09 May
Hands Off My Mother-In-Law, She’s Mine!

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My sister, who is 45 and single, has developed a relationship with my 87-year-old mother-in-law that does not include me. She will drive to my MIL’s, go out to dinner and sleep over. She has also recently started to have my MIL over to her apartment for a couple of nights. My husband also thinks this is odd.

I am married and have two children, one of whom is disabled and I am also in nursing school full time. I can’t devote the amount of time to my mother-in-law that my sister does. My sister and I don’t have the best relationship. It’s okay, but not really close, so when I am mad at her, and I hear that she is at my mother-in-law’s, it kind of drives me nuts. I feel like she is overstepping her boundaries. Am I wrong to feel this way?


Hands Off My Mother-In-Law


Dear Hands Off,

Well, here’s an interesting twist on the ol’ Mother-In-Law issue!  She’s not mean or snoopy. She doesn’t poop while holding your baby. She doesn’t smell. She’s just hanging out with your sister. Is it wrong that I’ve already cast the movie version of this? “Shirley Maclaine and Cameron Diaz are the sassiest, bustiest twosome you’ve ever seen! And they’re hittin’ the streets this summer in The Mother In Law/Sister Boogaloo in 3-D! Don’t miss this one! Soundtrack by Snoop Dogg.”

OK, well now we know why I no longer work in Hollywood.

But I really fail to see what the problem is with these two forming a friendship. You’re too busy to spend much time with the MIL, so I would think you’d be happy that someone is watching out for her. (Gotta keep an eye on those older ladies or they’ll blow their life savings at the Bingo parlor, you know.) I suspect that both women are a little lonely, so it seems wonderful to me that they found each other and enjoy the same things. My younger sister was a great friend to my mother-in-law before she passed away and I loved that they had that special relationship.

You didn’t say anything about them gossiping about you or joining forces against you, but is that something you’re worried about? Or is it that you’re simply a little jealous and feel left out? Both the MIL and sister dynamic are fraught with issues and emotional landmines, so I think it’s normal to feel a bit weird about it all. But I’m sure if you ever wanted to join them for dinner or movie night, they’d be happy to have your company. Try it.

Friendship and family can take all shapes and forms, and it’s admirable that your sister opts to spend time with an 87-year-old. Maybe she’s getting some mothering from her or maybe she feels useful by giving her time. Whatever the reason, I say just let them have their fun.

Just not at the Bingo parlor.

Good luck,

Wendi, TMH

5 Responses to “Hands Off My Mother-In-Law, She’s Mine!”


Comment by Lisa.

It sounds like you are mad at your sister regularly, which colors your views of her actions, which make you more likely to think she is doing something wrong, which makes you mad at her. Repeat in an endless loop until she can do no right and you no longer speak.

You may well have every justification for being mad at her, but what does that get you? You might want to check out the book, Siblings Without Rivalry. It might help you find some peace with/about her.


Comment by N and Em's mom.

Hmmm. Weird doesn’t equal wrong unless your MIL is being taken advantage of. It sounds like your feelings are hurt that you are being left out. If you would like some help (totally reasonable) ask them to come and hang at your place, so you can leave and have time to yourself. If you want something, then you need to ask for it.


Comment by jade.

sounds like your sis is doing you a favor.


Comment by rojopaul.

Is it possible you resent your sister because she’s doing what you either feel like you should be doing or wish you could be doing, if it weren’t for your own busy life managing a husband, two children, one of whom has special needs, and nursing school? Cut yourself some slack. You’ve got a lot going on and your priority is your family first.

Your sister is single and obviously has the time. I say be grateful that she can spend quality time with the MIL so you don’t have one more thing on your to-do list, and then do what you can when you can (mother’s day, birthdays, holidays, a Sunday brunch when you can, etc.)

Desperate Dietwives Reply:

I totally agree: maybe you feel YOU should hang with your MIL more, only you can’t find the time, and the fact that your sister is doing it sounds like a reproach to you?
Well, it’s not. Just leave things as they are and possibly thank your sister for the time she’s devoting to your MIL. 🙂

Consider Checking Out...