10 Topics Mothers-in-Law Should Avoid



Hello, Mothers-in-Law! Today’s PSA is brought to you by disgruntled daughters-in-law everywhere.

First of all, we adore your son, and we think you did a mighty fine job of raising him. Thank you.

Secondly, since we love him so much, we also really want to have a good relationship with you, too. REALLY, we do.

We promise to respect your position as his mother, but there are some things you can do to make this relationship a little smoother, too. In order to make our interactions as pleasant as possible, we ask — we beg — you to avoid broaching the following topics with us. Or at least stop bringing them up over and over and over and over.

1. Where we live. We know you want your kids and grandkids to live near you, but that’s not always feasible for a number of reasons. We don’t appreciate when you keep bringing up the house for sale just across the street from you, or how you know somebody who knows somebody at the a bank who might be able to help us with the mortgage, or how this school district is SO wonderful and how you couldn’t find better neighbors if you searched the world over, and how the neighborhood we’re currently living in seems to be getting *ahem* a little rough around the edges. Enough already. We get it. And it’s not bringing us any closer.

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2. The names we’ve chosen for our kids. Your best bet is to just smile and lie if you need to, “That’s nice, dear. Is that a family name?” We’re probably pretty stoked about the names we’ve chosen, and your poo-pooing won’t end well.

3. Feeding our kids. As long as your grandchildren are not wasting away due to malnutrition, this should be a no-brainer. We don’t need a 45 minute lecture on the health benefits of the vitamins you made their dad take when he was a baby, or how you breastfed until he was four and look how he turned out. And by the way, if you could avoid filling them up with sodas and candy and cookies and stuff while they’re over there visiting with you, after we’ve clearly and specifically asked you not to, that’d be awesome. We know you love our kids and want to make them happy, but if you could find a way to do that without undermining our choices, that would be swell.

4. How we spend our money. We may be better off than you think, or we could be two seconds away from calling a bankruptcy attorney. Either way, if we wanted to talk about money with you, we would. Even if we had to swallow our pride like acid-soaked broken glass to do it. We’re doing the best we can, and we’d like for you to treat us as adults and respect the fact that we can balance our own checkbooks and we know if we can afford to take the kids to Disney World this year or if we need to wait for a clearance sale to buy that new shoe rack for the kids’ room.

5. How we discipline our kids. While we DO appreciate those funny anecdotes about how our husbands misbehaved as tots, and we probably find ourselves at our wit’s ends with the kids’ temper tantrums sometimes…unsolicited advice about how we’re letting our kids run amok and how that would never have stood back in the day is distinctly unhelpful. (And even more stressful than the tantrums, truth be told.) You had your chance already with your own children to do things your way. We’re living with a product of your ways, remember?

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6. How you never get to see the grandkids. Especially if this comes up during another one of your unannounced middle-of-the-day visits that send us scurrying. Trust us, we know exactly how often you see the grandchildren. If you’d like to see them more often, maybe we could get together with our handy little pocket planners and set up a nice visit sometime soon when it’s good for both of us. Like a Friday night maybe, since God knows we haven’t had a date night in like two years. Or maybe Wednesday afternoon, you could take the kids to the park, so we could take a nice, hot, longer-than-three-minute shower in peace.

7. Taking sides in our arguments. Sometimes, we’re going to go head to head with your sweet baby boy. Hopefully, we’ll keep our fights to ourselves, but every now and then, one of us may open our mouths and say something unfortunate. While this is going to totally suck for you, you’re going to be in a lose-lose situation, no matter who you side with. If you say he is right, then obviously you’re biased because he’s your son, and if you say we are right, then obviously you’re biased because women stick together in their man-bashing. The best thing you can possibly do is keep it zipped and just suggest they talk it over again when they’re both calm, and leave it at that. 

8. Our housekeeping skills. No more passive-aggressive comments about how our house looks “lived in,” or gifts of cleaning products or cookbooks, okay? We get it. We don’t cook as good as you, and our houses will never be as clean as yours. You win. Here’s your trophy. Can we drop it now?

9. Our family planning decisions. Whether you think we should have more kids, or think we’ve got enough already and need to look into sterilization, our reproductive business is frankly none of your concern. We do not want to discuss our sex life with our husband’s mother. Ever.

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10. Our appearance. Obviously nothing negative (like a weight gain comment–HELLO), but beware even offering a compliment if there’s a hostile environment already. “You look nice today, dear” can sound a whole lot like “Wow, you do know how to brush your hair every once in a while, huh? Who knew!” to an already stressed-out and keyed-up daughter-in-law. We know it sounds counterintuitive to refrain from compliments, but if you were a good judge of our emotional state and how to react to it, you wouldn’t be reading this, anyway.

