Can I hide my pregnancy, baby news from toxic mother-in-law?
Question: “I’ll try to make this short. Basically, I have a crazy mother in law. My boyfriend and I have been dating for three years. For two of those years, I haven’t spoken or seen my partner’s mom. This past year, my boyfriend hasn’t either. We recently found out we are expecting! We are so excited and can’t wait to be parents.
The reasons for our falling out with his mom had a lot to do with boundaries and her control issues. My boyfriend was already nervous about telling his mom because she never has a good reaction when people share news like this. I do want to mention, we are financially stable, we own a home and we are 100% ready for children. My mother-in-law would have no reason to be upset, other than the fact that she is just a negative human being.
It was her birthday recently, and my boyfriend texted her, and her response was “Thanks for the birthday wish but don’t bother. It’s clear you do not want a relationship with me and I don’t want one with you.” My boyfriend was really hurt by it. We truly feel we did nothing wrong. We just set boundaries and she did not like it.
Help! I haven’t talked to my boyfriend’s mom in a year, and I’m banned from family events.
Fast forward to now. I am 12 weeks pregnant, we have told our friends and most of our family, but we are still thinking about how or whether we should tell his mother. He doesn’t want her negative response or a lecture. My question is, should we tell her or should we just let her find out through the grapevine? Thanks in advance for your advice, I know you will help us make the best decision.”
Answer: “First of all, congratulations! I’m happy to hear you and your partner are so excited and have such a great support system outside of your partner’s mom. That being said, I don’t think it’s necessary to go out of your way to tell your mother-in-law. Information diets and sharing this news with only those who are happy and excited for you is what’s going to be the healthiest for you and your baby. The text message she sent your partner after he wished her a happy birthday demonstrates perfectly why she doesn’t deserve to know. She met his gesture with immaturity, pettiness and emotional manipulation. She’s demonstrating exactly why you two were justified in limiting the relationship in the first place.
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Exciting, momentous occasions like children, weddings and holidays can have a way of making strained relationships with family feel that much more sharp. But based on your writing, it seems like you two have tried to make this relationship work. In my eyes, if someone is unwilling to respect boundaries, it shows they don’t respect you and that’s a minimum requirement for a relationship.
I will just say, she is definitely going to find out, so prepare for some blowback there. I think one way you could “win” this winless situation is by mailing her an announcement card. That way she can’t play the victim that you didn’t tell her, and you don’t have to have an actual verbal exchange and hear any negative feedback. Try not to let this stressful situation detract from how exciting this time is for you and your partner. I truly believe family is what we make it, and blood relation doesn’t need to be a requirement for “family.”
Congratulations and I hope this helps,
Morgan Absher is an occupational therapist in Los Angeles who hosts the podcast, “Two Hot Takes” where she and her co-hosts dish out advice. She writes a weekly column, sharing her advice with USA TODAY’s readers. Find her on TikTok @twohottakes and YouTube here. You can reach her by email at Mabsher@gannett.com or you can click here to share your story with her.
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