How to Handle an Intrusive Mother-In-Law: 15 Steps

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How to Handle an Intrusive Mother-In-Law: 15 Steps
How to Handle an Intrusive Mother-In-Law: 15 Steps

Is your mother-in-law always bossing around your house, making criticisms or showing up uninvited? Are you fed up already? It's time to talk to your partner. Discuss the boundaries to be respected and ask him to discuss the matter with the mother. If it is necessary to intervene at the moment, be firm, but be polite. Calmly explain that the behavior is inappropriate and will not be tolerated.


Part 1 of 3: Dealing with Situations

Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 1

Step 1. Don't cause unnecessary fights

It's not worth stressing out every time your mother-in-law asks something personal or does something irritating. Try to stay calm and overlook the little things. Leave to act when she really pushes the limits.

For example, if she comes to dinner and says, “Look, the chicken is pretty good, but it needs more seasoning,” just ignore it. Respond: "Thanks for the tip!"

Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 2

Step 2. In a calm and firm way, reinforce your limits when necessary

Address the issue without screaming or fussing. If you need to put your mother-in-law in her shoes, keep your tone neutral and direct. Avoid escalating conflict at all costs.

  • Let's say she keeps asking about intimate matters like why you don't go to her church or how many people you've dated. Say: “I prefer not to talk about it. Let's talk about something else?”.
  • If she shows up unannounced, be clear: “Now is not a good time to receive her. We've already talked about tapping before coming here, because sometimes we're busy. Unfortunately, I will ask you to come back another time."
Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 3

Step 3. Politely take back your authority if she tries to rule your house

If she always tries to control the situation when she comes to visit, tell her that everything is under control and that she can sit down and relax. Also, be thankful for the provision.

  • For example, if you invite her to dinner and she wants to take over the kitchen, respond: “Thanks for the help, but I can handle it myself! Sit down and rest for a while. I give more like this!”.
  • If she still insists, give her some easy task to occupy her, like chopping vegetables or making a salad.
Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 4

Step 4. If the behavior persists, impose yourself

If she continues with the criticism, indiscreet questions and invasions of privacy, it's time to put a stop to it. No need to scream or lose your mind, but make it clear that you will no longer accept being disrespected.

Say it like this: “We've already talked about this: I don't like how you interfere with the functioning of my house. I've tried to be nice so far and I intend to continue being nice, but that's enough”

Part 2 of 3: Teaming up with your partner

Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 5

Step 1. Explain what you are feeling to your partner

It is important to respect the bond between him and his mother, but show him that you need his space and autonomy. Clarify your needs and specifically say what needs to change. Use a friendly tone and don't blame your partner for your mother-in-law's actions.

  • Start like this: “I understand your relationship with your mother, and I don't want to cause any problems; however, there are limits. It's not nice of her to come here out of nowhere or criticize the way I raise my son”.
  • Don't take too long to bring it up; the faster it is, the less conflicts to deal with.
Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 6

Step 2. Tell your partner that you understand how delicate the situation is

Show that you understand that it's hard to be in the crossfire. Make it clear that your relationship has nothing to do with your difficulty with your mother-in-law.

Do it like this: “I know this is not easy to deal with. I don't want you to feel like you have to choose between me and your family. I love you, and these issues shouldn't affect our relationship.”

Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 7

Step 3. Define the boundaries of the situation with your partner

In addition to explaining your feelings, discuss with him your mother-in-law's role in your life, as well as how best to handle conflicts. Seek a happy medium for both of you.

  • Maybe your partner doesn't care when the mother shows up unannounced because he wants her to be around all the time. In that case, you could arrange a weekly dinner with her, as long as she always calls before she comes.
  • Be flexible, but don't override your needs. Do it like this: “I'm glad you're close to your parents, and I want you to stay that way; but I am your companion, and I need your support too. Valuing our privacy doesn't mean you need to get away from your mother."
Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 8

Step 4. Ask your partner to talk to the mother alone

After reaching a consensus, it is time for your partner to take the initiative, as it is up to him to solve the problems related to the parents. If he refuses, explain that this is his role, just as you would if the issue were with your family.

