Navigating In-Law Involvement With Kids: Keeping Boundaries & 6 Tips On How To Handle Interfering In-Laws

It can be challenging to stop your interfering in-laws when raising your children. But before telling them off, you must know how you wish to raise your children, including the things you can or can’t accept. When you find any disruptive behavior from in-laws, talk to your spouse about it and discuss how to handle things. Be kind when talking to in-laws about creating healthy boundaries. Finally, be understanding and think from their point of view as well because their experience in raising children might be more helpful than you think.

It can be really annoying when you find your in-laws parenting your children, a job that’s originally yours but in small ways is being taken over by the in-laws.

In some ways, in-laws caring for their grandchildren is sweet and welcoming as they share the burden of raising them.

Of course, it’s a kind gesture on their part, but it can cross over to them second-guessing every each of your parenting decision and thus taking over the role of being parents themselves.

It can be irritating when they teach certain things or handle your kids in a way you disapprove of. So, how do you handle an interfering mother-in-law who disapproves of your capabilities as a mother?

Why are my in-laws interfering in my child’s upbringing?

Every grandparent wishes to spend as much time as possible with their grandchildren.

It’s a blessing to have in-laws who understand that they’re grandparents now and indulge in ways of actually parenting their grandchildren.

Of course, no parent would want to keep their children away from spending quality time with their grandparents, but it can quickly become overwhelming if the in-laws cross the boundary and try to become parents instead.

It can be very subtle, and sometimes even they wouldn’t realize they’re crossing over and telling you how to do your job.

Since in-laws might seem like they’ve already raised children, they know so much more than you, so dictating might come naturally.

But you wouldn’t want that and would like to raise your children according to what you think is right.

This includes teaching them what’s right and wrong, different values, how to handle a situation, their emotions, and behave with others.

For example, if you wish to teach your child how to better express their emotions, like how crying is okay and even getting angry is alright, but to channel it in a way that doesn’t harm others.

On the other hand, your in-law would tell your son that crying is something that boys aren’t supposed to do and girls should never get angry is something to feel icky about.

6 tips for dealing with in-laws and a new baby

There are things you can do to make sure your in-laws understand the subtle difference between grandparents and parents and do fun activities with your children without crossing over to parenthood.

It might also take time for them to understand the changed roles, but you shouldn’t give up and keep trying to clarify this distinction for them.

1. Know how you want to raise your children

A young couple is laying down bonding with their infant son

Before getting upset at your in-laws, you should know how you wish to raise your children, and that includes things you can be flexible about and things you definitely can’t be relaxed about.

It’s essential to know your values to explain to your in-laws why they shouldn’t do or say certain things because that’s not how you wish to raise your children.

Sometimes unplanned parenthood could lead to parents not being fully aware of how to raise their children, and it might take some time for them to come around to how to do their job better.

So, before you get angry at your MIL or tell your spouse you don’t like what she’s teaching your kids, you should know what you wish to do better.

2. Talk to your spouse

Your in-laws are, after all, your spouse’s parents and now a part of your family that you can’t be disrespectful towards.

Talking to your spouse about this is vital to handle a situation better.

For example, if you don’t like your in-laws calling names in front of your kids, which is something kids could learn from them, then talk to your partner about handling the situation.

Tell your spouse how you don’t like certain behaviors and conclude to talk to your in-laws about it.

It could be better to talk to your in-laws as a couple in certain situations, but sometimes it’s better if your spouse talks to them alone. See to it which one fits better to your individual situation.

3. Create healthy boundaries with in-laws

It can be easier to handle your in-laws around your children when they live far away and can’t visit often.

But when the situation is that they live close by or under the same roof, it can be tricky to create boundaries.

A young couple with their daughter and in-laws are sitting at the kitchen table playing a card game

Nevertheless, you must see that your in-laws don’t dictate how to raise your children.

Of course, there’re situations when you don’t know any better, and getting your in-laws’ help is beneficial.

But it could be easily overwhelming when they overtake the parenting role ultimately.

You must talk to your in-laws and be firm about how you wish to raise your children.

