Tag Archives: power struggles

Email drama {Ask Kanesha}

Hey IAFN Readers!

I’ve  been away a bit due to some presentations, new clients, travel, and all the other life stuff that shows up.

I started a new Ask Kanesha feature and piloted it in a few circles.

The point of Ask Kanesha (yes, like Dear Abby) is to provide a space and place for  multigenerational/intergenerational and in-law dynamic questions and issues to land and be taken up.

I’m hoping to post responses at the start and end of the week. (We shall see.)


Today’s question:

My mother-in-law is a good person but she has a very odd way of communicating. She asks a lot of questions but you can’t do the same with her. It’s annoying because this is so one sided and very immature (in my opinion). So – she and I are at odds right now because I asked her about travel plans and she clammed up on me. Then she sends me these weird, hostile, and childish texts and email messages about how I should stay in my own business and not pry. I’m frustrated and mad – how should I proceed?

-Tired of this dumb sh*t


Dear Tired of this dumb sh*t,

It sounds like your mother-in-law is challenged by open communication. I’m not sure what you asked, in regards to the travel, but based on the information you provided, your mother-in-law may feel judged or under the microscope based on you asking her questions.

When in-law dynamics and intergenerational communication styles are in play, there can be an unsaid tussle as to who has the upper hand in the discussion. Due to social media, many people from younger generations are more comfortable with open discussions and saying any and everything that has to be said. Since younger generations are also used to talk shows (aka the Oprah effect) – they want to have conversations on the spot without missing the opportunity.

Some people from older generations are challenged by this because their mental transitions and values about respect for elders guide their communication style. Even though you (“Tired”) are an adult, your mother-in-law may be evoking the old adage that children are to be seen and not heard. She may also be nervous about upcoming travel plans and discussing the travel with you stirs this up.

You are wise not to respond via text or email. Dave Johnson provides some email dos and don’ts for the workplace. These can be easily applied to the situation you are currently experiencing with your mother-in-law.

I also suggest the following:

  • Send a short response back to your mother-in-law inviting her to talk with you face-to-face. Keep the response short and to the point.
  • Let her know how much time you have to meet with her. This will help to contain any mental “blowing up” of the situation.
  • Ask your mother-in-law where she would like to meet for your discussion. Having a neutral meeting place should keep the discussion on even ground.
  • Be prepared for your mother-in-law to say yes or no to the meeting.
  • If you are unable to meet, let it go. You do not need to get into a power struggle with your mother-in-law about her inability to communicate.

If you have experienced a similar situation, let us know how you handled it. Please leave your comment below.

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Kanesha Baynard Coaching, LLC.
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