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How to Deal With a Controlling Daughter-in-law

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

How do you deal with a controlling daughter-in-law as a mother-in-law?

Mothers-in-law and their daughters-in-law, it is often said, are eternal rivals, fated to be a thorn in each other’s side.

Mothers-in-law think their daughters-in-law are control freaks because they won’t run things by them before taking important decisions that affect the family.

Daughters-in-law think their mothers-in-law are meddlesome for always wanting to get involved in her family affairs.

This rivalry, people believe, is often motivated by feelings of jealousy between two women who, from their first meeting, come to regard each other with nothing but mistrust and disdain as they battle it out for number one in the life of the man-in-the-middle.

As a result, the relationship between mothers-in-law and their daughters-in-law becomes frosty, fractured, even acrimonious.

To daughters-in-law, their mothers-in-law are roadblocks on their journey to marital nirvana, a needless obstruction that must be gotten out of the way if they’re to find peace with their one true love.

For mothers-in-law, however, their controlling daughters-in-law are the Santoku knives threatening to sever the unbroken natural bond that exists between them and their grown sons.

There’s little doubt that these high-stake battles for control and dominance driven by these suspicions can threaten the stability of any marriage, and even escalate into a full-blown crisis that ruins a family.

As you might expect, when this happens, mothers-in-law tend to get the blame for being meddlesome.

No one ever thinks that a daughter-in-law might be at fault, or even controlling, as they can sometimes be.

If you are a mother-in-law having to deal with a difficult and controlling daughter-in-law, you might find her behavior troubling and frustrating.

But there’s no reason to lose your cool and lash out. Such a reaction will only make matters worse.

Here’re better ways to handle that daughter-in-law controlling your son.

Yell Less, Talk More, and Listen

Regular communication heals bad relationships the same way that dialogue reduces aggression between nations.

This is because poor communication is at the root of most domestic conflicts.

And where this exists, we can often fail to understand the powerful triggers or motivations behind them.

The result is constant misjudgments, endless misunderstandings and festering family crises.

As a mother-in-law, if you want to repair your relationship with your controlling daughter-in-law, your best bet is to try to yell less, talk more and listen – to your daughter-in-law.

It’s possible your daughter-in-law’s controlling behavior may have or not have anything to do with you in the first place.

It may be that she has doubts about your style of discipline as a grandparent.

Or maybe she feels threatened by you. Or it’s because she’s worried she might lose control over her home to you.

Or it could be that your presence brings back bad memories from her relationship with her own parents. It might even be stress-related.

There may be other reasons though; but you may never know until you sit down for a heart-to-heart chat with your difficult daughter-in-law.

Besides building trust, an honest conversation with your son’s wife can clear up any lingering misunderstanding, put both of you on the same page, and even help reveal the many things you share in common, despite your obvious differences. Honest communication also helps to  improve your relationship with a daughter-in-law who always tries to alienate family.

Don’t Rip Your Controlling Daughter-in-law to Shreds, Help Her Pick up the Pieces

“I can’t stand my daughter-in-law, because she’s one hell of a control freak,” you might hear some mothers-in-law say.

But what if she wasn’t? What if you were the problem? I am not of course trying to blame you for your cruel daughter-in-law’s actions.

What I am trying to do is help you consider the possibility that your own actions might be contributing to her offending behavior.

She might not know how to make baby food, change a baby’s diapers, or maintain proper family hygiene. She may be a gourmand, or even a big spender, wasting your son’s money on “useless things.”

But with your help, who says she can’t learn and be better?

Assuming you excel at all of these things, should you let fly at her for her poor upbringing or sloppiness? What good will that do anyway?

 It will just antagonize her more and more and make her resentful of you.

And since your son’s wife is all that stands between you and your son and grandchildren, the one thing you don’t want as a mother-in-law is doing anything that worsens the rift between you.

No one enjoys getting criticized, and your jealous daughter-in-law won’t take it any differently.

Instead of criticizing her, why not praise her for what she does right?

If you have to point out her flaws, be as constructive and respectful as you can. If you treat her this way, she’ll come to regard you as more of an ally than a rival.

