The tyranny of being a Mother In Law

Sunny Days: Survival Guide for Daughters-in-Law

While blog hopping I came across this heartfelt post of a very young daughter in law which really resonated within me. I married the only child of a super possessive mother and that was one major hurdle to our happily ever after …. but this is not what this post is about. Ex is happy elsewhere – thank goodness and I am happy being mother and single. I never got suckered into becoming wife again. In my youth I would have probably not been so adjusting and have written something like this lady has

Mamma of Twins: The Missing Counsel

Now I am looking at relationships from a different perspective – I am a mother in law. DIL is a delight, fun to be with. I like what women have become these days – confident, witty and with the ability to be straightforward. She is new to the idea of being DIL and as a mother in law, I think I suck big time!!! Even the internet does not have answers for How to be a Mother-in-law. Go ahead – google for it and you will know. You even have anonymous groups called “I Hate my Mother in Law” for godsakes!!!!

So here is a survival guide for mother in laws – totally based on my experience

  1. Every girl is cautioned that Mother in Law is not a mother, the same applies both ways you know, daughter in laws are not daughters.
  2. Do not ever try to guide your daughter in law in the same manner as you guide your children, she will interpret it as criticism of her taste/her intellectual ability/her capability and you are left thinking WTF, I never meant that!!!!
  3. Remember always that she left her home and family to come live in your home. Its tough and lonely. It will take time for her to adapt to your ways. Remember your days, when you did not even have the option of speaking your mind out.
  4. Do not expect your son to take sides with either you or with her. Remember how useless your hubby was when you complained about his mother???? Men avoid “Women’s fights” like the plague and deal with it by surfing the net or having a beer with male friends watching sports, hoping that the issue disappears.
  5. Keep your individuality and allow her to retain hers. You are way to old to change anyway. She is what she is, and your son loves her the way she is. So if you try to bully/dominate her, it will make both your son and her hate you. Your son might forgive you later, she never will.
  6. If your son and daughter in law are fighting, do not take sides. They will make up and your role will make you the villian. Why, they will perhaps blame you as the instigator of the fight.
  7. When you are mad with her – for any reason, apply the DAUGHTER TEST. Just take time out to think how you would react if your daughter were doing the same thing. Chances are that you would take a more lenient view to the issue in question.
  8. Do not expect her to dress a certain way or to eat certain stuff just because it is traditional. Traditions are values which is pretty solid stuff – not the outer covering. Your son has been raised by you and has imbibed your values. The girl of his choice will have similar values.
  9. As and when they decide to live away from you, let them go with a smile. I would also add, ask them to make out a list of the stuff they need – you know basics to start their own home. There is plenty lying in your own home that you dont need – like dishes, cookers, chesters. You can ask them to take these things with them. They will do for them as starters and they will be grateful too.  And you have less stuff to maintain.
  10. You have handed over your son to his wife.  She is his first priority – not you.  So chill okay.  If he spends more time with her, dont sulk.  If they do want to go out with you or spend time with you, they would come and be with you.  Its their zamana, not yours.  Plus at this age, you would not survive their pace, their food, their loud music.  Notice I said “their” They are a team now, you are the bystander.  Accept it.
  11. Lastly and most importantly ….. Be nice to the girl your son brings home – remember that she is the one who will be around when you are old and frail. Also she is the mother of the grandchildren you hope to pamper.
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43 thoughts on “The tyranny of being a Mother In Law

  1. Loved your post! I cam across it by chance. Very interesting, practicle & worthy tips indeed. 🙂 Hope all M-I-Ls are reading.

  2. Thank you serendipitouslife – I am trying to be a mother in law right now …. tho I would prefer to be woman friend to my daughter in law instead. Wish it works

  3. I wish mothers in law were like you- mature adults, not unnecessarily hostile people… But hostility exists, contingent with irrational “expectations” that speak a world of how much the “dear son” is loved at home- I personally feel that if people do not treat their DILs like humans, they are sending out a message to their son that he and his choices do not count for them. And in all fairness in my personal experience that is what I have seen too. Rational people do not control their children’s lives. They live- and evolve with the relationship.
    A wonderful blog.

  4. Thanks @Itching, wish I could mail this to my MIL in hell …. Where I am sure she is 😉

    @Desigirl, take a printout and leave it on her dressing table LOLLLL

    Thanks Ravin and Dipali

    Thanks @The Mad Momma …. Its just an effort to reach out to the other side hoping for understanding. Like I said in the beginning – there is no guide to being a MIL and I am new at the job.

  5. Woww this is such a nice post.. wish more MILs thought like you. And I must say,your DIL is really lucky..to have and understanding MIL like you.

