10 Things You Are Doing Wrong According To Your Mother-In-Law

shutterstock_110487776Unless you have the perfect mother-in-law, you’re probably not doing it right. I’m happy that my mother-in-law is not nitpicky in the least, but boy, have I heard stories.

A controlling, manipulative, jealous mother-in-law is mad that you married her son. How dare you. You can probably never live up to her perfect ability as a mother and a wife. The worst kind of mother-in-law believes that nothing is ever good enough for her precious little boy. Too bad for you that you fell in love and married him.

Even in the average MIL relationship, you may experience a little side-eye. After all, it’s hard to bring two families together. You’re supposed to be creating a new family with her son that merges into an existing family unit. If a mother-in-law has a difficult time letting her baby boy go, as many women do, she may feel threatened, like a cornered animal ready to attack.

And what does this threatened MIL do when she’s backed into a corner? She criticizes, she makes passive aggressive comments, and—best of all—she judges your parenting. Even with a fairly good mother-in-law relationship, there may be days when you feel like you can do nothing right.

Worst of all, you can’t speak up and defend yourself because communication is probably left on your husband’s shoulders. Unless an issue is dire, it’s not worth rocking the boat. Part of the “fun” of being a daughter-in-law is learning to swallow your pride and pick your battles. Bet you didn’t hear that when you got engaged, did you?

Judgy mother-in-laws are nothing new. Here are 10 things you’re definitely doing wrong, according to your loving MIL:

1. You Are Too Pretty

mil12. You Don’t Give Her Enough Money

mil23. You Are Pregnant

mil34. You Aren’t Pregnant

mil45. You Steal Her Son’s Attention

mil56. You Won’t Take Her Parenting Advice

mil67. You Aren’t A Good Mother

mil78. You Aren’t Her Real Daughter

mil89. You Don’t Appreciate Her Hideous, Unwanted Gifts

mil910. You Don’t Clean Enough


(Image: val lawless/Shutterstock)

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  • J

    I get sad reading this. My sister and I both have fine relationships with our inlaws who are great to have in our children’s lives. I hope my sons don’t marry women who assume there is going to be a fight between us. My MIL is enjoying retirement and her husband, she certainly doesn’t resent or envy my youth. I doubt she’d trade with me if she could. She is enjoying her next chapter. We had a few rough months when we first met, but now we both live and let live. I find that more than half of my friends like their mother in laws, and a lot of the ones who don’t are kind of bitchy and don’t like lots of people.

    • Lilly

      I know, every time I read these types of things I get so thankful that my biggest complaint about my mother in law is that she is a little scatter-brained.

    • SusannahJoy

      My biggest complaint about mine is that she’s exactly like me. Which means my husband basically married his mom. Which is creepy. And then I start thinking about how much he’s like my dad. And then I open a beer and remind myself that we both come from happy families.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I wanna agree with you but sometimes people (daughter-in-laws, too, I’m sure) are just crazy. My MIL was an alcoholic who we could not trust to be alone with the children. I didn’t invent that because I don’t get along with people, and I certainly didn’t want that either. I loved her, but she just wasn’t….it wasn’t an ideal situation. (She has since passed away). Also, I have to say that my best friend’s MIL showed up at her honeymoon cabin in the woods with a pile of board games. Because she thought surely she would be welcome. On their honeymoon. So, it’s easy to say some people are bitchy, and I agree, to a certain extent. However, sometimes people are also so screwed up that people with normal relatives can’t wrap their minds around it.

  • CMJ

    Sigh. This list cannot even hold a candle to the epic thundersnowstorm that is my MIL.

    • ChopChick

      So what you’re saying is your MIL is a bad ass? Because THUNDERSNOW is epically (sp?) bad ass!

    • CMJ

      I wish….epic destroyer would probably have been a better descriptor.

  • Kendra

    I have no idea if I should feel badly for these DILs, or badly for MILs who are getting a bad rep because their DILs are a bit crazy or expect too much. (Frankly, I think because women are involved, it’s probably 50/50.) Really, I should probably just be grateful that my MIL is awesome and doesn’t do any of those things above.

  • Frannie

    #6 FTW! If you spent any amount of time with my husband you’d see why every bit of advice my MIL gives me, I do the opposite.

