My mom is pushy-- should I respond?

Let me preface this by saying that my mother is a devout, wonderful, loving woman with whom I usually have a congenial relationship. My DH and I live a modest lifestyle, to put it gently, in order so that I can stay home and homeschool our 3 (soon to be 4) kids. Mom supports this decision. She lives around the corner and visits often, which is usually great, and I know the kids benefit from seeing their grandma often.

However, Mom has very strong ideas about how a household should be run, and these ideas don’t always match my own. They are mostly about matters I consider inconsequential-- whether or not the kids wear socks in the winter, how often to clean the windows, things like that. More to the point lately, because of our limited income my DH does most of the home repair and maintenance. I think that’s awesome-- I’m so proud of him for teaching himself plumbing, electrical work, and carpentry on top of his 50 hr+/week job at an office. However, it means that jobs don’t get done promptly like they would if you hired them out. Nothing unsafe, it just means that there always seems to be at least one project in progress at any given time. For example, he renovated our kitchen, which had last seen updating in the 1940’s. He did the whole thing-- including knocking down walls-- by himself, on evenings and weekends. My mother, however, is ticked off that while the kitchen has been functional now for several months, there’s still masking tape up on the walls, trim that needs to be painted, and a few shelves that need to be put up. She is constantly pressuring me to to pressure him to finish these projects. SHe feels like all of this stuff should be “done” before the new baby arrives-- well, nothing is ever “done” in this house, it’s always in progress. I’m fine with that, but she gets mad when DH takes an evening out to spend with friends or occasionally sleeps in on a Saturday morning. She thinks he should be spending his time finishing up his projects. She never accuses him directly, but always through me, saying things like “Why does DH have to go bowling tonight? He could get at least that one wall painted!” and “Can’t you ask him to move more quickly on those holes in the wall?” I get the feeling that she is upset that I’m NOT upset about this stuff!

Now, none of this bothers me, personally, in the least. I have a high level of tolerance for clutter, and with the mountains of papers and supplies that come with homeschooling the kids, I hardly notice the unfinished raw edges of the kitchen or extra stuff that comes with DH’s home projects. I am grateful and happy that he is able to do these things so that we are able to instead save our money for the kids’ education and so that I can stay home.

I don’t think that I should pressure my DH unnecessarily, creating strife and stress in our marriage, because the unfinished state of our house bothers her. On the other hand, I want to honor and respect my mother and I want her to be comfortable in my home. I can tell that it irritates her to be around all of the clutter, but I honestly feel that I can’t make it a priority for me when I’m teachign the kids and will soon have a newborn.

Mom will also do things like replacing our bedroom curtains with ones she likes better (our old ones were admittedly old, but I had told her I was happy with them and didn’t want to change them) while I am out. Should I say anything to her or just let her comments roll off my back? DH doesn’t realize that she’s upset about his home-repair messes, since she never mentions it to him personally. The home decorating stuff (eg the curtains) doesn’t bother me aesthetically but philosophically-- I told her I was fine with what I had and she disregarded my comments and went ahead and changed them anyway.

aaargh. I’m just frustrated. Thanks.

You sound like the most laid back person ever… you are my hero… honestly! I would go nuts if my husband didn’t finish his projects - especially with a new baby coming & me wanting to nest. Nuts!

OK, but this is about you. I think it’s great that you haven’t told your DH that your Mom thinks he should hop to it. I wouldn’t mention it… it will only cause hurt feelings. Next - here’s what you tell your Mom:

She says, “WHY isn’t he finishing this kitchen??”

you: “Oh Mom, you needn’t worry yourself over that.”

She says: “But WHEN will it be finished?”

you: “Oh Mom, you needn’t worry yourself over that.”

She says: “But it needs to be finished BEFORE the baby comes!!!”

you: “Oh Mom, you needn’t worry yourself over that.”

get my point? Don’t even go there with her. Don’t make excuses for your husband - just shut her right down (nicely) because it really isn’t any of her business.

About the curtains, if the old ones were old & ratty looking, who cares that she replaced them? I’m sure she was only trying to please you. Your Mom is, as you said, a devout, loving woman who you get along with. (although it sort of sounds like you get along well because you don’t tell her to knock it off with the comments?) At any rate, nobody is perfect, why start a big war with your Mom over any of this? I wouldn’t say anything other than - maybe… “Mom, it hurts me when it seems like you are constantly criticizing my DH.” Other than that, if the comments continue, let them roll off your back… because my guess is she’s always been “pushy” with you… and people don’t change IMO.
She sounds like a good Mom - be thankful. :slight_smile:

I agree totally, especially on “Oh, Mom, you needn’t worry yourself over that…”

Only, the fourth or fifth time you have to say it, walk over to her, laughing, give her a big hug, and say, “Boy, when something drives you nuts, it really drives you nuts, doesn’t it? You are irreplaceable.” Then after that regard everything she has to say with affectionate disbelief that she is really still going on about it.

