My mother-in-law told my kid that I should be doing more. – Ask Dr. Leman 167 (Episode 357)


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It’s time for another Ask Dr. Leman: “My mother-in-law told my kid that I should be doing more.” Listen in to find out Dr. Leman’s response on this episode of Have a New Kid by Friday Podcast.

Show Sponsored by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing

Produced by Unmutable™


Doug: Could you imagine if your 11-year-old daughter walked up to you and said, “I have been informed by my grandmother that I no longer need to do as much around here. And, I’m supposed to do less and you’re supposed to do more.” Well, that’s the question that somebody called in and asked, and we get to ask Dr. Leman, how would you respond to that? Hi, Doug Terpening.

Andrea: I’m Andrea.

Doug: And, we are really, really glad that you are with us today. If this is your first time with us, want to let you know this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help. Well, let’s hear this caller’s question for Dr. Leman.

Call In Questio…: Good morning, Dr. Kevin Leman. Thank you so much for taking my call. I’m a big fan of your books, and recommend them, and buy them for many of my friends and family. This morning, I am calling because of my 11-year-old daughter who is growing quite an attitude. At first, I assumed it was hormones, but the other day I had enough forethought to be able to get a conversation going with her.
She informed me her nana, my mother-in-law, told her that if I loved her, I would be making her breakfast and lunch, and not giving her so many chores. And, that I was failing as a mother on that aspect. We talked for a bit and she remembered that I stopped making her breakfast and lunch when she stopped wanting to eat what I made her.

I make a vast dinner, but breakfast and lunch is up to my kids. All four of them will make various foods that they have been trained to make. I was later informed by my husband that my mother-in-law went to my husband and told him that I need to be giving my kids more chores. I’m not quite sure how to handle that due to the fact that my mother-in-law and I have not been on speaking terms for two years after she tried getting us to divorce. I would appreciate your help, thank you.

Dr. Leman: Oh, my goodness. Oh, where did we start? I’m making notes. Well, you don’t have a kid problem, okay. Your 11-year-old girl is fine, she’s just being 11. And you’re right, a lot of what’s going on with 11 year old is probably hormonal, because whatever she receives from people, whether it’s mother-in-law, you, dad or whatever, she’s still 11 year old. So, read a Planet Middle School or have a New Teenager by Friday, both of those books will be of help to you and how to respond to that daughter.
But, I want to talk about this mother-in-law. I would find a way of telling her she should call Dr. Laura. I would love to hear Dr. Laura take apart your mother-in-law. I mean, she got to be nutso, okay. That’s a psychological term. Nutso, look it up, N-U-T-S-O. And, she wants her son to divorce you. There’s a little something suspect about that. That person is a poison person in your life, in your husband’s life, and in your 11-year-old daughter’s life.

I want you to hear what I’m saying. This kid’s grandmother is poison to the family. She is poisoning the well, she is stirring things up, and I think you need to have a heart to heart with your husband on this one. And, he has to make a decision, “Hey, do you need mommy’s constant agitation, masters love? Or, do you want me as your wife, and you want your 11-year-old to really appreciate you for being the dad you are?”

I think that conversation takes place, and that might really be frightening. Not only for you, but really frightening for your husband, because you’re talking about his mom. And, everything in him says, “Respect your mom.” It says, “Honor your father and mother.” Let me tell you something about honoring your father and mother, it says, “Children honor your father and mother.” It doesn’t say, “Adult children who have children, honor your father and mother.”

There are certain situations where you leave and you cleave, and now your first priority, dad, is not your mommy.” Your first priority is to your wife, and then your daughter in that order. So, I’d love to know at our resident psychologist farmers in disguise from the great State of Oregon would think of that suggestion.

Doug: Well, the follow-up question I would have for you is I think he’s going to say, “Well, honey, I think there’s some validity to what my mom is saying. And, I think we should listen to parts of what her advice is.”

Andrea: Right, and she told him that the wife should give the kids more chores, but she told the daughter-

Doug: Can we wait on that? I think that’s a side point.

Andrea: Oh, well, I’m trying to understand the scenario.

Dr. Leman: Well, there’s two different issues, I get it. But, the big issue is mother-in-law telling her son that… Or in this case, mom telling her son that you need to divorce her. To me, the caller sounded like a sane mom who’s tried to follow through. She said, “I stopped making her meals when she refused to eat what I prepared for dinner. Fine, then fix your own meals.” And, that’s right out of my book, I’m not going to disagree with that.
11-year-old thinks she’s the queen of the Hill, and maybe she is and fine. Going to the Hill, make yourself whatever you want. There’s food in the refrigerator, we’re not locking it up. I’m just saying, I’m not preparing food for you to have you say, “I don’t want that.” Well, you fix your own. That’s keeping the tennis ball of life on the right side of the court.

