Wednesday 22 June 2011

Mother in Law from Hell

I've been thinking a lot about being a mother in law and wondering why some of us become meddling, judgemental, critical, interfering cows when suddenly our children choose their life partner and get on with their own lives.

I am not quite one yet but practising…being a mother in law that is, not necessarily an interfering old cow.

I am trying to be supportive but distant.

I never had mother in law problems just because both (yes twice) of mine had already left this mortal coil by the time I came on the scene so it was pretty much a MIL free zone for me.

And, as for father in laws, well they are never any trouble are they?
I wonder why that is. You never hear of father in law jokes do you???

I think many women become more of a MIL from hell with their son's partners as opposed their daughters. Am I imagining that?

I recall my father’s mother telling me horrific stories about her mother in law. For instance, when my grandmother's mother in law came to her kitchen tea (do they still have those things?) just before her marriage she gave her a beautiful fine bone china dinnerset. However, when the party finished her MIL picked up the present and took it with her. It was all for show. Their relationship never improved her whole married life. Her MIL just didn't think she was good enough for her blonde, blue eyed boy.

The sad part of that story is that my grandmother treated my mother, the wife of her own blonde haired blue eyed son, in a similar way but could never see it at all. A beautiful grandmother and mother but for some reason a problematic mother in law who had to have the attention of her son as often as she could.

Then a friend told me this week that after 15 years of arguments with her mother in law she had made the decision to cut her off completely. She said that her mother in law had tried to cause so much trouble between her husband and herself that they both thought it best to remove themselves from the pressure of never meeting her expectations. They didn’t make this decision lightly but after years of constant conflict and of making no headway with her.

Kind of sad for everyone involved really. What makes some women who seem perfectly lovely people want to become so entwined in their grown children's lives that they create such havoc to the point they are ostracised and cut off from those they love the most?

Do MILs from hell really exist the world over and why?  You know my future son in law will appreciate the advice I am sure....


  1. THANK GOODNESS I was blessed with the Mother in Law from Heaven. She was always so kind and loving with me. I count my lucky stars all the time. When she passed away, everybody grieved. As for myself, I'm trying my very, very hardest to be understanding and nonjudgemental. You're right though... it's hardest with the son's partner. Maybe it's because I'm trying to be so careful. I can be pretty straightforward with my son-in-law.

  2. Well I lucked out and got the mother in law from hell and thank goodness she doesn't read your blog.

    I know it comes from a place of love for her son but its got to be a jealousy thing surely. She has him on a pedastal and he is an only child to make it worse. I have so many stories I could tell you but won't out of respect for my partner. Truthfully she drives me up the wall and I smile through gritted teeth a lot.

    She means well and I try to keep remembering that but I just cannot look after her little boy the way she can or thinks I should. I am sure that was her in the video as that is exactly what she does. Forget the fact the little boy is 35. Compromise, compromise, compromise. I will be a mother in law one day and I pray that I have the strength to allow my son to choose how to live his life with whom he chooses to live it with without giving him so much as a sidewards glance.

    My advice? Stay very busy and live life to the full and you will never have the time to worry or interfere.

  3. Dear Lilly,
    Me too (twice) ... the first one, horrific/distant/aloof/unfriendly. The second? Just the opposite. Sadly both marriages ended. I never missed MIL #1, I did miss MIL #2.

    For the record?
    I am a **GREAT** MIL!

    You will be too ...............

  4. interesting topic, Lilly and the video is hilarious. I hope I will be a good mom in law one day, but I do tend to be judgemental.

  5. Very interesting post - first off just the fact that you are pondering this question means you will be a great MIL. Hellish MIL are ones that don't step back and try to see things from the other side. Also, I agree that the MIL - DIL is the most problematic combo of the mix. Since you have a MIL-SIL one it should be easier. IMHO the combo difference in compatibility is related to gender differences.

    My MIL is good and even great sometimes but there are certain traits that I dislike and then start to see in her daughter.
    "you are turning into your mother" is not the best opening for a conversation - is it?

  6. As always I love your writing style Lilly!
    This is certainly a topic that most people could relate to.
    My one and only mother in law (so far) lived in Yorkshire, UK and we lived in Australia, so we got on very well!
    Hope you are somehow keeping warm my friend.
    Big warm hugs
    Peggy xxxxx

  7. @ Lisleman - ha ha you make me laugh out loud. UM NO! Telling someone they have turned into their mother will not necessarily get you brownie points. But I think you are right we do tend to become more and more like our mothers in many different ways. Besides I bet your MIL has lots of laughs with you.

