No one ever said that dealing with in-laws would be easy, but it can be especially tricky when it comes to your mother-in-law.
She may be overly critical or constantly trying to involve herself in your business. This is why it’s essential to set boundaries with her.
In this article, we will discuss 31 list of boundaries for mother-in-law. With these boundaries, you can protect your marriage and maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse’s family!
Here’s what you’ll learn:
Let’s get right into it.
Why Is It Important to Set Boundaries with Your Mother-In-Law?
An unbearable mother-in-law, or should I say monster-in-law, can lead to the breakdown of your marriage. This is why it’s important to set healthy boundaries with her..
Healthy boundaries will help stop your mother-in-law from interfering and overstepping in your life. With limits in place, you can have a healthy and happy relationship with your mother-in-law.
But what are examples of these healthy boundaries? Keep reading to learn more!
31 Boundaries To Set With Your Mother In Law
#1. No Criticizing your Relationship
One of the most common behaviors of an overbearing mother-in-law is that she always finds something wrong with your relationship.
She may criticize the way you and your husband communicate with each other. Or, she may not like the way you’re raising your children. In some instances, she may not agree with your decisions regarding running your household.
You must nip this behavior by setting boundaries with her. You can do this by calmly and assertively telling her that you will not tolerate any criticism of your relationship.
Make it clear to her that you and your husband are a team and that you appreciate her opinion, but ultimately the decisions are up to you.
#2. You’re In Charge of Your Children
I once read somewhere that grandparents will use their grandchildren to make up for their mistakes when bringing up their children. Due to this need to make up for past failures, a mother-in-law may impose herself on your children’s life
While she may play a role in their upbringing, it’s important to remember that you and your partner are solely responsible for your child’s upbringing. Not your mother-in-law!
While she may be eager to help, it’s crucial that you set boundaries with her regarding your child’s care. This includes setting boundaries around bedtime, discipline, and what your own child eats.
It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to ask your mother-in-law to babysit if you know she won’t respect your boundaries. This is your child, and you should decide about their care!
#3. Your Romantic Relationship Is Off Limits:
Another boundary to set with your mother-in-law is around your romantic relationships.
Just because she’s your husband’s mother doesn’t mean she needs to know every detail about your relationship!
If your mother-in-law is prying into romantic areas of your life, setting boundaries with her is essential.
Let her know that these are personal details that you and your husband share and that she is not entitled to this information. If she doesn’t respect your boundaries, you may need to limit the amount of time you spend with her.
It’s also important to remember that you should never ask your mother-in-law for relationship advice. You should discuss this with your husband, not his mother!
#4. Finances are Personal
Your mother-in-law shouldn’t be directing or critiquing the financial decisions that you and your partner make.
This is why it’s essential to set boundaries around your finances. If your mother-in-law constantly asks about your financial situation or offers unsolicited advice, it’s time to set some boundaries.
You can do this by telling her that you and your husband are the ones in charge of your finances and that you appreciate her opinion, but ultimately the decisions are up to you.
Even if she’s previously lent the family money, you shouldn’t let her make financial decisions for you and your partner. This is your life, and you should be in control of your finances!
#5. Abuse Won’t Be Tolerated
If you have a narcissistic mother-in-law, you should ensure that you tell her that any form of abuse won’t be tolerated.
This includes emotional, verbal, or physical abuse.
As a daughter-in-law, it’s important to set boundaries with your mother-in-law from the beginning and make it clear that you won’t tolerate any form of abuse.
If she crosses the line, you should have a plan to protect yourself and your family. This might include limiting contact with her or moving away from her.
It’s also important to tell your husband about the abuse and ask for his support in setting boundaries with his own mother.
Related: 21 Clear Signs Of A Narcissist Grandmother
#6. Implementing “Old-Fashioned” Punishments is Off Limits
Disciplining the children should be your role.
You are the parent, and it is your job to enforce boundaries and punishments. It’s not your mother-in-law’s place to tell you how to raise your own children or punish them.
