How do I respond to boundary stomping MIL?

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I hope this is the right place to post this. My MIL lives just about 50 feet from us. She's never had a sense of boundaries even before the dementia set in. We grew tired of her always being in our business, dropping in whenever she felt like it, trying to take over our kids, walking in uninvited, etc. So my dh finally set some boundaries. One thing she still is doing, that he has told her more than once to stop, is she'll call every time he's off work asking if he's sick. He's a grown man and feels that she is treating him like a child. She did this a couple of days ago when he took off for a dr appointment. We didn't answer the phone. But that night when I brought her medicine to her, she felt the need to ask me. I brushed off the question. The next night she asked again. I told her he's a grown man, if he's sick I'm more than capable of taking care of him and if we need help we'll ask.

She tried to justify it saying that one day I'll understand when my kids are grown that they're never too old for you to worry, etc. I told her my mother doesn't do that, she knows if something's seriously wrong we'll let her know. In other words she treats me like an adult and she has ever since I became an adult. She said we live right by her so she sees that he goes to work every day and when he doesn't she wants to know what's going on. I get that she's still his mother no matter how old he is but he is a grown man. A married grown man. Being his mother does not give her a free pass to be in our business. I'm not very good at dealing with things like this on the spot. How should I have dealt with it? Should dh have another talk with her about respecting us as adults and respecting our boundaries? Her dementia is not so bad that she doesn't understand what she's doing. This is nothing new. We've had to enforce boundaries before but now it's a bit trickier since she needs help with things now like her medicine, her money, and she can't drive anymore. Before we could just avoid contact. Now what?

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If you can give her little snatches of information from time to time, she may feel included, which could stop some of her meddling. She lives physically too close which is part of the problem so she sees things that she wouldn’t know about in another situation. I think you’ll have to bend some to acknowledge that.

If your husband can gently tell her (repeatedly is necessary) that he understands her need to worry but that it's not healthy for an adult to have his mother involved so closely in his life, she may back off for a time. Yet the problem won’t end.

The saying goes that you can't change other people - you can only change how you react to them. Try to get to a point where you can basically not react to her interference. This won't be easy, but if you don't this will be a continual irritant.

She’s lonely, she’s snoopy, but she’s his mother. Know that this is how she’ll act, don’t buy into it by arguing - just say that you’ll let her know if there’s anything serious happening, and then try feeding her some little scraps of information about your lives, as well.

Perhaps you can make this situation a bit more comfortable if you compromise. Include her but don’t let her run your lives. Finding a balance is often what we need to solve problems.
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Don't sweat the small stuff.

Pick your battles.

She wants to butt into how you discipline your children? Shut the gate on that boundary fast!

She wants to know why her son didn't go to work? Hey, what can it hurt to give her a civil answer? "No, I'm not sick, Mom. Thanks for caring. I just had something to take care of." "I just had a vacation day I had to use up." "I felt a little under the weather when I woke up, but I'm doing fine now."

If there is a history of her meddling and not letting go of her adult son I can understand why you both are a little over-sensitive. But with her developing dementia there will be so many really critical issues to deal with, try not to elevate trivial concerns to Big Deals now.

I like kazzaa's suggestion to start looking for Adult Day Heath centers and/or senior centers that she could attend a day or two a week. These can function as social clubs and provide something interesting to do and a change of scenery.
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This is a hard one. On the one hand, you say his mom has always acted like this, and you live too near her for her to not notice what's going on. So that temptation is always there for her. But she's dealing with Alzheimers - her brain isn't working right. As she loses control in her own life due to her illness, she may try to exert control of everything she can around her (i.e. her son) so she doesn't feel completely helpless and useless.

I'd try to show compassion for her and just let her know hubby is OK. Don't go into great detail, but ease her fears that something is wrong. I know it's hard, but with her Alzheimers, I think you have to cut her some slack. My mom asks me the same questions over and over again and believe me, it gets annoying. Sometimes I snap and tell her she's already asked me that 5X, but I try to just answer her in a loving way. She's not doing it on purpose, her brain isn't working right. I'd say the same thing about your MIL.
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Maybe I only feel this way because I had a great mother. Why can't you just say, "I'm fine, Mom, and I promise I will tell you if there's any need for you to worry." When she comes back with questions, repeat. When she comes back again, say, "I'm fine, Mom. There's a call coming in. Love you, Bye."

You want her not to ask. That is probably never going to happen. Soon she will call 10 times in a row with the same question. It will not get any better. You and DH need to change your interpretation of events to give yourself peace.

DH wants to be treated like a grown man. How old is he, 50? He KNOWS he's a grown man. His mother sticking her nose into his business doesn't change that.

