Friday, December 05, 2008

News Flash

Well, here's something most of us women who are or have been married already knew: Mother-in-Law Problems: They're Worse for Women.

No surprise (to me, anyway) that psychologist Terri Apter "...discovered that more than 60% of women felt that friction with their husband's mother had caused them long-term stress." I wondered what the cause of my heartburn problem was. Now I know. Blame it on the MIL.

Apter also found that "Conflict arises when the newcomer and the more experienced matriarch wrestle over whose way is best." Gee, could that be because in my house I like to do things my way? I mean, seriously? If you ain't paying the bills, it's myob at my house. Our house, I mean. Of course...

Got kids? MIL can be a royal pain:
Apter found that, in all the ethnic cultures included in her research and across the generations, child-rearing was one of the most constant and stressful sources of conflict between daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law.
Here in beautiful Costa Rica (maybe everywhere, I don't know, as I've only had a child here), everyone wants to give you advice on your kids. "You should do this, you should do that, you should bundle up that baby in a snowsuit because it's down to 70 degrees today!" For the most part, you just smile and say thanks. But sometimes you just get fed up with it. Especially if you're the kind of parents who have done a lot of reading and researching and talking to other like-minded, modern parents about things like cloth diapers, extended breastfeeding and bed sharing. Or having a baby at home without (gasp!) a doctor present. Or homeschooling. Or any of the other million issues that come up when you're a first-time parent. Quite frankly, unless a child is being abused or neglected, it's no one's business how you raise them. Not my own mother's, and not my mother-in-law's. It just isn't. You had your chance, this is ours. If we want advice, we'll ask you for it. And sometimes I do ask for advice, from other parents or from my mom (as I would guess esposo does with his mom). Otherwise, butt out! Seriously. Have fun with your grandson, but please complain about the way we raise him to someone else. We just don't want to hear it.

My favorite part of the article was this, however:
In Apter's study, two-thirds of women said they felt their mothers-in-law were jealous of their relationships with the sons, while two-thirds of mothers-in-law said they felt excluded by their sons' wives.
Hmm, my own mother-in-law disliked me from the day we first met. She tried to drive a wedge between esposo and me way before we ever had any inkling of getting married. Let's face it, I wasn't probably what she had in mind for her son. I was not Catholic, I was from California (thus, probably going to take her precious baby boy away at some point), I was older than he was. I had a mind of my own and a successful career. Though honestly, what's not to love? is what I say. :-) And then we did get married. And as someone very close to me once said, Those weren't tears of joy. I think my only saving grace in her eyes was producing a son. And a wonderful son he is, and I would not dream of trying to come between him and his grandmother. She and I, I think, have finally come to a meeting of the minds: you be polite to me, I'll be polite to you, and let's leave it at that. Fine by me.

Now, my father-in-law accepted me as part of the family right away. He always treated me like the daughter he never had. Sadly, though, he's gone now. I miss him. I had such a great relationship with my own grandfather (short-lived as it was; he died when I was 11), that it makes me sad my son will never have that (my own father was never a part of my life and died a couple of years ago). He adored our son.

A good friend of mine has a great set of in-laws that live next door to her. I once complained to her, Why can't I have your in-laws? H. is in that 40% minority of women who get along well with their MILs. P. (H.'s MIL) once told esposo that we were like part of the family, even though I could be a real bitch! I laughed. Coming from P. it's endearing and makes me like her all that much more.

Finally, guys, this next part is especially for you:
"Daughters are better at reassuring their mothers that even though their lives are changing, they're still attached to their mothers," Apter says. "Men are less proactive about that reassurance."
Basically, be nice to your mom. But don't forget to stick up for your wife.


  1. Hrmmmm
    I think I am blessed with a MIL that basically avoids us any how. We get an occasional email from her or a card usually with a check or gift card for holidays.

  2. I was wondering if you'd get to it,,,,and you did- husbands really hold all the cards on this one, they should be backing their wives the entire way....wives first, mothers second. If a husband is a 'momma's boy'........good luck, you'll need it.