Screenshot/New Line Cinema

7 Tips For Surviving Your Toxic Mother-In-Law During The Holidays

By
Share
Ad failed to load

To be honest, I haven't had the best relationship with my mother-in-law. And, sadly, the holidays seem to bring out the worst in both of us. She hates my cooking, parenting, and housekeeping skills, so I feel like I can't do anything right. She does and says things to completely undermine me, so I'm bitter, passive-aggressive, and turn into a recluse so I can maintain my sanity. That's why I'm so glad I found expert tips for surviving toxic mother-in-laws during the holidays. Because, yes, I am totally going to need them. Again.

According to relationship therapist Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., the best way to survive a toxic relationship with your mother-in-law is to realize that her comments and behaviors are a reflection of her, not you. You can try not to let your mother-in-law get to you, or you can involve her in holiday planning to aim for common ground. Orbuch adds that it's important to set boundaries and expectations, so you don't burn out or find that trying to please her results in a less-than-happy holiday for you. If you fail to see eye-to-eye, psychotherapist Greg Cason suggests assigning "communicating with your mom" to your spouse's holiday to-do list. Carson also recommends some reverse psychology, telling HuffPost that by finding something (anything) you can ask your mother-in-law's input on could make her feel more included. And if she feels more included, she's less likely to try to interfere in the future.

If you've tried everything and your mother-in-law's toxic behavior continues to ruin the holidays, it may be time to limit contact with her entirely. As psychologist Sherrie Campbell told ABC News, if your mother-in-law is abusive, manipulative, negative, or toxic, sometimes you have to love yourself enough to cut off contact. In other words, don't invite them to celebrate the holidays with you.

Ad failed to load

For more tips on surviving the holiday season with a toxic mother-in-law breathing down your neck or looking over your shoulder, read on:

Ad failed to load

Be A Gray Rock

Giphy

According to Love Fraud, a website focused on helping people recognize and recover from sociopaths, psychopaths, and narcissists, one of the best ways to respond to a toxic person is to ignore them. This so-called gray rock method of communication involves not responding to attempts to push your buttons or overtly rude criticism, to the point that you become boring to the toxic person you have to deal with.

Another strategy, according to psychologist Stephanie Buehler, is to simply change the subject or walk away. Buehler told HuffPost, "When a conversation is heading toward a toxic waste dump, it’s time to get up, get a glass of water, and come back to ask about an upcoming trip or some other light topic."

Develop A Thick Skin

According to relationship therapist Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., you should try to keep in mind that your mother-in-law's negative comments and undermining behaviors are not about you. Rather, they are likely a part of her efforts to maintain control or avoid losing traditions that are important to her. So, it's super important to not take your mother-in-law's criticism personally, which I know from experience is easier said than done.

Set Boundaries

Giphy

While it seems easy to try to please everyone at the holidays, it's totally not always possible, especially if you have a toxic mother-in-law.

Setting boundaries is a life skill that all of us need to learn, but especially with our in-laws. As psychotherapist Deanna Brann, and author of Reluctantly Related: Secrets To Getting Along With Your Mother-In-Law Or Daughter-In-Law, tells HuffPost, the key is to. “Be clear, concise, yet kind." So, if you don't want to make your kids sit on Santa's lap, or you don't want to follow your mother-in-law's unsolicited advice, you need to stand your ground.

Orbuch agrees, adding that setting boundaries and expectations means that you won't have to sacrifice your own needs and wants in the process of trying to accommodate your mother-in-law's unreasonable or unrealistic requests.

Ad failed to load

Let Your Spouse Take The Lead

Psychotherapist Greg Cason suggests that you and your spouse discuss the situation and come up with a plan for how to push back when your mother-in-law misbehaves. Cason told HuffPost that if your spouse is passive to their mother's toxic behaviors, they send a message that those behaviors are OK. And since your partner knows their mom better than you do, they're more likely to reach them than you are.

Stand Up For Yourself & Your Kids

Giphy

According to psychologist Susan Newman, it's important to set boundaries with your in-laws regarding your parenting. Newman told HuffPost this can be done in a gentle and non-confrontational way, saying, "Your best approach is to let them know you appreciate their advice, but have most things covered." Some ideas are to simply say "thank you," to explain that medical advice has changed, or by using my favorite response, "That's an interesting idea. I will keep that in mind."

Create Your Own Traditions

When you get married or partner up with another person, you are essentially combining to sets of family traditions together. Orbuch reminds us on the website Next Avenue that it's so important that you remember that you can't please everyone. So, it's totally OK to choose which traditions work for your family, and skip the ones that don't.

Cason adds that sometimes asking for a little input and finding some common ground might go a long way in creating some peace with your in-laws, telling HuffPost the following:

Look around and find a problem in your home or family that you could ask your in-law for advice on — a cooking or investing question, for instance....Your in-law will start liking you more because he or she feels respected. As a result, your in-law is less likely to invade.”
Ad failed to load

Consider Cutting Off (Or At Least Limiting) Contact

Giphy

As Sherrie Campbell, psychologist and author of the book Loving Yourself : The Mastery of Being Your Own Person tells ABC News, that, sometimes, it's necessary to cut off contact completely with toxic people for your health and sanity.

Campbell said, "The facts are that family members are just people and not always healthy people, and if these people weren't family, we would never choose them to be a part of our lives due to their poor treatment of us."

This, of course, is a personal decision to be made with your family (and spouse) in mind, but if your toxic mother-in-law is abusive, manipulative, negative, or trying to harm your marriage, it might be time to remove them from your holiday invite list or stay home from the festivities at theirs.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}