If she gets mad, then you can say, “Ah, Mom, don’t get mad. I’ve had to get used to the idea that I’ll never be the same kind of Mom you were. If you don’t see that yet, you are going to give yourself an ulcer.”

She is a controlling person, but if she’s a good lady she’ll only go so far with it. It sounds like that isn’t any farther than anybody at your house can bear, and she isn’t really succeeding in controlling anything, try as she might, so you’re ok.


You sound like such a great daughter and wife. It also sounds like you have a very special mom and husband. God Bless all of you.

I think you’ve been getting excellent advice. Help your mom to know that you love her and yet do not allow her to create discord between you and your husband. You may need to help her understand that your home and how it is run is something for you and your husband to decide. If both you and your husband are serving God and caring well for your children, she would do well to thank God for her blessings.

I’ve sent up a quick prayer, asking God to watch over you and your household as you work on this.

God Bless,


Advice so far is great. If you don’t like the curtains she puts up, just change htem back to the old ones. Use the same routine as the kitchen situation.

I have an rule i follow, if someone opens their mouth and tells me how do run my business or my affairs, i offer them the chance to either put up or shut up.
don’t like how i fold my shirts? well, fold them for me.
don’t like my curtains? buy me new ones and i’ll judge if i like yours better.
Think the crown molding i painted needs another coat, grab a paintbrush and go for it…

but my family knows my thought, if you have a ‘great’ set of ideas… either implement them or keep them quiet.

if it was my mom or mother in law, i’d open the door and hand her the drill and a hammer and say "you want it done so feverently bad, then finish it up mrs. bob villa. go to town and have at it… "

i have no time for peanut galleries with opinions.

unsolicited opinions are really a pet peeve of mine.

If anyone, mom or otherwise took it upon themselves to redo my curtains i would… a.) if i liked them, keep them. b.) if i liked the old ones… i’d rehang the old ones, return the curtains she bought to the store for a refund and mail her a picture of myself spending her refund money at the local steakhouse on a filet and a few beers…
i’m sure she’d never replace my curtains again.

It seems you are trying very hard to accept your mother’s “pushiness”. My mother (and MIL) are both “pushy”. At first, I just tried to let it roll off my back. However, they just got pushier! Over time, it created a lot of resentment and anger on my part. IMO, it is just not acceptable for anyone, not even a mother to come in and criticize how you are running your household—especially as often as your mother does it. Changing your decorations, etc. without asking is also just not acceptable. She would not do that to anyone else. You are an adult and deserve respect. You most certainly are respecting your mom! I’m not telling you to be disrespectful or angry with your mom. Obviously it is bothering you or you would not have written this thread. So, my advice is that you need to set some type of boundary on what mom can do and not do in YOUR home. This can be done in a kind, charitable, non-angry way. I like carol marie’s response idea. If you don’t, it will get worse, and then you may do/say things you may regret.

You can honor your mother, but you do not have to “honor” her bad behavior. It is a misuse of the commandment to think that honoring your parents means allowing them to run all over you and insult your husband.

First, change your locks. Why does your mother have a key that lets her in while you are out to do mischief in your house?

Second, the next time she starts to bad-mouth your husband stop her right there and tell her that it is not acceptable to criticize your DH in your home. If she has issues with the way your household is run, then she should refrain from coming to your house and you can visit her in her house. If she persists in bad mouthing, criticizing, or “offering suggestions” about how your time and resources should be spent, then respond with “Mother, this topic is closed. If you continue, then I will have to ask you to leave.” (or if you’re on the phone tell her you will have to hange up). Then, the most important step-- do what you say you will do.

She will only be this way as long as you allow it.

If I had complained about my old curtains, and my mom knew what I’d like instead and decided to buy them for me as a surprise, that would be wonderful :slight_smile:

Your mom replaced your bedroom curtains w/ curtains SHE liked better. That’s not pushy, that’s controlling.

Too bad if your mom is upset about your husband’s home repair messes. It’s not something she should have any control over or even mention to anyone, IMO. —KCT

All of the above responses are excellent. It’s boundry setting time. Another suggestion I have is that you might enjoy learning some of the things your husband has been doing to maintain the house. It would be a good way to take some of the burden off of him.

