with the rest of your post. I just don’t think that this is part of the decline of manners and social decency in America, which was alive and well in the good ole days.)
Flake September 21, 2011, 11:20 am
I completely agree with you. Back when (and where) I was a kid, at least 50% of people did not have phones. However, we knew that if the family was going through something particular, such as a birth of a baby, they probably would not appreciate the drop-in visits as much, unless you were also useful, or brought food with you.
DebMoore September 21, 2011, 12:12 pm
I understand what you are saying about dropping by, but our world has changed. We are much more busy people now. I remember as a kid having tons of down time, so friends stopping by was a good thing. Now I look at my daughters schedule (and ours) and we have to schedule down time. So when someone just drops by now, it feels like an intrusion rather than a good thing.
6napkinburger September 21, 2011, 12:16 pm
I totally agree! I was just parsing the “back in the good ole days, people called ahead” sentimentality, which I thought was a little historically inaccurate. I totally agree that its rude and inconvenient now, and the MIL is totally out of line, especially given the fact that she was asked to stop doing it. I’m on the same page as everyone else, I was just being a bit nitpicky, which I meant in good spirits, not as snarky or obnoxious.
LTC039 September 21, 2011, 11:18 am
I understand what you’re saying, & you’re right, before these means of communications existed that prob. was the norm…But the telephone has been around for over a century already! No, dropping by a friend’s/relatives house unannounced ONCE in a while is not a disrespectful act, however, doing it after you’ve been told not to & on a frequent basis is. That’s why I added that line.
I’m sorry about your recent breakup however, I’m glad you were strong enough to decide that that person’s lack of boundaries w/ his mother was not right for you! I dated a guy like that for a while & put up w/ it so I commend you!
Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com September 21, 2011, 11:21 am
Kinda know what you mean. I don’t think I’d change the practice of calling ahead (I really hate it if one of my neighbors knocks when I am laid out on my couch, in pajamas, eating chips) but I loved this aspect of the college days. Living in a dorm where you could knock on a friend’s room at any time –that was totally acceptable. I miss that.
Funny enough, these days I have family living on the same BLOCK and while we all have keys to each other’s homes, it is absolutely the practice to call first.
6napkinburger September 21, 2011, 12:17 pm
I was actually thinking about college when i was writing that, when I loved people stopping by and it was fun to do it myself. If only that were still possible without being really inconsiderate and annoying.
Budjer September 21, 2011, 11:22 am
I think the issue is the frequency. Not a lot of people would begrudge a family member dropping in unannounced that late on a Saturday morning every couple weeks.
iseeshiny September 21, 2011, 1:07 pm
While we’re being nitpicky, I’d just like to point out that back in the good old days (I’m talking Emily Post and before) people left visiting cards with the butler, who would then go and see if the family was “home” to receive visitors, giving the family the chance to screen visitors. The other side of this was that there was usually a morning or afternoon every week where the family was expected to be home. The advent of the telephone meant that even people who didn’t have a butler could expect the courtesy of a call before they came calling. So, no, calling ahead really isn’t a new phenomenon. Just sayin’.
6napkinburger September 21, 2011, 1:10 pm
fair enough. good call.
mcminnem September 21, 2011, 2:25 pm
Yeah, can we have that back? I want my very own Jeeves.
Britannia September 21, 2011, 2:52 pm
Me too! I really just in general want a butler… and a house big enough that a visitor wouldn’t be able to immediately discern whether or not I was home.
katie September 21, 2011, 8:39 pm
maybe it’s not just that they are un-expected visits- maybe it is that there is no choice to say no once the people are at your door.
so, for instance, I dont think that many people would get mad at people who just showed up saying, “hey, thought i’d drop by! what are you up to? wanna get some coffee?” thats kind of what it was in college, for me anyway. in that case, you can accept the offer to hang out or not, and if you are busy, or just dont want to or whatever, the people go away.
i feel like people wouldn’t care so much if once the people were at your door, you weren’t automatically obligated to hang out with them. you still had a choice in the matter, which this LW clearly feels like she doesnt, so i can understand why she is so frustrated.
Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com September 21, 2011, 11:03 am
I love the schedule idea. I often find that with people like this, offering that certainty of a regular visit goes a long way toward addressing the real issue at hand –the need for attention/acknowledgement. And as Wendy said, even better if you can have specific tasks ready for her since she’s supposedly coming for help. Just like in an office environment, it’s hard to put helpers to good use if you don’t have a chance to plan their work before they arrive.
Oh and as for how to frame all of it, I’d suggest that you focus on the specific ways you want her to help rather than the ways you DON’T. For example, “It means so much to me that you are so generous with your schedule and I’ve been thinking of how I can can make better use of your time. Something that occurred to me is that if we can agree on scheduling a time that’s the same each week, I will be better able to organize my time around your visit…”
That kind of diplomacy along with Wendy’s advice about absolutely enforcing the plan –hopefully it will get you there.
SpaceySteph September 21, 2011, 2:56 pm
I think your first paragraph is great idea. “Oh I’m so glad you’re here, I’ve been meaning to wash these dishes in the sink but haven’t had a chance. Would you mind?”
Between putting her to work and dashing out, she’ll get tired of dropping by unannounced.
MEL September 21, 2011, 1:23 pm
I am a little worried about my mother in law doing this when we have kids. Right now we live in a condo where you have to buzz to get in, and we’re on the second floor so we could just hide. I was a concerned she would show up unannounced, but so far, so good.
I think she learned her lesson when she popped in on another family member very early on a weekend morning. They’re still on quite icy terms with those family members, so I think that got to whole showing up unannounced is rude thing through her head.
oldie September 21, 2011, 1:36 pm
If they can afford to make another move, LW and her husband should solve the problem by moving back closer to LW’s work. This will solve the MIL problem and gain time from a shorter commute. LW’s husband needs to step up. He sold LW on the benefits of moving closer to his parents and now LW has nothing but negatives from the move.
Guest September 21, 2011, 4:23 pm
I haven’t read the comments so forgive me if this has already been suggested but how about greeting the MIL with a “Hey, great to see you! This is such good timing because I need to run out to the X and baby is sleeping. You can watch baby for me for an hour or so, can’t you? See ya later!”
Either she’ll stop showing up unannounced or she’ll enjoy babysitting and keep it up, but either way you win: you don’t have visit with her and you get some help with baby.
LSS86 September 21, 2011, 7:25 pm
I love this advice for one big reason:
The LW says she was promised help with the baby, but hasn’t received any, and yet the MIL is constantly coming over unannounced. It seems she’s coming over unannounced and not even being helpful while she’s there, so force her to keep her promise that she’d help with the baby!
kali September 22, 2011, 3:27 pm
My daughter’s MIL does this and they don’t even have kids yet. Actually both inlaws do it. The parents live very close by and Bob’s only sister lives in another state. Both parents are retired and may be in serious need of a hobby.
Daughter ‘Jane’ and new hubby ‘Bob’ had a talk with the parents (after Jane’s spectacular meltdown at one unannounced visit) and explained that they loved the parents but needed to establish their own routines and patterns. They also made it a big point to have Bob visit his parents more often and Jane goes along every third time or so to keep the parents’ neediness in check. Not sure this will work when they have babies, but we’ll see.
Honest communication, firm boundaries, and consistency are the key to this situation.
round~two June 21, 2012, 12:46 pm
Tried most of these suggestions, fact is she just dont care what we want or say. The mother in law chose to hate me and continues to do what ever, when ever, she chooses. Stalks the house, finds doors locked, calls, comes by unannounced, multiple times per day, dont care what, when, how or who. Im so depresses, adgetated, stressed, frustrated, anoyed, hurt, and desprate, i dont want to go home many times when im off work. She will not change. One face for each person and each combination of people in the same room… Shes GOOD! Ive tried everything Ive read for hours about this and still no changes. I was “blessed” with my husband! But his mother is devouring my happy. I need therapy.
