My Mother In Law!

I am a Catholic and my husband converted from southern Baptist to Catholicism about 2 years ago. My mother in law is a sometimes practicing southern baptist and holds true to alot of their teachings such as the ban on alcohol. She is constantly bad mouthing our religion and sends my husband sermons and information on why alcohol should not be allowed. (We drink from time to time in moderation).

My other problem is that she sits there and condemns us while she has been married 3 times and never goes to church and allows her younger sons to have girlfriends sleepover and it just seems like the pot calling the kettle black and yet I have never called her out on any of these things.

She also claims they have no money to come and visit us forcing us to spend $2,000 on plane tickets every year(We live in another state and have 3 children) and yet they are vacationing in New York and buying a brand new truck.

Our visit with her and the rest of his family is in 2 weeks and I just know I’m going to be miserable as I just have a hard time getting along with her and I don’t know how much longer I can keep my mouth shut. Any suggestions on a kind way to approach her?

Just be polite!!! If at all possible, stay in a hotel or condo (try VRBO.com).

If it becomes unbearable, your husband is going to have to have a talk with her. If she refuses to be polite and just have a pleasant visit with your family, limit your interaction with her – especially once the children are old enough to be influenced. But make sure she knows why – don’t just drop off the face of the earth!!! Have your husband explain why the children (and you) can’t be around as much. Then just have him visit his mother alone (if he chooses to).

Oh, dear. I’m reminded of the martyrdom of poor St. Erasmus again. Twice in two days!

“You can’t teach a pig to sing. You just frustrate yourself and annoy the pig.”

You are not going to talk your MIL out of her errors. When two children of the Lord have a conflict, the Lord is pleased with the one who turns the other cheek, keeps a mild manner, and be guilty of no conduct that will defame your faith.

Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. 1 Pet 3: 13-17

*Avoid foolish and ignorant debates, for you know that they breed quarrels. A slave of the Lord should not quarrel, but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness. It may be that God will grant them repentance that leads to knowledge of the truth, and that they may return to their senses out of the devil’s snare, where they are entrapped by him, for his will. *2 Tim. 2:23-26

It is better not to drink alcohol in front of her or to even address the topic of alcohol consumption, because it tempts her to bait you into pointless arguments. You can say that: “St. Paul told St. Timothy to avoid debates that would lead to quarrels. I think that is good advice.” Then take that advice, and stop talking. (But do know how to find that in her Bible, if she challenges you. Then decline to have a “concordance duel,” too.)

One thing I have learned - is that once someone reaches about the age of 30 - they are not going to change.

She’s your husband’s mother - and so you do have to have some contact with her - but you don’t have accept anything she says. And it shouldn’t matter that you can change her mind.

I would avoid areas that you know she will disagree with you. Find areas that you have some common ground. I would ignore any issues that she plants that are hot button issues for you. (I would just pretend i hadn’t heard the question - or answer a question that I want to answer (like a politician on a Sunday morning political show).

Say things like “That’s interesting.” or “You have point there.”.

Everything doesn’t have to be a battle - because it isn’t important that you win the argument. You can continue to live the way you want to live. You don’t have to lie to her about anything. (Just don’t admit that you don’t accept the things that she has to say).

When you accept the fact that you can’t and won’t change her - it becomes easier. Let your children observe how you handle abrasive individuals that you have to have in your life. (It’s a good lesson - we all have bosses or neighbors or friends of friends that we have to find ways to get along with).

In your mind you can be thinking “I can’t believe you just said that.”. But out of your mouth you might say “I give you credit for holding firm to your beliefs.”. (For me, it becomes kind of a game. I smile when I respond to such individuals and I speak in a pleasant tone, but I have no intention of changing my life to accommodate their beliefs.

Now, if it is your husband or others that you need to be on the same page with, then it is important to discuss your differences and come up with reasonable compromises - even challenge each other. But that is not the case here. (And that is kind of freedom).

Good Luck. Two weeks isn’t such a long period of time when you are through with it. (And YES, if you can swing a hotel, do it). I don’t know how old your kids are - but having a pool to swim in and your own having your own space to retreat to when it is unbearable may keep your sanity.

You realize no one is **forcing **you to do anything? You are choosing to spend $2K to go visit every year.

Maybe you visit every OTHER year, if that is what you can afford. Or simply say that you are not able to make a trip at this time but they are welcome any time at your house.

You are the master of your choices. Refuse to be manipulated.

:thumbsup: That’s what I was going to say. Thankfully, my family is within driving distance because I sure don’t have the extra money to fly the whole family on a regular basis. If my parents or in-laws said that, I’d say, “Okay, then I guess I’ll see you in a few years and maybe we’ll Skype in the meantime.” :shrug:

I agree, except that, not feeling the need to change people can change them - except it is God who changes them through our patience. People after thirty can change and do change. At least some part of them can and do. I thought I’d interject here seeing as it is a Catholic website and we are generally expected to hold out hope for everyone. But sometimes though tough love is what is needed in order to make a point. :thumbsup: But I do agree that we are not expected to change people and this is a very freeing realisation, which brings peace, lightens one’s burdens; and this comes with Catholic faith. Maybe this lady could do with understanding this herself. It sounds as if she is trying to change the OP.

