How To Address Your Mother In Law

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  • #590283

    Phyllis
    Member

    When speaking to or about your mother in law how do you address her? Ima, Ma, Mommy, shvigger etc…

    Also, how often do you speak to your mother in law?

    #796670

    oomis
    Participant

    When I was privileged to still have a mother-in-law O”H, I called her “Mom” just as I did my own mother O”H. I spoke to each of them on a daily basis. In the case of my own mom, I was extremely close with her, more than just mother and daughter,and I truly enjoyed her company. So did my husband. She truly was his other mother. My mother-in-law was unfortunately ill and bedridden from the day I met her. She was also almost totally blind. But I knew from all the stories I had heard about her, what an amazing and wonderful person she had always been, and the chessed she had always shown others, often putting their needs ahead of her own (my husband is the same way). Since I knew what it meant to her to hear from me, I made a point of calling every day to fill her in on the naarishkeit details of my day, the chochmos of the children, etc. She really looked forward to those calls, my father-in-law told me after she passed away, and it was a real lifeline to her to know we were always thinking of her.

    Each time I gave birth, we always stopped by my in-laws on the way home from the hospital, so Mom could “hold” the baby (She had no ability to hold a fork in her hand, much less the baby, but we held the baby to her arms). Then we went back to my parents’ house, where I recuperated from the birth for two weeks. My in-laws were thus able to be a part of the excitement, and we made a point of visiting every Sunday, either for the whole day or for a couple of hours when that was not feasible. If there was a yom tov during the weekend, we made it another time.

    I know there are some people who might feel some of this was excessive (so some of my friends used to tell me), but my in-laws are both gone now, and I have the satisfaction of knowing I made my M-i-l’s life a little happier, and it cost me nothing more than a few extra side trips, phone calls, and visits, which were as beneficial to me as they were to her. Plus, the lessons of kibud av v’em that our children witnessed, help them grow into wonderful adults. Lest you think this was one-sided, my parents were also visited frequently, but they were also able to come to visit US, whereas my in-laws could not do so at any time.

    #796671

    mazal77
    Participant

    As for myself, I never had a mother-in-law, she was nefter when my husband was younger.

    My husband, though addresses my mother as Ma. While my sister-in-law, refuses to call my mother her, mother in law, Mommy, Ima, Ma… because she feels that she only has one mother and can not call another person by that title, even though, my mother would like it. Let’s just say for shalom bayis, we gave up trying to convince her. Now that she has children, she calls her grandma.

    #796672

    However you call your mother you call your mother-in-law

    #796673

    LAer
    Member

    Um… so what did she call her before she had kids? Hey you?

    #796674

    same way you address your mother you address your mother in law

    #796675

    mepal
    Member

    Being that I do have married siblings, I think it is much nicer addressing a mil by “mommy” etc, versus, “your mother”. Makes it feel more like family than some stranger.

    #796676

    oomis
    Participant

    Any girl who uses the excuse that she has “only one mother” (so she cannot call her MIL Mom, Ma, Ema, etc.) is forgetting that her husband’s parents become her “parents” too, in terms of her obligation to be mechabeid them. If she calls her mother Mom, then IMO she should at least call her MIL “Ma.” I suspect (and of course I may be totally off-base, here) that the young woman who refuses to do so, might not have all that wonderful a relationship with the MIL, for her to take such a position. If she really loved her MIL, she would probably not feel that way. I have some friends who feel the same way as this sister-in-law, and every one of them has a poor relationship with the husband’s mom. Ironically, one of them has a lousy relationship with her own mom, too.

    #796677

    ambush
    Participant

    if we try to treat her with as much respect as possible, than the answer is easy!

    Call her what SHE wants you to call her!

    #796678

    squeak
    Participant

    How to address you mother in law:

    This is a tough one. I’d say the problem of how to address her is not nearly as big as the problem of how many stamps do you put on? I mean, I know it goes by weight, and how exactly are you supposed to know her weight? Ask her? No, there’s no doubt that would end up in an underestimate and the deadly Return To Sender!

    Unless your name is not Sender, in which case you have nothing to worry about.

    #796679

    ambush
    Participant

    oh man… not sure if it’s the hour of the night but that one really put a (confused) smile on my face!