Doug: If this wife doesn’t stand up to him, how’s this going to play out, you think?

Dr. Leman: If the wife doesn’t stand up to him, the wife is going to continue to get turned off. The marriage is going to go downhill, and everybody’s going to pay. Mom’s going to pay, dad’s going to pay, and 11-year-old is going to pay. And, guess who wins? Guess who wins? The controlling, nosy mother-in-law.

Like I said, I’d love to hear what Dr. Laura would say to her. Ever listened to Dr. Laura? She’s actually a physiologist, she’s really not a psychologist or anything like that. But, she rips these women, “Oh, Dr. Laura, it’s just such a privilege to talk to you.” And 30 seconds later, Laura has taken out her carving knife, and carved the caller in about nine pieces.

Doug: I can’t believe some of the people call in to ask [crosstalk]-

Dr. Leman: I can’t either, I can’t [crosstalk]-

Doug: … [crosstalk]for it on that one. So Andrea, to your point, the mother-in-law told the daughter, “you should do less.” And, I think she misspoke when she said, “And, the mother-in-law told the father that the kids should do more.” So, I think she meant to say less. I think it’s kind of a side issue, but she’s pointing out that the mother-in-law’s going to the father talking about the kids, not to her. Telling the kids, “Do this.” She’s just putting seeds of distrust, and poisoning [crosstalk].

Dr. Leman: Yeah, she’s poisoning, she’s planting seeds of discord. So, I don’t know, I would stay away from that lady.

Andrea: And whatever way it is, it’s divisive, right. And, she’s going to everybody and [crosstalk]-

Dr. Leman: Yeah, what you have there, you got Trump and Pelosi in a bag and shaking it up for a good measure.

Doug: Well, in our own circle, we have seen a mother-in-law that wasn’t quite this bad, but was kind of poisonous. And, when the couple came together, and the husband actually told his own mom, “Mom, you’re not invited until you get your act together and can respect my wife.” The mother got so mad that she left for like two or three years. He thought she had the right to stick her nose into their business, but eventually it was really interesting.

I think missing the grandkids made her calm down enough that she realized she couldn’t do it. And, the father-in-law in this case stepped up and said, “We have to change if we want to see our kids.” But, it turned out great, and now it’s wonderful. So, I would say if you’re in this situation and you’re the wife, and it’s scary to do this, you’d need to do this here. As we’ve seen the results, haven’t we, Andrea?

Andrea: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yep.

Doug: And, do you feel really loving when I choose my mother over you? Is that just one of the cockles of your heart?

Andrea: No.

Doug: So, Dr. Leman I have a quick story for you that sort of relates to this. This is how bad my life is, my wife has only been wrong once or twice in our entire marriage, and I’m sure. And, I went to my mother, because I was like, “Mom, can you believe Andrea did X, Y, and Z?” Do you know what my wife mother-in-law, formerly known as my mother said? She said, “Well, honey, I love you, but you probably caused it. You’re wrong, she’s right.” My mom has never taken my side with anything with my wife.

Andrea: Never ever.

Doug: She never has, has she?

Dr. Leman: Yeah, that’s a smart lady.

Andrea: And, she still brings all that candy around for the kids.

Doug: They hate this crime in the Terpening house, candy.

Dr. Leman: Oh, well I think we solved the problem.

Doug: Well, okay. I’m going to make sure I just get this in. So, Baker Books is offering you guys a great ebook, Have a New Sex Life by Friday. Boy, these two need to read it for a dollar ninety nine between now and the end of March of 2021, wherever eBooks are sold.

Andrea: We have a review from Rita, it says, “If you buy this book, be prepared to make personal changes in your marriage.”

Doug: Yeah, well we know someone who needs to get some personal changes in the marriage, this caller and this book will help you with more than just sex. So, go get this book wherever you buy eBooks between now and the end of March of 2021. And, now a no nonsense parenting moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.

Dr. Leman: Today’s college expenses are absolutely out of this world. I don’t know how anybody affords to send their kids to college. Years ago, well, a generation ago or so, it was probably the advice of what Dr. Kevin Leman to let kids absorb that cost by themselves. There’s something to be said for that, but today’s college tuition at many universities, 50, 60, $70,000 a year. Wow, how do you do that? Well, number one, before we go into the big debt thing, consider a community college for the first two years.

