I (36M) am a devoted father and husband, married to my wonderful wife (34F) with a loving 10-year-old son (Jake). My mother-in-law (60F) lives nearby and has always been involved in our lives, especially in our son's upbringing.
Our house has become a central hub for family gatherings, celebrations, and playdates for Jake. My wife and I appreciate her support, but lately, things have taken a turn.
Over the past year, my mother-in-law's involvement has become increasingly overbearing. She constantly interferes with our parenting decisions and disapproves of how we raise Jake. For instance, she insists that we're too strict with screen time and enforces her rules when we're not around. She also criticizes our discipline methods and pushes her outdated beliefs onto us.
The breaking point came last weekend when we were planning a family camping trip. My wife, Jake and I were excited about our adventure. But, my mother-in-law decided to invite herself along.
I expressed concerns about her joining us, as I wanted it to be a time for our nuclear family to bond and create memories. However, she insisted that she was just trying to help and didn't understand why I was so upset.
Feeling overwhelmed, I had an honest conversation with my wife about my concerns. We agreed that I should talk to my mother-in-law about boundaries. I explained that while we love her and value her role in our lives, we needed more independence as a family unit. She didn't take it well and accused me of trying to exclude her from Jake's life.
Now my wife is upset with me, and my mother-in-law is acting distant. I've even received calls from other family members, claiming that I should have just let her join the trip to avoid conflict.
I feel torn and unsure if I overstepped by setting boundaries. So, Reddit, AITA for trying to establish some much-needed boundaries with my overbearing mother-in-law, even if it caused tension in the family?
NTA - Never avoid conflict, it's what abusers and enablers do and continue to perpetrate, stand firm in your decision.
However, wife should have been the one to deal with her mother. After the upset and fall out have settled her mother is more likely to make amends with her daughter than her son-in-law.
OP is now in the unfortunate and damaging position of being the outsider pushing his agenda on the family. Wife threw him under the bus by avoiding the conflict herself.
NTA. This is a family trip with your immediate nucleus so you get to do what you please. Don’t have to answer to others. And Jake is your kid, you are his dad and your wife is his mom. You are the only parents. No one else has the right to say anything about it. You can ask for advice, but it’s your decision to act on it or not.
Thank you for your supportive words. Establishing boundaries with family members, especially when it comes to parenting decisions, can be challenging. It's reassuring to receive encouragement to prioritize our immediate family's well-being and the relationship we have with our son.
The clarity you've provided confirms the importance of parental authority and making decisions for our child. I appreciate your perspective on this matter.
NTA. As partners and parents, deciding what's best for your family is your responsibility, even if someone else believes you're choosing the wrong path or that they're "only trying to help." So, there's nothing wrong with setting boundaries.
However, this was the flaw in your plan:
"I had an honest conversation with my wife about my concerns. We agreed that I should talk to my mother-in-law about boundaries."
Your wife should have talked to her mother about those boundaries. Her bowing out of the conversation set you up as the bad guy and hung you out to dry. You need to act together.
NTA. You are allowed to take a camping trip (or anything else) just the three of you. It's not like you don't see MIL all the time otherwise. Your wife should not be leaving you as the only messenger of this to her mother, though!
NTA. He's your son and you should be able to parent how you see fit. Anyone else's input outside of you and your wife isn't needed unless asked for. You are his parents and what you say goes.
If she can't see that, then it's perfectly normal and healthy to set boundaries.
If you don't want her rules, or her to be at the trip you planned for the THREE of you, then that's okay.
I also think your wife has no reason to be upset, as she did agree to set boundaries, and she could of been present to input her support on the matter, but by the way you worded it it sounded like entirely your job.
If you don't like how a job's done, do it yourself. It also seems like her support in the matter would help create a united front and maybe make her mum back off a bit, but by the sounds of it she seems like the type to take it to the extreme of trying to sever ties and/or argue for all eternity rather than just back off a lil. I hope it goes well for you.