Talk

Advanced search

What is it about the MIL?

(95 Posts)
SuckingDownDarjeeling Tue 22-Sep-20 01:33:51

It's way past my bedtime and I'm pondering life's mysteries.

What is it about the MIL that means that she is almost always hated? Please note, I say almost - I'm very aware that some people have excellent relationships with their ILs.

When I'm reading threads, the reasons for people disliking their MIL are all over the shop. Too bossy, or too timid. Too interfering, or too relaxed. Too nosey, or too disengaged. There's never a common theme (at least that I've seen).

So that leaves psychology and human nature. Why do you think such a large proportion of humanity conflict with their MILs. Surely a lot of MNers on here are MILs themselves, and I'm pretty sure most of them don't feel hated by their child's partner, or there'd be a lot more threads about it. Is that blissful ignorance? Is it some kind of territorial battle that we're wired to fight?

What's the deal?

OP’s posts: |
Finfintytint Tue 22-Sep-20 01:50:01

I think some may see MILs as some kind of threat for attention as if they are competing for the “ love” of their partner. I don’t know really. I’ve been a DIL for 30 years and we have a great respectful relationship. My son has been with his partner for 5 years. I don’t really see myself as anything other than his mum and I love his partner because he loves her. It sounds soppy but I also think a distance of 250 miles helps!

86jabberwocky Tue 22-Sep-20 01:50:14

Because in my experience and from other people's experience, mil's tend to influence DH's decisions/opinions and can be very manipulative about that. I have a son and I will not interfere with anything but would remain approachable when needed. It's important to know the fine line and understand boundaries.

SuckingDownDarjeeling Tue 22-Sep-20 02:12:50

Those are very good points. I also think in the scheme of things that it's probably a perceived threat. It's just weird, because I don't feel threatened by MIL in the slightest- but surely on some level my reason for disliking MIL must be for the same reason as everyone else with the same problem.

OP’s posts: |
ShirleyPhallus Tue 22-Sep-20 02:32:02

I absolutely adored my MIL, really thought she was amazing and got on so well with her

Then I had children and I’m not sure if it’s me or her who changed but she drives me a bit bananas. I think it’s a primal response but I find myself being very over protective of my DD, I find it very odd and very hard seeing someone else trying to “mother” her.

I read something on MN actually that said they often get your hackles up because they’re essentially strangers who you’ve never seen parenting so from a primal level you’ve got a basic distrust.

caughtalightsneeze Tue 22-Sep-20 02:36:44

I think it's complicated. My MIL has hurt me over the years yet has also shown great love and kindness to me. If it were my own mother I'd have felt able to tell her she had hurt me, but as she's my MIL I have always had to bite my tongue for the sake of the wider family harmony. I think the relationship with in-laws is a complex one.

Bahhhhhumbug Tue 22-Sep-20 02:50:31

I don't know but l dislike my Mil, used to get on with her but she turned quite nasty and difficult in recent years, probably due to dementia etc. But whereas with my own parents l could forgive and excuse, l guess not got the unconditional love for Mil so harder to ignore/excuse nastiness.
It's same with stepmum, always the bad guys...there was never a bad adult stepchild born apparently.... who knew.

Bahhhhhumbug Tue 22-Sep-20 02:52:10

stepmums

Lochroy Tue 22-Sep-20 02:57:48

In my experience, I don't hate her but she can irritate me and therein lies the problem... I have opened up my home to her but we don't have the length and depth of relationship for me to be completely frank. Hence I just have to put up with stuff that grates and it builds up.

Wouldn't be surprised if she thinks the same!

SuckingDownDarjeeling Tue 22-Sep-20 02:59:44

Hmm. I wonder if it's because they're as forthright and opinionated as if we are their own children, but we don't feel as comfortable telling them to back off as we would with our own mothers. So we're stuck in a weird place where they're thinking 'mother knows best' but we're put off because we feel they're crossing a line.

There have been things that MIL has done, and DM has done exactly the same, but with DM I find it endearing and with MIL it gives me rage. It seems harsh, but I can't help it confused

OP’s posts: |
Hopefulhen Tue 22-Sep-20 03:07:08

I am a mostly open and tolerant person except then I got pregnant and the idea of this woman with different values to me trying to influence my baby repulsed me. I think it’s instinctual.

