Dealing with a pushy mother-in-law is challenging, but having her next door can make it almost unbearable. Maintaining a positive relationship with your children's grandmother requires flexibility, diplomacy skills and drawing clear boundaries. A positive attitude and self care will get you through the situation and help you see it in a more positive light. In fact, staying positive might even help you develop a better relationship with her so she can be part of your support system when it comes to raising your children.
Focus on the positive outcomes of having your mother-in-law living next door. When you find yourself dwelling on annoyances, think about the times she's available to take care of the kids when you go on dates with your husband or need time for yourself. Also remember that it's nice for your children to grow up close to a grandparent who cares for them. Make having her around more enjoyable by planning to spend some time alone with her doing activities that you both like. For example, you might want to schedule a lunch at your favorite cafe. When you're together, try to keep the focus on what you have in common -- like both loving your spouse and your children -- rather than thinking about your differences.
Discuss the situation with your spouse. Let your spouse know how you feel about your pushy mother-in-law without demanding that he deal with her, or that he take your side against her. Simply remain calm and explain how you feel when your mother-in-law is pushy so that he is aware of the situation. Try to agree to work together to make the best of having your mother-in-law next door.
Set limits and boundaries concerning her visits. If your mother-in-law spends too much time in your home, sit down and have a conversation with her. Tell her that although you enjoy having her in your home, you also need private family time to complete household chores, work on school assignments and deal with personal issues. Enlist the help of your spouse in setting and enforcing these limits. Allow her the opportunity to set her own boundaries. Be respectful of her own privacy and avoid showing up unannounced or constantly sending the kids over to her house.
Reach out to your mother-in-law so she doesn't have to reach out to you. A mother-in-law can become pushy if she feels like she has to compete for her son's attention, or like she isn't included in what's going on with her family. Encourage your children to visit her often. Include her in your family plans and make it a point to communicate with her about what's going on with your spouse and children frequently. This will help her feel like she is part of the family and that you value her company and opinion.
Practice self-care activities that will help you vent some of the frustration that can build up from dealing with your mother-in-law. Schedule time to attend a yoga class or get a massage during stressful times in your family. Take time to vent your anger and frustration with close friends. Avoid constantly complaining to your husband about every little thing that his mother does or criticizing her. Ask him to help you deal with specific situations while keeping in mind that she is still his mother.
- Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images