In-law advice

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    Ok. Shoot me. Every time my MIL comes over to babysit or help (she does so willingly), somehow, by the end of the evening, she’s ranting and raving about the various things we’ve done or are doing wrong. Ahhhhhhhh!!

    One of my kids was seen by a doctor recently for coughing. It turned out to be post nasal drip from a cold (which we told her). He was coughing today and she was LIVID that we could not be reached by phone for the last half an hour. I was greeted with a barrage of questions including”why didn’t you give him medicine? You know he’s coughing?” (he wasn’t coughing when we left). EVERY time we see her she’s got some complaint about us. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! Help, help, help, help!!!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!


    love your in-laws as hard as you can.


    Maybe try to make babysitting plans in advance so that you can just tell her you already have someone.

    Also, maybe try to visit her more often just for short visits so that visits to your house will be cut shorter too because she’ll see the kids all the time and wont feel like she needs to stay long so that they’ll become comfortable with her.



    Here is the solution. Hire a sitter and don’t “use” your MIL. If you have complaints about her then you are not building a good relationship with her and are only using her for your convenience when you have grievances against her. If you have grievances against her you should NOT be using her.

    Work on your relationship and try to understand where she is coming from. If she is a worrier and you are a calmer person then she is not the type of person that should be watching your kids if you want to go out and relax. If she comes over and asks to take your kids out, that is a different story. My mom A”H, used to ask me when I am coming home and that made me nervous and made me feel rushed when I went out. If I agree to babysit for my kids I never call them to come home and if they call I tell them to take their time and enjoy their night out.

    If your MIL worries when your kids are sick, don’t tell her when your kids are sick. If she comes over when your kids are sick, reassure her before she asks that your child has….and that you already took him to the doctor who is not concerned. Then involve her by asking if your husband ever had…. and what she used to do for it. Then you can let her know how things are done differently. In that way you are including her and informing her about today’s methods.

    When I am with my grandchildren I have to use today’s methods and not what I did when my children were babies. I know NOT to put babies on their stomachs or even on their sides like when my first grandchild was born. I have to keep up with the changes. So my daughter and DIL’s talk and discuss with me. I don’t complain but I do have questions at times. When I asked why medicine wasn’t given at a time when my grandchild was coughing I was told that medicine is no longer given at such a young age. So that was something new for me. When my kids were that age, they were given medicine.


    I feel for you. I agree its not nice. I know its a burden and uncomfortable and a hard test. But try my daughters’ tactic she uses on me when I am difficult and nagging. She gently says “Ok Mommy”. “Yes mommy”. “Sure mommy” “anything mommy” and its all done sooooo super sincerely you’d have to have a radar to detect fakes, to detect any underlying bad feelings. She really makes herself mean it. She remains silent when being criticized for the most part. I mean, nobody likes it. Its not nice to be nagged.

    I really commend my daughter and her character face lift she’s worked her whole life on to improve. I am actually jealous. I simply let people have a piece of my mind, and then end up regretting it.

    Regretting that I didn’t utilize the window of opportunity Hashem send me to help me grow and perfect my middos.

    am yisrael chai

    It’s important for your husband to support you in this, be on the same page as you, and confront his mother.

    For EACH negative comment, she needs to give ONE (FIVE, you decide) positive one(s) to offset it. Otherwise, no judgmental comment may be uttered.

    And tell her to catch you doing something RIGHT!


    Do you say thank you for helping with the free babysitting and other handouts she gives you ?!??!?!?! Look at the good things she does for you and think of how you talk to your kids as you might be doing the same too…telling them what to or not to do!


    My husband is practically married to his mother. They are very close. My mother reminded me how, during Sheva brachos week, my MIL came over every morning, super early, to make breakfast. My husband is a “mommas boy”. They need to “cut the cord”. Part of their unhealthy way of relating is to say everything that’s on their minds and to most often criticize. It’s in the family. Both my husband and my MIL find fault with most everything. If I spend hours cleaning the house, why didn’t I organize the medicine closet. If I lost 50 pounds, they say “no way!”, if I dress beautifully for a wedding, I wasn’t ready soon enough. When my nephew came over to visit, my mother commented about how nicely he had grown. All my MIL could say was “yes, but he doesn’t have a job”. Never a kind word. My husband won’t even move as he wants to live near her. I do sometimes get babysitters, but it’s not always an option, and I can’t avoid her forever. There’s only so much you can swallow when a person never has a kind word to say to you. I have spoken to my husband about it, and he acknowledged it is a problem with her. She’s not always nasty, but all too often. She’s much older than me, but very immature in her way of relating to people. When we first got married, she told my husband that she disliked a single friend of mine so much (because she talks a lot in a whiny voice), and she absolutely refused to come if my friend was at our house. She acted like my friend had leprosy and that she might catch it. I’m just tired of all the nonsense and her indignantly feeling the right to rain on other people’s parade. It builds her self esteem to break mine. Aaaagh!!!!!


    sounds tough. i cannot give you any practical advice but what about if you would try to work with your husband on breaking away from her a little and then when these comments come from her you can easily ignore them?

