Family Relations/Over bearing mother


QUESTION: I need some advice on how to deal with my mother.
So my husband and I are expecting our first child this year and we couldn’t be more thrilled! Our munchkin will be the second grandchild on my husband’s side but first for my side. Both our families very excited about the baby and super supportive. I couldn’t feel luckier!
There is only one issue. My parents are going through a divorce which is starting to look like its turning for the worst. My mom we suspect to have possible bio polar or a personality disorder. She’s a very hard woman to deal with on a regular occasion more so now with the divorce. She gets to excited and kind of takes over things such as my wedding, even though her heart is in the right spot. It’s just too overwhelming.
So last week I called her to talk like I do every week since she lives a few hours away. I told her that my husband and I are going shopping this weekend to look at items for the baby and are picking up a diaper bag. She was not happy and forbidden me from buying anything since its bad luck. I told her I don’t believe in bad luck and I’m not going to go through this pregnancy suspecting that I’ll lose my child. Not only that I need a few things before I have the baby so I can bring munchkin home. So this conversation went on like this but in a nice tone (I was getting annoyed). It went on where she demanded that I let my mother in law know she’s holding the shower because this is her first grandchild. I knew she would take it over since this is nothing new…  then she went off and referred the baby as her baby which I corrected her saying the baby is my husbands and mine, again she corrected me no its my baby…  This didn’t make me happy… but I let it go since she’s just excited..
Then she asked if she could be in the delivery room when I give birth. I told her no I just want Mike (My husband) cause I want this to be a private moment with him and I. she then tries to guilt trip me into letting her in there.. I told her I’ll think about it just to get her to drop it..
Next problem was she asked if she could come over a few weeks before the baby to help me get the house ready. I told her a weekend over would be great (my mother in law has been over every second weekend helping me organize, I don’t dare say that cause she’ll just make me feel horrible about it). Then she asked if she could stay 2 weeks after I have the baby… I told her a week would be wonderful but mike and I need time to adjust to being parents. She didn’t like that idea.
The problem with her staying is mike and her don’t get along. They never really have. When we were dating she thought he was going to steal me away and never let me speak to her… but my husband is a wonderful supportive man whom I love so incredibly much even after 3 years of marriage and 10 years total together.
What do I do about my mom? I don’t want a fight but shes over stepping her boundaries and with this divorce I don’t want her “wrath” to turn on to me.  I can guaranty she’s going to tell me how to raise my child..

ANSWER: Hi, Stacy, thanks for your question. You asked, "What do I do about my mom?"

I'm not really sure what you mean by the question. You might mean, "how do I stop my mom from doing what I don't want her to do, and make her do what I want?"

If that's what you mean, then I'm not really sure how one accomplishes that, since we don't have control over other people. There's no legal way to force people to stop saying things you don't want them to say, or to stop doing (legal) things that you don't want them to do.

You might want to consider allowing your mother to say any outrageous things, no matter how ridiculous they might seem. That's called "free speech".

For example, she is legally allowed to tell you how to raise your child.

You can always ask her to stop, but she doesn't have to.

In the end, if it really bothers you that much, you don't have to listen to it. You can always hang up, or stop calling, etc.

That's probably not what you want to hear, but the ability to separate ourselves from other people (such as parents) is the hallmark of a mature adult. When you can choose your actions, based on your own ideals and goals, regardless of what the other person says or does, then you are more of a complete human being. I understand that it is easier said than done....

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: sorry about that. I was wondering how do you deal with someone like her? you would think I would know how to know, but this is different since this is my first child. I don't know what are good guide lines or I'm just being over emotional.

yea I completely agree about separating ourselves from other people. in the beginning of there divorce my brother and I were thrown into the middle and it almost brought me to a mental break down. since then I've learned. But I don't want to separate my children from there grandmother without just cause (I.E. bad mouthing there grandfather or there dad). should I talk her about that conversation and let her know she crossed a line? if I do that she will use the "nobody wants me around" like she has in the past.

Hi, Stacy, thanks for the f/u. You asked, "I was wondering how do you deal with someone like her?"

I only have the same answer, but perhaps a different way of saying it might communicate better:
1. Do what you want.
2. Let her do what she wants.
3. If you find that you cannot abide by what she does, and she refuses to change, then get out of the situation, don't be around her.

It is not a matter of "Right" or "Wrong" (capital letters), it's a matter of what is right for you, personally. Put up with it. Deal with it. If you cannot, then get out. It's a personal choice. It is only upsetting for you because you want her to do things differently. That's why all people get upset with other people - we want them to do things our way, and they won't. So, if you want to stop being upset, then stop wishing she will do things your way.

It is only your opinion that she "crossed the line". That "line" is your line only. There is no rule book, no regulation or statute about interpersonal relationships. It is all by agreement.

You certainly can tell her that you would like her to behavior differently. Again, there is no rule against it. You are free to make that request. She is free to refuse. If she refuses, you have a choice - put up with it or get out. Simple (to say and hard to do) as that.

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Bruce Borkosky, Psy.D.


questions framed similarly to 'what are some ways to respond when someone does/says X' are best. Questions posed in the form of 'why does my father do/say Y', or 'how would you diagnose my mother when she does/says Z' are difficult, if not impossible, to answer. I will probably reframe your question to fit the first question (what do I do). Nay question regarding any family member is fair game. Some of the most difficult are in the area of step-parenting and divorcing families.


I've been a licensed psychologist in Florida since 1994. I've evaluated and/or treated thousands of patients.

American Psychological Association Florida Psychological association National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology


Psy.D., Miami Institute of Psychology, 1993 M.CS., U. of Dayton, 1984 B.A., Ohio Wesleyan U., 1978

Awards and Honors
Award for Years of Dedicated Service, Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society, 1999

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