Zippetydoodahzippetyay Tue 22-Sep-20 03:11:26

It's important to remember that MILs are not a homogeneous group. They will all have different personalities and beliefs etc as will their DILs. I think though for many MILs, they struggle to find the right balance in letting go vs seeming uninterested.

My MIL had strong opinions about every single little part of our lives, believed her opinions were fact and got very agitated if people didn't do things as she did. The only reason we had a decent relationship is because I bit my tongue constantly. I know that I am a good person who treats her son well and apparently she raved about me to other people, but to my face she criticised everything. She was apparently a very loving mother but had been quite controlling and expected things to be a certain way. So I assume seeing her son's wife do things differently was probably hard. On my part, every criticism she threw at me felt like a criticism of my mother who had taught me. I felt constantly judged. It got worse after I had children. So while I never was anything but friendly to her, I never had warm feelings for her.

TheWindOnTheMoon Tue 22-Sep-20 04:00:04

Mine made it very plain from the outset that she disliked me. She saw me as not good enough for her son. She's been hypercritical of me for many years. Four years ago I took the decision to go NC with her. DH sees her regularly and takes the DC to see her but I don't go and it has been like a huge stressful weight lifting from me that I no longer have to suffer her snide sarcasm and bitchy comments directed at me.

Dogsaresomucheasier Tue 22-Sep-20 06:35:42

I’m currently following a fab group for my dd’s uni student parents. There are a significant number that haven’t got the memo about their kids being adults now. I can imagine that, for some, they never do and so go on expecting to micromanage their kids well into adult life. It’s wearing to read online never mind try to have looming over an adult relationship.

Bmidreams Tue 22-Sep-20 06:59:42

Not all were strictly MILs, but the partner's mums I really had a great relationship with also had daughters. The relationships where they only had sons, we haven't got on at all. Also, the great relationship MILs also had a realistic view of their sons, the not great MILs thought their sons were infallible and I was lucky to have them.

AlmondsAndChocolate Tue 22-Sep-20 07:23:04

I felt threatened and criticised by both my mum and my MIL when I had DC1. It was my anxiety and insecurity as a first time mum taking over. I got over it with my mum, because when she genuinely annoys me I can tell her, I can show my anger without seeming rude, and I love my mum and know she loves me. I also agree more with how she behaves towards my DC. And even when I don't, I can tell her.
The conflict with my MIL is ongoing because I can't tell her how annoying I find some things she does and says, and most importantly, there isn't the same kind of deep love between us, meaning that the slightest criticism feels huge.
It's not just me, though, it goes both ways. I have heard how she speaks about her other DIL - I was quite shocked at the level of anger and resentment she harbours against her. It made me realise she can't possibly like me much, either. I am very wary of her now.

ilovebagpuss Tue 22-Sep-20 07:31:04

I think it is in some ways a primal throw back to something! Very technical I know but when you have your own new family you are the matriarch and you are hard wired to accept support and nurturing from your own mother (if a good relationship) who you trust instinctively. The MIL is essentially a polite acquaintance yet You are expected to give her the same trust with the newborn the house your life etc.
Hence the friction and misunderstandings. I remember in hospital handing my PFB to my mum so I could nap I wouldn’t trust anyone except DH in this way. But then MIL comes in wanting that same instant trust it’s very hard and I do love my MIL.
Also agree with the being able to be frank with your own mum about what’s annoying you but never quite having that same frankness with the the MIL so dancing around each other getting it all wrong.

ilovebagpuss Tue 22-Sep-20 07:35:20

Also true about those MIL’a without daughters! I had 2 DD’s and I remember my MIL saying “ oh I don’t know what to do with girls what presents they will like etc” and she did seem to buy them stereotypical boy type stuff! For goodness sake there’s a whole world of internet out there! She is definitely a boy/son person and one of those who is always saying how wonderful they are.
My mum never praised me up in public like this I find it very odd.
She is a lovely Gran though and we rub along as there is love under it all.

BanditsBum Tue 22-Sep-20 07:40:34

I always got on great with my MIL, she was lovely but after having my first baby we clashed a lot as she became weirdly obsessive over DS and how we raised him. She used to call up DH hysterical that my Mum had saw the baby that day and she hadn't or demand to have him on her own all the time. It was like she went crazy over this baby and obviously I had the baby hormones raging so it was not a good combo.

Eventually though it all calmed down, she became a rational person again and by the time I had my second baby things were all perfectly normal between us and remain so to this day. We are not best friends but we get along and anyone who loves my kids as much as she does is alright with me.