    #796680

    Joseph
    Participant

    ambush: Why confused? The only question is if it should have been posted here: http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/coffeeroom/topic/funny-mother-in-law-vs-shadchan

    #796681

    Ferd
    Participant

    “Shviggs”

    #796682

    mazal77, it could’ve been me that wrote that!! I call my mother in law Mommy and she is thrilled about it since my older sister in law says she has only one mother and cannot bring herself to address her shvigger as Mommy. My mother in law says” If your younger sister in law can call me Mommy, then why cant you!” I don’t think my sister in law appreciates that comment too much but that’s the way it always goes.

    #796683

    AZOI.IS
    Participant

    oomis1105, that was truly beautiful and inspiring. May Hashem shower you with many Brachos in that Zchus.

    #796684

    LAer
    Member

    Mrs. Beautiful,

    Well, that’s just lovely. A mother-in-law comparing her daughters-in-law to their faces. No wonder your older sister-in-law can’t “bring herself” to address your MIL as “Mommy!”

    #796685

    noitallmr
    Participant

    This is a really wide question- really depends on what mil you have…

    #796686

    AZOI.IS
    Participant

    LAer, I’m not saying that Mrs. Beautiful’s MIL is right, but I will say that when you’re young you never dream that one day you’ll be a MIL with at least some expectations.

    #796687

    Laer, My mother in law is a truly wonderful person that just says everything exactly the way it is. ( I am sure everyone knows of at least one such type of person!)

    We take <most of> her comments with a grain of salt since we know she loves us and means no harm.

    #796688

    oomis
    Participant

    “if we try to treat her with as much respect as possible, than the answer is easy!

    Call her what SHE wants you to call her! “

    That, of course, is the absolutely correct and simplest solution. But what if she wants to be called by her first name (yes, I have known such MsIL).

    “Well, that’s just lovely. A mother-in-law comparing her daughters-in-law to their faces. No wonder your older sister-in-law can’t “bring herself” to address your MIL as “Mommy!”

    I would remind you, LAer. that Mrs. B’s older SIL is the one who will not call their mutual MIL “Mom” and THAT is what led to the MIL’s remark. Clearly the MIL’s feelings are very hurt, and that is not the right way to treat her. Under all other circumstances, I generally agree, in-laws should not voice comparisons of the in-law children to each other, though. We do NOT have one mother or father. Hashem is our first Father, and I am sure she does bnot refrain from davening Avinu, Av Harachaman, just because Hashem is not “her only father.” Our mothers, fathers, and in-laws are ALL extensions of Hashem in that sense. Would she not call her husband’s Bubby and Zaydy by that appellation (if that is how they are known)? After all, they are not “her” B and Z, either! (But yes, they are, once she married into the family).

    Although this is very slightly off topic, though in the same ball park, I remember when my daughter-in-law was expecting our grandson, my machetenista was very (and I mean VERY) concerned that only one of us (meaning herself, as she already had other grandchildren) should be known as Bubby and I could be Savta, “because it will confuse the child to have more than one Bubby.” I told her very nicely that though I understood her point, I did not agree with her, and she was free to call herself whatever she desired, but I was more than happy to share the title, because I waited twenty five years to be called Bubby and that is what I would be called. Period. I also politely reminded her that her own mother is referred to as Bubby (not Great-Bubby), and she did not seem to be concerned that THAT would confuse the grandchildren. I also said that the kids would come to know that Bubby usually means “Mommy or Daddy’s mommy who loves us a lot, bakes cookies with us, reads and sings to us on her lap, and gives lots of hugs and kisses.” I have never had a problem.

    #796689

    oomis
    Participant

    “How to address you mother in law:

    This is a tough one. I’d say the problem of how to address her is not nearly as big as the problem of how many stamps do you put on? I mean, I know it goes by weight, and how exactly are you supposed to know her weight? Ask her? No, there’s no doubt that would end up in an underestimate and the deadly Return To Sender!

    Unless your name is not Sender, in which case you have nothing to worry about. “

    THANK YOU, Squeak. That was excellent!!!! I am ROTFLOL (well, not really… but you get the idea).

    #796690

    mazal77
    Participant

    LAer – I don;t think she was comparing. It may have been a question as to why she can’t call her MIL, mommy. I think out of respect for the MIL and her husband, she should address her in a maternal matter. Like I wrote earlier, because my SIL is so adamant and for Shalom Bayis purposes, we let the subject drop. It is not worth the fight, considering my SIL will not change her mind about this issue. She has a sister who her calls her FIL, by his first name and feels it is not a problem.

    On the other hand, my husband calls MY father by his first name, because my father insisted on it. He did not want my husband calling him Dad, even though my husband does feel funny(about calling my father by his first name) about it. My husband has always been respectful to my father. He kisses his hand when ever we visit.

