My MIL and Discipline


My MIL and I get along most of the time but tonight she did something that absolutely sent me to the moon. Last week my oldest daughter told me about a game that she played with some of her kindergarten classmates that involved them pretending that they were keeping a doll prisoner and then abusing it (bashing its head with a block, etc.) and eventually executing it. It was free play time and apparently the teacher was supervising some other kids. I told DD that that type of play was not okay and had her write sentences (“I will never pretend to kill anything. It is displeasing to God and Daddy and Mommy.”) five times. We talked about why pretending such a thing was wrong and why it’s displeasing to God and she got the message. Her paper was still laying on the shelf in the living room tonight. Enter my MIL.

MIL has a cousin who uses writing sentences as a discipline, but he goes completely overboard. I’ve never actually seen it myself but my MIL claims that her cousin’s wife has called her begging for her to go help finish the sentences before he gets back from whatever trip. Typically his daughter has to write something 500 times. Now, there’s a difference between having a kid write something 5 times and 500 times but my MIL failed to see it. What she saw was that I was using a discipline that her cousin uses and she chose to argue with me about it and suggest that it was abusive IN FRONT OF MY KIDS. I tried to tell her that I wouldn’t discuss it with her in front of the kids and that discipline issues were between my DH and I but she wouldn’t stop, she just continued trying to tell me that I was wrong and that using that as discipline wasn’t acceptable in “her” family. I told her that the kids were MY family and to drop it and went to get my DH, who was in the next room covered in saw dust (ripping up the subfloor in the bathroom) and looking very tired. I opened the door and hissed “I’m gonna kill your mother” and she left at that point.

So…I need to work on meekness, as evidenced by the fact that I went from calm to beyond furious in two seconds and I owe my kid 39 sentences now (“I will not threaten to kill my MIL. It is displeasing to God and DH and the kids.”) but this is not the first time we’ve had this discussion, unfortunately. It won’t be the last. What actually made her leave was the fact that I went to get my husband (she was getting her purse and coat before I even opened my mouth) not what I said, though that certainly didn’t help matters. She is one of those women who will challenge me endlessly but backs down immediately when I refer her to my DH. (Last year DH and the kids and FIL took a trip out of town on her birthday; I only went at the last minute because the thing I was supposed to be doing that day didn’t happen. Even though she knew they’d been planning this trip for a month or so before the date and I only went last minute it became my fault that we were out of town. When she tried to hassle me about it I told her that she needed to discuss it with her son, who was sitting there next to me listening to the conversation. She dropped it.) I feel bad about my part of the disintegration of the conversation and saying what I said, but if I call her and apologize she’s going to try to run roughshod over me again. It’s exhausting and I’m not sure what to do next. Any suggestions?


You didn’t do anything wrong. But, clearly there is a pattern here.

I think you and DH need to discuss strategies. It is clear that she does not respect you and that she only complies when you “go get DH.”

You and DH need to be on the same page about this and how you will assert your authority-- but MIL needs to recognize *your *authority in *your *house. Next time, you need to be prepared to handle it all on your own, up to and including showing her the door. And, DH needs to be ready to back you up when Mommy goes whining to him.


My!! Not to go off topic, but, have you contacted the school? The administration needs to know what the teacher was overseeing in that room.


As usual 1ke is spot on. There is a pattern here that needs to be corrected. I don’t think you did anything wrong at all. Your MIL is out of line entirely. If my MIL had said that in front of my kids she wouldn’t be welcome in my house again . I suggest you and DH get on the same page and stay there re:MIL and stay there.

My prayers are with you!:gopray2:


It’s stories like these that make me wonder what I’ll be like as a mother in law. Hopefully not like yours! :stuck_out_tongue:

Yes, I agree you need to get some huevos and deal with her, but at the same time, she seems to behave when DH is called in. Which goes to show you there is a level of disrespect when it comes to you.

There is ONE aspect of your story that bothers me though:

WHY IN THE WORLD would the woman’s husband leave and take his son and grandchildren out of town on his wife’s birthday? I would be so HURT if my DH did that to me! I would be PO’d too. I am not saying she dealt with it correctly by blaming you – but surely we can all agree that was a pretty bad day to choose to exclude the lady! Not you – but your DH and her DH. Again, I don’t even know why she blamed you as far as her own husband is concerned, and I can kinda see it when it concerns your DH (it’s easier to believe an the wife of your son had more to do with hurting you than your own child, right?). I just feel a little bad for her on that one part of the story. I guess I am saying my behavior might not be stellar if I got shelved. You didn’t mention if this sort of thing happens often or not. :confused:

WOW though on the sentence writing aspect. SO none of her business, but then again, MIL’s have the age and self-imposed wisdom to think they can say anything they feel like saying when they want to…we have to gently but firmly remind them that they don’t. I suggest a sit down without kids or DH present, maybe go out to lunch, and ask her to give you more respect, and you’ll gladly return the favor. Also, if she has a problem with your parenting or would like to interject an opinion she needs to save it for private conversation and not to be done in front of the children. That is if she wants to see the children any old time she feels like it!


I don’t think you have anything to apologize for to your MIL. Maaaaayybee, you could apologize to DH for threatening “to kill” his mom :wink: , but she owes YOU an apology for challenging you in front of your children.

IMO, you did the right thing by standing up to her. You have to be gentle, but firm in these situations. If she does it again, calmly tell her to stop NOW or leave, case closed. What she did is very, very damaging to your parental relationship with your kids, she just undermined your authority to your kids and that is something I would not tolerate from anybody.

I hope you have DH on your side to back you up…or even better yet, HE needs to put his mom in her place. He needs to call her up and inform her that she is never, ever to challenge you in front of your kids again.

Good luck. Ya have my sympathy. I could entertain your for HOURS with fun stories about my mil. :rolleyes:


Completely agree. Absolutely your husband needs to talk to his mom, not next time but now.


Grandmas always spoil the grandchildren and undermine Mum and Dads’ attempts to impose discipline. The children usually survive.

Think nothing of it.


I would ask your dh to speak with her…I have had my MIL insert some opinions, and they weren’t always warranted, but nothing like what your MIL said to you. You shouldn’t have to battle with your husband’s mom…he should go to her, and say calmly…she’s my wife, and you need to respect her. Not that we place ourselves over our inlaws, but you are his wife, and he needs to defend you in this case…I think so, anyways.


First, I see nothing wrong with how you disciplined your child.
Second, it isn’t anybody’s business except yours and your husband’s.
Third, I agree with the other posters… nothing to apologise for except maybe to DH for telling him you wanted to kill his mom.

Definitely heave DH talk to his mom about what she says in front of kids though… that is not an acceptable action!

Best of luck to you and DH… I think this is why we call them outlaws in my family.


I third this one!


She and FIL have been divorced for over twenty years. Sorry I didn’t make that clear.


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