Don’t Leap Over, Smash Down, or Waltz Through Boundaries.

Healthy relationships have boundaries, or so we say.

But how many times have we seen people ignore this simple advice and watched them sabotage their blooming relationships?

Mothers-in-law sometimes make this mistake too with their daughters-in-law.

In their desperate eagerness to get involved with their son’s family, they can stray from the outward bounds of the acceptable and into the inner sanctum of their daughter-in-law’s marital life.

But no daughter-in-law, cruel or not, will take any of these encroachments lightly.

Though done with the best of intentions, they are often misinterpreted to mean a declaration of war – and so begins the turf wars

And this is where things can get real volcanic.

If, as a mother-in-law, you have noticed your son’s wife is either being bossy at seeing you, or is no longer being appreciative of your selfless acts of kindness, then it’s time you stepped back and checked what you’re doing wrong.

Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

Have I been taking liberties with my son’s wife?

Has she been on the receiving end of my I-am-the-groom’s-mother-and-you-don’t-mess-with-me attitude lately?

Have you been gate-crashing your son’s home whenever you are in the neighborhood?

What about your son’s wife’s laundry, have you also been ‘helping her out’ with that without her consent?

How do you feel about sitting in judgment over your son’s domestic skirmishes with his wife? Do you fail to see the potential conflict of interests in that?

Do you wish she would consult you before deciding where to celebrate her 25th anniversary?

I could go on, but that’s not the point. If ‘yes’ is your answer to these sampling of questions, then you’ve been bulldozing boundaries and it’s time you retreated and gave your jealous daughter-in-law some breathing space. Trust me, your relationship with her will be better for this, even if your daughter-in-law’s behaviour is downright narcissistic.

Stop The Drama And Razzle-Dazzle Before It Gets to a Larger Audience.

You are visiting your daughter-in-law, and you ring the doorbell until your fingers hurt, but she takes forever to answer.

If that’s not upsetting enough, imagine it’s one of your grandchildren’s birthday and – horror of horrors – your daughter-in-law forgot to invite you.

If that, too, doesn’t drive you insane, how about she disses you before everyone at an important family dinner? What to do?

There is always potential for drama in any of these situations.

But to avoid things escalating and spreading like a wildfire, you have to avoid giving tit for tat. And tact does it!

In these and similar situations where you have been provoked, you’ll come away with your reputation intact if you keep your cool.

If you must speak to your toxic daughter-in-law about her behavior, do it in private, or better still, discuss it with her husband.

But if you decide to respond in the heat of anger, you’ll be the loser.

There’s a chance you might overreact and make a scene. And to everyone present, including your son and grandchildren, you could be the villain for getting so emotional. Such drama and razzle-dazzle, coming from you, will only serve to further alienate your manipulative daughter-in-law.

Bridge Any Emotional Distance with Regular Meetups with Your Controlling Daughter-in-law

You don’t walk out your house and invite strangers over for dinner.

That’s something you do that with friends, with family members, may be with colleagues from work.

You do this simply because they are close to you.

It just seems to go against human nature for us to be welcoming towards people we barely know.

When around strangers or people we don’t know well enough, we all tend to keep our guard up. But once we get to know them, we tend to let down our guard and enjoy their company more.

In the same way, don’t expect your daughter-in-law to take to you immediately as their mother-in-law before they’ve gotten to know you.

If your daughter-in-law is mean to you, there’s a possibility all that hostility might melt away if you spent enough time together.

Through this, you can earn your son’s wife’s trust, forge a deep friendship and dispel her initial doubts about you as you both reveal yourselves to each other.

So what can you do with all of your spare quality time? You could have lunch every now and then, or go see a movie together.

You might also consider having a manicure or pedicure together. If none of these ideas tickle your fancy, then I encourage you to go right ahead and be creative.

Temper All Expectations of Your Controlling Daughter-in-law

Being a newlywed can feel so much like starting a new job.

You might start out feeling underprepared for the tasks ahead and overburdened by high expectations. Likewise, controlling daughters-in-law don’t have it any easier.

On the one hand, they have to be diligent homemakers, romantic lovers, and, once kids are added to the mix, great mothers.