    ☕️coffee addict

    I’m surprised the there isn’t a specific mitzvah for respecting In-laws (besides Kaveid Es Avicha V’es Eemecha)


    After she began scolding me I was so shocked, I said nothing and just listened. She is family, and older, and so I try to understand that she might have been nervous about his cough, upset about other things, down overall, etc. However, it doesn’t make it any easier to interact with her when I can probably count on her scolding me for doing something wrong (when I already feel horrible about myself without anyone helping me along that path). She’s not a bad person. She just doesn’t “get it”. It’s just really grating on me.


    Does Kabeid Es Avicha V’es Eemecha apply to in-laws?


    I’m not sure, but for the sole reason that she’s older than me and to preserve my relationship with my husband, I try to treat her with respect. Her disrespect towards me makes reciprocating very difficult, though. I don’t think kibud av applies to in laws.


    momms there are some people who no matter the situation choose to see everything in a bad light, i work with someone like this always kvetching always a complaint, never a positive word to say, it can be very draining dealing with such people i wish i had a solution for you, its like the old song says u have to accentuate the positive and elminate the negative.

    ☕️coffee addict

    Does Kabeid Es Avicha V’es Eemecha apply to in-laws?



    IMO Kibud Av DOES apply to in-laws, especially because your spouse has that obligation,and you and he are as one unit.

    No one says you have to like them, but please show them respect.

    Aries is right about so much in her post. Re-read it. Someday,

    G-d willng, you will be a MIL yourself and I GUARANTEE your perspective will change greatly. Nothing is more important to a grandmother than her grandchildren, and perhaps your MIL is a little hyper about some things,

    BUT –

    when you go out, you SHOULD be easily reachable by phone for ANY babysitter. She was not wrong. Unless she was calling every five minutes, she was reasonable in being concerned that she tried for a long time with no success, when your child was coughing badly.

    If she was angry about you not giving medicine, first actually consider the notion that maybe she has a point, and if not, just say that your doctor did not want you to give him medicine unless absolutely necessary, and when you left he was not coughing, nor had he been before that. HOWEVER, you should have left medicine for her on the chance he would have a coughing attack, with instructions on dosage and a medicine spoon. That is being careful and conscientious with ANY babysitter.

    If she is regularly babysitting for you and saving you a fortune in sitter costs, BE GRATEFUL or stop asking her to babysit. Simple as that. I can understand and even sympathize with your negative feelings about this situation, but in the end, you are benefiting from her chessed, and that is what I believe you should focus on, more than the negatives.

    Other than that, let your husband handle his mother, and don’t let this become an issue of Shalom Bayis for you. If she was coming over to make breakfast for him every morning during Sheva Brachos week, that should have tipped you off to a future problem, and you should have made your stand then. My father-in-law O”H, whom I loved with all my heart, once commented in a little bit of a nosey way about something, and I told him (respectfully) that that was between my husband and me to decide, though I appreciated his concern. He understood, and refrained from further comment on the subject. We had a loving and wonderful relationship until his death at age 94.

    Your MIL is not the enemy. She may be too outspoken for your taste (and for mine, too, btw), but she raised your husband, the man you chose to marry, so presumably she did SOMETHING right. Try to accept her with all her perceived flaws (and we ALL have those), and try not to let inconsequential issues, and they are inconsequential in the great scheme of things, prevent you from having a pleasant relationship, especially when she is doing you a favor.


    mommamia, your MIL is likely a narcicist and cannot easily control her mouth. Most people have filters that prevent this type of behavior, but alas Hashem saw it fit for her to be born without this filter. What can you do? Well, you are not likely to change her. These are simply opportunities to work on your own middos. Try to set boundaries as respectfully as possible. Let her know when she has crossed the line, but again, be respectful. Bottom line, she cares for your kids and wants to do good by them, but she simply does not have the tools to do it in a way that does not offend. So make the adjustments on your end. And be sure your husband understands he may not take her side against you, even when YOU are the one who is wrong.


    Gosh, MM22, you’ve got a real pickle on your plate.

    Look at the bright side; your father in law has (had?) to live with MIL’s kvetchy-ness 24/7!

    Bottom line is, if you’re not on her payroll, you owe her zip. Not to say, be nasty to her, but you don’t need to answer / be accountable to her either,

    And consider having the friend she hates so much move in with you!

    happy face

    “Does Kabeid Es Avicha V’es Eemecha apply to in-laws?”

    The words es & v’es can refer to the father and mother in law, no???

    happy face

    “Does Kabeid Es Avicha V’es Eemecha apply to in-laws?”

    The words es & v’es can refer to the father and mother in law, no???


    Zos hatorah

    You got it right on the mark. She lacks the filter to know when to comment and when not to.


    You are lucky your FIL got it the first time around when you stood your ground. I’ve had numerous conversations discussing boundaries we need in our relationship. She just doesn’t heed them.

