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May 14, 2007 / missknowitall

Caring For an Overly Sensitive MIL

Dear Little Miss,

Ten months ago my FIL passed away and left my MIL with nothing. So, she had to sell her house and move in with us. We were only living in a townhouse with three boys and three bedrooms. She was coming with two dogs and we could not have dogs at our townhouse. So we broke our lease and moved to a house. To top it off my MIL is ill. She has been for about 14 years.  She has a lot of appointments. I take her to most of them.  Okay,now to my question. The other day I told her that I would take her to a craft store after I got back from taking my kids to there co-op. I forgot that I had an appointment for myself after school. I told her I would take her after that. Well when I got home she was pouting and barely talking to me. We did not go because it was too close to “going home traffic” (her words).Today she is still pouting. I am not sure what to do because I can not do everything. I am not even sure if she realizes what pressure she is putting on me when she behaves like that?

MIL Madness

Dear MIL Madness,

Sounds like your MIL is putting all her hopes for happiness in your already full basket, and when one of those hopes falls out she blames you.  The best way to deal with this is to help her realize what she is doing.  Acknowledge to her that you know she depends on you for rides and that you know you let her down on this one.  Then explain to her that it worries you that she is so upset by this slip up.  Tell her, “I have so much going on that I’m bound to drop some of the balls I am trying to juggle.  Sometimes I will let the kids down, sometimes I will let your son down, often I let myself down, and I’m going to be honest and promise you that sometimes I will let you down.  If you are going to get so upset and be so unforgiving when I let you down, then I don’t think I can carry on.  I need forgiveness if I am going to be able to deal with all that is going on for me right now.”  If, after you explain your faults and ask for forgiveness, she does this again to you then maybe she is suffering a bit from her old age.  In that case you should not schedule or promise fun things with her until right before you do them.  Don’t say on Monday, “Lets go to the craft store on Tuesday”.  Wait for Tuesday and then say, “Hey, I have some free time.  Would you like to go to the craft store with me right now?”

You are doing a great service to your MIL.  Don’t beat yourself up for the inevitable times when you aren’t superhuman; and forgive her for being over sensitive in a life where she feels little control.  

Humanly yours,

Miss Knowitall

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