    • ChopChick

      Makes me a little sad for your husband! He can’t be all bad if you made the choice to marry him…

    • Frannie

      She thought stuff like picking his friends and making him play the accordion would make him popular. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. He actually told me when we made our wills that he’d rather wolves raise our kids than give his parents custody.

    • ChopChick


    • Sri

      I’ll be honest- there are parts of my husband’s upbringing that I wish were different. He was never expected to eat any vegetables at all, for example, so I am now the “mean mom” that makes him try 3 bites of his vegetables. Ok, I’m not that bad, but I do make him take a spoonful of any new vegetable we try because I love veggies and I’m not going to only eat corn for the rest of my life. I’m sure he would change things about me, too, like the fact that birthdays are nbd in my family. We honestly don’t even wish each other happy birthday.

      That said, if I had to change so many things that I had to “re-raise” him, I wouldn’t have married him. If my MIL gave me advice about kids’ eating habits, I would probably ignore them. My husband is so much more than vegetables, though. He’s smart, he’s ambitious, he’s caring, etc etc etc, so she has some good advice, too.

    • LiteBrite

      Whenever my MIL irritates me, I try to remind myself that she did one thing amazingly well: she raised an excellent son.

    • brebay

      Wait, are you talking about your husband or your son? I hope you mean your son, but if you do, your sentence is severely effed up. You make your husband eat three bites of veggies? Holy shit, do you make him pee sitting down, too?

    • Sri

      I was referring to my husband. It wasn’t completely clear, but clarified immediately after “try three bites” that I do ask him to try new vegetables when I make them, but that I feel like I’m filling the role that his mom should have when he was a kid. It was an exaggeration. A joke if you will. But, sure, you could completely fly off the handle and be rude and assume I completely emasculate him. Why not? I mean, it is the internet…

      I mean, do you never make a new recipe for dinner and have to say, “just try it. If one of us doesn’t like it, I won’t make it again.” That’s basically what I do, but specifically with vegetables, because his mother has never served a leafy green in her life.

    • brebay

      He’s a grown-up, he knows how to try food if he wants to. No leafy greens??? *double pearl clutch*

    • Sri

      Do you not like me, or do you just really really like to pick people apart? I’m honestly curious here. I tried to make a joke, and now you seem to be tilting at windmills to try to prove that I’m horrible, and I really don’t get it.

      The topic was on a wife “re-raising” her husband. I find the example in the article silly, but I thought that, maybe, some people have something small that they sometimes feel like they’re being like a “mom” about, like dressing appropriately for special occasions (my SIL) or table manners (my other SIL) or something little that most moms teach that they didn’t get. I acknowledged that I have gaps, too, so I’m not trying to say that he’s a buffoon and I’m perfect.

      I give him the choice of trying it or not, it’s not like I hold his nose until he opens his mouth and shove it in. (Since you’re easily confused by exaggeration, I don’t advocate holding anyone’s nose shut to shove anything in. For the record. Just in case) I also don’t pout or nag. However, the implied other option is “cook your own vegetables or find something else to eat” when he’s hungry because all he had was some chicken and a little rice. Since he hates that option, he tries new things, and I don’t cook them again if he hates them. It’s really not that big of a deal, and he’s never said anything about it.

      I tried to crack a joke about it, but apparently I have to refrain from that, lest some harpy think I carry his balls around in my purse. I’m sorry. You’ve taught me my lesson.

  • ChopChick

    Holy shizz–some of these women are crazy in their own right.

    ie: Who in the hell marries someone they refer to as having to “re-raise” because they are a “massive screwup”. Wow. What loving respectful wife.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Yeah, that was pretty fucked up, though I did laugh at the “wear beige” comment.

    • ChopChick

      I hate to admit it…but I had no idea what that wear beige comment meant. Help?

    • Bethany Ramos

      Beige is like a classic old people color, I think. Beige pants and sweaters, lol. :)

    • ChopChick

      Oh see, these are things I dont get. #immigrantproblems. All our old people wear black because they’re always in mourning.

    • staferny

      Like the beige garbage-car I had in my early 20′s that everyone nicknamed ‘old man gold’.

