Seven Signs You May Be a Bullying Mother-in-law | Miriam Hendeles

Seven Signs You May Be a Bullying Mother-in-law | Miriam Hendeles

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middleSage is featuring Guest Author Miriam Hendeles today

guest author graphicMy first introduction to a mean mother-in-law was as a child when I watched the television show, “Bewitched.”   Samantha,  and Darrin are a happily married couple;  Samantha is a sweet and kind “witch” who could perform magical spells by twitching her nose and Darrin is an ordinary mortal who could do no such magic but is a nice guy.  Samantha’s mom, Endora, the prototype mother-in-law, is a proud witch who is  angry about her daughter’s  mixed marriage with a lowly mortal. She criticizes him, never bothers to call him by his correct name, calling  him “Durwood,” “what-his-name,” and worse. She casts spells on her son-in-law, and attempts (unsuccessfully) to split the couple.

Anyone reading this post is likely kind person who only wants the best for her son-in-law or daughter-in-law. But still, I’ve heard enough complaints from friends, colleagues, peers, forum-mates, and other blog-acquaintances to realize that bullying behavior does exist between MILs and DILs (with the MIL usually being the bully). Yes, bullying extends past the toddler’s sandbox or elementary school yard.

origin_1259048969And so, if you see yourself in any of these seven signs, then realize you may be following in Endora’s witch-steps. And that’s a place you do not want to go.

The signs below are mostly regarding the MIL-DIL relationship because that seems to be the most bully-friendly relationship – meaning bully-MIL’s seem to gravitate towards DIL’s rather than SIL’s.


Bullying Sign #1

You complain about your DIL to your son, or you complain about your SIL to your daughter.  This is a no-no. Never bad-mouth your in-law child to their spouse. This can cause much strife in their marriage.

Bullying Sign #2

Your DIL can do no right in your eyes regarding her  child-care choices.  If your DIL is a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), you criticize her for not getting a job. If she works outside the home, you criticize her for not being home for her children. In short, she cannot win.  Another example: Your DIL feeds the kids too much sugar. Or she feeds them too much health-food and not enough sweets. Either way, you are focused on their plates and what they are eating.

Bullying Sign #3

You claim your DIL doesn’t invite you over enough to her house.  For this reason, you stop in whenever you feel like it, without calling. After all, you reason that you can’t wait till she invites you – because that is never going to happen.

Bullying Sign #4

You favor one grandchild over the other.  You show this by consistently leaving one out and buying the other grandchildren gifts.

Bullying Sign #5

You bring or send food or other items over to your children’s house and say that it is for your son only.

Bullying Sign #6

You call their house and if your DIL answers, you don’t chat with her but ask immediately to talk to your son.

Bullying Sign #7

When you need something fixed in your own house, you call your son and ask him to come over to help out, without considering that he may be needed at home.

If you see yourself in any of the above bullying behaviors, ask yourself why you are so focused on your adult children’s lives and not your own. Perhaps you need to get a life, and find some ways to keep busy with hobbies, a job or some other pursuit of your own. Maybe you need to ask yourself what in your own life is missing that you are trying to fill with this negativity.

For more about this topic, please refer to – my website that gives tools for mothers-in-law to cope. Checklists for what to do to be an effective mother-in-law and how to accomplish that.

Remember: Even though your couple stays married and loves each other very much, as was the case with Darrin and Samantha in “Bewitched,” you still don’t want to cause any extra strife between them.

Bottom line – stay out of their lives and stop being a bully!

Miriam Hendeles, MT-BC is a music therapist, writer, blogger and the author of a book on being a grandmother to her four grandsons, Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!. Her blog is Bubby joys and oys and her website is Mother-in-Law-Hood 101. MIL’s who visit that site will get ideas of how and when to speak up, keep quiet, cope and survive in their challenging roles as mothers-in-law. Miriam lives in Los Angeles with her husband and sons.

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photo credit: <a href=””>twitchery</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>