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How to Deal with Your Mother-In-Law Talking Smack

By Isabel Kallman

By Catherine Connors of Her Bad Mother

1. Assess The Insult

Is the comment a slur on your parenting or is the insult directed to your child? In the former case, keep your claws retracted and try to respond calmly, even nonchalantly (see #2, below.) You can take it. Save your moral outrage for when it’s really deserved – as is would be the case if the comment was directed toward your child. In this case, you have my full permission to growl and bare your teeth and – if warranted – ban the relevant in-law from your household for whatever term fits the crime. What’s that? You think that little Farnsworth has an unfortunate nose/is retaining too much baby fat/is slow for his age? Thank you for your totally unwelcome opinion, and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

Guide to Everything Archives2. Maintain Moral Superiority

Do not stoop to a catfight, no matter how badly you might want to. Whatever your response, make sure that it’s articulated politely. It can, of course, be totally passively-aggressively polite – why, yes, I do take pride in my ability to get through each day without ever picking up after my children! Such a shame that women were so oppressed by housework back in your day! – but take care to ensure that the delivery of your response is above reproach. Remember, you have years of Thanksgiving dinners with this person.

3. But Do Defend Yourself

Maintaining Moral Superiority does not mean Letting Them Get Away With It. Let the offender know that you have recognized and registered their comment as the stupid insult that it is by articulating your disagreement and – if possible – your disappointment with their sorry attitude. I’m sorry that you find breastfeeding in public distasteful. Personally, I put my child’s well-being before the sad sexual hang-ups of others. Perhaps you could look away if you’re unable to distinguish the nursing breast from the sexual breast.

4. Vent. With Caution.

Let your spouse know that you do not like having to dodge the MIL’s/DIL’s/Great Aunt Mehitabel’s verbal arrows. You’re within your rights to ask that he/she intercede in particularly trying cases (sometimes, a simple lay off, Mom is all that is needed to put a stop to the needling.) But make every effort to not be excessively angry or insulting in getting your complaint off your chest. The offender in question is, after all, a close relation of your spouse. Your spouse might even love the offender. Make sure that you keep those feelings in mind when you’re tempted to say YOUR &[email protected]%&MOTHER IS BANNED FROM OUR HOME FOREVER, YOU HEAR?!

5. But, End Of The Day, Let It Go

Yes, it’s entirely possible that you have to deal with this person on a regular basis. Yes, such dealings will likely remain awkward and painful if this person insists upon continually taking out their sublimated frustrations about no longer being the center of their own children’s universe on you. But remember that the problem is not really you or your children, it’s their own loneliness or feeling of isolation from their children or whatever-yadda-yadda-Freud-blah. A little tolerance will go a long way toward keeping the peace in your extended family.
And if not, there are always ear-plugs.

 

Isabel Kallman
About the Author

Isabel Kallman

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of Alphamom.com.

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

...

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of Alphamom.com.

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

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Heather Cook
Guest

Thank you! I’ve had two MILs. The second has taught me how lucky I was with the first. 🙂
I’m actually going to bookmark this article and then re-read it when I need it!

Angella
Guest

My MIL moved four hours away. Now I just get to deal with The Crazy from a distance and on holidays. It makes it easier to just shrug and be thankful it’s not all the time.

Isabel
Guest

Wow…this can be such a touchy subject. Thanks for the advice. I think even the best of MIL’s can push it to the limit from time to time. It’s nice to have methods to deal with it. Thanks!

