photodune-455906-family-portrait-at-home-xsAsk Rene:
My Mother-In-Law Plays Favorites!


Hi Rene! Thank you kindly for reading this.

I’m having some conflict with my mother-in-law. She’s sweet and very giving. She’s also overbearing and controlling. But the truly strange part is she treats my son better than her other grandkids. You see, my husband is the youngest of her 8 children and she only married his father; her other children are from previous boyfriends. Her logic is that my husband is her only legitimate child (since she married his father) so the love she has for him and our son is different than the rest of her kids and grandkids. She treats my husband different than his siblings and my son different than his cousins.

Needless to say, it’s causing a bit of a wedge between the family and I feel awful. She tries her hardest to rationalize it when I respectfully tell her this is not okay. She actually told me one day that my husband’s father is her husband so our family is “real”; her other kids are just fake love. Fake love for her own kids!? I don’t understand having a favorite grandchild because of the father.

I’m trying not to judge her but I don’t understand, Rene. I don’t know how to talk to her, and when I hear how it hurts some of my husband’s siblings I feel like I’m involved. This is my husband and our son. What can I say to her? Should I just leave this alone? Should I keep my family distant? I don’t want to, I know if she didn’t see my son often it would hurt her. I’m really quite baffled about this.

Thanks Rene….


Getting More Than Our Share Of The Love


Dear: Getting More Than Our Share Of The Love:

WHOA! This woman needs to get to a therapist before she drags a whole lot of innocent people down that deep, dark hole of dysfunction with her. As I have stated many times before, I am not a psychologist so my opinion is based on just what I see, but this story reminds me very much of a scene from the movie Boyz n the Hood (warning: language alert!).


Even though it’s been years since I saw that movie, that scene has such a profound on me. The mother loved her son Ricky so much because she loved his father; she had nothing but ill will for the father of Dough Boy and projected all those feelings onto him. Each child lived up to the expectation she placed upon him, right up until the tragic end.

That’s the truly dangerous thing about what your mother-in-law is doing. She is placing expectations, both good and bad on people based on her own issues and that’s just not fair. Her other kids didn’t ask to be born into relationships that were not legitimized (in her mind) by marriage and they shouldn’t be forced to have to pay for her choices.

The question is what do to about it?



You  have to start here as you and your husband need to be on the same page on this. I would urge him to talk to his mother; the fact that he has special standing with her might mean she’s more likely to listen to him.  He may not want to get involved, but he already is, whether he likes it or not.

Read more: Our Story Begins: Expecting Respect: Man Men, Marilyn And Making Chivalry Matter


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I’m not sure what kind of relationship you have with his siblings but you need to have a chat with them as well. Whether a big family gathering or one at a time, you need to make it clear to them where you stand and how you feel about this. Give them an opportunity to talk/ask questions and answer truthfully. But above all, keep the communication channels open between you all and make sure they know they can come to you. By doing this, you will take away the “divide-and-conquer” tool that your mother-in-law is using to keep everyone off balance.

Read more: Ask Rene: Can I Date My SIster’s Ex-Fiance?




 I admire you for talking to this woman in a respectful manner but let’s be real; so far that hasn’t gotten you very far. Tell her she’s placing the people she loves so much in an untenable situation and you want her to stop. Tell her that her “love” is actually setting up an unhealthy dynamic between your family and the others. Be clear about what you expect from her.

Read more: Ask Rene: My Mother In Law Is A Monster!

DISTANCE YOURSELFphotodune-3363779-white-alphabet-lettering-spelling-space-xs

If you have spoken to your mother-in-law and she refuses to get her act together, well then you need to switch into self (and family) preservation mode. Start putting some space between your family and your mother-in-law. This woman has issues; whether she’s willing to see your side and work on them for the good of the family, will tell you all you need to know.

Read more: Ask Rene: I HATE Being A Mom!


Bottom line: your mother-in-law says she loves you husband, but in showering him (and by default, you and your child) with that affection, she is driving a wedge between your family and her other children. That needs to stop.

Good luck mommy!

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