If your mother-in-law does try to discipline your children, especially using old-fashioned methods such as spanking, calmly explain to her that it’s not her place to do so.
#7. Side Taking Isn’t Expressed Publicly
Some mothers-in-law force their children to choose between them and their partners. They’ll say things like, “Your wife may leave you, but your mother will always be there for you.”
This is not only unhealthy for your marriage, but it’s also unfair to you and your spouse.
If your mother-in-law is constantly trying to pit you and your spouse against each other or take sides in arguments, calmly explain to her that this is unacceptable behavior and that you would appreciate it if she stayed out of your relationship.
If she doesn’t listen or continues to take sides, you may need to talk with your spouse about boundaries with his mother.
#8. Set Boundaries on Spending Time During Holidays
Due to traditions, your mother-in-law might insist on always spending the holidays with you and your spouse.
However, this shouldn’t always be the case.
While spending time with family during the holidays is important, you should also have time for yourself, your spouse, and your children.
Your mother-in-law doesn’t have to come to your place for every holiday. And you don’t have to go to her place for every holiday. You can alternate locations or even spend some holidays apart.
It’s also important to set boundaries on how long you will spend with each other during the holidays.
#9. Passive Aggression Is Unwelcome
If your mother-in-law is the type of person who passive-aggressively tries to make you feel bad or guilty, it’s time to set some boundaries.
Passive-aggressive behavior is unhealthy and will only damage your relationship.
Some examples of passive-aggressive behavior include:
- Making snide comments or backhanded compliments
- Giving the silent treatment
- Withholding love or affection
- Making you feel guilty
If your mother-in-law is engaging in any of these behaviors, calmly explain to her that this is unacceptable and that you’d appreciate it if she stopped.
If there are any issues or hurt feelings, they should be solved directly and not through passive-aggressive methods.
#10. No Interfering in Private Decisions
Things such as your decision not to get children or how you divide chores shouldn’t be your in-laws’ concern.
It’s your life and you should be able to make these decisions without interference from your mother-in-law.
If she disapproves of your choices, that’s her opinion, and she can keep it to herself.
Interfering in private decisions violates boundaries, and it’s essential to nip this behavior in the bud before it becomes a bigger issue.
If your mother-in-law is interfering in your personal decisions, calmly explain to her that this is unacceptable and that you would appreciate it if she respected your privacy.
#11. No Playing Tit and Tat with Favors
Just because your overbearing mother-in-law helps you out doesn’t give her the right to question your decisions or undermine you.
She might think that since she’s helped you in the past, she can do so again in the future and that you owe her favors.
This is not the case. You are not indebted to her and she has no right to question your decisions or undermine you.
If she does try to question your decisions or undermine you, calmly explain that this is not acceptable and that you would appreciate it if she respected your boundaries.
It’s also important to talk to your spouse about this issue so he can support you in setting boundaries with his mother
#12. Your House, Your Rules
It’s important to remember that your house is your house, and you make the rules.
This means that your mother-in-law, father-in-law and your parents are just guests there, and they must obey these rules.
Some examples of ground rules you might want to set are:
- No smoking inside the house
- No drinking alcohol in excess
- No using offensive language
If your mother-in-law or extended family don’t obey these rules, calmly explain that this is unacceptable and that they will have to leave if they can’t follow the rules.
It’s also important to talk to your spouse about these rules so he can support you in enforcing them.
#13. Set Calling and Texting Guidelines
Does your mother-in-law expect you to drop everything when she calls or texts you?
This is unhealthy and unrealistic, and setting some boundaries around calling, and texting is essential.
Some examples of boundaries you might want to set are:
- Only call or text during certain hours
- Don’t call or text when you’re busy with something else
If your mother-in-law doesn’t respect these boundaries, calmly explain to her that this is not acceptable and that you would appreciate it if she respected your boundaries.
#14. Information Exchange Is Voluntary
You’re not required to tell your mother-in-law everything about your life, whether it’s about work or child care.
This boundary is often violated because mothers-in-law act like they have a right to know everything about their children’s lives.