J January 22, 2017, 2:19 pm
Go check out DWIL on babycenter. An excellent resource for anyone dealing with in law or other family who do not respect boundaries.
Frankie August 24, 2017, 11:04 am
I really feel your pain and I don’t have any kids yet. I have been married for 4 years and for the first 2 we shared the house with my MIL. And during that time she had her nice sized master bedroom while my husband and I were in his very small childhood room. She began to get serious with her boyfriend and began staying there and it took almost a year and after my husband finally asking her if we can switch room. She has been living at her boyfriends full time for the last 2 years but comes by unannounced almost everyday to check her mail and make personal phone calls. She is also beginning to come by at different times so now we have no clue when she is going to grace us with her presence. I can’t even tell you how many times she has almost walked in on my husband and I or on me while getting changed with the door open. Her mind set is that it’s “her” house and she doesn’t have to respect the MARRIED COUPLE living there at all. She uses it as her personal storage unit and almost leaves no room for our things. I have asked my husband a number of times to say something cause I am afraid that if it comes from me I will be the villain taking her son from her. I know that it will eventually come down to me just losing it, but I really don’t want that to happen. As a person I honestly don’t like her. I cringe whenever I hear the car pull up cause I know that if she hangs around she will try to grab my attention to tell me how amazing she is and EVERY detail of her awesome day. She truly is the most self absorbed person I have ever met. I am currently at my boiling point and am afraid that I am just going to eventually snap and handle all this myself. Truthfully I do blame my husband cause this shouldn’t have gone this far. When all is said and done I will not be having the relationship I wanted with her. I’m too bitter over the last 4 years of living in “her” house to truly get along with her
Frankie August 24, 2017, 11:07 am
Oh forgot to mention “her” house is being paid for by my husband
S August 23, 2019, 9:56 am
I left one guy over his mom walking in and rearranging my house daily. When my MIL started decorating my house, I took everything she brought in and dumped it at the charity shop. Told her I gave it to a “friend.” Then I proceeded to tell my husband in front of her how I was an adult, able to take care of my own kids, etc. very loudly and agressively because I was terrified of another rearranging incident. She backed off after that and actually ended up being a really nice lady.
I’m currently having a problem with my parents who are suddenly free (retired) and driving TWO DAYS for a “surprise” visit. It’s like the emperor and empress have arrived. Even if we are in the middle of work, school, A PREGNANCY, we must all drop everything and run around with them for days. No calls, no warning. Just “surprise.” But God forbid anyone say that’s rude.
They did it to her parents constantly until grandpa basically banished her forever. Mom still cries and carries on about that, so obviously I can’t also do that. She clearly is incapable of understanding an unannounced visit is rude, even if she did drive two days for it. They are the most inconsiderate visitors even in the best of times, and it’s getting worse.
My kids don’t know my parents very well and are terrified when they “drop in” and start acting like the parent. I wish I could tell my parents – my kids don’t know you. They may look familiar (like their other grandkids who they’re basically raising) but they don’t know you. Argh!!!! At least my DH is on my side, ha!
Shelly Barrett October 28, 2019, 11:55 am
I get what Wendy’s advice is saying and I get why and I’m on her side but I still don’t agree with it because it’s misappropriating punishment. Why should someone have to be inconvenienced and leave their house every time someone who doesn’t understand boundaries comes over? Not many people would have time to do this. It sounds like the victim is receiving the punishment. This advice is a “tail wagging the dog” situation. The punishment should be being dispensed to the rude person showing up unannounced. When they come over that way, they simply need to be told, and likely sternly. It’s never easy or fun to have to do this but if they’re rude enough to just show up unannounced all the time then the homeowner(s)/relatives should be able to call them on it. If they keep doing it just stop answering the door.