Question: Dear Luise: I need some advice on developing a better relationship with my mother-in-law. She is so hard to relate to because she’s all over the place. I’ve been married for almost 8 months now to a great guy. No problems there. However, my mother-in-law has a pretty messy past and I still don’t see any real signs of stability in her. It’s easy to get caught up in all of it but I know it’s really none of my business. I just found out I’m pregnant and I want to know who to tell about this and what to expect in the future. How do I find a balance between my family, who are all pretty “together” people, and my inconsistent, immature and many times married mother-in-law? Any suggestions? S.
Answer: Dear S.: As you can see, I had to reduce the length of your question to make room for my answer. As a result, I had to leave a lot of the history out. I hope I was able to get the gist of it into the condensed version.
I would suggest that you pay as little attention to your mother-in-law as possible.
Her antics, which you described in great detail, are not what your life is about. The sooner you get that she’s probably never going to make much sense, the better. Your husband may even have been a lucky little guy to be brought up by someone else. Please also consider the possibility that she may never be serious grandmother material.
Focus on building your new family while treating your mother-in-law with respect…(from a distance, whenever possible.) Certainly you can have compassion for her and forgive her past, present and probably future mistakes but don’t let any of it infect your home.
As far as when to announce that you are going to be parents, I would suggest not saying anything for a month or so to be sure all is well…and then tell everyone at once to avoid hard feelings.
Be grateful that your own parents have given you a very healthy and workable family unit model to copy. And now it’s your turn to teach your children about responsibility and reliability, in the same way they taught it to you. Blessings, Luise