    To the question of what my SIL called her MIL, before the grandkids arrival, she didn’t address my mother as anything. She would just ask her things with out calling her anything. As far as the relationship, between them, it has had it’s moments, but otherwise it’s an okay relationship.

    If I did have a MIL, I would have loved to call her Mom. When, my FIL A”H was alive, I called him Dad.

    #796691

    By the way, I heard from a noted speaker “want to make your husband happy, love his mother.” It is so true. Every person has an ingrained loyalty to their parents, so if calling your husband’s mother Mommy, Ima etc. makes her happy than push your pride and ideals aside and go for it!! (not always will it be so easy to please your shvigger!!!)

    #796692

    anon for this
    Participant

    LAer does have a point that comparing one child (or child by marriage) to another in a deragatory way can poison not only the relationship between parent to child but also the relationship between siblings. I know one family in which any child who misbehaved or did not meet the parents’ expectations was told, “Why can’t you behave like your sibling?” In general the children were expected to be like one another. Today the children are grown & many are married, but when they get together they often bicker & argue. Some of the siblings criticize each other, & their respective spouses, for not living the exact same lifestyle as they do.

    Mrs. Beautiful’s MIL might achieve better results if she simply told her DIL “It would mean so much to me if you would call me Mommy” & leave it at that.

    #796693

    anon for this, Believe me she tried that!

    #796694

    anon for this
    Participant

    Mrs. Beautiful, as I noted in the first paragraph of my previous post, negative comparisons between siblings can cause long-term damage to their relationship. When these comments are the norm, children grow up thinking that they must conform to a certain “type”. However, as the siblings grow up their inherent differences become more obvious as they marry, move to different areas, make different lifestyle choices, etc. Since each sibling believes that their is only one correct way to live, he will feel that his siblings’ different decisions are obviously wrong, and criticism/ arguing may result.

    In the family I am describing, one married sister called her married brother to complain about his wife, who worked outside of the home in order to support the family & pay tuition for the older children (the brother’s income was not sufficient for this). The sister said his wife only worked because she lacked emuna, and that if she had sufficient emuna & really loved her children she would quit her job & use WIC/ food stamps/ Medicaid etc. to support their family, and rely on the community to pay their children’s tuition (which is what the sister had done). The sister felt that because these choices had worked well for her, anyone who did not make the same choices was committing a sin. These criticisms continued for several months.

    Perhaps my viewpoint is skewed because of my observations of this family. (I do know that they make me appreciate my parents for raising us very differently). And Mrs. Beautiful, I don’t mean to imply that your famliy is like this at all. But I do believe that for any MIL, the relationship between her sons/ daughters & their families should be a greater priority than the name by which she is addressed (as long as she is addressed in a respectful manner). Comparing one daughter-in-law to another this way can cause dissension between their families (especially because sisters-in-law generally don’t share the same bonds that siblings do), so even if these comments are effective in motivating the daughter-in-law to address her MIL in the desired manner, they may ultimately cause more harm than good. And since it seems that in this case these comments aren’t helping anyways, maybe a softer approach is called for. Perhaps in time the daughter-in-law will feel more comfortable addressing her MIL as “mommy”. And perhaps in time the MIL will feel that if her daughter-in-law is a good wife to her son & a good mother to her grandchildren, and is generally respectful to her MIL, that this is more important than the name used to address her.

    #796695

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    I am one of those “I only have one mother” people. My MIL, no matter how close I am with her is NOT my mother. There are certain titles that IMHO belong only to certain people. Mommy/Daddy is one of them.

    In addition, I knew my MIL for a few years before my husband and I got engaged. So I always called her by her name…it seemed unnatural to me to change that. My SIL just got engaged and her fiance is also planning to call my in-laws by their names.

    Oomis, I just want to let you know that what you did for your MIL is amazing!

    #796696

    cantoresq
    Member

    I call mine shvigi

    #796697

    chesedname
    Participant

    Easy, call her bubby.

    Your wife should be called mommy (at least once you have kids) so mother-n-law, and your mom should be called bubby.

    The first year was a tough one i avoided it, if i wanted to offer her a drink i would make sure she saw me and said would you like a tea, coffee etc..

    #796698

    mepal
    Member

    ames, I dont think that is Derech Eretz 😉

    #796699

    just call her mommy

    #796700

    Feif Un
    Participant

    Call her whatever your spouse calls her, not what you call your mother. You may call your mother “Mommy” but if your mother-in-law is “Ima” to her kids, then call her (your MIL) Ima.

