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Question
Posted by: CHB | 2009-08-18

Mother in law driving me mad

My partner' s mother is mentally unstable, I' m sure of it. She was addicted to prescription meds most of my partner' s childhood years and basically threw her life away. She stopped working from the age of 40, spent her retirement money and now expects us to take care of her financially.

Thing is, we really can' t afford it. We have a very strict budget, we have a baby on the way and live frugally to be able to give our baby the best.

She becomes completely irrational, demands money (she chain smokes... but doesn' t have money for food) and puts so much strain onto our relationship. All we can do is to give in and give her money (we give her a couple of hundred rand every month already!!!)

She lies to me, she tries to play my partner and I off against each other... I want her out of my life. I definately don' t want to expose my child to her (she is extremely moody).

My father is also retired and he is a great asset to us (not financially), but he supports us emotionally, shows concern for us and our unborn baby. So its not like I want to write off all our parents. I do feel an obligation to our parents, but I feel that you can only help people who want to help themselves.

My mother in law made some choices. She is relatively young (55), healthy and should also take some responsiblity to sort out her life.

My partner seems to think, if you ignore the problem it will go away, but I want to confront her once and for all and get her out of our lives.

What to do?

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Our expert says:
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Of course one feels some sense of obligation towads relatives who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own. But when they have brought their problems on themselves, over many years of waste and self-indulgence, it is understandable if one wishes NOT to support them, especially not in any continuation of their former bad behaviours.
From your description, your little family needs all you can earn to look after yourselves, and not to support her addictive behaviours such as her smoking, which she could give up if she couldn't rely on someone else to pay for her habit. Meanwhile, let her choose between smoking and food --- shes a adult and must assume adult responsibilities and choices --- she has no right to expect you to deprive yourselves or your child for the sake of her bad habits.
But it's the psychopathic sense of entitlement, DEMANDING money and expecting that she SHOULD receive it, rather than asking and hoping, that would be especally offensive. It is right that you can only truly help people who can and will help themselves. She is still young enough to get work, if she is not too lazy to bother to do so.
Discuss this with your partner, emphasizing your joint responsibility towards your child which by a million miles outweighs your responsibilities towards this wasteful, selfish and lazy woman. Try to reach a joint decision and then calmly tell the MIL that you together want nothing more to do with her until SHE puts her life together, get's a job and supports herself properly, until she can contribnute towards family life rather than being a useless drain on it. And start by telling her that no amount of shouting or performing on her side will change your minds, and that if she makes a nuisance of herself you will ask the police to remove her and get a court interdict to forbid her from approaching any of you again.


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Our users say:
Posted by: Just Know | 2009-08-18

My hubby has been supporting his parents (and other family) from the first day he got his first job..... huh..... that is 20 years ago... we have 2 girls (twins) and 3 boys..a set of twins and a boy... but you know what... we are still supporting his parents... sometimes they can be ruthless and demanding... but they feel it is our responsibility to take care of them... it' s not fair, but what can one do?

I have learnt that pushing my man to put his foot down, has just created friction in the past. right now, I deal with as it comes and unfortunately, for us it will be like this till either we die or they die.......

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