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Health & Spirit

Mother-in-law exacts emotional toll for her child care services

Carolyn Hax on

And when Milly refuses to respect these limits: "You stepped in to care for our kids, which was an enormous help, and our kids love you. We love you. But we can't continue this arrangement if you don't respect us and our way of doing things.

"Can we count on you to support us vs. correct us, no matter how well-meaning your corrections may be?"

To you and everyone now thinking, "Yeah, right": I agree. If she'd merrily agree to this -- if there weren't some element of control to Milly's stepping in as caregiver -- then you wouldn't be forced to insist.

But this is how it goes when placing new limits where none have existed. You must ask for what you need.

When you don't get it, then you must attach consequences. If Milly refuses to serve in your household by your rules, respectfully and therefore graciously, then she cannot serve in it at all.

Which is why even if you're strong enough to take this on -- your quiet caving says it's not a given -- your wife must find her strength, too. This works only if she can fire the very mother who raised her to acquiesce.

If/when she can't -- yet -- then take it to a good family therapist. Doing so comports, "entirely," with doing right by your kids.

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Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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