5 Ways To Deal With An Overbearing In-Law

woman with mother-in-law and daughter getty

Do you have overbearing in-laws whose presence is driving you nuts?

Are you incredibly frustrated but not sure how to deal with them, because they are your partner’s parent and you want to be respectful?

I get it. In-laws can be a challenge. I know there were certainly struggles early on in my marriage and, sometimes, things didn’t go well.

RELATED: My Mother-In-Law Made Me A Better Wife


I've thought about those struggles and what I could have done differently. I have many more life skills now than I had then — and I could have done things differently.

What I've learned since then is that you can’t change other people’s behavior, but you can change your reaction to them.

A person is how a person is, and unless they want to change, they won’t.

Controlling how you react to their behaviors is something that you can do and, when you do, you might find that dealing with an overbearing in-law is possible.

So, with that idea in mind, here are 5 ways to deal with overbearing in-laws in healthy ways.

1. Ask them about experiences that you don’t have.

Your in-laws have been doing what you're just beginning to do for probably more than a few decades. That's a lot of experience — experience that you should appreciate and take advantage of.


Much like when you start a new job, you're new at this and looking towards someone with more experience. Whether you like them or not, they can help you succeed.

As a new parent or a newlywed, whether you realize it or not, you can use all of the help and insight that you can get.

Ask your in-laws to share that experience with you. Asking them questions, getting their opinions, and sometimes even deferring to their wishes will help you connect with them.

And if they feel like they're playing some part in their child's new life, then they will be way easier to get along with.

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to follow their advice but even being asked about it will give them some satisfaction. That being said, you might just learn something that you never thought of that's an excellent idea!


So, mine some of the experience that you have right at hand. You will be glad you did, for many reasons.

2. Remember that they raised your partner.

It’s hard to imagine, but your in-laws did raise your partner. They fed them, bathed them, and changed their diapers for years. They taught them how to do just about everything that they do.

Your in-laws had a profound influence on your partner’s life for 18 years or more, and that shouldn’t be discounted. They deserve some credit and respect for the fact that they did that.

And you love your partner — that's why you're with them. Your in-laws must have done some things right.

My mother-in-law always told me that her son could clean a toilet and vacuum like a madman. I told her that after 20 years of marriage, I had retrained him: He cleaned nothing anymore.


I see now that that was a slap in her face. She worked hard to raise the person that she did, and she should be recognized and appreciated for that.

And I did love the person who her son had become. I wish I had had more respect for that.

3. Let them help with the kids.

Your in-laws love your kids as much, if not more, than you do.

They say that being a grandparent is the most wonderful thing in the world. That you get all of the joys of being a parent, without any of the difficulties.

So know that, at the very least, one more person is madly in love with your child.

My grandmother was a huge positive influence in my life. She hadn’t been a great mother to my mother, but for me, she was amazing. And I've learned from my own mother that having grandchildren is the best thing that ever happened to her.


So, appreciate that this person loves your children as much as they do. After all, every person who loves your child is a gift.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Why Setting Boundaries With Your In-Laws ASAP Is The Secret To Having A Good Marriage

4. Recognize and accept when they want to help.

In-laws really do just want to help — they don’t set out to drive you crazy. They don’t mean to criticize your parenting or complain about the state of your kitchen.

They are there to be with their children and grandchildren. And more often than not, their intentions are good.

Perhaps, the manner in which they speak up about your parenting or housekeeping skills is abrasive and stinging, but remember, they are only human and most likely just trying to support you in any way they can. Really!


So, next time your in-law is in your house, put them to work. They could hang out with the kids, help you fold the laundry, or take your partner out for a break.

Mothers, in particular, are used to being busy and when she's at your house as a guest, she might feel put out and useless. Fathers might be bored and grumpy and will be happy to be of help.

Recognize that your in-laws are there for good reasons, even if you find them overbearing at times. But if you can recognize and accept their motives, you will go a long way.

And I'm sure there's some help somewhere that you really need.

5. Remember that you're lucky to have them and that they won’t always be there.

So many mothers start out with no support. Their mother and mother-in-law are far away, no longer alive, or absent for some reason. As newlyweds or new parents, you're lucky if you have someone there who can support you when you need it.


My mother lived in Virginia and while she was there right after my daughter was born, she could only stay for a week.

Fortunately, my mother-in-law lived close by. And while we didn't always see eye to eye, she was there in the times when I really needed her. I'm very lucky that I had that.

Also, none of us are getting any younger. Your in-laws might not always be there for you. Appreciate how lucky you are and make the best of it.

Dealing with an overbearing in-law not always be easy but if you can adjust your reaction to their behaviors, your efforts will be worth it in the long run.

In-laws are, in so many ways, an asset to every relationship, even if they can be trying at times.


Learn from their experience, have respect for the years they cared for your spouse, know that they adore your kids, put them to work, and appreciate that they exist.

After all, your partner loves them. They are their mother or father. Loving your in-laws shows your partner just how much you love them, too, which makes everybody happy.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Have A 'Working' Relationship With Difficult In-Laws

Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based, certified life and love coach. Let her help you find, and keep, love in this crazy world in which we live. Email her at mitzi@letyourdreamsbegin.com and get started!