When she sticks her nose in, it's because she is lonely and anxious, not because she thinks he's still a little boy. I understand that this pushes y'all's buttons, but try to disconnect those buttons. When you start to get angry, stop, breathe, and say to yourself, "She's a pathetic, frightened old woman. Am I going to let her spoil my day?"

In the moment, maybe tell her, "Oh, you're so sweet to worry. He's fine. Did I tell you what the neighbor told me last week?" and go on with some story. In another family, this behavior would be totally OK. Try to make it be OK in your family, and then everyone will be happier. You don't have to tell her your business, but tell her everything you can that isn't too personal. She is a pathetic, lonely, frightened old woman.

I know from the outside what it's like to have a toxic parent. I know this sort of thing drives you out of your minds. I hope it's possible for you both to rewrite things so it doesn't drive you crazy.
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You need a hug, 50 feet is incredibly close, my MIL is 6 miles away and has behaved in the same way as yours for years. You just want to shout - GET A LIFE! Some people live their lives through others and don't see that as abnormal or dysfunctional. Some people intrude and don't understand that it is rude. Some people worry and don't understand it is a waste of time and energy. Some, like our MILs, do it all. Mine gossips too. One of my early strategies was to close off communication (almost completely because of the gossip element), that only fueled her need to know and intrusiveness so wasn't so effective. I try to anticipate what might be coming and have a response ready, tough to do. There are some things that are really out of bounds and should remain private within your marriage and there are some things that are less private and just irritating when she asks about them. One response to blatant intrusiveness might be "Thank your for your concern, your son and I aren't comfortable talking about (insert topic) with anyone outside of our marriage. I'm asking you to respect that." It could be finances, birth control, managing your children's behavior. Figure out which topics are irritants and which absolutely need boundaries. Pick your battles and set the boundaries that are most important to maintaining you and your husband's happiness/well being. My MIL used to phone at 6 a.m. to chit chat with my husband, both are early risers. I found it irritating to be awakened but let it slide. After our granddaughter died (we got a middle of the night call) I was terrified when I was awakened by the phone. I set limits on this with her. I wrote her an e-mail saying that she made many accommodations to her mentally ill daughter's needs and now I needed an accommodation. I wrote that being awakened from a sound sleep was terrifying for me since our experience with our granddaughter's death. Then set the limit - No phone calls before 8 a.m. unless it was an emergency, adding that she was welcome to call at any time of day in an emergency. She never acknowledged my e-mail, never apologized but she also never phoned again at an inappropriate time of day. There is one positive thing - having dealt with her as a MIL for 43 years has made me a much better MIL to my adult children's spouses than I would have been otherwise. There really should be a different term other than "children" when they reach maturity, calling them "my children" reinforces the idea I could still treat them like children.
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I agree that this is not going to change and I agree that you are lucky shes not living with you!
Are there any day centres around she could go to take her mind off you and her son?
My mum wants to know too much about me and my business but I live with her so cant hide much!
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I am grateful she's not living with us. DH and I discussed that a while back. She came to stay with us for two weeks following a stint in rehab because there were fleas in her house. We got rid of the fleas, I steam cleaned her carpets, dh fixed a water leak and she went home. At first it wasn't bad but having her stay on our couch for two weeks became a headache for me and Dh. He and I both agreed that she needs her own space and we need ours, so she will not ever come live with us. When she gets to where she can't stay by herself she'll have to go to a NH or something. Our marriage wouldn't survive her living with us and we have two small children to consider as well. I applaud those of you who are willing and able to take in your loved ones, we're just not in a position to be able to do that. I think there is a senior center somewhere in the area but I don't know if she'd be willing to do that. She is of the belief that family should personally provide care and anything less than that means that family just doesn't want to fool with the person anymore. She badmouthed my niece for months because she wouldn't come live with her to take care of her. It was like she felt that my niece had an obligation to do so because she isn't married and doesn't have any kids.
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Oh Mamabug, I hear that! FIL has been living under our roof for years and thinks it is his right to weigh in on all sorts of things that are none of his business. This has caused a lot of stress. The only time I feel like I can speak about personal issues is when we take the dog for a walk in the park first thing in the morning! Imagine, having to go to a public place to have a private conversation!!!!!
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As much as you tell her to back off she's not going to change now! At least she isn't living with you "yet"... As the dementia gets worse she's going to forget to worry about you and only worry about herself!

I wish I had a solution for you but my Mom lives with me. The only saving grace is it's an attached in law so she does have her own space..but she is constantly walking around my house and noseying around...
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