  6. @Alankrita, the basic problem is two fold, i.e. Insecurity+handing over. A son is v v special to his mother and every one, self included hates the idea of there being someone who has priority over his affections. So some mothers react by being unreasonable. Plus one hates losing the spotlight which was ones right for so many years.

    Being single parent to both my boys since they were little kids – I was terrified that I would not be able to handle it well … but luckily my DIL and I get along nicely

    • My MIL acts like she doesn’t care much about her son, except at Christmas when he MUST be there, so she can dole out tons of presents. That may sound nice, but it has to do with her controlling every situation – and, he is expected to give gifts to his now-grown niece and nephew, who gave us NOTHING for our wedding! And who treat us with plenty of disrespect…then again, so does her daughter and that’s fine with her, to…

  7. lovely ideas… only if we could have more mil’s thinking like u life would be a great place for both mil dil and ofcourse the guy 🙂 though i agree there are extremes in the dil section also

  8. heh mom did u send this to esha…..she shud read it!!!!!am sure there wud be a diff chapter to write abt for u :p 🙂

  9. Thanks @Monika

    Maddy you nut!!!! The idea about writing a blog is that my kids specially Kid#1 and his spouse dont know about it. LOLLL I can just imagine Esha trying desperately to come out with something insane on this one!!!!

  10. I would’ve offered to marry your son, you know. 🙂 Had I known in time!

    Just came across this one although Itchy sent me the link some time ago. Well written. Although I do think you should make it clear that nobody needs to kowtow to a DIL’s decree only out of fear of being abandoned.

    Also, wanted to add, from the younger generation’s point of view, it’s insulting to the husbands if their mothers act like they are mindless puppets and can and must be controlled.

    Well written, btw.

  11. I think you are more mature than most- like my own mum is- a lot of other people do not think as much about the “handing over” or “insecurity”- if only they did some quiet introspection.
    Its more of “doing what is expected” what the other is “supposed” to do- in some strange time and Ekta Kapoor serial honored tradition without much analysis that creates the problems. Unnecessary hostility, snarkiness , comments about language, clothes and what not- all stem from that. Mature people despite feeling a little insecure do not go to that extreme antagonizing others of bullying them.

    But, I reiterate, you are different- don’t lump yourself with people who are not.

  12. Thank you very much Sue and Alankrita. I never did or will do what is expected I guess …. so traditions do not matter very much to me specially those advocated by Ekta who sucks big time. I sooo hate those serials that I either watch HBO or Wrestling on Sports Chanel. At least those dont try my patience.

    Am reading your blog Sue. I give you a medal for honesty

  13. ritu …I too wwant to fall at your feet ,for different reasons ;)..how about giving some lessons to my MIL ..she needs them desperately .hey I need to write the other side of the story …loved the post…absolute delight ..wait till you read what this DIL has to say ..who wouldn’t like a mom i law like you … 😉

  14. Thanks Tiku …. yeah, I could also write an entire novel about life as a DIL – the major cause of my divorce – not saying that both ex and I were angels …..

  15. A fine post. I think the real test of time begins when a child comes into the equation untill then its still manageable.
    Emotions and rationality probably do not go hand-in-hand.

  16. OMG Sunita, you mean I should hold off the feeling of complacency ??? Here I thought I had dealt with stuff well. Yeah you are right … emotions and rationality do not go hand in hand. I would spoil the brat silly and his mother would go ballistic – since she is a major fan of tough love. Hmmmm

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  18. Didn’t even know such a post existed!!!!!!!!!!!
    What a pleasant surprise. So this shows why I instantly loved your blog.
    I am out of words. Loved this post.
    Linking this post to mine on Joint families, to make a stronger statement , hope you don’t mind.

    Thanks IHM. It is something I am learning, a purely personal take on the situation

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  20. Wonderful post. I loved all the points. The last one is something most MILs never think of, that the DIL is the one to be around to take care of her when she is old and frail. They just expect to be taken care of with love, devotion and respect however badly they have treated their DILs. How will that be is something they refuse to consider.
    I was a harassed DIL once upon a time. Now I await my own DILs who will appear in a few years time. Your points are exactly the ones I have chosen to follow when the time comes. It makes the path easier if you let go of your sons slowly even before the DIL enters the picture. I have already done so.

    • I have thought about that, and if my MIL still has her wits about her but couldn’t be bothered to appreciate any of the hundreds of kind things I have done for her, then I guess she couldn’t care less about when she is older and failing – which is probably fine for her since her daughter and son-in-law will be kissing her elderly butt, for sure!

  21. Why is that there has to be an “evil mother in law and victim daughter in law” or a “evil daughter in law and a victim mother in law”. Why can’t they leave peacefully?

