Life Advice



MIL Needs To Enforce Our Rules, Too

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I just want to start by saying I love my mother-in-law. She has helped me with the kids more often than not, and I am extremely grateful for her. My issue is when it comes time to tell my toddler "no," my mother-in-law just laughs, which makes my toddler laugh and encourages her to keep doing whatever it is we told her to not do (like jumping in the chair or on her bed). Or climbing on my mother-in-law's sore back.

I have been getting harder on my toddler that when we tell her "no," we mean it. We're going to put up electric fences for our cattle and goats (we live on a farm), and our toddler needs to learn that we mean no for her safety. How do I get it across to my mother-in-law that she needs to support us being more stern with the kids? I'm not saying she needs to lose her sense of humor; I just want my toddler to listen to us when we tell her no. I feel like not enough people do that with their kids anymore. -- No Means No

Dear No Means No: Tell her exactly what you told me -- that you love the playful relationship she shares with your toddler but that, for the sake of your daughter's safety, she needs to back you up when you enforce a rule. The electric fence scenario is a great example you can use to drive your point home. Ideally, once she understands your intentions, she will support you as a parent.

Dear Annie: Both my husband and I are in frustrating situations. We each have a sibling that is the favorite child. Both siblings get taken on shopping trips and out to eat weekly. They are also both unemployed. Their children are the favorite grandchildren.

We have always worked, saved where we could and taken care of our bills. Our siblings live like there is no tomorrow. Their children want for nothing. And to be honest, this has caused hard feelings, and we no longer visit our parents or our siblings regularly. Our children are old enough to recognize the difference, and we really have no answer as to why things are the way they are; it's always been this way. My husband tried to talk to his mom about it, but she accused him of being jealous. We are to the point of moving and never looking back. How do we move on and let go of hard feelings? -- Overshadowed


Dear Overshadowed: You have two choices: hold onto the jealousy and resentment you feel toward your parents, or strive to be the best versions of yourselves for the sake of your children. Let the shortcomings of your own childhood be your catalyst toward becoming better parents.

Your kids will be motivated by witnessing parents with a strong work ethic who show them unconditional love.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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