The ultimate tip to make it work with your mother-in-law/daughter-in-law

Isn’t there a universal itch in this mother-in-law / daughter-in-law duo ! After being married for close to a decade, I often wonder what makes this relationship tick or rather CLANG. Why is it that we hear 999 stories of the grouchy old mother-in-law and possibly just one that makes us smile.

Here is a thought ! 

Imagine you work as the managing director of a company. And you have been doing that job exceptionally well for about 27 years, if not more. All of a sudden, you are informed that another younger managing director is being hired while you are still expected to continue doing your job. Your role in the organisation becomes a bit of a blur but you are required to play sport to this change that has brazenly seized your world.

Now, try imagining this company as your home. Switch this corporate screenplay on home turf.  So, your mother-in-law is the old managing director (“Grouchy MD”) and the new managing director is the daughter-in-law (“Snooty MD”). And the new managing director is married to the star performer of the company (“Star Son”). 

In an ideal world, you would want the Grouchy MD to graciously accept the subtle demotion and continue in her role as a consultant, humming her advise every now and then yet respecting the space of the Snooty MD to take decisions despite knowing (or seeming to know) better. 

But alas! It usually doesn’t end up working this way. The Grouchy MD is still just as ambitious with lots of steam left in her and so, the rest is history. 

Let’s try putting things in a little more perspective here:

Quirky Kitchen Chaos

Home Turf

The new daughter-in-law (albeit, New MD ) walks into the kitchen and tries to cook something. As she enters, she senses her mother-in-law’s discomfort and gets vexed with the multitude of instructions coming her way about the cooking or the smidgen of spice that was unnecessarily added or a snide remark about her inefficiency in the kitchen.

Switch the screenplay

Now, lets flip the screenplay a tad and lets imagine the unimaginative corporate home.

The kitchen is your mother in law’s office/cabin. Can you possibly fathom what the Snooty MD is doing!

In a corporate world, this would be considered blasphemous. The Snooty MD  entered the Grouchy MD’s office, or rather invaded her office, is using her desk, trying to access her laptop. All without her permission! She is practically hacking into the Grouchy MD’s laptop right in front of her without the basic courtesy of even asking her for the password. 

Doesn’t this scenario suddenly seem bizarre with a bit of perspective thrown in.

Mystery of front seat

Home Turf

The mother-in-law expects the front seat of the car to be her prerogative and thus always reserved for her by the Star Son.

Switch the screenplay

We would always as a matter of protocol allow the Grouchy MD, as a senior leader to take a seat first and thus the Grouchy MD would always feel entitled for her much earned experience in life. 

It goes without saying that the Grouchy MD needs to be more supportive and allow the Snooty MD to slide in and smooth things around, little by little. But again, don’t expect the Grouchy MD to let things slide past her so easily. Just the way life works.

Meal menace

Home Turf

Many of you would be of the view that the mother-in-law preps food only for her Star Son. It is only his needs that percolate through every fibre of her being. 

Switch the screenplay

The Grouchy MD has the perfect rapport with the Star Son. They understand each other’s aspirations, know just when to lean on one another. It’s like an undefined chemistry, oozing with love. Why do you think that the Grouchy MD would like to take advise about her office matters, from the one and only, that threatens her job ! 

Dirty dishes dilemma 

Home Turf

Are you amongst the ones that are expected to wash the dishes or pick up the dirty laundry whilst it may be considered a sin to let the Star Son even hover around them.  

Switch the screenplay

Well, could you ever imagine the Grouchy MD delegating lowly tasks to her Star Son. No No No ! Those are definitely for the Snooty MD who is trying to steal her job. 

Again, it would be appreciable if the Grouchy MD would respect the qualifications of the Snooty MD and make her feel at home in this alien environment with warmth and a guiding hand. Regrettably, if that doesn’t happen, at least you know where the mindset stems from.

I often wonder how much of these unresolved issues between mothers-in law and daughters-in law are caused by the knots we are still trying to untie from our patriarchal system or is it just a plain and discernible power play that one would encounter in any other field/industry.


I must let you in on a little secret, the sister-in-law is most definitely the Executive Assistant to the Grouchy MD, so you better strategise wittingly.

Would love to hear if you manage the #switchthescreenplay !

Disclaimer: Please take this with a pinch of salt and lots of good humour. 

Published by oberoimehak

Full time mother and overworked lawyer who likes to spend the 25th hour mulling over life, spirituality, parenthood, relationships and other creative pursuits that crack its way through her over enthusiastic brain. Follow me if feminism, women empowerment, spirituality or just the basic dogmas imposed by the society; intrigue you.

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