  8. Spot on...

    Mothers are always protective of their babys, can't bear it when their baby boy's found a substitute. The wife is never good enough. Yup, from personal experience.

    Hubby must choose, either remain mummy's boy or be a b*stard :)

  9. My first mother in law was the one from hell, however the one I have now is lovely, but then I have known her all my life

  10. @ Young Werther - mmm let me guess, and you decided to be a ?? lol your poor Mother. But you could be right. we are very protective no matter how old they get.

  11. I will become a mother-in-law next Saturday. I can't wait! I love my future son-in-law! And I will continue to love him unless he beats her or cheats on her. Then all bets are off!

  12. FIL's can be a pain for our husbands at times ; -)

  13. @ Joanie - Congrats to you!!!

    @ Pseudo - yes that is interesting too - oh we humans are funny creatures.

  14. My mother in law is a living doll, an amazing woman. She has told me that for 15 years and I nod my head and agree with her. I am not that stupid. Besides, she is also an amazing cook and I wouldn't like to get her offside, lol!

  15. At first my MIL was a bit critical of me, 'cause no one was good enough for her bouncing baby boy. Then, after the little effer walked out on me and our son, refusing to pay child support, etc., she was very good to me and her grandson.

    I have a good relationship with my 2nd daughter-in-law (she's still my daughter-in-law, even though she and my son are divorced), but my first DIL has always given me the willies. I haven't spoken to #1 DIL in years.

  16. My first mother-in-law I wasn't that closed to her, because of a language and culture barrier. She was pretty possessive of her son though, come to think of it and she did critique my cleaning skills. My second mother-in-law, didn't have too much to do with her, because her son didn't want much to do with his family. Greg's Mom is great - she makes me feel welcomed into his family, lucky me :)

  17. You're right! I've never heard any father-in-law jokes :-)

    I never had any in-law troubles (phew!) but step-children-- That's a whole other story. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that "I gotta sit in the front seat or I'll get carsick" line before. Ugh.

    xoxo jj

  18. @ Joanna - stepchildren, now that would be a good blog post all on its own!

  19. I get along wonderfully with my mother-in-law. Not always, but she was never mean to me. Just took time and some maturation on my part. My own mother once took me to task for some complaint I'd made about my husband. She adored Chris. On the flip side, I have some co-workers with stories that would make your hair curl. I hope to model the two women I call mom once I get the chance to be a mother-in-law myself.

  20. Hey my MIL does have a good taste for a good beer which didn't seem to get passed down to her daughter.

    Have do you aussies do the class reunion thing? I would assume so. I just had a reunion this weekend. YOU probably have your ? ah ? - 20th reunion coming up?

  21. Sounds like you are entering this with the right frame of mind, so hopefully you'll do fine :) Some friends back home had to cut off the MIL. My friend took it from her for years keeping her mouth shut, but when she started in on her daughter, I guess that's when it hit the fan, so to speak. Fortunately hubby was supportive.

  22. There's such a thing as a DIL from Hell.
    My poor boy has to iron his own shirts,make his own breakfast,sometimes his own tea , occasionally push the vacuum cleaner around---and even dust the piano

  23. 2 Barbara - Bwahhhhhhhhh, you are the most hilarious person I know. In. the.whole. wide. world. Thanks for making me smile.

  24. How true is what Barbara says, MILs sometimes think DILs are from hell and the other way round. Love it!

  25. Case in point -

  26. My mother in law opened all my wedding cards and took the contents out and never exaplained at any point why she did it.They were handed to me the day I got back from my honeymoon. Totally hate her for it even now and its been 2 years.

    She tries to ensure my husband will do anything she wants at her beck and call to the point I come 2nd best every time.

    I am now considering leaving. So sad but hard when you have a brain washed husband.

  27. What a crazy notion to expect a man to actually take care of himself sometimes!!  We women were put on this earth to serve them.  I forgot!  Silly me.  I thought a marriage was about partnership.  But you're right it's indentured servitude.  Really it's prostitution because he's paying the bills and she works for him, so it's like he's paying for sex.  Perfect.  Why bother getting married at all?  


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