Mother-in-law buys ‘controlling’ gifts for 4-month-old grandson

The internet has taken a stand against a woman who called her mother-in-law to check that she had bought her child diapers and toiletries she doesn’t use or want.

In a post shared to Mumsnet in early December under the username Santaslittlehelper83, the new mom wrote that her mother-in-law, who has a history of controlling and manipulative behavior, has been bringing unwanted gifts over since the birth of her second child four months ago and don’t stop even after you tell them to.

Mother-in-law controls gifts
Stock image of a mother-in-law celebrating her baby. The internet has slammed a mother who thought her mother-in-law was controlling her by buying her child diapers.
Getty Images

A survey by the Mothers-in-Law Project shows that three quarters of mothers-in-law say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their relationship with their daughter-in-law, and only 5 percent are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

However, the picture with the daughters-in-law is not so great. In fact, 20 percent of them say they are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their mother-in-law relationship.

The Mumsnet poster wrote that their mother-in-law has given them items such as diapers, wipes and toiletries that are not the right size or brand for their son and often give him a rash. Although she and her husband were “gracious” and sometimes accepted the gifts, they also asked her to stop, but she ignored them.

The mother wrote: “It’s not that we couldn’t afford these things ourselves and she never asked us what would be useful. Just something is really rubbing me the wrong way, but I’m massively sleep deprived.”

Smriti Joshi, chief psychologist at Wysa, a leading AI-driven mental health platform, said news week that the wife may become concerned about the expectations her mother-in-law would place on her or her husband.

“Mothers-in-law can usually act like this, not because they think they know more because of their age and experience. This could be her way of reminding her of her presence and ‘superior’ position in her life.”

According to Joshi, it’s best to thank her for her kindness, but also to remind her that the wife and her husband would be happier and more grateful if she could check with them on what they need, what they already have, and what they want like for their baby.

Joshi added, “Husband and wife can take comfort in knowing they are on the same page and working together to gently set and maintain boundaries so mother-in-law’s manipulative behavior doesn’t cause relationship problems later.”

Most Mumsnet users thought the mother was being unreasonable and rethinking this whole situation.

One user, Mice Branch, commented, “Just accept them and then donate them to a charity. She’s happy, the board is happy, and you don’t have to clutter the house with anything.”

Poster jelly79 added: “Let them contribute and be merciful – choose your battles,” while SleeplessInEngland wrote: She may control in other areas but I think you’re using the word wrong in this example. Just accept the gifts and give them somewhere else.

Another user, TheLittlestLightOnTheXmasTree, wrote: “Sounds like she’s trying to help with useful items. No need to be so hard and mean on her.” And Zooeyzo posted, “Can’t you trade them at the store? She’s probably trying to help.”

news week could not verify the details of the case.

If you have a similar family problem, let us know by email We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek. Mother-in-law buys ‘controlling’ gifts for 4-month-old grandson

Rick Schindler

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