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This Redditor Let Her MIL Know Who’s Boss When it Comes to Her Kids — Would You?

Have you ever heard the expression: “When you get married, you marry the whole family”? This means that you are making a commitment to your partner — while also knowing that their parents and siblings will be in your life for the long haul, too. This is even more true when you become parents. Many people have a challenging relationship with their in-laws when it comes to raising kids, but this Redditor decided to set a hard boundary.

In Reddit’s popular “Am I The A–hole?” forum, one mom let her mother-in-law (MIL) know who’s boss when it comes to her 2-year-old.

In the post, the Reddit mom explained that her toddler son has been using a normal, open-face cup since he was about 11-months-old. At a recent BBQ at her in-laws’ house, her MIL once again brought out a sippy cup for the 2-year-old to use. The mom explained, “She has done this many times before and every time I gently remind her to please give him a cup and she begrudgingly does.”

But this time, the Reddit mom was fed up. “I had enough of repeating myself and asked her to sit with me,” wrote the mom. “I told her I’ve tried gently explaining to her that he is to use a cup and I don’t appreciate her going against my parenting decisions time and time again (she has done this with a few other things as well but there’s way too much to write) and that I am in charge of my children not her. Her response was she raised 3 children just fine and then to throw a temper tantrum and throw the water into the garden.”

Due to this outburst, the Reddit mom decided to “no longer send him over for them to watch him as she doesn’t respect me as their mother or listen to my parenting choices.” So, where is the Redditor’s partner in all this? According to the mom, “My partner thinks I should of just let it go but I’m tired of letting things go I feel like as their mother I have authority over her regarding my own children.”

Despite your feelings on whether the Reddit mom overreacted or not regarding a sippy cup (she did mention it’s just one of many times when the MIL didn’t respect her parenting choices), many parents can relate to intrusive in-laws or parents having opinions about their parenting. Both of my own parents and in-laws have commented about my parenting over the last 4-and-a-half years since my oldest was born, so trust me: I get it. So what do you do when a well-meaning parent or in-law doesn’t respect your rules or oversteps boundaries?

Susan Newman, Ph.D., and author of Nobody’s Baby Now: Reinventing Your Adult Relationship with Your Mother and Father, wrote some tips in an article for Psychology Today. She recommends making concessions with your in-laws whenever you can, as long as you don’t sacrifice your own values; take a firm position with them when necessary; take time to address your in-laws concerns, while being sure to set boundaries with them; overlook the “small stuff” that upsets you; and be patient as all relationships grow over time.

The Mayo Clinic recommends embracing compromise and forgiveness with parents and in-laws when you can and seeking help if you can’t. “When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or you can embrace forgiveness and move forward,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “Sometimes, honest communication is all it takes to weather relationship crises and maintain healthy relationships. In other cases, family therapy or other types of counseling can be helpful.”

Of course, you should never risk your child’s safety in order to keep the peace. A 2017 study found that when grandparents rely on outdated parenting advice (like using ice baths to lower fevers or not putting babies to sleep on their backs), it can put the child at risk.

Dealing with in-laws can be difficult, so if keeping the peace in your family is important, save the big boundaries for when your child’s safety, or physical or mental health is at risk. Then, you can work on compromising for everything else. Of course, therapists are available to help you resolve specific conflicts. Parenting is hard — even without others overstepping boundaries — but it is possible to have a healthy relationship with your in-laws and parents with a little help!

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