Dear Janine,

So I have a wonderful mom-in-law, but it drives me absolutely BONKERS that she’s perpetually late, I mean always! She’s left me waiting at restaurants (once for 45 minutes even though she chose the day and time), and even arrives late if we planned something weeks in advance. I’ve felt everything from outright rage to desperation. I started telling her half-an-hour earlier, but she caught onto that and went back to her tardy ways. Please help as it’s starting to affect my relationship with her

Many thanks, Rochelle.

Dear Rochelle

I had to laugh when I read your email because I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard or read mother-in-law and bonkers in the same sentence. Jokes aside though, I hear you as this is one of my pet peeves as well as it just feels so disrespectful. Obviously, life can be unpredictable, and someone can get stuck in traffic etc. but they should then have the courtesy to let you know as this should be the exception and not the norm.

People often think that money is our most valuable resource, but I can’t entirely agree. Money can be earned, inherited, stolen or even won, but TIME- once spent is gone forever… If asking her on purpose to turn up 30 minutes earlier hasn’t worked, I’m afraid the only solution is going to be an honest conversation using the ‘sandwich’ technique of positive-negative-positive statements, try to avoid ‘always’ and ‘never’ as it triggers most people and we want this to be a calm conversation.

Speak to her in private to not embarrass her (never a good idea) and say something along the lines of ‘I really enjoy spending time with you (positive), however, it hurts my feelings that you’re often late / often keep me waiting (negative) and if I carve out an hour for us to have lunch or tea and you’re half-an-hour late, I only get to spend half the time with you and it feels stressed and rushed to me. Could you please help me with this as I want to enjoy our time together (positive).

Give her a chance then to change her behaviour and praise her when she is on time, as this will re-enforce to her how much you appreciate it.

If she, however, ignores your request and continues to show up late, you’re going to have to enforce your boundaries by behaving like you’re on the clock.

As with most appointments like a doctor, hairdresser or massage, if the client is 20 minutes late, their appointment time gets adjusted accordingly. My clients know if we have an hour for a call and they show up late, they forfeit that time as I can’t be late for everyone else that is scheduled that day.

At least that way your entire schedule won’t get disrupted, and she’ll soon enough realise that your time is precious and can decide for herself if she wants to continue that behaviour.

Enforcing our boundaries can feel tricky, especially with family members so if you feel like you would like to work on this, I warmly invite you to join my FREE Masterclass ‘Badass Boundaries‘ on Friday the 17th of July 2020, simply register to reserve your spot.

I hope this helps.