“I just overheard my mother-in-law b*tching about my parenting skills”

Posted in Relationships.

If you’ve ever felt that someone is judging your parenting then this mum’s experience from two years ago is sure to strike a chord.

Eavesdropping nightmare

Taking to the parenting forum Mumsnet, this poor mama said she’d ducked up to the bathroom with her kids, at which point, her mother-in-law and sister-in-law began discussing her parenting skills.

She knows this because as she headed back down the stairs she could hear them talking about her. To make matters worse, this all took place in her own home where her mum-in-law and sister-in-law are currently house guests. 

“I just overheard my MIL b**ching about my parenting skills,” the poor mum wrote, explaining she’d accidentally eavesdropped on a discussion between mum-in-law and sister-in-law.

“I overheard her say something along the lines of she’s tried many times to get through to me about controlling my [daughter] but to no avail.”


“I’m not parenting how I should”

These two family members apparently have some ideas on the behaviour and discipline of this woman’s kids.

“They think my youngest is worse than my eldest and treat her more harshly and they certainly believe I don’t discipline her enough,” the sad mum wrote.

The fact that the kids behave beautifully with the mum-in-law and sister-in-law but less perfectly with their own mum (which is NORMAL!) has led these two women to deduce that problem parenting is to blame.

“I also overheard how my kids are seemingly well behaved with them but when I return they play up so it’s obvious who the problem is (me). I just feel sad that it has been confirmed to me that they think I’m not parenting how I should and it angers me that they are judging me in my own home.”

Mean mother in law with upset mother and father

“What’s she crying about now?”

The judged mum admits she shouldn’t have been eavesdropping and reveals she told her hubby about what they’d said and he promptly went downstairs and told them off.

“What was meant to be a happy family holiday is now everyone being fake nice to each other.”

Apparently the comparison game is strong between sister-in-law’s kids and her own daughter and it’s making her feel upset and protective of her child.

“She always gets it in the neck from them. They say things like ‘what’s she crying about now?'” she explained. “To make matters worse, we have my sister-in-law’s [daughter] with us too – who’s 2 years old – and can do no wrong in parents-in-law eyes.”

Please help!

It sounds like a very stressful family dynamic, but this mum wonders what she can do to balance keeping the peace with protecting her daughter. The little girl is even being critiqued for finding it hard to share with her two-year-old cousin. She asked other forum users for advice.

Some commenters noted that children always behave differently with their parent.

“Kids always behave worse for mum than anyone else, you can’t eavesdrop in your own house they’re f–ing rude,” one passionate person wrote. “Tell them to keep their conversations slagging you off inside their own houses. You don’t owe them making this comfortable, make them squirm because they’ve been damn rude.”

Another thought that the family members had been the badly behaved ones.

“They were being fake nice to you anyway. Nothing has changed. They’ve been slagging you off in your house behind your back, thank god [your husband] has the common sense to have told them off.”

One commenter reminded this upset mum that her four-year-old was completely normal.

“I’m having a chuckle at your DD not sharing her toys!” they wrote. “I’m currently doing a child psychology module as part of my university degree and a child of 4 can find it very difficult to share due to a specific part of their brain still not fully developed.”

Others still thought a ‘choose your battles’ approach would be best.

“The relationship between your child and your SIL’s should be lovely and encouraged. Family is important, I think. So that means supporting the good bits, encouraging others to minimise the bad bits. Deciding what to ignore.”

If you or someone you know is having a hard time managing relatives and a baby, you can call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14. Or go to www.lifeline.org.au to find out how you can text to get the help you need.


Get more babyology straight to your inbox