    • Crusty Socks

      What’s wrong with being neutral huh? Switzerland not good enough for you?

    • Coco

      When we got engaged my MIL looked up what the mother of the groom what was supposed to do and she said her role was to “show up, shut up, and wear beige”.

    • Guest

      It is a book ‘shut up and wear beige’.

    • CMJ

      Yeah, a lot of these women seem like whiny mcwhinersons.

    • Karen Milton

      Number 3 doesn’t come across as much of a treasure either. Those problems don’t sound MIL related at all.

  • Crusty Socks

    What kind of a MIL do you think you moms will be?

    • ChopChick

      One who doesn’t ever shut up.

    • LiteBrite

      One who drinks a lot and steals her son’s weed from the basement.

    • Crusty Socks

      You noob, you could probably start doing that before your son’s married… probably when he’s in HS

    • LiteBrite

      HS? Screw that. Kids mature much faster these days. I’m planning on middle school.

    • Frannie

      I plan on being just like my mom and being awesome and staying out of the way of my childrens’ marriages.

    • ted3553

      yeppers. Unless that woman is abusing my son or has serious financial issues like a gambling problem, I will be staying out of it. It’s really their choice and I can discuss things with them but I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors

    • Frannie

      ITA. There’s a huge difference between protecting your kids and meddling in their lives.

    • ShanLea

      it all depends on the women my sons end up with…they’re cool to me, I will be cool right back. But treat my boys wrong, and you will see a level of evil never before beheld!

    • Crusty Socks

      I’m sure you meant well, but as the mother, isn’t it best that you take the first step of being cool to your DIL and for you to set the tone of the relationship?

      I say that because reading these comments that Beth posted, it seems like the MIL dictated the toxic relationship. When you get a shot as the MIL, maybe you can proactively avoid a bad relationship?

    • ShanLea

      You are completely right. I guess I don’t know exactly how I will react, since my oldest isn’t even dating yet. Of course I will be polite and friendly to start, but there is that whole “respect your elders” thing that I put a lot of stock in.

    • Crusty Socks

      Oh hell yea. DIL has to know her place as well.

      This discussion is very interesting because almost all of you moms are the DIL right now, but one day most of you will become the MIL. And for those of you with sons, you’ll have a DIL yourself.

      Um…♫ ♪ it’s the Ciiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiircle of Life ♪ ♫

    • LiteBrite

      I think I’ll be a pretty cool MIL.

      But I’m still stealing their weed.

    • Crusty Socks

      I think as long as you’re up front about it, it’s fine.

    • keelhaulrose

      I will buy whoever my daughters end up with a beer and wish them the best of luck.
      Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughters, but the big one currently has three boyfriends in three towns (she’s five) and they all follow her around and do her bidding whenever they play together. I seriously don’t know why they put up with her shit. I’ve seen her have one dressing as a princess and following her around as she “shopped”. I didn’t know a six year old can be so whipped.
      The little one might be different when she gets a bit older, because right now she’s two, but she’s got a hair trigger temper. And she demands control of all electronic media.
      So, yeah, their future partners are going to need an alcohol infused entrance into life with them.

    • Crusty Socks

      HOLY SHIT! Do your daughters come with warning signs?

    • keelhaulrose

      They should. It’s kind of creepy how the older one can get a boy so devoted to her so quickly. I dread the sex talk, “honey, one boy at a time. Til you’re in college at least.” She was the only child for three years, including all our friends and family, so I think she got a wee bit spoiled. And he current boyfriends aren’t helping.
      I think the little one will get better as she’s older. She’s on the autism spectrum, so her hair trigger comes from her communication frustrations, but he awesome therapists have really helped slow down the tantrums. By the time dating comes into the picture hopefully it’ll be mostly straightened out. But I’d bet my last dollar she still will be dictating what’s on the TV.

    • Erin Murphy

      My MIL is constantly plotting instead of being straight forward. I feel passionately that she get to spend as much time with my son and hers as she desires but there is just some disconnect. I’ve actually considered writing future me a letter about how to be genuinely supportive instead of judgmental and only interested in my own wants

    • Valerie

      I will be a very cool MIL as long as my kids don’t marry assholes.