The others are saying you should avoid going into a debate, but if it’s unavoidable, then use this strategy:

  1. What ingredients are used in Alcohol production?

Fruits, sugar, acid, grain, barley, and water.

  1. Does your mother-in-law eat fruits and drink water? Does she use sugar for cooking? Does she feed her children cereal? Does her digestive system produce acid?

Conclusion: Alcohol is made of natural ingredients, and natural ingredients, just like everything else, were created and designed by the creator.

:cool: Hence, drinking alcohol is not a sin.

I agree, although moderation is hard with some things and for some people. And can very easily lead people into sin and complacency. But it is not sinful in itself.

:yup:

Agreed.

We don’t have the annoying Baptist situation, but we do have grandparents who are “busy” and tend to spend their travel dollars on stuff other than seeing their grandchildren. And it is probably about $2k for us all to fly out at this point (although one set of grandparents almost always covers the tickets for visits to them). One particularly set of pretty well-off grandparents has visited us 4 times over the course of the past 16 years–once after the birth of each child, plus one bonus trip. They do a lot of “fun” trips.

I used to treat the yearly visit (or even twice yearly visit) to them all as having the force of law, but as time has gone by and we have gotten more experienced, we are more confident about doing what works for our family. In our case, I don’t really believe in huge trips with kids 9 months-3 years old. Smaller babies and 3-year-olds can be fantastic air travellers and sleep just fine in strange beds, but I’ve gotten very leery of taking kids between those ages on big trips. It just hasn’t been worth it for us. There’s also the fact that we have limited travel funds, and sometimes you just want to go someplace other than grandma and grandpa’s when you have some trip money. One can start to feel a little resentful when all of your trip money gets spent to see family, while family is going on amazing vacations elsewhere…

Our current protocol (with kids 12, 9 and almost 23 months) is that my husband will take a big kid or two to his parents while I stay home with the baby or I take a kid or two to my family while he stays home with the baby. Our visits tend to be somewhere between 7-10 days (although I suspect that 10 days is too long). I haven’t stayed with my in-laws in about 3 or 4 years (not totally sure which). There’s a possibility that we will do a big all-family trip next summer to all the grandmas and grandpas (as the almost-2-year-old is shaping up to be an excellent traveler), but that might need to wait until 2016.

In short, cut down the frequency and shorten the trips and do some trips to other locations.

Well stated.

Getting a spine doesn’t have to be vitriolic, either. It is more like this: Your husband calls his parents and says, “Is there any way you can travel our way this year? Oh, that’s too bad, because we can’t afford to travel your way, either. It’s like you always say, it is just too tight to swing it. I guess we’ll try again next year…” Since they just claimed they can’t afford to travel when they are better off than you, what are they going to say? Maybe they’ll complain, but the complaints can hardly have any more teeth than you give them. Or maybe you buy one ticket for your husband, and he stays at their house…

No one is forcing you dear. You and hubby can discuss before this up coming visit that he will inform his mother that the cost is a hardship and sadly the family will not be coming up next summer. Let that soak in and maybe she will be generous to contribute to future trips. After all, 5 of you travelling and footing the bill is a lot bigger head ache than if she pays one ticket to travel herself.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten is never to give an excuse because there is always a counter to it.

I would NOT say that you can’t afford the visit. It could result in either (a) repeated comments on how you prefer to spend your money on X rather than on visiting them (this does not work both ways in other people’s world) or (b) an offer to underwrite your trip, which does nothing to eliminate your discomfort while you’re there and might actually increase it.

Rather, I’d fail to bring up the subject of a visit entirely. If your MIL asks when you’ll be visiting, at that point tell her that it won’t be possible this year. If she presses for a reason, just tell her it won’t work for your family. Repeat as necessary: We can’t this year.

Does she announce that she won’t be visiting or does it just not happen? Follow that same format.

You really don’t owe anyone an explanation of why you and your family deserve an enjoyable vacation and that is what you choose to spend your limited vacation time and money for.

I am always surprised when relatives pay out to their in-laws, etc. to come visit them or go to their home when they would prefer not to. No one in my family ever paid to come visit me all the time, nor have I ever been able to send them money to come to see me. It has always been financially impossible. That is a lot to expect. If I can’t drive there, I usually don’t go, and no one has ever asked me to send them plane fare.

In terms of teaching your children, just explain that she has not had the advantages you all have had in learning the truth about Christ, and that you all should be polite **and pray for her. **

And (this is very hard!) whenever she says one of her annoying things, you too should be polite and pray for her.

Fly her out to your place…you pay for one ticket instead of 2 when you go there.

This is even better advice. You can decide not to go, and you do not have to give reasons why. Do not issue invitations to visit that you do not want to be accepted, either! :eek:

You know, it seems so obvious when you suggest it, but I don’t think I would have thought of that. :o

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