Life Advice



Ask Amy: ‘Best of’ column discusses monster in-laws

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

– Angry

Dear Angry: Every time your mother-in-law successfully riles you, she ignites a little spark in you. Then you oxygenate the spark by reacting to her – or fighting with your husband – and before you know it, you’re in flames (and you’ve made her day).

Rather than allow her to create discord, focus on removing her access to combustible material. If discussing your baby’s name always leads you down the same path, then stop discussing it. You just say, “Well, we haven’t decided on a name, but we know your preference.”

If she wants to call your baby “Skipper,” you can say, “You can call the baby anything you want to, though it might be awkward, if that isn’t her name.”

I suggest you and your husband seriously discuss strategies for drawing and enforcing boundaries. [July 2012]

Dear Amy: I am a fellow sufferer of a “monster-in-law.” I came to realize that since I can’t change my mother-in-law, I might as well find humor with my situation.


I found myself looking forward to her saying insulting and insensitive comments so I could write them down to share with my friends. I had enough to write a book!

– Fellow Sufferer

Dear Sufferer: When you can’t change the dynamic, laughter definitely helps. [August 2012]

Dear Amy: I strongly suggest that the mom-to-be realize her problem isn’t with her mother-in-law but with her husband, who won’t stand up to his mother when she oversteps.


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