mother and baby

How To Cope and Protect Your Kids With Negative In-Laws

When you marry, you automatically become a member of your spouse’s new family. Mothers are sometimes overprotective of their sons, and their relationships with their daughters-in-law can be strained. When ideals collide in families, it’s especially difficult, especially if you come from a more traditional family. You’re learning new and better ways to raise a family, but your husband, and definitely not your in-laws, aren’t on board.

Protecting Our Kids From Negative Influences Of In Laws

We wish to shield our children from any influences that we don’t consider positive or beneficial. However, we are unable to protect them to that extent. . Sure we can have a good deal of control over our immediate environment and keep TV off etc, but we simply can’t control other people.

What we can do, and what has the BIGGEST impact of all – we can change how we deal with an unpleasant situation. You are right, your unhappiness with this situation is transmitting itself to your unborn child, as well as your toddler.

Your job is to make it a priority to get yourself to feeling good. And that simply cannot happen by trying to control your in-laws. I can agree with you and say they do not sound like they are loving and caring towards you, but that doesn’t change the situation at all. What can change the situation, is how you treat YOU.

Don’t focus on negative behavior

By focusing on their negative behavior and the nasty things they have said, you are actually mistreating yourself. You are allowing the stupid things they have said to affect you. And by focusing on it more and more you are letting that toxicity build up around yourself. They are not doing that to you, you are.

Sorry to be tough! Of course you would prefer to have in laws that love and support you, and that you feel are a wonderful influence around your son. But you are adding a lot of fuel to this situation by hanging onto all the nasty things they say and do to you, and by agonizing over whether to stop your son seeing them.

Read also: Negative Thoughts – Tools For Eliminating Negative Thinking

Easy to say I know, but let it go. Let all this drama and tension go and focus on what you CAN control. Make your environment the happiest and most joyful place you can. Make a list of all the things that uplift you – music, walks in nature, a soak in the bath, meditation – and every time you feel yourself sinking into a black hole with all of this – or you pick yourself up going round and round about how awful they are – choose something to shift that energy.

It will take consistent attention to start to shift this, but I promise you, it will actually make a difference – even in your in-laws!  Because you are hyper vigilant and sensitive to them, you are gathering all their negativity to you to reinforce how horrible they are.

Let it ALL go.

You are the only one that has the power to shift this for yourself and your children, and it comes from you very deliberately choosing to switch your attention from it every time you feel yourself getting wound up.

Don’t cut off the contact

As for letting your son see them – it is only in very rare circumstances that I would say cut off the contact with a family member. If you stop your son seeing them, you have to create a huge amount of negativity in yourself to justify taking that step. Then you have to maintain it to prove you have made the right decision. You probably will have to keep on and on proving it to your husband which means you have very little chance of getting clear of it all.

Instead, focus on trusting your son, trusting your love for him, and trusting your love for his father. I am assuming the father is in the picture – but you didn’t mention him, so that could well be part of the difficulty. Either way, there are aspects of him that are in your son. The are the aspects of him that you were first attracted to, there will be aspects of him that you love – no matter what your current situation is.

And there are aspects of your in-laws that are also in your kids. So focus on any little thing that you can like about them, rather than all the horrible stuff that feels so overwhelming. Maybe your Mother-in-law bakes a great pie, Maybe your father-in-law was a good provider in raising his own children – maybe your in-laws are showing how important their grandchild is to them in their persistence in wanting to see him.

There are always two sides of the coin

Everything you perceive as negative, will actually have another side to it. From their perspective they also think they are doing what is best. To you it feels cruel and unfeeling, to them they will have reasons that make sense to them. People aren’t mean because they are evil and want to hurt you. People are mean because they are hurting inside too, and they think their behavior is the best way to get what they want.

It is very hard to see anything positive in someone saying they would not care if an unborn child would die, but people can say that from all sorts of positions that to them is a positive viewpoint. Maybe they are concerned that with the complications, the child may have health issues. Maybe they are reacting from their hurt and distress over the difficulty in seeing one grandchild, and they are expecting there to be issues seeing this one too. Maybe they are concerned about the timing of this babies arrival – who knows? My point is, they have their story and their beliefs about your situation and from their perspective they think they are doing the best thing too.

It is likely to be too hard for you to focus on anything positive in them at this stage, when you feel so hurt and have so much distrust of them. So if you can’t find anything in them to even like a little, then simply switch your attention to something else. Make a commitment to yourself that you are not going to add any more energy to this unpleasant situation. Sure you will get triggered lots of times when you have to interact with them, or your son talks about them, or your partner mentions them. But every time you notice you are starting to feel anxious or hurt or angry about them, do ANYTHING to take your attention off that.

Spend time with your kid

Your son is actually a really good distraction for that – read him a story, play chasing games, put some music on and do silly dancing with him. He will show you how easy it can be to put your attention onto fun! The more you can do this the more that negative energy will drop off of you.