    I mean a daughter-in-law is not the first woman who comes in the family. Neither is the mother-in-law the first elderly woman that the bride has seen. Why then are they always at loggerheads.

    I think the intolerance and insensitivity in the relationship is because of the age-old perception they have of each other. Had the enmity of the two women not publicised over the centuries, they would have been able to live more peacefully.

    It is a handing over-taking over of charge kind of thing …. only it has gone major bad press because insecure women have done it with such poor grace for centuries. I think its a retirement issue which has gotten converted into a “coup by incoming conqueror” thing

    • Rahi , One thing I was sure about, the moment I saw your comment on this blog, is that he is undoubtley NOT understading the issue here coz you are a GUY.

      Wedding – is a very very simple concept – two opposite sex (now thats changing as well) attracted to each other by law of nature and takes legal permission to make love and take care of each other in best possible way. Its a legal acceptance in your society to live with your better half with due respect.

      The idea of joint family is just an obligation/Situation created out of “Culture” and history. Only risk taker in this situation is the Bride. It may go ahead good or may take a bad turn for her.

      The ‘evil daughter in law and a victim mother in law’ exists because the two very strong characters in YOUR (the hubby’s) life have chosen to live together with you. This is one stupidest decision on the hubby’s side. The women in your life would not feel her importance if the most influential women in your life is still playing the same role because you all have choosen it to be like this.

      I would blame here, the Husband who choose to be with their parents and thinks to be the best son on earth just by doing so. I am so shocked to know that man, today as well do not wish to own his own house, start a new family and takes over all his responsibility. I hear from around who have to leave their home in search of job and be in a new city that they are dying to go back to their own place and family. No one is ready to struggle and creates his own place and invite a lady into it to start a new beginning. Dad’s bought house is the place the son decides to live for ever !! Disgusting. These are signs of failure. I am a women and still want to buy my own house. As a mother also I want to make sure my son leaves the house when he is 18, establish himself, Fall in love and marry his love and live by his promise forever. As a mother, I just want him to wish me well when I miss him. I would never expect a young women to live with me because she married my son!!

      I just feel sad the way we create situations and circumstances in this country and call it the “Culture/Tradition” and my heart goes out to women/men in this society who are intellectual enough to understand that its wrong but are helpless due to this heavy frame dat we are living in.

  22. I don’t know what is so attractive for young couples to live alone. Already, the joint family is gone. Now, they don’t even want to live with their parents. Tomorrow, they would want to live alone away from each other?

    Some day, they will have to face the same situation (Or worse). If they are perfectly ok with that, then it is fine. Life is all a circle. What comes up, has to go down.

    Destination Infinity

    Why not? It is their life and their right to live whichever way they chose to. Mine refuse to leave, and I find that weird. But then again, the choice is theirs. They are grown up, responsible and financially independant. We educated them to think – and then how can we stop them from doing that?

  23. I just did not know that MILs feel this way,

    “You have handed over your son to his wife. ”

    I have a toddler son. When he marries, I am hoping I will feel like, “I have new member in the family whom I welcome and embrace whole heartedly. I hope and pray that my som and DIL will have a long and happy life together. ”

    As far my

  24. I would like some help don’t know what to do my son&dil lives with her parents and her parents control everything they do.we have to make appointments to see grandkids they only come to our house once every couple monthsand they only live 2 miles from us.we miss them so much never been mean or nasty to ay of them we see granddaughters about 4 hours a month if we are lucky.my son works out of town is home about 5 days month he says he is trying to keep peace doesnt know what to do.

  25. I’ve grown to hate my mother-in-law. I tried to be very, very, VERY nice to her, and she appreciates NOTHING. I swear this woman does not know how to say “thank you”, nor is she even capable to refraining herself from constantly asking ignorant questions and making stupid, idiotic know-it-all remarks. Damn, she drove me nuts during my wedding planning! Acted like she knew everything and made the strangest comments about everything, Gave the most moronic “advice” – and she can not shut the hell up to save her life! It is so hard to be around her for ANY length of time as she asks the nosiest, most ignorant questions and says the stupidest, most ignorant things. My FAMILY has been really, really, REALLY nice and kind to this woman, and she has said thank you for nothing! It’s unbelievable! Nothing touches this woman at all? I’m not even expecting the actual words “thank you”, or for her to reciprocate, but she can’t even talk about them like the kind people they are – instead she has to make ignorant comments about them being responsible enough to have babies IN wedlock??? I don’t make the comments in reverse about her family, how DARE she judge mine! Especially when they have been so incredibly kind to her. The woman is so self-absorbed, I could just kick her teeth in (if I were the least bit violent, which I’m not – so that’s just an expression, ok?)

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