Real-life monsters-in-law

Jane Fonda, Michael Vartan and Jennifer Lopez in "Monster-in-Law"


The good news: The daughter of a FOF friend married into a wealthy family, and her husband is successful, too.

The bad news: The rich in-laws call the shots. The young couple are expected to go to their house for the holidays, had to move to their town and buy a big house (that they couldn’t afford), and well as vacation with them.

The even worse news: My friend’s daughter goes along with it all, which wouldn’t be so bad if the rich in-laws didn’t treat my friend and her husband like second-class citizens. “They barely acknowledge us if we’re somewhere together,”bemoans  my pal. What makes this funny at the same time is that my friend’s husband is one of the leading professors in the country, and she is no slouch herself. There’s more, but I figured this was enough for you to get the point.

What’s a mother to do?  If my daughter was happy and the guy she married treated her well, I guess I’d let them go their merry way and try to stay as far away from the nasty in-laws as possible. That’s not always easy in my friend’s case, since grandchildren are on the scene. Of course, I question how the daughter can be so unthinking of her parents.

My friend is considering seeing a professional who can advise her how to best talk to her daughter about how she feels. Whenever she brings it up now, her daughter poo-poos her. Back in the day, our parents demanded respect. I think I Iiked that way better. Too many of us walk on eggs with our kids today.

0 Responses to “Real-life monsters-in-law”

  1. Kate Line Snider says:

    One of my sons married the daughter of a poor family and they do the same things. (Go figure). For instance, they vacation with them, and they took HER mother to dinner for Mother’s day- I got a phone call. (I did say something about that.) The point is, I don’t think the in-laws being well-to-do or not is a factor.Some people just never detach from the umbilical cord.

    The kids are old enough to be married, so if there is a problem, it’s theirs.

    I may get miffed, but he’s not my only son.

    Most of the time, I just butt out!

  2. Marsha Calhoun says:

    Not quite clear on how one would go about “demanding” respect – I think the time for earning both respect and loyalty from one’s child is considerably earlier than post-marriage of said child. As usual, the only recourse for your friend is to be clear on her boundaries and to speak up about her preferences, all without dissing the “other” parents (it would only make your friend look whiney, anyway). Proactivity! Be the first to invite for a visit, be infinitely gracious about accommodating child’s preferences but clear that you expect equal if not simultaneous time, and for heaven’s sake stay positive – a pouty parent is a parent best avoided. If you truly gain the trust and respect of your child, she will be able to hear you if you gently indicate that you miss seeing her and are sometimes hurt when you can’t. And I can’t emphasize enough: shut up about the other parents – they are not your business, and you can only do yourself harm by criticizing them (you may vent to your friends, however, if you trust them absolutely not to pass it along).

  3. Lunachance says:

    My sistert endured the same thing. After the wedding, the couple bought a house they could afford. The MIL’s comment was along the lines of, “well, this is certainly a good little starter shack.” The woman said it with a straight face!!! She and her husband (second marriage) offered to help the couple and paint the kitchen cabinets. Well, they did not like the color that my sister chose, so they went out and bought different paint and then painted the kitchen. Yup, rude people. She made comments all along their marriage, not subtle slams. Asking, “how much would it cost to paint the house, a couple of gallons of paint, what $20?”
    My sister called to speak to almost of our family members about how to deal with her MIL. Of course, I said to cut her out of the relationship and do not initiate any contact with the woman. My mother was much kinder person and told Julie to think of the son she produced and be thankful. All I can say is thankfully, the MIL died a couple of years ago.

    A leopard does not change their spots. These people who think they are better than everyone else are hard enough to deal with at work, but when you marry into it, the work day is 24 hours, not just 8. As my sisters and I joke (but there is some seriousness to this): shop the family, do not jump blindly into marriage


    • geri says:

      Hi Lunachance,

      My son isn’t married, but my daughter has had a live-in boyfriend for 5 years, and while I do not agree with everything they do, I (generally) butt out. My daughter likes her boyfriend’s mother, whom I’ve not met. It appears she also butts out.


  4. Susan says:

    It sounds just awful but…what does the mother want her daughter to do? I mean actually “do.” This daughter is kind of stuck & maybe denies because she doesn’t want to “go there” in a talk. I dunno. I’d just fall back, I guess, no matter how painful. It’s better than being disrespected. But I would try to see what a spot my daughter was in & not just think about my pain.


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