He criticizes your parenting
One of the most common signs of a jealous father-in-law is constant criticism of your parenting. Even when you’re doing your best as a parent, he finds faults and offers unsolicited advice. He may compare your parenting unfavorably to the way your partner was raised. This criticism often comes from a place of insecurity – he feels threatened by your influence as a parent.
Tips for dealing with criticism:
- Listen respectfully, but trust yourself. You know your child best.
- Set healthy boundaries. Make it clear you won’t tolerate hurtful comments.
- Focus on the positives. Highlight the things you’re doing well as a parent.
- Involve your partner. Ask them to intervene if the criticism becomes excessive.
He competes with you for your kids’ affection
Some fathers-in-law try to compete with their child’s spouse for affection and attention. He may shower the grandkids with lavish gifts and trips in an effort to become the “favorite” relative. He also might talk negatively about you in front of them. This competitiveness stems from insecurity and a desire to feel valued.
Managing the competition:
- Find appropriate ways to bond. Plan special activities he can do just with the grandkids.
- Establish boundaries if needed. Make sure your kids know you and your partner are united.
- Kill him with kindness. Go out of your way to include and compliment him.
- Correct any badmouthing. Let the kids know you will not tolerate disrespect.
He questions your decisions
Some jealous fathers-in-law constantly second-guess and criticize every decision you make. Whether it’s your parenting choices, career moves, or how you manage your home, he always seems to think he knows best. This undermines your confidence and is extremely frustrating.
Coping with the criticism:
- Listen, then trust yourself. You don’t have to follow his advice.
- Establish boundaries. Be clear certain topics are not open for debate.
- Involve your partner. They need to intervene if it becomes excessive.
- Focus on your strengths. Remember, you know what’s best for you and your family.
He withholds financial support
Money and inheritance can be a source of control for some jealous fathers-in-law. He may refuse to help out financially even when you genuinely need it. Or he might make promises of future inheritance or gifts to manipulate and divide the family. This type of financial control is toxic.
Responding to financial manipulation:
- Make do without it. Work on becoming financially independent.
- Consult a lawyer if necessary. Understand your legal rights.
- Discuss with your partner. Make sure you’re both on the same page.
- Establish boundaries. Be willing to cut contact if needed.
- Focus on your real wealth. Your love and relationships are what matters most.
He drives a wedge between you and your partner
One of the most destructive things a jealous father-in-law can do is try to undermine your marriage or partnership. He might make snide comments about you to your partner, encourage secrecy, or remind your partner of past mistakes and flaws. He wants your partner’s primary loyalty and affection. This type of manipulation must be handled swiftly and firmly for the health of your relationship.
Protecting your partnership:
- Keep communication open. Discuss issues before resentment builds.
- Present a united front. Don’t let him play you against each other.
- Limit unsupervised visits. His influence diminishes when you’re both present.
- Establish consequences. Reduce contact if he refuses to change his behavior.
- Seek counseling if needed. Having a neutral third party can help.
He excludes you from family events and traditions
Being left out of family gatherings and traditions can be incredibly hurtful. But some jealous fathers-in-law use these events as opportunities to bond with your partner and kids while excluding you. He might conveniently “forget” to inform you of get-togethers. Or he may participate in meaningful rituals and inside jokes from which you’re excluded. This exclusionary behavior serves to isolate and alienate you.
Becoming more included:
- Communicate your feelings. Honestly but kindly explain how being left out hurts you.
- Propose compromises. Suggest ways traditions can be more inclusive.
- Spend time together. Plan activities the whole family can enjoy as a unit.
- Start your own traditions. Bond with your kids and partner in meaningful ways.
- Focus on chosen family. Surround yourself with people who truly value you.
Dealing with a jealous father-in-law can be challenging. The most important thing is to continually strengthen your relationship with your partner and establish boundaries when needed. With mutual understanding and effort, it’s possible to have a cordial, though not close, relationship.