Q: My husband's parents are divorced; both remarried. My mother-in-law's husband is wonderful, but my father-in-law's wife is overbearing. She is very critical of my husband, me, my sister-in-law and her husband.
When my sister-in-law had a baby, my father-in-law's wife suddenly became even MORE overbearing toward her. What irks me most is that the wife insists on referring to herself as Grandma. I don't want my future child to call her Grandma, nor do I want her referring to herself that way. My child will have two wonderful grandmothers — this woman is not going to be one of them. How can I politely ask her not to expect to be called Grandma by my children?
A: You neither can nor should shove the Wife off the grandma shelf. Nor do you have any business trying to. Even if she's every bit as negative as you say, her grandma spot is secured by marriage. Deal with it. Or get ready to explain "politely" that "wonderful" Stepdad can't be Grandpa.
Plus, she might be one more person in your child's corner.
If inspiration eludes you, consider this: The more you push her away, the more overbearing and critical you can expect her to get.
Why? Because those two traits are classic (if obnoxious and counterproductive) self-promotion. They're the tools of people desperate to assert their value. The more value you deny her, the harder her wheels will spin.
Grit out some pleasant engagement instead — including, when she gets mean, "I'd appreciate your support, not criticism." Diplomacy, not war.