8 Ways Your Mother-In-Law Will Undermine You Over the Holidays

By
Share
Ad failed to load

For most of us, the winter holiday season means stress. But for me, it means my contentious relationship with my mother-in-law is made even worse. Between family drama, underhanded compliments, and a healthy dose of passive aggression, there are so many ways your mother-in-law will undermine you over the holidays, and let me tell you, it can make what's supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year" anything but wonderful.

I want to believe she means well. I know she wants what's best for her son and grandchildren. But, more often than not, the things she says and does make me feel like sh*t, regardless of her intentions. And honestly, I am not sure her intentions are pure. I don't have a great relationship with my mother-in-law all year long, and during the holiday, there are so many more opportunities for me to do things the "wrong" way, or at least not the way she would do them.

I am bracing myself for her criticism or low-key shaming remarks. My house will never be clean enough, my cooking will never be up to par, my parenting choices will never be perfect, and she will always find a way to let me know how she feels about it. So yeah, there are so many ways my mother-in-law will undermine me this holiday season, and honestly, I'm preparing myself the worst of the worst.

Ad failed to load

She Will Invite Herself To Stay At Your Home

Giphy

Two months ago I received a text letting me know when my in-laws would be arriving to stay at our home. There was no question about our plans or whether or not their visit would work for us, and honestly, I felt like I couldn't say no.

So, even though we have a baby that's not sleeping through the night, have converted our guest room into a nursery, and haven't made plans with my side of the family yet, my partner and I have to plan to have house guests for a week. If we tell her the truth, though, it won't likely be better. She will likely dis-invite herself, telling everyone that she doesn't feel welcome or doesn't want to be a burden. We can't win.

She Will Comment About Your Parenting Choices

Giphy

I think that comments about about my parenting choices are second nature for my mother-in-law. She will compare my kids to hers. She will say things like "that's an interesting approach," raise an eyebrow, or even ask me directly why I don't parent differently. Worse, she often does this in front of my kids, which makes me feel like crap and completely undermines my role as a parent.

Most of the time I don't say anything when she asks me why the baby isn't wearing socks, picks him up when he is napping, or comments about me not breastfeeding. It's not worth it, especially during the holidays.

She Will "Compliment" You

Giphy

My mother-in-law has a special way of complimenting me without actually complimenting me. When she says things like, "It's so awesome that you don't worry about what people think of your home," she really means that I am a terrible housekeeper. When she says I'm "brave" for having brightly colored hair, she really means I would have to be brave to leave the house looking the way I do. The word "interesting" or "different" really means "bad." And when she says these things to me in front of everyone at holiday gatherings, it makes me feel so small.

Ad failed to load

She Will Make Comments About Your Home

Giphy

My home will never be clean enough for my mother-in-law. And when she's at our home, she has no boundaries. She will open every door and look in ever corner, which means no stashed clutter or basket of unfolded clothes will escape her gaze. She will make underhanded comments, offer housekeeping advice, and even offer to help, which generally means re-organizing my cabinets or refrigerator. Ugh.

She Will Contradict You In Front Of Your Kids

Giphy

My mother-in-law finds little ways to undermine me that, on the surface, look like she's just being a grandma. When she tells my kids "yes" to another cookie or candy cane after I've told them no, it makes me feel like Scrooge. Worse, she will say, "I think it's OK, but you should ask your mom," when I am standing right there, so if I say "no" I look like the bad guy.

When I try to set boundaries for my kids, she will say things like, "Can't they stay up just a little later?" or, "I don't think some more dessert would hurt." It really sucks, especially because she doesn't have to deal with their tantrums later.

She Will Bring Up Your Spouses' Exes

Giphy

It seems like I can't get through a single holiday visit without my mother-in-law bringing up my husband's exes (yes, plural). The funny part is that she didn't get along with them when they were together, but now, it seems, they can do no wrong. Last year she even invited my husband's ex-wife to Thanksgiving. I am not joking, you guys. I have no idea why she thought that would be a good idea.

Ad failed to load

She Will Talk About When Your Spouse & Their Siblings Were Kids

Giphy

There's nothing like hearing about your spouse as a kid to make you feel like you just aren't good enough. According to my mother-in-law's revisionist memories of my husband's childhood, my spouse met every milestone eons before our kids, and she met every parenting challenge with grace and skill. That is not how my spouse remembers things, though, and I can't help but feel like she brings these things up to make me feel like crap.

She Will Bring Her Own Food

Giphy

I am an awesome cook, my friends, and I absolutely love cooking holiday meals. My mother-in-law always finds a way to undermine my cooking ability, though. It seems like she has a new set of dietary requirements every visit that I would be happy to accommodate if she'd let me try, but no. Instead, she will make a big deal out of having to bring food for her husband and herself or insist we go out to eat. It really sucks.

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

15 Baby Names With Unique Nicknames, So Your Family Has Options

I love a good diminutive name, also known as a nickname. I believe I’m partial to them because of my own name, Abigale, but I go by Abi. And since they’re both uniquely spelled, everyone thinks my name is pronounced Ah-bee for some reason — but even …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

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

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

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

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
)}