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How should I tackle comparisons made by my mother-in-law?

Q: I am 31 years old. With each passing day, it is becoming difficult for me to cope with my mother's (in law) behaviour. She keeps comparing every aspect of our lives with her daughter's life and keeps on struggling physically, mentally and financially to make her life equal to ours. When this becomes impossible she adopts weird ways to overcome her stress. She talks about 3-4 times a day with her and discusses every bit of our day-to-day life with her. Even my daughter is compared for everything with her son as they are of the same age. This is troubling me. I have a very good husband and all the comforts in my life. He asks me to just chill out about the entire thing, but it is easier said than done. The main problem is regarding finances. She wants to give everything that we have to her daughter and when this is not possible she becomes frustrated and says weird things. How do I react to such situations?

A:I can understand the distress you are going through. In fact, she is right in showing her maternal emotions to/for her daughter. You are also right in getting distressed about the comparisons. However, the solution is not in making your mother-in-law keep quiet or in you saying that she is wrong. But, the solution is helping her to ventilate. Show support and provide some realistic advice about what can be done to improve the condition of your sister-in-law. Empathise with her while not getting to feel that you are being persecuted. You should be happy that she is able to see that you are happy and probably better in some respects that she is comparing for the positive rather than the negative. What if she was comparing you and your family for the negative. So, try to see her point of view first and then subtly start informing her your point of view that comparisons do not help and maybe would bog down the sister-in-law too much. Explain to her that this would be negative for the sister-in-law as it would increase her frustration, make her self-esteem low, and develop in her negative feelings towards all of you. This will do the trick. However, if your sister-in-law indeed needs help, you should stand by her.


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