Every visit from my mother-in-law worsens my health

By Thu Dien   May 24, 2024 | 04:23 pm PT
The relentless cycle of dealing with my overbearing mother-in-law and my frequently ill child is overwhelming me.

I've come to understand that I suffer from a disorder and a significant imbalance in my life. After seeking opinions from friends, it became clear that my mother-in-law's controlling, coercive, and narcissistic behavior affects me due to my gentle and susceptible nature.

During the time my child was younger than three and we lived with my in-laws, my mother-in-law was overly intrusive in childcare and imposed unreasonably high standards on everything. She restricted my movements and stopped me from working for three years postpartum, even though I paid for more than half of our expenses for food, living, and childcare. This situation nearly pushed me to the brink, and I developed neurodermatitis.

As my child became more attached to me and often got sick, my in-laws and husband would magnify minor issues and escalate major ones, trapping me in a cycle of childcare and stress. This led me to frequently scratch myself, worsening my skin condition and overall health.

Realizing my plight, I decided to move out and return to work after being diagnosed with a mild neurological disorder. My in-laws then started monitoring me three times a week.

If you think I'm clumsy or inadequate, which is why they supervise, that's not the case. My mother-in-law has extremely high standards and never finds my efforts sufficient. Whenever she visits, I have to halt whatever I'm doing to care for the child. If the child is even slightly unwell, she insists I take leave from work to tend to them. She also dictates what food and drink should be served, leaving me with no say.

My mother-in-law insists that my child should be plump and chubby, with large arms and legs like an overweight child, despite the doctor confirming that a weight of 17 kg and a height of nearly 95 cm at 43 months old are healthy and suitable. However, in her view, my child appears too thin compared to the neighbor’s child.

She demands that my child be dressed in new clothes with every visit, even if their current outfit is clean and well-kept. I am compelled to purchase clothes that meet her taste, or she complains. We even argue over the color of my child's clothes, which she criticizes as old or ugly, despite them being new, branded, and made from child-friendly materials. Her excessive affection for my child leads to frustration when she sees me disciplining them, and she often indulges them to get them to eat.

She also often forces them to eat to the point of vomiting. She believes that consuming large amounts is necessary to "expand the stomach" and ensure growth, even pressing down on a full bowl of rice to make more room. In my mother's eyes, I never feed my child enough.

We live in a city with limited play areas, and although I've invested in vehicles and toys to encourage activity, my child quickly loses interest and ends up being spoiled by my mother-in-law, who permits continuous phone use.

None of my sisters-in-law work; they stay home to care for their children. Their husbands are quite successful, so they don't face financial pressures, unlike me. On one hand, my mother-in-law wants me to quit my job to look after my child. On the other hand, I still bear the financial responsibilities for our family.

This situation makes me feel mentally manipulated, and any resistance or objections from me are met with accusations of disrespect and poor manners. I am deeply depressed, and despite my efforts, my neurodermatitis has not improved. Each visit from my mother-in-law triggers uncontrollable scratching.

More critically, my child frequently falls ill, often sick for more than three weeks a month, which limits their kindergarten attendance to just one week. They developed throat inflammation a month ago and have experienced it two to three times since, each occurrence severe enough to keep them home for one and a half to two weeks until fully recovered.

While other children recover in about five days, it takes my child about two weeks to get better, leading to more frequent medication use. The nights spent tending to my feverish child have left me exhausted, longing for the days when my mother doesn't visit and my child's daily routine is much more relaxed.

Each morning, I would wake them, wipe their face with warm water, give them a little warm water to rinse their mouth, and then let them have breakfast according to their appetite without force. I would strive to make mealtime enjoyable and select nutritious fruits, eggs, and dairy products. Sometimes, under a doctor's guidance, I would give them vitamins to boost their immune system.

I desire happiness and contentment for myself and my children. What steps should I take now to achieve this?

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