You have a right to privacy and should only share information you’re comfortable sharing.
If your mother-in-law doesn’t respect this boundary, calmly explain to her that this is not acceptable and that you would appreciate it if she respected your privacy.
Only share information you’re comfortable sharing, and don’t feel you have to justify why you’re not sharing something.
Your mother-in-law might not like it, but she’ll have to respect your decision.
#15. Unsolicited Advice Isn’t Welcome
Your mother-in-law might think she knows what’s best for you, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to her unsolicited advice.
This boundary is often violated because mothers-in-law feel like they’re just trying to help. They’re not. They’re trying to control you, and it’s important to nip this in the bud before it becomes a bigger issue.
It’s also important to talk to your spouse about this issue so he can support you in setting boundaries with his mother.
#16. The Kids Always Come First
Your mother-in-law might think she’s the queen of the family, but she’s not.
The kids always come first, and setting this boundary with your mother-in-law is essential.
If your mother-in-law tries to put her needs above your kids, calmly explain that this is unacceptable and that the kid’s needs come first.
Related: 22 Toxic Grandparents Warning Signs & What To Do
#17. Get-Togethers and Family Dinners Have to Be Scheduled
Just because your mother-in-law lives close by doesn’t mean you have to drop everything and see her whenever she wants.
Get-togethers must be scheduled, so everyone has time to prepare for them. This includes family gatherings, holidays, and even cooking dinner together.
You should also have a say in what happens during the get-together. This includes what activities you do, what food is served, and how long the get-together lasts. You should also have a say in who attends the get-together.
If you’re not comfortable with someone, they shouldn’t be there.
And it’s not only get-togethers. If your mother-in-law plans to sleep over at your house, she should inform you beforehand so that you can prepare accordingly.
#18. Gossiping Is Prohibited
Another boundary you should set with your mother-in-law is that gossiping is prohibited.
This includes talking about other family members, friends, co-workers, and celebrities. She shouldn’t say anything if she can’t say something nice about someone.
If your mother-in-law starts to gossip, calmly explain to her that this is unacceptable and that you would appreciate it if she respected your boundaries.
Gossiping can be hurtful and can cause unneeded family drama. It’s important to nip it in the bud before it becomes a bigger issue.
It’s also important to remind your mother-in-law that playing relatives off each other isn’t allowed.
#19. She Must Treat All the Grandchildren the Same
If you have more than one child, your mother-in-law must treat all grandchildren equally.
This includes gifts, attention, and even discipline. All the grandchildren should be treated equally and fairly.
If your mother-in-law starts to favor one grandchild over another, calmly explain to her that this is not acceptable.
It’s essential to nip this in the bud before it becomes a bigger issue.
All the grandchildren should feel loved and appreciated.
#20. She Must Ask for Permission Before Taking Your Kids For Trips or Sleepovers
If your mother-in-law wants to take your kids for a trip or to have a sleepover at her house, she must ask for permission first.
You should also have a say in what happens during the trip or sleepover. This includes what activities they do, what food is served, and how late they stay up.
If your mother-in-law doesn’t ask for permission first, calmly explain to her that this is unacceptable and that you would appreciate it if she asked for your approval before they pass the idea of the trip to the kids.
#21. Diets Aren’t an Extended Family Activity
Your mother-in-law might be on a diet, but that doesn’t mean the whole family must be on a diet.
If your mother-in-law starts to dictate what everyone can and can’t eat, calmly explain that this is unacceptable and that you would appreciate it if she kept her diet choices to herself.
Everyone should be able to eat what they want and not feel pressured into eating something they don’t want to.
This also includes food allergies and religious dietary restrictions. Your mother-in-law should respect your boundaries and not try to push her diet on you or your family.
#22. Belief Systems Are Personal
Your mother-in-law might have strong beliefs, but that doesn’t mean she can force her opinions on you or your family.
If your mother-in-law starts to preach her beliefs, calmly explain that this is not acceptable and that you would appreciate it if she respected your boundaries.
