You had a big argument with your mother-in-law. You didn’t agree with her views on how your kids should be raised. Unfortunately, both of you have hardly met or spoken to each other since then.
But now you want to improve the relationship. The decision that you want to restore normality to your family life is a very positive move. Someone has to take the first step when it comes to healing the rift – and there are good reasons why it should be you.
You want your child to be happier, for instance, and don’t want to set her a bad example.
Taking responsibility for sorting out the cold war with your mother-in-law doesn’t mean that the disagreement was all your fault. It simply means you’re putting your family’s interests before your own.
Before saying or doing anything further, spend some time reflecting honestly about the breakdown between you and your mother-in-law. Think about why this happened and who said what to whom.
Most important of all, consider how the difficulty could have been avoided in the first place.
Perhaps you didn’t have to challenge her comments about your parenting ability. Or your husband could have asked her to stop criticising. Maybe you could admit that some of her advice was useful.
This thinking process helps you identify strategies that can be used to stop the same dispute from arising again.
Ma, can we move on?
Then, make time to chat with your mum-in-law in private. Arrange an appointment with her. It’s better than turning up on her doorstep.
Calmly explain that you’re upset because both of you haven’t been getting on well together. Add that you hope to improve the relationship, and are sure her son and grandchild want that, too.
She’s unlikely to reject such a reasonable request. After all, your mother-in- law is probably also fed up with the tension that exists whenever you’re in each other’s company.
Explain that you accept she has lots more experience as a parent than you, and has plenty of useful advice to share.
Point out, however, that you have your own ideas and also want to learn from your own experience.
You should respectfully ask her not to voice criticism of your parenting style in front of your child or anyone else. Listen to what she says in response. Remember, there are always two sides to every argument.
Ask your mother-in-law if she has any suggestions to get on better with each other. This encourages both of you to look for solutions rather than fixate solely on past problems.
(Also read: 6 ways to deal with a difficult mother-in-law)
This won’t be an easy meeting, but it’s certainly better than maintaining an emotional distance from each other.
Remind yourself that you don’t have to agree about what has happened; you just have to share the plan for a better future.
When you’ve reached some compromise about the way forward – and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t if you both really do want to heal the rift – then begin seeing more of each other.
Chances are, you and your mother-in-law will make an extra effort to get on with each other after this discussion, so the next few months should go more smoothly.
If she starts again to make remarks that irk you, tactfully remind her of your previous agreement.
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