Dear Abby: Mom gets jealous of time I spend with my partner’s family

Though she sees her daughter and grandchild often, she insists on saying mean things about the other family.

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DEAR ABBY: My partner and I recently had a baby, and it has created some major issues with my mom and in-laws. Mom is an unhappy person who blames others and external factors for her unhappiness. She laments her unhappiness to me. She’s incredibly jealous of any time we spend with my partner’s family. She makes mean comments about them to me and questions the amount of time we spend with them.

Having her in the same room as any of my partner’s family is stressful. It even stresses me out when she asks me if I’ve seen them. We spend a lot of time with both families and see both once a week. Additionally, Mom comes over once during the week to see the baby and stay for dinner.

My partner is wonderfully supportive and kind. He continues to welcome Mom into our home and treat her well. However, I don’t think it’s fair to my partner to be treated poorly and to know that Mom says mean things about their family. I’ve tried speaking to my father about this, but he says things like, “That’s how she is; you can’t change someone. Just remain neutral.”

I feel helpless and I’m not sure what to do: give Mom an ultimatum about her behavior, never have both families in the same room, or move far away? I tried speaking with both my parents. It didn’t change her behavior. Any advice? — STRESSED OVER THIS IN WASHINGTON

DEAR STRESSED: Although you cannot change your mother’s attitude, you can do something to change her behavior. The next time she questions you about the time you are spending with your partner’s family, your response should be, “Mom, you already know the answer to that question. Stop asking.” The next time she says something derogatory about them, tell her you are aware of how she feels, you love these people, she’s making you uncomfortable and to stop. It may take repeating, but eventually you may get through. If that doesn’t happen, you may wind up seeing less of her, which would be a relief.

DEAR ABBY: I am a widow who has been in a long-term relationship with a widower. I am concerned about his relationship with his 27-year-old daughter. She wants time with him, excluding me, and he encourages it and hides it from me. Most recently, they traveled out of state together and he didn’t tell me. I think this is abnormal and I find it confusing. He says she has anxiety and needs to spend time with him. Should I be concerned? — EXCLUDED IN OHIO

DEAR EXCLUDED: If your gentleman friend and his daughter have to smuggle their times together past you, there is a reason. The reason may be that you seem to disapprove of him spending alone time with his daughter. He shouldn’t have to explain or make excuses for it. He’s the only parent she has left. If you and he are able to have ample private time to keep your relationship flourishing, I see no reason for concern. If you can’t accept that they are a package deal, find another gentleman friend.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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