Everyone has the right to their beliefs, and your mother-in-law should respect that. This includes religious beliefs, political beliefs, and even social beliefs.
You might disagree with your mother-in-law’s beliefs, but that doesn’t mean she should force them on you or try to change your beliefs.
It’s important to respect each other’s boundaries and to have an open mind.
#23. Establish Boundaries Around Gifting
If your mother-in-law likes to give gifts, that’s great! But you should set boundaries around gifting.
This includes how often she gives gifts, what type of gifts she gives, and how much she spends on gifts.
You can do this by politely declining gifts or setting a limit on the number of gifts you will accept. Additionally, you can try to steer the conversation away from gift-giving.
She should also clear any gift purchases with you before giving the kids.
#24. Poisoning the Kids’ Minds Is Unacceptable
Your mother-in-law might not like you, but she should never say anything negative about you to the kids.
This also includes talking badly about their other grandparents or other family members.
The kids should never feel like they have to choose sides between you and your mother-in-law. They should feel loved and accepted by both of you.
#25. No Rearranging Your House Without Asking
Your mother-in-law might think she knows what’s best for your house, but she should never rearrange your furniture without asking.
This also includes redecorating, painting, and making any other changes to your house.
Your mother-in-law might not like your taste in décor, but she should respect your boundaries and never try to change your house without asking.
#26. No Hanging Out in Your Bedroom
Does your mother-in-law treat your house as if it was hers? Does she walk into any room, including your bedroom without permission?
Your bedroom is a private space and she should never enter without permission.
This also includes your bathroom. Your mother-in-law should never enter your bathroom without knocking or asking first.
Respecting boundaries is essential, and everyone should have a space in the house that is theirs and theirs alone.
Your mother-in-law should respect your boundaries and never enter your private spaces without permission.
#27. Set Boundaries Around Visitation
If you don’t want your mother-in-law to visit often or at all, you should establish boundaries around visitation.
This includes how often she visits, how long her visits are, and what time she can visit.
You can do this by politely declining visits or setting a limit on the number of visits you will allow.
#28. No Need To Remind You Of How Lucky You Are To Marry Her Son
Your mother-in-law might think she’s being helpful by reminding you how lucky you are to be married to her son, but it’s just a way for her to control you.
A narcissist mother-in-law will tell you how good her son is for you to show you how important she is. She may also do this to try and make you feel guilty for not being grateful enough.
And you certainly don’t need to be grateful to her for marrying her son. You are lucky to marry him, but he is also fortunate to marry you too.
#29. She Should Not Question Your Fashion Choices And Those of Your Children
Your mother-in-law might not like your fashion choices, but she should never question them.
This includes your clothes, makeup, hair, and any other aspect of your appearance. She also should not question the fashion choices of your children. If she does, calmly explain that this is unacceptable and that she should not question your choices.
You can politely listen to her opinion, but you don’t have to take it or change your appearance to please her.
#30. You Do Not Need Her Approval For Every Decision You Make
Your mother-in-law might think she knows what’s best for you, but she should not be involved in every decision you make.
This includes decisions about your career, education, parenting style, and other aspects of your life.
You can politely listen to her opinion, but you don’t have to take it or follow her advice.
It’s essential to make your own decisions and not give your mother-in-law too much control over your life.
#31. No Major Secrets
While your mother-in-law may feel like keeping some things from you, you should inform her that she shouldn’t keep any major secrets regarding your children or spouse.
This includes keeping information about their health or any other aspect of their life from you.
If she keeps secrets from you, calmly explain that this is unacceptable and that she shouldn’t do it again.
Don’t Let Your Mother-In-Law Walk Over You
There you go.
A list of 31 boundaries to set for your mother-in-law. I hope these boundaries will help you develop a better relationship with your mother-in-law.
Which of these boundaries will you set with your mother-in-law? Do you know of any other boundaries to set with your mother-in-law? Please share them in the comment section below.
And if you have any questions regarding setting healthy boundaries with your mother-in-law, please ask them in the comment section below.