Now that the 81-year old MIL has moved in across the street, the neighbors are getting into our business - how do I handle them?

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We have been here 2-1/2 years, she has been on the block for about 6 weeks. We keep to ourselves and don't know any of our neighbors more than on a neighborly level. Since she has moved in, two neighbors in particular go over to her house constantly and offer to do chores, mow lawns, etc. They are both retired married men with their own homes to take care of. She lets them do some things, but has hired help for most of it, which she had long before she moved here. Yesterday one of the neighbors approached me and said he had been fixing her sprinkler for the second time. I just smiled and said don't get in over your head. He pointed his finger, shaking it at me and said I need to spend more time over there. I am so angry - he has no idea what we do! We had total peace and quiet and now we've got accusatory neighbors thinking we are neglecting the poor little old lady. I didn't even know what to say other than we both work full time jobs and are raising children still. We do go over there several times a week and do all sorts of things. Sometimes we are over there several times a day doing errands, watering plants, moving furniture, getting things off tall shelves and you name - and just yesterday when this went down, my husband was fixing her car in our garage. I am beside myself. I asked her what she had been telling the neighbors and she simply said to ignore them. My daughter says she was over there when this particular neighbor was at my MIL's house and he was going around pointing out things she needs done in her yard and saying your son should be doing this, why isn't your son over here, I never see your family over here. The nerve! Is he watching her house all hours? I don't know why this is bothering me so much except for the fact that when we do say no to her, she goes into a tantrum and says we never help her and will act like a victim, so I don't know what to believe. I knew her moving across the street would have it's issues, but I never imagined that the neighbors would be butting in like that. How do I handle them? I just want peace and not have anyone in my business.

Answers 1 to 10 of 11
Well your calmer than I would be. I would have gave that idiot what for before he had a chance to turn and walk away. If you let him slide with those remarks, it's going to fester till this man has all the neighbors feeling sorry for the older woman across the street. Then I would grab husband and have a firm talk with mil. Let her know if she continues discussing family business with the neighbors, you will simply stay on your own side of the street. She's testing the waters to see how much she can control your family. Don't let it happen. Take charge of this situation fast! Good luck! Lisa
Oh my word! That is not an issue I would have anticipated with MIL moving into the neighborhood. I'm trying to put myself in your place. I would be beside myself! What outrageous conduct on the part of the neighbor.

It is possible that Mr. Busybody is not firing on all cylinders himself. Maybe his wife is wringing her hands trying to figure out how to reign him in. Maybe he has the beginnings of dementia. Who knows? You just want him out of your hair without starting WWIII in your neighborhood, right?

By the way, is MIL in the beginnings of dementia, or just a manipulative old biddy with her tantrums and lies?

Here's a thought. You and Hubby ave Mr. Busybody AND his wife over. Serve lemonade and pastires or whatever is appropriate in you neighborhood. Tell them that you are glad to have Mom living so close now, and that it gives you more opportunites to help her. She is still funtioning independently and you want to preserve that as long as possible. She decides what work to have hired, what she wants to ask you for, and what, if anything, she will accept from others. You are not her gaurdians nor her fulltime caregivers. How much help you provide and in what way is a family matter, not open to input from the neighborhood. Mom is sometimes confused about family matters and it would be good to not take everything she says as absolute truth. Of course they are free to relate to her in any way they see fit. You are glad to see her making friends in the neighborhood.

Do you think you and Hubby could pull that off? Would seeing how Mrs. Busybody fits in be useful?

I'm a little sneakier than Lisa ... If I was in your spot, I'd probably be tempted to go to the neighbor and tell him that I felt badly about the finger pointing, and tell him how much you do for the MIL, and that she seems to either not remember or realize it and that you're worried about her mental state. I guess I'd try to make an ally out of him instead of letting him run around to the rest of the neighbors, telling him how awful you are. And then, I'd tell the MIL about the neighbors talking, making everyone look badly. Whatever you do, Ohjeez (love the name, btw), I'd do it quickly and with a smile. You don't need bad feelings with neighbors. Good luck! Keep us posted.
Top Answer
JudymW, if Mr. Busybody is a married man, I would want to have his wife included in all future conversations. I'd want to know if my husband were running around the neighborhood causing trouble.

Jeanne That's where my mind was going. What's his wife got to say about this? If no wife then maybe he's trying to make points with the new girl in town.
Judy, you sneak! Heeheehee the only problem with her telling the man their worried about her mental state? They'll be on the phone accusing them of neglect. My PIL have a gentleman in their neighborhood that has lived their 50 years. And for 50 years he's been in everyone's business. But as strange as it sounds, my husbands generation consider and love him like an uncle. I guess what needs to be found out in this situation if he's a spiteful mean person. Cause I sure know what it's like to be lied on. Kinda suspecting mil puttin on a poor pitiful me act to control one more person and have him at her beck and call. Maybe?
Yep. Lots of possibilities here about what is wrong with this neighbor and what role Mom is playing in this drama. I still say, a plate of snickerdoodles, pitcher of lemonade, Mr and Mrs Ohjeezleweez and Mr and Mrs Busybody sitting around on the patio, with the friendly but firm message that neighborhood interference in family matters is not welcome is worth a try.

And if all else fails ... "I can tell, Mr. Busybody, that you feel strongly about this. If you think that failure to divide and transplant Mother's peony bushes constitutes neglect, then perhaps you should contact Adult Protectives Services and see if they agree." Snicker snicker. "Would you care for another snickerdoodle?"

I love it Jeanne!
A talk with both, if there is a Mrs. Busybody, is a great idea. I'd be hesitant to invite them over because they could refuse the invitation (and I don't bake!), but I think you're right, Jeanne!
Thank you all, there were a lot of constructive, valuable comments here that I found very helpful. I haven't seen this neighbor again yet, but that will come. I am going to politely ask him to explain what he meant, then assess how to appropriately answer. One thing I never thought of is, perhaps, he was joking? As far as the MIL, things are progressively worse right now. She went on another tirade of how we don't do anything. She is angry because she pays my kids to work for her, but finds that they don't have the attitude she likes. She gave them $400 for senior pictures, but then the comments started flowing immediately of now ungrateful they are, blah blah blah. One daughter took the check back to her and left it there, telling her she could keep her money if that was how she was going to act, which started a huge fight between them ending with my daughter walking out on her. I haven't talked to her today yet. I hate turmoil.

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