Let them know their specific behavior isn’t acceptable to you. That one thing you do is completely opposite from what they do; it could confuse your child about right or wrong.

Letting them know that this isn’t acceptable to you and your spouse and that you don’t want them to do it again is the only way to handle the situation and create boundaries.

4. Extreme way of handling kids

Grandparents could spoil their grandchildren by showering them with love and providing everything they ask for.

Or they could also think calling them names and handling them by slapping or spanking is entirely okay.

But your way of raising your kid could be completely different from your in-laws.

It can be hard to follow one thing when your in-law suddenly overtakes the situation and completely ruins your handling of a situation.

You would want to call them out on the spot, but it’s better not to do that in front of your child.

Tell them separately that this is not how you want them to handle the situation. That their jumping in between isn’t required when you’re managing the situation.

5. Be kind when talking to in-laws

It might be very irritating for you to watch your in-laws behave a certain way with your kids, which you disapprove of, but remember that immediately getting upset at them makes the situation worse.

Instead of getting upset now, you should hold off until you can handle things maturely.

If you get upset, they could easily turn this around and tell you that you’re throwing a fit.

To handle things maturely, discussing with your spouse when to talk to your in-laws is better.

When talking, tell them your concerns as kindly as possible, and no matter what, don’t get angry, as it could turn into an argument.

6. Try to understand their point of view

It can be easy to get lost in your world and forget that your in-laws could be right in some situations.

A young couple is talking to the husbands parents at the kitchen table

If you think letting your children watch reels on the smartphone is a brilliant idea to engage them while you do your work, but your in-laws disapprove of it, then this is one of the many instances where you should listen to them.

Letting your little one watch a smartphone isn’t anything to be proud of because it actually hampers their mental growth.

Your in-laws have raised their children, too. While there’re some things you don’t like about their parenting style, not everything could be bad.

Even they can’t be perfect with everything, so if they indulge in giving your children more candy, don’t stop them and instead control the consumption by giving one out when you feel it’s right.

Find things you can be flexible about and let things go occasionally.


How do you respond to a disrespectful mother-in-law?

When talking to a MIL who’s often disrespectful, it’s better never to handle things emotionally because they can turn things around and ask you why you’re being overly emotional over such a small thing.

Make sure your spouse is aware of the situation and is supportive. Talk to your MIL as a couple that her behavior is unacceptable and that you can’t and won’t handle this disrespect. If your husband is supportive, he’ll take a stand for you.

Even after all this, if she doesn’t change, then shift to a place where she can’t constantly cause trouble by visiting.

If your husband isn’t supportive, please look into your relationship and see if it’s worth being with a person who won’t stop his parents from disrespecting you.

How do you handle a controlling mother-in-law?

A controlling MIL won’t allow you to make things go your way even once. She would control your house, including your household and husband, and even how to raise your kids. There would be lots of interference from such a MIL.

Your husband must be supportive of you and willing to stand up to the controlling MIL.

Talk things out with your MIL and be respectful when doing so. Make sure to know why she acts so controlling, and if you can solve it, then do so.

Create boundaries and let her know what she does or say hurts you. You can’t expect things to change overnight, so give some time for things to turn around.

How do I keep my in-laws away from my baby?

Before taking such a drastic step, ensure that you’ve done everything you could to maintain the relationship while creating healthy boundaries with your in-laws.

If, even after doing everything you could, things don’t change and your in-laws act controlling and want to dictate how to raise your children, then talk to your spouse about how to distance yourselves from them.

You could shift to a place where they can’t visit often and limit your phone calls to a minimum.

Let them know it’s due to their behavior and the way they say or do things that you’ve created this distance. Maybe this could be the thing that would get them to change.


Was this article helpful?
Hi! I’m Saumya, writer and editor at Marriage & Bliss. “To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow—this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” —Elizabeth Gilbert. Every marriage faces pitfalls, be they internal or external, and with my words, I hope to help couples find possible solutions and mend their broken relationships. After all, a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
Read more

Leave a Comment