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How to Deal With a Possessive Mother

by Rosenya Faith

You've read about those overbearing mothers in parenting magazines, but you never thought you'd encounter one face-to-face. Life is certainly full of surprises, isn't it? Now that you have little ones and your mother is trying to call the shots, it's time to set some boundaries for your child's well being and for your own mother-daughter relationship. The road may be a bumpy one, but if you set the appropriate boundaries, you can save your relationship with mom.

Discuss the problem with your spouse. If you're going to fight this battle — and win it — you need to present a united front; you also need his support. If you're a single parent, talk to a trusted friend. Talk about your feelings and figure out your options, your prospective boundaries. Discussing the various options with a trusted partner or friend allows you to approach the issue in a calm manner.

Figure out the boundaries you'd like to establish. Decide what would be ideal, but also where you're willing to compromise. You want your mother to stop sneaking your youngster treats altogether, but you know she's going to give you a hard time about it. Consider standing your ground at home, but on special trips to grandma's house, allowing for special treats. There will be some areas of compromise and some areas where you will not budge — just be sure you know where you stand on specific issues.

Make a date with mom. Set aside some time that you can devote entirely to your conversation. You don't want constant interruptions and you don't want to leave things unsettled when rivaling siblings or a burning dinner ends your discussion early.

Talk it out as plainly, but kindly, as possible. This is the woman who raised and cared for you, so you don't want to be mean. You also don't want to leave things open to interpretation. If she's no longer welcome at your home every day from morning to night, be clear. Say something like, “Mom, I really love how much you want to be involved in our lives, but Cole and I need more one-on-one time together. I'd love it if you could still join us for dinner on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

Stay true to your word. Do not make exceptions once you've established the guidelines, or your mother may not take your concerns seriously. The new arrangement may take some time to get used to, so provide gentle reminders if old habits pop up. Consider saying something like, “Mom, we agreed that you wouldn't give Victoria chocolate during your visits here. Why don't you save that for the next time she comes to visit at your house?”

Items you will need
  • Courage
  • Self confidence


  • See Dick Bite Jane: A Think and Do Book for Parenting Predicaments Big and Small; Elise Mac Adam
  • Babyproofing Your Marriage; Stacie Cockrell, et al.
  • Grandparenting ABCs; Eleanor Berman

About the Author

Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images