    #796701

    your’e right

    #796702

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    FWIW, I call my in-laws “Mom” and “Dad” — the same thing I call my actual parents.

    The Wolf

    #796703

    oomis
    Participant

    AZOIS – thank you. Amein

    “I am one of those “I only have one mother” people. My MIL, no matter how close I am with her is NOT my mother. There are certain titles that IMHO belong only to certain people. Mommy/Daddy is one of them. In addition, I knew my MIL for a few years before my husband and I got engaged. So I always called her by her name…it seemed unnatural to me to change that. My SIL just got engaged and her fiance is also planning to call my in-laws by their names.

    Oomis, I just want to let you know that what you did for your MIL is amazing! “

    SJS, What you do clearly works for you, and as you pointed out, you knew your MIL for some time before getting engaged. I get that. I really do. I still feel that in most cases, there should be some kind of compromise, whether it is calling the MIL “Ma” if one simply cannot bring herself to say Mom, and once the kids come along, you can say Bubby. If it means something to the MIL, then the one second it takes to utter the word once or twice in a while should not kill a person, even if they philosophically want to hold onto the “she’s not my mother” idea. What if the mom passed away at a relatively young age and the dad re-married. Would the child call the step-mom by name? Clearly THIS MIL is very hurt, and feels like she is less close to that DIL as a result. She reached out to her (albeit not in the best way, IMO), and the DIL instead of reading betwen the lines, dug in her heels even more (and now I am the one reading between the lines). That just does not bode well for the in-law relationship between these two women. Someday SHE will be a MIL ehrself, G-d willing, and she may feel very differently when that day comes.

    What we (not I alone) did for my MIL was just to show love and derech eretz to her. WHen she was healthy, she was the most wonderful example of kibud Av v’em for her children to see, growing up, and believe me, I am the BENEFICIARY of that lesson, because my husband is the same type of person as his parents O”H were. The only difference between them is that he is also frum. But for chessed, no one could touch them. I was the lucky one to marry into that family, and I always felt cherished by them.

    #796704

    Poster
    Member

    I officially call my MIL Mommy cuz that’s what she asked for, however honestly, I am uncomfortable doing it since we are not so close, so I usually don’t say anything sort of like chesedname said “if i wanted to offer her a drink i would make sure she saw me and said would you like a tea, coffee etc..”

    Now my father in law is the complicated part, when my MIL speaks to me about my FIL she’d say “My husband…” or she uses his first name. Isn’t that weird? Well, thats what she does. SO when I refer to him to my siblings in law i say “ur father…”.

    Sounds kinda complicated but I guess each family does their own thing.

    Please stick to one screen name.

    #796705

    LAer
    Member

    Whoa! Poster, are you my sister-in-law?! Sounds like my MIL, except her other DIL doesn’t have internet access. Uncanny. My MIL is not exactly Mrs. Warm-and-Fuzzy, while I am a warmer sort of person, so it tends to drive me crazy when she refers to my FIL as “my husband.” Anyone know the rationale behind that? And I’m not newly married. Nor am I the first child-in-law. I do call my MIL “Mommy” and have from day one, but I’m not so uncomfortable with that because that’s not what I call my own mother. What does make me uncomfortable is the lack of warmth. I’ve never even heard either of my in-laws tell any of their (many, ka”h) children and grandchildren that they love them!

    #796706

    oomis
    Participant

    when any woman refers to her husband as “my husband,” instead of by name, or “Dad” or Zaydie, etc. in my experience it has been because they are being possessive of that person, and marking their turf. This may or may not be the case in THIS case, but I have seen it too often, to fail to at least take note of it.

    #796707

    Bemused
    Participant

    oomis,

    Perhaps when speaking with a daughter-in-law, you may be correct. However…many women refer to their husbands as “my husband” instead of by name when speaking with friends, for reasons of tznius.

    It may not be your concept of tznius, but I thought to bring this to your attention, so as to provide the opportunity for Dan L’kaf Zechus.

    #796708

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    “I still feel that in most cases, there should be some kind of compromise, whether it is calling the MIL “Ma” if one simply cannot bring herself to say Mom, and once the kids come along, you can say Bubby. If it means something to the MIL, then the one second it takes to utter the word once or twice in a while should not kill a person, even if they philosophically want to hold onto the “she’s not my mother” idea.”