Most students who go to college could profit to your experience. As far as taking out loans, parents, it’s on you. If you want to bear that burden, you go right ahead. I think there’s something very healthy about the son or the daughter signing up and taking out loans. So, you help them, I helped all my kids, all five kids. But, times have changed, it’s very, very expensive. So, have a good conversation with your kids. If they’re appreciative of your effort, that would encourage me to be more helpful to them. Good luck.

Andrea: So, should this mom say anything to her 11-year-old about how she is choosing to respond to the mother-in-law?

Dr. Leman: No, I don’t think so. I think you just do that on the QT, and grandma might disappear from that kid’s life for a while, and she’s probably going to contact her. And of course, the poison pusher is going to say something very unpleasant, about 11-year-old’s mom. And, 11-year-old is going to see a little different side of grandma, and 11-year-old’s not real happy with mom to begin with, so she might buy into some of it too, but-

Andrea: Doesn’t that make the situation worse so for this caller?

Dr. Leman: It does, it does. See, when I say we’ve solved the problem, what I mean is we’ve given mom in this case a means of telling her husband, “Hey, you got a choice to make here, Charlie.” Because, this situation is clearly on the husband shoulders. He’s the one that has to stand up, and defend his wife and his family from his mother.

If he’s not man enough to do that, all bets are off, okay. So, it all starts with him, but yes the 11-year-old kid, she’s going to feel like she’s a chicken, wings being pulled each way. It’s not healthy for kids, but when you have an unhealthy adult around a young kid, there’s going to be a consequence for the 11-year-old.

Doug: When the husband finally gets enough guts to go talk to his mom, does he take his wife so that they’re shoulder to shoulder? Or is it like, “You go talk by yourself, buddy.”

Dr. Leman: No, I think wife, shoulder to shoulder is the best talk. Mom, doesn’t have to say a word. Her duty, so to speak, is you stand next to her husband. See, with powerful people, let me… With a powerful kid, for example, if you’re not shoulder to shoulder as parents, you’re not on the same page, that kid will chase you up one side and down the other. You’re not going to get anywhere with that kid. So, you have to be on the same page, psychological, you got to be shoulder to shoulder and if you’re not, you’re defeated.

Doug: And, your encouragement to the girl that called in is, she needs to stand firm to her husband and make it super clear that this is going to just poisoning their marriage and their family.

Dr. Leman: Right, and she has to reaffirm her love for her husband. I mean, she sounds like a good mom to me. She doesn’t sound like a bad mom or a nutso one.

Doug: Any advice you’d have for her ad the wife stands up to her husband and tells him, “You got to do this.” You have a perfect example of it from this weekend, right. Oh, Dr. Leman I was such a jerk to Andrea this weekend, you wouldn’t believe it.

Dr. Leman: She probably deserved it.

Doug: No, she did not.

Dr. Leman: I’m just kidding.

Doug: Well, I called my mother and said, “Mom, Andrea did this, isn’t she wrong?” And my mom said, “No, go apologize.”

Dr. Leman: Yeah, there you go.

Doug: Andrea stood up to me very clearly, and strongly, and directly in love, and she was right. And, it made me kind of pull up short, and realize I had to [inaudible] it. So, it’s not bad for wives to… Especially, the time to realize their wrong.

Andrea: Yeah, I think it’s worth it, and I think it’s scary. And, I think doing it in love and not attacking is the best way to go. You can’t be pointing fingers. Talk about how it makes you feel.

Doug: Yep. Well, thank you caller for calling in, anything else Dr. Leman before we wrap up?

Dr. Leman: I would suggest to people who enjoy our podcast to tell your friends about it. We know there’s a growing number. We have people that join us who say, “I never heard of this fat little guy before.” And, I’m thinking, “How did that happen?” But, it happens. And, we like to have fun, and we try to be helpful and we know you enjoy it, so help spread the word for us. Appreciate it.

Doug: Well, and we appreciate you guys listening and being a part of this, and we do it so that you can love those kids more and more. And in this case, even your spouses so that parenting gets easier for you. Well, it was great to be with you, look forward to next time.

Andrea: Have a great week.

Doug: Have a great night.

Andrea: And, I hope that that goes well for you, caller.

Doug: Yes, yes we’d love to know how it went. We’d love to know how it went. Take care.

Andrea: Bye-bye.

Doug: Bye-bye.

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