On the other hand, they have to strike a perfect balance between their work life and family life, particularly when they’re working class mothers.

Then throw in the difficulties and drama of dealing with mothers-in-law, and life can seem unfair for the hapless wife.

And just when they think it can’t get any worse, mothers-in-law show up and start making onerous demands.

Under such intense pressure, anyone could snap.

If you’ve raised your children to be goody two shoes as a mother-in-law, then congratulations.

But don’t set those same high standards for your son’s wife, or you’ll no doubt be disappointed when she doesn’t come through. Understand she already has her plate full.

With a family to raise and a husband to please, there’s no way she can go out of her way to please you every time. That just won’t happen. And no, your daughter-in-law is not being a narcissist.

Frequently Asked Questions.

1. How do I deal with a manipulative daughter in law?

On the lengthy list of signs of a daughter-in-law who hates her mother-in-law, manipulation stands out. So if you are irked by your daughter-in-law’s manipulative behavior, it’s important you refrain from any head-on clash with her. Such an approach would only strain your relationship the more. If she’s always putting her own needs first or pushing her own agenda every opportunity she gets, then it’s time you took the high ground. Try not to react when you are provoked. See if you could talk things over with her, and if she still won’t listen, then keep your distance. That’s how to deal with a manipulative daughter-in-law.

2. How do you deal with a disrespectful daughter in law?

If your daughter-in-law is disrespectful to you, it’s also possible she has no regard for herself or the other people in her life. So don’t feel insulted when her behavior crosses the line into rudeness. You might feel she’s a meanie, but don’t share that with anyone else but you. What good would that do anyway? Lemme me guess, she’ll just keep doing what she’s always done until one day you both end up in the ring and trade blows. My point? Laugh it off! And if she doesn’t take the hint? Then make her.

3. How do you deal with a difficult daughter in law?

If you think of your daughter-in-law as a difficult person, there’s every likelihood that she feels the same way about you. She might be acting the way she does towards you because she has certain misgivings about you. What to do? Show her your human and compassionate self and she just might warm up to you.

4. How do you deal with an ungrateful daughter in law?

Ingratitude is one of the signs of a bad daughter-in-law. You babysit the kids (your grandchildren) while she’s away for work. You shop for groceries, tidy up the laundry, cook for them, and when she isn’t back at bedtime, you sing the kids a lullaby and put them to bed.

You’ve run yourself ragged trying to score points with this daughter-in-law. And yet, she doesn’t seem to keep score. No compliments. No words of appreciation. Just one demand after another. We feel your frustration, if this is your experience as a mother-in-law.

But don’t you think it might be time you started watering down your expectations of this rather ungrateful daughter-in-law? Obviously, you deserve recognition for all of your efforts, but if she won’t give it, you can’t make her. Better not to make a big deal out of it. If you keep being the supportive mother-in-law that you’ve always been, she might come around one day and notice.

5. How can I be a good mother in law to my daughter in law?

Be good to her. Be there for her. Be there for her kids. Be a good friend to her. Listen when she doesn’t. Root for her. And then give her some space to be a good mother to her own kids.

6. Why do mother in laws hate daughter in laws?

We will put the reason mothers-in-law hate daughters-in-law down to a struggle for relevance within the home. Wives want to be number one in the lives of their husbands and kids. They want to call the shots, and make all the decisions without consulting with their mothers-in-law most times.

Mothers-in-law, on the other hand, aren’t content living next door and settling for number two: They want to come into the home and have a say over everything. When their daughters-in-law won’t let them, they loathe them.

Final Thoughts

Conflicts and disagreements are an unavoidable part of human interaction.

Often, they are the product of things within our control – little misunderstandings and misconceptions between people that are blown out of proportion.

But when they happen, as they sometimes will, we could minimize or limit their effects with better decision-making.

Disagreements between daughter-in-law’s and their mother-in-laws are just another example of this.

But since they run the risk of being denied access to their grandchildren and son, mothers-in-law have to take the initiative to mend fences with their controlling daughters-in-law in such fall outs.

In this post, we’ve looked at some of the ways they can.

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