  • arrow2010

    Oh boy, the person who wrote this is a sad, mean person who generalizes about MILs.

    • brebay

      Uh…it’s above….

  • staferny

    4/5/9 hit home, the woman needs to find a hobby or a man, preferably both. She better not get any ideas about moving to my end of the country either, the only reason I can stand her 3 day visits is because they’re only 3 times a year.

  • LiteBrite

    #9 made me laugh because one year my MIL bought me a straight-up Garanimals outfit. I’m not kidding. It consisted of beige (beige!) fleece pants with a matching cream and beige fleece top. The best part was that the top had little embroidered flowers on it. It was so completely beyond what I would ever wear that I just kind of sat there, shocked. I did of course thank her, but no, I never did wear the outfit.

    She also thinks I wear too many dark colors so insists on buying me pastel shirts. Whatever. I just throw a black scarf around my neck to hide them. :)

    • Bethany Ramos

      Hahaha THE BEIGE.

    • Sri

      I once worked in a department store, and my first comment doing inventory in the “ladies’ fashion” department (I was a juniors’ department gal at the time) was “Alfred Dunner? You mean Garanimals for old ladies. No wonder old ladies are so cranky, people don’t even think they can match their own clothes.”

    • LiteBrite

      Having worked at department stores myself, I know Alfred Dunner. This outfit was worse. :)

  • Zoe Lansing

    These made me even more grateful that my fiancé’s mother is a nice,sane woman. And some of them even make me look like a nice, sane (soon-to-be) daughter-in-law in comparison.

  • ShanLea

    Oh wow…where to start. My MIL and I were never close-I wasn’t catholic and had a child out of wedlock, so I wasn’t a top choice in her eyes, but we got along enough to pass. When my husband committed suicide, she could not get over the fact that my first reaction was anger at being left alone to raise our 2 week old child. Since then (almost 3 years later) we have very little contact, besides the occasional email. The first year, I flew the kids to LA to visit them at my own expense, stayed at my SIL’s house as MIL and FIL have a small one bedroom apartment right on Hollywood Blvd and felt too crowded and unsafe there. She spent an hour with us in the 5 days we were there. Christmas and birthday presents for the kids come with a note from SIL saying “Mom and Dad helped with these” but not even a personal card or note from them. Sad that my kids will not really know their grandparents on that side, but there’s only so much effort I can make while raising the boys myself!

    • Bethany Ramos

      I am so sorry for your loss. You are doing a great job!

    • ShanLea

      Thank you. Life has to go on, especially for my boys, so we just keep on keeping on. On a positive note, the lady I call my “mother-out-law”, my older son’s grandma, is completely awesome. She even took me in and let me live with her for the better part of a year after I discovered her son had a thing for barely-legal tourist girls that fell for the line “I’m a native Hawaiian, wouldn’t you love to go home and tell your friends you hooked up with one?” LOL. Even though her son and I haven’t been together for almost 10 years, we still talk on facebook almost daily!

  • m

    I tried to search for sarcasm in this article, believing it was written criticizing the old “MILs are so horrible” belief. The reason I thought this was that the people who wrote those comments seem pretty crazy, being mad over getting presents and such. And also because I don’t like that stupid MIL stereotype, which this article is apparently just reinforcing after all. Could have used some better articulated and more understandable examples.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I would say – call it a huge exaggeration instead of sarcasm to make everyone feel more generous about their MIL’s “imperfections.”

    • Oz

      Yeah, I got a bit confused when I was reading it. I wasn’t sure what position I was supposed to take.

  • SunnyD847

    I absolutely adored my MIL who was the sweetest woman on earth, but I could never call her “mom” which both of her SIL’s did. I HAVE a mom and my relationship with her is layered and complex and crazy. It’s completely different from my relationship with my MIL. I always wondered if it bothered her, but of course she was too nice to bring it up :)

  • TwentiSomething Mom

    Wow, what bitches

  • MissDelish

    11. That your spelling and grammar are atrocious.

  • Jallun-Keatres

    That symbol in the middle of #6… I thought I was at work for a sec XD

    • Bethany Ramos

      You’re onto me!

    • Jallun-Keatres

      Did you dictate these out??