Kelly from Almost Frugal
Guest

You sure we shouldn’t just say &[email protected]%& off? I’m just done with my MIL. I’m polite to her, I don’t stop her from seeing the kids when she wants to, which is *ahem* NOT that often considering that she lives 10 minutes away, and I go over there and eat her dried out pork chops when ever she invites us, which is again, not that often. Not that I’m bitter or anything! It’s just that my mother lives 9 time zones away from me and sees my kids once a year if that, and my MIL, who is barely nine… Read more »

Crystal
Guest
Crystal

Great advice for the average nosey MIL, but apparently you havent met mine. To say that she is a b***h is an understatement. She takes pride in telling her sad story to everyone she meets, recently to include the heating and cooling man. She puts on her little show about how she has done so much for us, yet we treat her badly. Which is 110% false. We have been nothing but kind. Have given her chance after chance. She hasnt caught on that her friends really arent her friends and the crap she talks about us always come back!… Read more »

nancy
Guest

My mother-in-law moved to Calif 28 years ago (we live in Mich) she never called or had any contact with my children. Now she is older and plans to move back for help. My feelings are why bother now?

Meg
Guest
Meg

I find that the more articles I read about MIL’s the more I see that it takes two to make a problem. DIL’s can be the cause of a lot of the conflict as well as the MIL. Trying to be friends because we both love the son/husband is the answer. That love of course is a different kind of love from each. Jealous sometimes is the problem, too.

Carrie
Guest
Carrie

I do believe for the average bad mother in law these tips work very well. I’d love to hear more tips for dealing with the very worst mothers in law, which I consider mine to be. She has called me a F#$%^& B$%^& and a F$%^&* whore to my face in front of my husband and 12 year old step son while kicking/throwing outdoor furniture at me. She was upset because my stepson decided not to spend the night at her house. The completely inappropriate comments/behaviors keep coming. I refuse to be alone with her. She is not welcome in… Read more »

Dolly
Guest
Dolly

Wow…what a sweet article. Actually I was hoping to find out if battery acid was too strong to marinate my MIL in while I roasted her over an open fire. Oh well! Maybe your next article. My first clue my MIL didn’t like me was when I’d been married a few months and she made a racist comment about “my people”. Since I’m White, Hispanic, Scandinavian, Polish, Spanish and God only knows what else, maybe she meant “my watered down people”? At first she lived far away from us. When we went for visits and I tried to help her… Read more »

steve
Guest
steve

you know i guess i am one of the lucky ones,i have had my mil for 19 yrs. & she is the sweetest lady i know. i love her dearly.

Danielle
Guest
Danielle

Wow, being married for two years and the fact that my MIL lives very far away *although visits for almost a month every year* I am surprised to hear exactly the same problems from so many different people! Complaints about standards she’s never achieved, a heated recommendation that my husband divorce me the day before our first anniversry, and yet the most shameless bragging of how much we “love” her to whoever has the unfortunate position of communicating with her. All I can say is JEALOUSY…God help me if I can’t be better than that in my old age!!

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

My mother in law is just plain mean. I try hard, and are always nice to her because i don’t like conflict and i don’t wish to upset my husband. But she’s gone too far shes a schemer and goes about things behind my back, acts all nice but isn’t. I’m really hating her right now mostly because i’m angry that once again i let my guard down she’s been mean i haven’t told her what she did wrong, and i’m being nice again….. go ahead shoot me again is what i should say… i just don’t want to see… Read more »

Susan in Ohio
Guest
Susan in Ohio

My mother-in-law will not respect my wishes when it comes to my child. She lets her climb on tables, eat whatever she wants even when she doesn’t eat the “good stuff” first, and has very little to do with her grand-daughter that is biological or my son from my 1st marriage. I feel that we are all a family and she can either accept all of us or none of us. She does not ever come to see her granddaughter and we live 7 minutes from them but then complains because my mother is always there every other day (NONE… Read more »

patty
Guest
patty

My boyfriends mother is beyond the line where i could save anything. She pretended to like me for over a year, then changed her mind and has done nothing but accuse me of things i have never done and would never intend on doing. She said that i ruined her sons life and dreams, i tore apart his family, and that now that i succeeded my ‘mission’ i could go and move onto another victim. She has called me everything that i would never wish upon my worst enemy and yet she tries to justify herself by mentioning God and… Read more »

Monique
Guest
Monique

So helpful thank u so much.