Your son will be fine spending time with them – even if he gets confusing messages, that is what life is all about. There is a big world out there with lots of aspects we would like to prevent our kids getting involved in. But if you send him off with love and trust, and keep coming back to that every time you start to worry about him – you are doing more to give him a positive view, than if you send him off feeling anxious and conflicted about him going to see them.

He will have to sift and sort his way through life deciding what feels right and wrong to him. As a little boy, he is able to engage with them from his delight in exploring the world. He does not go to them from his anxiety about their attitude. He just want so show them his toy car, have an ice-cream with Grand-dad, explore the wrinkles in Grandma’s face. He is not at all concerned about the nasty things they have said, he is simply connecting from his little open heart. Sure they may say things he won’t resonate with about you – but just trust it will simply roll off like water off a ducks back. He KNOWS you, he trusts in your love. If you keep that loving energy clear with him, he has no reason to build a story around his grandparents being nasty. He will just do what he does with them and then come home to you to have a good time with you too.

If he does have some challenges with them – ie Grandparents can sometimes have stricter rules than parents – then so be it. Life is like that. Kids learn that everyone is different, has different rules and ideas and that is how they start to sift and sort what is right for them. We simply cannot wrap our kids in cotton wool and only expose them to love and light.

Kids actually do have to build up some resilience.

By having to learn how to cope with situations that are not so easy, they learn tremendous skills and resources. Particularly if they have a grounded Mom and Dad that show them how to shift away from the reactionary feelings and move to a place of more joy and fun. If he learns from seeing how you get yourself to feeling good, even in the midst of chaos and a barrage of negative stuff – you are teaching him the most important lesson of all.

Our kids learn far more by observation and testing things out than they do from us protecting them or trying to explain and justify a situation. So make it a priority to show him how you shift your energy when you are feeling yuck.

Read also: Misbehaving Kids Are They Really Being Naughty Kids?

Feeling angry or resentful is not bad – we tend to judge those kind of feelings a being negative and a bad thing. The only bad thing is if we don’t take notice of them and choose to do something that helps us feel better. Our kids often don’t learn to deal with powerful feelings in a constructive way. They are told it is wrong to throw a tantrum, to control themselves or it is nasty or wrong to feel angry. But our feelings are the way we know we have let ourselves go down the drain. Our feelings are telling us we have something inside that needs loving, that we are probably running a re-run of negative stuff in our heads.

We have this little mad mind munchkin that gets out of control jabbering away in our heads reinforcing and building all the negative stories we tell ourselves.

Your in-law’s negativity, is only an issue because your negative energy is pulling it towards you. The more you can let go your stuff – and no matter what they have said, it really is all just STUFF – then the more you start attracting more positive energy towards you. That little mad mind munchkin is simply showing you that you need to pay attention to what you are doing and that it is time to start moving that energy in you to a happier place.

Read also: 3 Small Pieces of Advice for Parenting Tiny Kids

Focus on your child

There is an aspect in you that is unsure, that wants love and approval, that wants to be valued and appreciated. Focus on the tiny child that is YOU – not just your unborn baby, but the tiny YOU that needs love and light and nurturing. The reason you are letting all this stuff into your life, is that little part of you is not being valued and loved and appreciated.

Something that would make a huge difference in your well-being, is each night just before you go to sleep, and each morning before you get up – children permitting – spend a few minutes holding a vision of yourself as a tiny child. Just hold her, love her, rock her just as you would your own babies, and tell her everything is OK, everything is wonderful, you love her, you will be there for her, and cocoon her in a beautiful soft warmth. Going off to sleep like this would be wonderful for both you and your tiny growing baby inside.

I sometimes find it helpful to do some sort of little ritual to let go a situation where I have a lot of strong, unhappy feelings. Sometimes writing down all the yuck stuff around an issue, and then burning it – will help to release it. Another thing I do, is when I feel myself going over and over a situation that I don’t seem to be able to control – I imagine myself parceling it all up and passing it up to The Divine – whatever God is for you, hand it over and let it go. You simply can’t change them, and as in-laws, they are a part of your life. But you can have a HUGE impact on improving the situation by refusing to fuel it with your own reactions and thoughts. I suspect you could even be surprised that the situation will improve when interacting with your in-laws.

You are a sensitive soul, and as such you need to take extra care that you fill yourself up with love and joy. Call a halt when you notice you are replaying all the old hurts, and tell yourself a new story. In particular, build a new story around how loved and wanted this new little baby will be. It really does not matter what they said, that is their garbage, don’t let it become yours.

As often as you can, simply “Stop and Drop” – Stop and drop inside to check in with yourself about how you are feeling and how you are thinking, and if you notice you are running stuff that doesn’t serve you well, drop it all and turn your attention to something that uplifts you.

Treat yourself as a precious woman to be loved and nurtured and have as much fun as you can with your little ones. This will protect them way better by building their inner resources and modelling to them how to shift to feeling good.



I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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Kara Bout It