    • Bethany Ramos

      No, these are from forums, but I use dictation software so the little icon came up! ;)

    • Jallun-Keatres

      Haha nice. Dictation is my whole job! Easiest pregnant lady job ever.

  • Jell

    My mother-in-law is awesome.
    My own mother is going to be the worst mother-in-law when my sibling gets married. She’s great to my spouse but my sib’s significant others always seem to get the brunt of her crazy. I can’t imagine how whoever he eventually marries is going to deal with her, honestly, but I’ll be there to call her out on it. I’ve actually told her before, you’re going to lose him if you keep up the overbearing nutcase shtick.
    So try to befriend your sisters-and-brothers-in-laws if you can. We can help stick up for you!

  • Kelly

    I’m always disappointed by these “horrible MIL” stories. I actually have a horrible one. Faking cancer, abandoning minor children to go on sexual adventures, pleading for money for food and then spending it on luxury items, etc.

    These women always just sound whiny to me.

  • brebay

    I highly doubt this woman told her son “I’m needy.”

  • http://himanivakarian.tumblr.com/ Himani

    I think I must have the best mother in law on the planet. We hang out together, I enjoy her company, we hang out and knit together. We go eat Indian food together. She’s an awesome lady!

  • Rowan

    Ten things? According to my ex MiL, I was doing EVERYTHING wrong.

  • Guest

    All these mother in law stories make me feel better about my MIL. We started off bad but that was mostly due to SIL. Now I’m a big advocate for her to be able to see her sons more, stay with us when they visit, and see their other grandchildren. I’m quite certain they like me more than their actual children (they’ve told me before, and I do believe them). MIL/FIL are actually flying in as we speak and staying until Monday. Nervous since this is the first time they’ve stayed with us since moving out of state but should be ok :)

  • Karen Milton

    I don’t have a MIL – she passed away about eight months before our wedding. Sometimes I wonder what she would have been like – I didn’t know her very well. I do think about what kind of MIL I’ll be myself though. My son is at the beginning of dating, and he’s had one girlfriend – a really awesome girl who liked videogames and knew everything about things he also liked. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and didn’t pretend to be dumb. She helped with dinner cleanup and she had sarcasm down to a science – we adored her. She ended up breaking up with him because she decided she was too young and not ready for official dating. Broke my heart – that’s exactly the kind of girl I would want him to like! I never thought about the part of being a MIL (or mother of boyfriend, if that’s a thing?) where I might really like the girl and then she’s gone.

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  • kat24

    Need advice. My MIL is an alcoholic and wants to come for a visit on my sons first birthday. She is about 73 years old. In the past, when she comes to visit, typically she gets loaded and it is extremely uncomfortable for me. My husband gets embarrassed and then gets mad at his mom,etc, and typically a weird uncomfortable visit. Or, he will tell her that alcohol is off limits basically and she is to behave. Well, then she is stressed,on edge, and then nasty more to me the whole trip. Now that we have two kids, I’m so protective and I don’t want her coming to potentially ruin his birthday. Yes, I know he won’t remember it,but I will. I told him to have her come the week before or after,but just not on his birthday. I don’t want that memory in my mind. I also, try to avoid her watching the kids (almost 10 month old, and 3 1/2 year old). My husband said, well you can have that conversation with her about not letting her come on his birthday? I told him it wasn’t my place, and we left the conversation about that for the weekend. He also mentioned that he would talk to her, and I said, please don’t tell her to behave cause then I get the nasty comments,etc. She isn’t going to change at this age, I said, just make up an excuse like we will be out of town,etc. What do you think?

    • Bethany Ramos

      This sound like a really tough situation, and I’m sorry that you have to go through it. In most cases, I really do advocate open communication, especially in my family. I always try to get my husband to talk to his parents if we ever need to deal with a problem. But if it is a last resort and you feel like you can’t get through to her, making up an excuse may be the only way to deal with it right now. Good luck. :)

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  • Andres


  • Lisa perrin

    My husband is dead. But my mil destroyed what little time we had. She hated me and our children. I am the second wife. At 93 years old she sits in a nursing home with no visitors. My children will not go to see her nor go to her funeral. They remember her abuse.

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