Q: My mother-in-law and I have a terrible relationship. She wanted her son to marry another woman, so she’s hated me from the start. She has tried every which way to get us to part. I rarely go to her home.
Our daughter is three years old and I am wondering what will happen when she realises that I don’t visit her grandmother. I don’t have a clue how to mend our relationship. Please help me, Auntie.
: You have a right to be concerned about your daughter as children are very perceptive and pick up on tension within families, even if it is not directly expressed.
To ensure that your daughter has a happy, healthy relationship with members of her family, you should try to settle your disputes where possible. That said, you must realise that you are already in a tough position.
It seems to me your problems have been going on for a long time, which means it may take a while to repair the damage.
While it is true that your mother-in-law has been horrible to you, can you try to understand her as a person, with her own anxieties, fears, and emotional baggage?
If you can, you might be more open to seeing what, if anything, you may have done or be doing to cause some of her feelings. If you recognise that you have hurt her in the past, apologise and try to clear the air.
If you’ve made all the reparations you can, then it’s time for your husband to step in. In fact, he can be pivotal in healing the breach. It’s his job to stand up for you when his mother criticises or insults you.
He needs to explain to her, in private, that you are his choice and that if she loves him she needs to respect his choice. If the relationsip will still not be healed, you may consider involving a third person, like a family therapist.
If, even after all of this, your mother-in-law does not change, then it is wise to avoid open warfare for your daughter’s sake. Accept the reality that you may never change how she feels about you but give your child the opportunity to develop her relationship
with her grandmother. My best wishes.