Ask Kari: My mother-in-law won’t consult me when making family plans — what should I do?

Dear Kari,

My mother in-law always asks to speak with my husband when she calls our home. She asks to make plans with our family, keeping me out of the conversation, which is frustrating since I keep the family calendar. My husband has asked her to just speak with me, but she never does. I am so tired of her games! What should I do?

Frustrated Daughter-in-Law

Dear Frustrated Daughter-in-Law,

It seems that your mother-in-law is attempting to bypass you in order to demonstrate that she still has a bond with her son. It could be a power move, as she may feel threatened by your husband’s relationship with you. I am glad to hear that your husband attempts to defuse the situation by asking her to just speak with you directly when she calls versus only talking to him about family gatherings. I suggest that you recognize that it may be hard for her to accept that her son has moved into an adult relationship in which he is happy, leaving her behind with the memories of how she used to be the leading lady in his life. While it would be considered normal for children to leave their families of origin and move on to start families of their own, sometimes doing so is much harder for parents to accept than one would wish. When she calls, be polite and warm, asking her how she is doing. Hopefully with repeated nice encounters she will realize that you love her son just like she does. New growth in your relationship can begin.


As published in the November 2013 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

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