    A babysitter has to know that in case of an emergency, if the parents cannot be reached immediately, to call hatzalah or 911. Coughing, although upsetting, is not a life threatening emergency that merits being yelled at for being unreachable for thirty minutes. If I yelled at you every time I couldn’t reach you you’d be appalled (especially if we had spoken twice earlier, as I had with my MIL). This is not about being appreciative because she’s family and babysitting. This is about someone who criticizes at every turn. A toxic personality who’s in the family.



    It sounds to me that the basic problem is that your husband does not take your side or support you. It seems to me that he is almost inviting his mother’s comments. He grew up in kvetchiness, knows no better, and seems to like it. IMHO you two need to seek some counseling, a neutral mediator – a rav or therapist or both. You have to work out these issues.

    You can’t pull away from her if he is still pulling her in. For example, I have troubles believing that your husband would be amenable to having an outside babysitter. Even if he is, once she gets wind of it, that will change.


    Try the following, after she finishes her ranting, say something Ruchni with Emunah, Like HB”H Vet Inz Alleh Helfen, in Sveit Zein Gut!

    (HB”H will help us all & it’ll be fine!)

    Then say “I understand what your saying, thanks for being so caring, I’ll keep what you said in mind, Kol Tuv!

    It also helps when shes preaching, to imagine a song that goes with the words that are coming out of her mouth! keep on changing the song, when you hit 10 songs go treat yourself out to ice cream. hmm.. happens that often? worried about weight?

    Make it every 20 songs. 🙂 Hatzlacha!


    OK, here is the halacha, Yes Kaved es avicha v’es imecha does apply to in-laws. That was discussed here many times.

    In addition being dan l’kaf z’chus also applies to in-laws. I can see and understand that you are very frustrated. All I can suggest that will be extremely helpful is that you learn how to “coach” your MIL. You need to learn how to listen to understand her an not take everything as a negative. When she speaks just repeat what she says so she thinks you are listening and getting it. That is all she wants, then of course it is up to you to make your own choices. You can add a “is that how you raised your kids, thats interesting.” just to sweeten the pot. But remember that it is up to you to make your own choices. By learning how to coach her you can steer her in the right direction without hurting her feelings while feeling like you are in control and not getting hurt yourself. So if she makes a comment about a friend of yours you might say “Ma, why does that bother you?” or “Why do you allow that to bother you, she is not someone you see often or you spend time with so why let that bother you so much?” In that way you are initiating a conversation in a non-confrontational way, and forcing her to face her negativity.


    Great advice, Aries.

    I like the repeating what she’s saying part. The coaching her, I think I may have a little (a lot) more trouble with. I think what gets me is her tone of voice (how ironic, as my friend’s voice “gets” to her). I immediately put up my defenses when she scolds and criticizes me. If she were to “discuss” her concerns and quietly voice her frustrations, I could probably hear her better, and not spend time ranting about her rant!

    I’m just down in the dumps lately, and every time she yells at me she puts me there further.


    oomis-i thought your advice was excellent!

    momma-here’s yet another idea. when your mil says something negative try to interject something positive. if she says the soup is too bland, tell her that she can add salt and pepper but you and the family prefer it jsut the way it is.

    if she says the house is not clean enough, tell her its clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy.

    i actually bought a little plaque like that 35 yrs ago for my own howm. my mil is a clean-a-holic and i am a clean person, yet slightly cluttered in some rooms. (not kitchen and bathrooms, they are spotless)my mil saw that sign and got the drift…in a nice way.

    try to make your comments in a friendly way so that things dont turn into an all out war. that wont be good for anyone.

    another option is…let her say what she says and try really hard to have it go in one ear and out the other.

    it wont cost you anything if you can work that into your head.

    good luck!


    There is a famous story about the Bach who, when the Taz was about to marry the Bach’s daughter, told the Taz that the Mitzvah of Kaveid es Avicha V’es Imecha applies to a father-in-law… and a mother-in-law.


    Momma, here is another easy coaching practice more for you than for her. If she says for instance “that chair would look much better under the window” which of course to you seems like a criticism and that you can’t do anything right…. try saying “do you really think so? I guess I can try it and see if I like it that way. I can always put it back if I don’t.” In that way you validate her opinion which she is entitled to whether it is appropriate for her to say it or not; and you can hear her out without feeling that she is criticizing you rather than voicing an opinion. You can then try it out and see if she actually has a good eye where furniture is concerned and see if you like it that way or not, you never know you might learn to value her opinion. If you don’t you put it back and the next time you can say “mom, it tried putting the chair the way you suggested, I understood why you said it, but I prefer it this way. I appreciate that you tried to help though.

    In this way, you are not ignoring her comments, not getting hurt by her comments, showing her that you respect her and hear her and yet showing her that the choices are still yours to make.

    In a different scenario where she would comment on your cooking or cleaning you can say “I hear that, so how did you manage to impress YOUR MIL with your cooking and cleaning while raising your family? As you know it is not so easy while raising small kids. What were your tricks when your kids were young and you were expecting your in-laws over? Is there anything you can share with me?”

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