Sue
Guest
Sue

My MIL is even crazier- she told my husband that I was a devil worshipper after she saw me wearing “black” one day. She told him I am always “cold” towards her and rude when I had been nothing but nice to her (he backed me up on this and told her she was a liar). At social events she always introduces me as his “friend” as a slap in the face. She also funnels money to his ex-wife who frequently seeks to destroy our lives and tries to take his daughter away through frequent court hearings- every time she… Read more »

dianna
Guest
dianna

Well, the article was good but even still. My MIL actually went out of her way to ask an old friend of mine about our sex life. She told her son that she never asked but knows how/how often/and where. When he found out that she knew, he was upset with me for talking about it with a woman I thought was my close friend. I had to ask if he said anything to her about how sick and twisted it was that she would even listen and he did not. I am so sickened by her. What mother would… Read more »

Debbie
Guest
Debbie

Well, my MIL started the first time I ever met her. She spent two weeks in my home and on the last day, accused me/and or my son of stealing her mother’s jewelry. She screamed, cried, accused, etc. for over two hours, never said goodbye, then calle my then boyfriend and said “Oh, I forgot, I left the jewelry at home. I never brought it to town.” That is only the start. She constantly brings up old girlsfriends to me, discussing my husbands past and even brings pictures of old girlfriends to “share”. This is literally the “tip of the… Read more »

Sara
Guest
Sara

My story is kinda long so sorry about the long post: – One month after my husband and i got married, my mother in law breaks up with my father in law heres why – my husband and i have to go get her from jale , aparently her husband (my husband’s step father) called the cops on her because she had been hitting him – she cant stay there so she moves in our tiny one bedroom aparetement … i know …yikes – she tries to be the lady of the house , i make sure to tell her… Read more »

Sam
Guest

Mil’s suck period! Mine is emotionally unstable and violent. How do you let go of your anger towards someone who has caused you such problems in your marriage and whom by the way contacted my husbands ex girlfriend so she can talk badly about me. Documented proof, not just my imagination running wild. It’s hard because no matter what my Husband say’s about agreeing with me and being on my side whenever the Holiday’s come around it’s like none of that stuff ever happened and it makes me angry with him. Geez!! So tired of dealing with my insane Mother… Read more »

Mary
Guest
Mary

I am a MIL….my daughter married a wonderful young man 3 years ago and they just had their first child. My husband and I consider our new son-in-law our friend and treat him as such. He respects us and we respect him. I keep my opinions to myself and let them do what they need to do for their own child (I have already raised mine!) My daughter knows that I am just a phone call away if she has any questions. Our relationship has grown because I treat her as an adult (which she is) and I let her… Read more »

tiy
Guest
tiy

To the mother-in-law bitching about her daughter in law – take a look inward lady, you CAN choose to be different and accepting of your daughter in law (and you should!) Shame on you.

Tired
Guest
Tired

It’s always the same story… mothers-in-law can handle their daughters getting married but not their sons, because they fill in as pseudo-husbands. These women get jealous of their son’s wives and then all hell breaks loose. Don’t you people have husbands already? Are you all unhappy in your marriages? Can’t you get a freaking boyfriend and leave our man alone? I would be weirded out if my father decided to compete with my husband for my attention, and did all he could to drive a wedge between us because he was jealous. I mean… come oooon! Let it go already!… Read more »

Cutie Pie
Guest
Cutie Pie

My MIl is very sweet woman and very loving Nana to my daughter . The only problem me and my husband dealing all her lies and sometimes used us as her alibi to save her butt from my FIL knowing that she is living beyond thier means .

elena
Guest
elena

For MARY…the mother in law here, From the very first time I met her, I didn’t like her and she didn’t like me. ok…this statement is tottaly inapropriate …you could of say what she did to you for you not to like her and you should of not assume that she does not like you …unless she told you so.. My son married this person almost 10 years ago calling her this way(this person)comes to show us how much respect you have towards her as your son’s wife…and the fact that you did not accept yet that she is the… Read more »