Related post: 10 Tips For The First Time Grandmother


The Scary Mommy Community is built on support. If your comment doesn't add to the conversation in a positive or constructive way, please rethink submitting it. Basically? Don't be a dick, please.

  1. 1

    Jules says

    SO true!! How about, “Wow! You really make the kids behave, and provide so much structure!” Yes, lady, I may actually know what I’m doing, don’t act so shocked. Even if I don’t know what I’m doing all the time, there is no need to act so surprised that I manage to keep these little people alive, I’m not a monster or completely incompetent.

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    • 2

      Kaya says

      Well My MIL isn’t so nice. She tried to manipulate me to control me right after my mom passed away, and when she couldn’t control me she tried to break me and my husband up. At the beginning she was very kind to me, so I thought it would me ok to take her offer to live with them for a bit until me and my husband got married. Keep in mind my dad was very horrible to me after my mom passed away, and so at the time I felt it would be better to stay with her. It turned out to be the worst mistake of my life… She realized she couldn’t control me, so she started telling my husband I was doing things that I wasn’t. He is military, and he was deployed, he was not there for any of it, so he got only complaints without knowing what was going on. Luckily for me, he wasn’t buying what she was saying. She realized this so she gave me the bank card that was in her possession of my husband’s. Right before she did this, she took a very large sum of money out for her own wedding, as she was getting remarried. When his bank went into a large debt she tried to blame me. I am glad that I was very picky, that even when we were engaged, when my husband offered me access to his bank, and money, I was adamant that I wasn’t going to touch it until we were married. I am glad that I am over all an honest person, and he knew I wouldn’t lie. As this isn’t all of it, but I don’t want to bore people with this, I just want to say, sometimes a mother in law is alright, but sometimes, it really sucks.
      I wonder what her reaction will be when I tell her we might not be having any kids, for personal, and medical reasons. lol cannot wait… -.-

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    • 3

      Kaya says

      By the way I don’t mean to sound derogatory, I mean to say I agree, and then to add my story. I would edit my post, but I don’t know how to. Please don’t think I am trying to look down on your post. As I said I totally agree, and didn’t mean to come off sound so odd.

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    • 9


      Same. My MIL is really great, she’s supportive and offers life advice only when I’m looking for it. I’ve been with my husband for six years (only married for a month, though) with an almost two year old daughter, and I have a great relationship with my MIL. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. lol

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    • 10

      Double Trouble Mama says

      My MIL is awesome! Never steps on anyone’s toes or questions how I raise my children….It’s actually my own mother that drives me crazy and offers unsolicited advice! o_O

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    • 11

      Alexandra M says

      Same here. Been with my hubby for 9 years, married for 6 and with 2 amazing DD’s… My MIL is amazing! I love her so much! She never offers unsolicited advice, she is so supportive of me as a mother and my hubby as a father, she is a doting grandmother (who doesn’t overstep boundaries) and my children love her so much! I truly cannot imagine my life without her! So very fortunate, I know that it’s not like that for everyone! I also lucked out with a mother who respects my parenting! Jackpot!

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    • 12

      chandra says

      Me too! I love my hubbys mom. I actually wish she lived closer (she’s across the country ) I don’t think she loved the name we chose for our baby, but said it was better than what his brother named their baby. I have a lot of mommy issues, but I just love my mil.

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    • 26


      We had 2 girls and are expecting a boy this time. They didn’t even bother to come to the hospital for our second girl, but want us to reschedule our induction this time to better suit them. No dice! Couldn’t be bothered then, don’t bother now…

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  2. 30

    Terry says

    Wow, some of these things seem fairly easy to deal with. Do mother- in- laws have a list as well? Building a relationship( yes I know it aint gonna happen sometimes) would surely be better than a list like this.

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    • 32

      Love says

      Actually they do, Terry. There are sites for mothers and grandmothers, wherein they vent about what horrible DILs they have, and they have pieces like this, too. It’s not all one-sided, and yes, we could ALL do better to facilitate more civil relationships.

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    • 36

      Aimee says

      I know what you mean. I have one daughter-in-law and a future daughter-in-law and even though there are no grandchildren yet, I have bitten my tongue nearly all the way through with my youngest son’s wife. I’m to the point where I can say if he’s happy so be it. I keep my mouth shut about everything. My mother-in-law was great that way. She never did any of the above things in the article.

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