    Oomis, I really disagree. I think all the terms of “mother” are sacred to MY mother. If a DIL is that against calling her MIL by one of those names, then the MIL should concetrate on their relationship, not title.

    I usually refer to my husband as “my husband” when talking to people who aren’t really familiar with him.

    #796709

    oomis
    Participant

    Thank you, Bemused, but I really was specifically referring to the mother-in-law saying that, which I thought was clear from the rest of the sentence (“Dad” or Zaydie, etc.). I know many men AND women who only refer to their wives and husbands as “my…” for the reason you stated. But I appreciate your reply.

    #796710

    Bemused
    Participant

    I should have realized that, oomis. I did not because I know some people who will refer to their parent, for example, as Dad, even to the neighbors. Upon reflection, this is somewhat atypical, though.

    #796711

    ursketching
    Member

    Hi. I usually just read and hardley ever comment but I just felt the need to respond as I didn’t see anyone address the question from my angle. when I got married almost20 years ago, I naturally assumed that I would call my mother in law, “mom”. I felt thatit was proper. however it wasn’t long before I realized that my mother in law didn’t view me as a daughter, only a daugher IN LAW. She would frequently hold “Daughter Only” get togethers, outings and trips, to which I was not invited. No need to go into the details. Suffice it to say that I felt very odd calling this woman MOM, when I was told very clearly ( no offense ofcourse) that I was only her daughter in law. As to what I do call her, nothing really. I try to avoid it as much as possible.

    #796712

    mazal77
    Participant

    Oh, nice to see another Sephardi around and welcome to the CR, ursketching.

    I really feel for you. I wonder if MILs realize the hurt they inflict, when they do these kind of things. It must be very hard on you. Just remember to do you part and try to be as respectful to her as much as you can under very extremely trying circumstances. That is all Hashem can expect from us, to do the right thing. I hope I can treat any of my future DILs with kindness and hope that the feelings will be mutual and loving.

    #796713

    mazal77, how can u tell that ursketching is Sephardi?

    #796714

    noitallmr
    Participant

    Wow ursketching that couldn’t be too easy, but every MIL is different- there are many many MIL’s that have the same view as yours and look at their daughters and daughter in laws very differently I think mostly because they were extremely close to their sons and they feel the DIL grabbed him away but I’m sure there are loads of reasons….

    But you should just know that there many many thousands in your boat! And I’m totally maskim that it’s hard in your case to call her Mom.

    BTW now that you’ve made the leap- keep posting!!!

    #796715

    Pinny
    Member

    When we got engaged, my wife and I asked our parents what they wanted to be called by their child-in-law. My parents preferred “Shver” & “Shvigger” and my FIL & MIL preferred “Totty” or “Ta” & “Mommy” or “Ma”. We have both gone along with their requests though it was sort of uncomfortable for both of us at first. It has been many years since, but as we learned, one can get used to anything, and we are happy to call them what they prefer.

    BTW, my parents, recognizing that “Shver” & “Shvigger” are unusual names to call one’s FIL & MIL nowadays have NEVER INSISTED that any of their children-in-law call them those. They always mention these names to each of their CILs when asked but go along with “Totty” or “Ta” & “Mommy” or “Ma” when they see that any child-in-law is too uncomfortable with “Shver” & “Shvigger”. Therefore, as of now, 2 of their CIL call them “Shver” & “Shvigger” while the rest call them “Totty” or “Ta” & “Mommy” or “Ma”.

    AFA my parents vis-a-vis their own in-laws, my mother has never had a MIL but she called my father’s father “Abba” — just as he (and all the other children-in-law) did. My father calls my mother’s parents “Shver” & “Shvigger’ per their request (which is why I always considered this practice to be “normal” and was uncomfortable at first calling my in-laws “Totty” or “Ta” & “Mommy” or “Ma”).

    #796716

    ursketching
    Member

    mazal77, good detective work. Thanks for the chizuk, and yes, that is what I do in regards to my mother in law. I know that it is a test and I’ve learned to treat her with respect even though it’s a very different relationship than the one I envisioned.

    #796717

    shaatra
    Member

    Mrs. Beautiful: because sketching is a syrian word lol. It doesn’t mean to sketch a picture….and welcome ursketching (love the name btw 🙂 )

    #796718

    jewishsoul
    Member

    My in-laws also go with the “shver/shvigger” thing, though I’m not very comfortable with it. And by the way, when my MIL talks about my FIL to me, she says “Your shver….”

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