I remember well, when my husband was in his internship and residency and we were strapped financially, what with student loans and him working long hours. I worked part time in order to help out financially,

I learned to do home repairs myself. There’s no reason a woman can’t learn to do this. It’s a good thing for the kids to see you be resourceful and a team player with your husband to make the household work.

As far as your mother, her behavior will only escalate in time. We used to live near my mother in law, and she was very interfering, in my case constantly interfering with my style of parenting and offering critical comments. I put up with it for a while and it only got worse. I finally had to have a heart to heart talk with her and things improved. Now she is quite elderly and pretty forgetful, but we’ve maintained a good relationship over the years thanks to the fact that I was able to talk woman to woman with her.

1ke is right.

Your Mom sounds just like mine! And I am laid back in the same way. I think the best thing to tell her is, “Mom, I am really happy with the work DH is doing. I am very happy with our relationship and the sense of tranquility we have here because we don’t worry about the little stuff like trim and masking tape. I am not about to cause DH any more stress when he works so hard and takes such good care of me. I am very happy with the way things are but you complaining about these things is causing me stress and is upsetting. I am not upset about the tape but you are upsetting me and I would really appreciate it if you would relax a bit and not sweat the small stuff.”

Believe it or not I have a lot of conversations like this with my Mom and it works really well because she loves me very much but she knows that we are very different people.

Yes. And this is the difference…because the daughter is able to roll with the punches, Mom is not capable of controlling her or getting her all that upset. In the end, Mom learns that she can’t control her DD, and when she looks in the mirror and realizes that she can be a pain to live with sometimes, she knows that DD loves her, anyway.

If this starts making DD grind her teeth or lose sleep, though, that is a different story. But if enduring is a light cross and Mom isn’t being allowed to get her hooks into how your marriage runs, then cheerful enduring is not a bad way to go.

BTW, do not make “enduring Mom” part of an “I am easy-going” self-concept. If her behavior is more than you can take, it is more than you can take. As I tell a friend of mine, if you put it in a cage and keep poking it with a stick, even the Easter Bunny will bite you eventually. If the pressure starts to build, it is time to confess that you need a little confrontation. Don’t wait until you’re ready to round-house her…because, to your horror, you might just do it.

give her a taste of her own medicine.

Go buy the most gosh darn UGLY curtain you can find, walk in her kitchen tell her you hate her curtains, and proceed to yank them down and put the new ones up.

When you’re done, turn around and politely say,

“Now, how does it feel when someone does it to you?”

She’ll get mad, but she’ll get over it.

If not, you’ll at least have some peace.

I have a similar mother. I let my kids climb up on the counter to get a cup for water or milk, and she lets it be known that this is absolutely horrible, and goes into spiels about “OTHER FAMILIES” (ie, my cousins she hates, and it’s the greatest insult to be compared to them) who let their children “walk on the counters.”

I let it slide with a reminder to myself that it is my household to run as I see fit, and if she doesn’t like it, I will start calling HER to drive over and get the cups down for the kids while I do laundry.

As I get stronger, there may be a day I can even politely say that to her. :slight_smile:

Yes, you should respond.

Who’s house is it anyway? Unless she has an “interest” in the house (loan for downpayment, etc.) politely tell her to back off.

You and DH will get the projects finished eventually. We are in our house 11-1/2 years now, and are down to ONE room left to re-model! The funny thing is it is the 1st room we originally planned to do!

Like you, I did ALL of the work myself (plumbing, electrical, framing, sheetrock, trim, painting), and it was tough. Trying to squeeze in a few hours of work between nap-time and other commitments.

Try this one! It worked for us.

Get together with your Mom, and schedule 2 weekends a month for the next few months. On these weekends SHE will take care of the kids at her house while you & DH knock out some projects and spend some time together!

If she doesn’t like this idea, then tell her to back off, and the subject is closed.

Thank you all for your kind words and responses. I guess I needed reassurance that I am not being oversensitive-- or insensitive. Let me clarify one thing, though:

First, change your locks. Why does your mother have a key that lets her in while you are out to do mischief in your house?

I should have been clearer. My mom isn’t so pushy that she waltzes in our home whenever she pleases. This happened when she was babysitting the kids one day and DH and I were out.

Consensus seems to be-- tell mom how I appreciate her concern, but let her deal with feeling unsettled (if she so chooses) by the mess/clutter/etc. in our home.

Thank you all.

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