We’ve had three New Beginnings events already (I like to call them mum support groups — like AA meetings) and in the most recent one, a lot of us mums shared our issues with our in-laws. As more mums shared, it was obvious that we had common concerns:
One big issue was about in-laws “breaking the rules” that you are trying to establish in your home. A few mums shared that a mother-in-law or sister-in-law would offer their kids chips or candy or chocolates even if the mum’s rule is to limit sweets or not have desserts before meals.
Another issue was about critical in-laws. Some mums felt judged for certain ways they would parent or raise their kids. (I won’t get into specifics to protect the innocent but I’m sure you some of you know what I mean.)
As we talked about our stories, I felt better because I knew the other mums felt the same way and I wasn’t alone. We needed each others’ support because issues like these affect us individually and the way we parent our children. We were there, not to rant, but because we wanted to be better people and better parents.
So here were the concrete tips from Coach Pia (Coach Pia is our life coach for the New Beginnings mum support groups) during in handing such situations (Tips in bold are Coach Pia’s. The rest would be my own inputs):
1. Do not have any expectations.
Do not expect in laws to be the same as you. You lived your single life (that’s about 25-30 years) separate from each other. There is no reason why you would believe in the same things all of a sudden just because you married into the family.
2. Expect rules to be broken.
Grandparents love to spoil their apos. If she gets that chocolate cake every Sunday from lola, empathize with how your kid feels at that moment (because we’re sure they love it!). “Wow, that was nice of Lola. That probably tastes really good.”
Don’t try to “fight” or correct your in-laws about the rules broken. This will just show your kids that there is a power struggle. When your kids get home, you still stick to your own rules. They will realize the difference between lola’s way and your way and if you explain your rules with love, then there will be no resentment or confusion. (The “with love” tips will be given in a different post.)
3. Expect the worst.
If your in-law criticizes a lot, try to imagine all the worst criticisms that will come your way. This will help lessen the frustration on your part and you can plan how you can be zen about them. Don’t take someone else’s words or actions personally. When someone criticizes you, that is all on them.
You cannot control how they feel and what they say or do. All you can control is how you react. (Thank you to my friend Tine for this insight too.) Coach Pia suggests you disengage yourself from the comment or the criticism. Don’t take it in. Don’t take it personally. They are the ones who have a problem with it. Don’t let them drag you along.
If you do want to give feedback to the person so they stop criticizing, the best way (and if you’re well-adjusted and brave enough) is to set them aside, talk to them one-on-one and say your feedback in this format:
“When you said/ did this, I felt this.” (Fill in the this.)
I learned this method from my husband. And he says by doing it this way, you just say how you felt about the situation. You’re not saying the other person is wrong. You’re just saying what you feel and feelings are never wrong.
These tips aren’t easy to follow (especially the breaking rules and criticisms parts) and it will take time. Coach Pia gave a good insight — if we didn’t have kids, there would probably be no issues with in-laws. These things stress us because anything that takes away our energy from focusing on our kids can really take a toll on us mums and how we parent. These tips are guide posts in helping us structure the way we handle certain sticky in-law situations and I’ve already found them very helpful.
Don’t get me wrong about the New Beginnings mum support groups. It isn’t a rant-fest. We don’t dwell on being victims and have a pity party with other mums. We don’t huddle together and talk about how wrong our in-laws are (because most of the time, no one is really wrong). We use the New Beginnings Mum support groups to raise concerns that stress us out and affect the way we parent. Coach Pia is thankfully there to give us structure in the discussions, give us concrete examples of how to move forward from our issues and help us become the best mums we can be.
I actually feel pretty brave writing about this but I think a lot of mums feel the same way. Before you get all “The Buzz” on me, please remember that I wrote this based on the sharing of different mums in the group. I am not singling out anyone, including myself
Do you have in-law issues? Feel free to leave a comment here or send a direct message to the New Beginnings team on Facebook. We will pass it on to Coach Pia to help with your concerns (and we will not publish without your permission).
I tell you, these New Beginnings mum support groups and Coach Pia have made a tremendous difference in me in just a short span of time. Thank you so much to FrisoMum for being so open in developing really helpful programs like these. Follow New Beginnings on Facebook to find out when the next mum support group will take place. I’m looking forward to meeting you then