August 17, 2011

Should I or Shouldn't I? On Contemplating a New Role

As most mothers, I hate it when any of my children is unhappy.

I really hate it when they cry, and the hurt is not physical.

The physical pain is easier to deal with. There is something we can DO to help ease physical pain. When our children fall, moms clean up the boo boo, put on the Band-Aid and kiss it to make the pain go away. We can take them to the doctor and give them medication. We can nurse them back to health.

For our children's emotional hurts, we can wipe away tears, and hug them and tell them we love them more than anything. We can assure them that this pain will pass, that they will make new friends and have successes in their childish endeavors. 

We try to keep them safe and we worry throughout their childhood about how they are faring in the world, and try to ease their journey.

When that child is an adult, our role changes, or at least it should. Moms of adult children can't kiss away the emotional hurt that occurs in adult life. We can, and should, listen and offer support - or advice, but only if it is requested.

I never had a meddling mother-in-law, and for that, I am grateful. I was allowed to make mistakes without feeling like I was a true failure. I wasn't called to the carpet for my shortcomings, and meant to feel like I wasn't measuring up as a spouse or parent.

I've never been a meddling mother-in-law, either...but I fear that I may need to take on that role.

When an adult child cries, I still want to fix it. But in the fixing, I could damage the trust that has been established, and change the entire way we interact.

I don't want to be that person...but I don't want to just stand by and watch this child, and this family, fall apart. The possibility is real - and really sad and scary.

I know I'm being vague, but there are five married children in this family, and I don't want to air their dirty laundry - it's not my place.

In my silence, am I setting my adult child up for more heartbreak and tears? 

Is there ever healing in a family where a parent meddles into their children's business? And would my involvement even help, or could it make things worse?

What are your experiences with a meddling in-laws? Can you get past their intrusion? Or did their involvement turn out to be a good thing?

More questions than answers today. I'd appreciate any feedback.


  1. Sometimes you have to get involved. It's not easy. Been there, done that. Was hated for a while, but things are getting better. I'm behind whatever decision you make.

  2. I've always spoken my piece, and in one way or another, the little sh*ts tuned me out, dumped all their problems, and when I advised, they hung up on me, sometimes called me back. Long after their mess was over for them, it was sometimes still a wound for me to heal. And the girls, well you know how mouthy they can be, they repeated everything even when I said, "Now don't say a word..." they'd say, "Even Mom said..."
    If it involves emotionally rescuing young children, get involved. I wish you well. I feel your pain.

  3. I think some meddling can be helpful if done out of love and respectfully.

  4. This is so hard. As a daughter in law with a meddling mother in law, my instinct is to tell you NO WAY. Stay out of it. Because she has caused a lot of problems in my marriage.
    But as a mama, I am sure I'd want to jump in and try to keep my child from experiencing pain.
    So basically, I'm no help at all.


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