My mother-in-law keeps taking my kids to the dentist and expecting me to pay. Is that right?

Absolutely not, says our elder. Make it clear that you are their mother.

Dear EWC

I am the primary provider on my children’s dental insurance. My mother-in-law has taken it upon herself to make appointments for my children without my authorization. She is paying for the extra cost and she is telling me that I am obligated to pay her back. I told her to stop taking them to the dentist until I can take care of my obligations first and then I will take care of my kids. She is doing this without my authorization. Do I have to pay her back or can I just let it go and take care of my own kids’ dental treatments? In just a couple of months, a bill for the dentist for all the extra cost is around $1,000. I can’t afford this and she keeps on doing it. What is your advice?

Folk replies

No, if neither you nor your husband asked your mother-in-law to take your kids to the dentist, you do not have to repay her for the services they received. That is on her — since she is the one who contracted for these services.
If she will not stop taking your children to the dentist, you should call the dentist yourself. Identify yourself as your children’s mother and then explain to the dentist that your mother-in-law has been having your children treated without your permission. Tell the dentist that you do not want your children to receive any future treatment.
Of course, it’s possible that the reason that your mother-in-law has been taking your children to the dentist is that they need emergency treatment of some sort. If this is the case, ask the dentist to explain the kind of treatment they have been receiving to you. Then you can decide if you agree that they need this treatment right away or if it can wait a few months until after you take care of your other obligations.
I am sure that your mother-in-law loves her grandchildren and is doing what she feels is best for them. But, you are their mother. You love them and want what’s best for them at least as much as she does. So, unless your children have serious dental problems that are threatening their general health, the decision about when to have them treated is yours. And your mother-in-law should respect that.

Letter #: 442963
Category: Family

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