I do think there is some kind of instinctive competition that raises its head at times, some people get over it and some dont.

CeliaCanth Tue 22-Sep-20 07:45:58

I think there’s a generational thing going on as well, particularly today when women’s lives have changed dramatically over the last 50 - 60 years. We have many more choices and freedoms available to us now. A MIL who didn’t really have much choice but to stay at home and devote all her mental and physical energies to her family and household may well resent a DIL who has a successful career, financial independence, hobbies etc. and this might be exacerbated if the MIL had the view that “the husband is boss”. As a result she feels she has to exert her authority, especially in those areas which were her domain, over some younger woman who can’t in her view possibly have that same level of knowledge and towards whom she feels some degree of conscious or unconscious resentment? Hence the MIL downplaying your “little job” and making sarky comments about your housekeeping.

emmaluggs Tue 22-Sep-20 07:50:34

I’m indifferent to my MIL she doesn’t do anything regularly to annoy or help. However since children I’m a bit more guarded as she has made a few comments about parenting but ultimately she wouldn’t be someone I choose to spend time without my partner around, I have friends who adore their MIL, and I do wish we had a better relationship.

Horehound Tue 22-Sep-20 07:55:31

I read a bit about this last year because up until then I thought MIL was ok. She can be a bit eccentric and wild but I could bear it.
Basically it's once you get married of have children the relationship changes in that you are now actually joined to this person as a family member. It's set in stone iyswim? It's like you know you aren't family but everyone now sees you as a family and you may not actually like that.

when I gave birth I almost instantly started to dislike her. She completely ruined my first few weeks of life as a new mother by bombarding me with texts and messenger messages asking for photos. We had of course sent some but I was also not having a great time and struggling to breastfeed and recover etc and she was just incessant about it. Even after I was a little blunt about it she could barely manage a day before asking again. Just bloody annoyed me. Oh and I took then abroad to stay in my parents villa and FIL peed the bed envy after drinking too much.
So basically from those things I've just gone right off them. They're not my family, don't act like my family and I cannot relate to then at all.

When they come to visit it's all fine and they can be sweet and they are generous and kind. But also, i wasn't sad when lockdown prevented them visiting lol

Horehound Tue 22-Sep-20 07:59:02

ilovebagpuss

I think it is in some ways a primal throw back to something! Very technical I know but when you have your own new family you are the matriarch and you are hard wired to accept support and nurturing from your own mother (if a good relationship) who you trust instinctively. The MIL is essentially a polite acquaintance yet You are expected to give her the same trust with the newborn the house your life etc.
Hence the friction and misunderstandings. I remember in hospital handing my PFB to my mum so I could nap I wouldn’t trust anyone except DH in this way. But then MIL comes in wanting that same instant trust it’s very hard and I do love my MIL.
Also agree with the being able to be frank with your own mum about what’s annoying you but never quite having that same frankness with the the MIL so dancing around each other getting it all wrong.

Yes, i agree with all of this.

Wishingstarr Tue 22-Sep-20 08:15:43

I also agree with Ilovebagpuss and I think its because a new mother is creating a family, a new community from scratch and its usually her domain. The MIL will have a different way of doing things and the new mum will be wanting to mark her territory and do things the way she feels most comfortable. There is also the insecurity that goes along with the huge task of being a new parent and creating the life you want your child to experience. Then the father is caught between two families, his family of origin and his new family and its a balancing act. The conflicts are about very important issues and get to the heart of our identity: how we want to raise our kids, our values, our self-confidence, our need to be competent and recognized as the leader in our own home, divided loyalties etc. Its not surprising there are lots of conflicts. Its also such a blessing if you have a wonderful relationship with your MIL.

mrsmuddlepies Tue 22-Sep-20 08:20:05

The implication in some of these posts, talking about 'my PFB', is that your child is your alone and has nothing to do with their father. Your child is a blood relation of your in-laws and it cannot be healthy to behave as if your in laws are a stranger and a threat.
There are so many threads on here complaining about lack of support from grandparents and it is clear from some of the views expressed on here why some grandparents feel excluded and switch off.
Families grow and change all the time. If you work at excluding grandparents and blood relations, you effectively exclude your husband's experiences of his childhood.
When your children go to nursery , school or childcare you may well be grateful for support. It is shortsighted and unkind to exclude family members unless you are prepared for the consequences.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in