Monday, May 28, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It:

Husband must be buffer against overbearing mother-in-law

Q: When I became engaged to my now-husband, I explicitly told friends and family I was not interested in any bridal showers.

My mother-in-law ignored all of my protests and planned a bridal shower, inviting only her family members (most of whom I'd never met). I had no choice but to go and be gracious, even though the experience was extremely uncomfortable.

I am pregnant and know my mother-in-law will immediately begin plans for a baby shower when she finds out. I have no interest in repeating the experience and have decided not to commit to any future dates as potential surprise parties, in addition to telling her I prefer to have no party.

"Mom" has lots of anger issues and will not take the news well. Is it petty of me to say a polite but firm "No, thanks," or must I suck it up yet again?

No Parties

A: Normally I'd say that baby showers are different, and that involving people in celebrations can be an early step in creating a community for your child, but this is different. You're still at a point where your mother-in-law is in control, you make no mention of where your husband is in all this, and a baby is about to make any mother-in-law boundary problems exponentially worse.

So, take it up with your husband. Not just the shower, but the whole "anger issues when anyone says no to her" thing. He needs to be willing to serve as the protective wall between his young family and her issues. Is he? If not, it's counseling or marriage seminar time, to allow a disinterested third party to explain the perils of not making each other your mutual priority.

Side note: These celebrations needn't be gift-shakedowns. They can be gifts-for-needy-moms showers; favorite-children's-book showers; or best-advice-I-ever-got showers; whatever sits right.

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