Say: “You are the one who should ask your mother to respect our space. If you had any difficulties with my parents, it would be my responsibility to address this. Be direct but respectful. Say that we don't want to push her away, but that she needs to be aware of the limits."

Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 9

Step 5. Ask your partner for support

Whether it's to set boundaries, deal with criticism, or intervene in some disrespectful situation, he must defend you. A couple's biggest commitment is always to each other.

  • When necessary, your partner should speak out before you do. It's even more effective.
  • If your mother-in-law makes derogatory comments about you, she should say, “Please don't talk about Pedro like that. If you disrespect my partner, you are also disrespecting me, and that is not acceptable”.
  • If he doesn't do anything, comment: “We are a team, and I was hurt that you didn't stand up for me when your mother abused me. I don't want to involve you in the fight, but I need you at these times.”

Part 3 of 3: Setting Healthy Boundaries

Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 10

Step 1. Tell your mother-in-law that everyone, without exception, should call before visiting them

You and your partner must show her that this is a rule for any guest. By using general terms, she will feel less attacked, which helps to avoid fights.

Your partner might say, “Don't think we don't like you. We just prefer that friends and family call before showing up, just in case.”

Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 11

Step 2. When making appointments, choose specific dates and times

If the problem is that the mother-in-law arrives at your house and never leaves, make clear the start and end time of your plans. When you want to wrap up, tell her, in a direct and polite way, that it's time to go.

  • You could go like this: “If you want, come to lunch tomorrow at noon, but today, Paula and I have things to take care of after three in the afternoon”.
  • Checking things out is also a way to prevent the mother-in-law from extending the visit too long. Instead of making dinner at home, go out to eat at a restaurant or cafe.
Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 12

Step 3. Do not ask for or accept money from your in-laws

Conflicts of this nature will be avoided if you don't mix finances. Also, by using your mother-in-law's money, she will feel entitled to run your home.

Let's say you borrow a sum to pay for something for your child, such as school fees. If you tell your mother-in-law not to meddle with your breeding style, chances are she'll throw it in your face

Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 13

Step 4. Clearly explain the children's rules to her

If the mother-in-law is to take care of the little ones, she must know their correct diet, meal times, sleep routine, etc. Also let them know what shows, movies, and content they can't watch, as well as remind her about chores and homework.

  • Their in-laws have already raised their children, so they don't think they need to follow any other guidelines. Establish simple and easy-to-follow rules, such as: “Please don't let the children watch television or play video games if they haven't done their homework”, or “Joaquim needs to take the anti-allergic at seven at night. Please check this out”.
  • Know that your mother-in-law will not do it exactly your way. Discard small mistakes, such as giving children ice cream without their permission.
  • If you end up arguing about how to take care of the little ones, let them talk alone. Don't allow your mother-in-law to question your authority in front of the children.
  • By letting her stay with the kids, you'll make her feel useful, and maybe that way the intrusions will lessen. However, if she constantly disobeys your rules, don't ask for that favor anymore.
Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 14

Step 5. Stay with the mother-in-law only when your partner is with you

To keep the peace, you don't have to become her best friend. Avoid contact when your partner isn't there, especially if she tends to belittle or criticize you.

For example, if you're going to leave the little ones with her in the afternoon, say hello and be kind, but don't bullshit. Say, “Susana, it was nice talking to you, but now I have to go. I come to pick up the children around five”

Deal With an Intrusive, Needy Mother in Law Step 15

Step 6. Avoid complaining about it to your children or other relatives

Venting to your partner or a close friend makes sense, but don't talk bad about your mother-in-law to the children or other family members.

It would suck if she knew you've been talking bad about her around. Maybe your brothers-in-law will even make the occasional negative comment about their mother, but don't get in their way


  • Have self-control. Try to have empathy for your mother-in-law, especially if the unpleasant behavior is not bad. Maybe she just wants to help or is afraid of losing her child.
  • Another strategy is to ask your mother-in-law for advice from time to time. She will feel important and will likely change her attitude.
  • Put it in its place. Be firm and make it clear when she goes overboard.

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