An email: “…before the child has actually arrived she has already given me a lecture about paternal grandparents’ rights over the child.”

Two mothers in a Jodhpur hospital gave birth to a boy and a girl baby around the same time it seems, and now the families of both the babies are refusing to accept the girl baby, both are fighting over the male baby. (News in Headlines Today on TV) Another baby-girl was found in a dustbin.

Do you think any amount of dramatic and half hearted efforts can make Indian parents want to have daughters if we continue to think like the mother in law in the email below?


I just happened to read your blog and found that very useful. I have been going through a dilemma ever since i got married. I got married into a very so called modern family. My MIL treats me very well. But her treatment towards my parents disgusts me a lot. She always thinks she is superior to them.

She behaves very weirdly whenever they come and implies with her actions that she has more right be it on the house or on me.

On every occasion now and then, she keeps reminding me that daughter’s parents have lesser rights and that i should show more inclination towards my in laws which irritates me a lot. She fails to understand that the more she tries to distance my parents away from me the more closer I become to them and my relationship with her is the one which gets affected.

I am pregnant and before the child has actually arrived she has already given me a lecture about paternal grandparents rights‘ over the child. She spends maximum time with us but still is not satisfied.

Even I have to fight a lot if I need to visit my parents.

My husband is neutral about these issues. I feel better not discussing it with him. I don’t understand what to do.

How can we make people of such age about their inappropriate actions. Will they really understand or take it to their pride?

Related posts:

So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?

The invisible family member in the saas-bahu post.

Better than mothers?

Can you be equal if you are not allowed to make equal contribution?

A daughter in law’s legal rights in her in law’s house are the same as her husband’s rights. Whatever is his, is hers.

Dheeyaan dee maa rani, bhudhaapey bharey paani


141 thoughts on “An email: “…before the child has actually arrived she has already given me a lecture about paternal grandparents’ rights over the child.”

  1. Again and again and again – young women, please get to know a man before you marry. One cannot be “neutral” about these things. It is his “neutrality” which allows his mother to think she can get away with this behavior.


    • “please get to know a man before you marry.”

      They are not the same before and after marriage. It is difficult to judge them. Before marriage, they speak like modernists. After marriage, they begin to show their true conservative colors.


      • Yes, but if it is an act, I would presume that it would be hard to maintain it over a long time.

        That is one reason to preferably live together, or at least spend plenty of time together for a substantial period before committing yourself completely and tying the knot.

        Many Indian women seem to have no desire to actually vet men before marrying them (or if they do, they have largely external vetting criteria like looks and income). They simply don’t know to check for the really important stuff.

        If I ask someone about their beliefs and ideology face to face, it’s usually a bit obvious when they are lying or holding something back. Most people aren’t very good at lying about their core ideals when asked direct questions about them.

        You should know to ask the right questions, and that knowledge comes with more experience, which is why one should marry late, and should have prior dating experience.

        Half the incompatibilities boil down to the fact that Indian couples aren’t, for a variety of reasons, allowed to take their time getting married. Once you’re 23-24, everything is done lightning quick, as though the world was going to end in a couple of years.


      • I agree with you partly, Brown Vagabond. Maybe what I suggested was indeed a little simplistic. Still, I strongly believe that too many Indian women get married to men they know very little about. This is not just a question of a man changing after marriage. For e.g., the fact that she has to fight to visit her parents – surely, issues like this, i.e. what ties will exist with her family, whether she can support them etc should be discussed?


    • In the past (to some extent even now) it was the “fashion” for men to state their supposed neutrality, “We won’t interfere in kitchen affairs,” meaning what’s happening between the women of the household , his mother and wife to be precise. BUT, the minute it is the other way around, the men waste no time in putting the wife in place. That is as far as this so-called ‘neutrality’ goes.
      Besides, this show of neutrality which they seem to repeat with so much of pride (I have heard quite a few) as if that puts them above petty things, actually is used to conceal their own cowardice to face up to their mother and call a spade a spade. I have one question of such men: If the mother treats their buddies badly would they still remain neutral? Nope they won’t. They will pull up the mother for the lapse. But the wife is supposed to be a mouse for the cat (the mother) to play with as she wishes while the husband pretends ignorance.


  2. hmmm not good , well she should start to think of parting ways. The husband being neutral is not good and no use carrying on with this if they are not happy.

    I would say have a word with husband with he is not ready to say anything or take a side then the next step if divorce.

    all the best.


  3. I don’t think she should be living with you. Unless there are some extremely unavoidable circumstances, neither set of parents should be living with you. Moving out (if it’s her house) or asking her to leave (if it’s your house) would be a good immediate fix to this problem.


  4. Why would I not discuss this issue caused by the husband’s parents with him? A lot of these issues get prominence because of the strength of the relationship between husband and wife, the communication and basic wave length match. Would any issues with wife’s parents ever NOT include the wife as a pawn in between, working to bridge the gap and keep all sides happy?!


      • Exactly! That is what crossed my mind too. The woman should stop interacting with the in-laws if they are treating her and her parents in an inferior way.


        • Exactly what I did… havent spoken to in-laws for over a year after she made some ‘remarks’ about my folks.
          And my husband understands me in this.


      • Yes, it’s really convenient isn’t it?

        That way, you get treated like a little prince whenever you deign to visit them, and you can act like you’re best thing to happen since sliced bread.

        Your poor wife, OTOH, gets to be everybody’s favorite punching bag and scapegoat.

        She gets the brickbats, you get the bouquets.


  5. To the letter writer:

    I think you may need to discard the assumption that your MIL treats you very well. From your description of the situation, it seems obvious that she has very little respect for your rights over your own child, as well as little respect for your personal freedoms as an adult.

    You would probably agree with me when I say that in a healthy marriage, there is no way that you should have to have a fight just because you want to visit your parents. It is also probably clear to you that her constant belittling of your parents is not a good sign.
    Remember, being the mother of your husband does not make her superior to your mother (or father), nor does it give her greater rights over anything.

    You are absolutely right to be concerned about the situation.

    However, I am troubled by the fact that your husband is “neutral”. Your husband should not be neutral. You are not a stranger to him. It really is very hard to believe that he sees no sign of conflict between you and your MIL at all! Where is he when these fights happen?

    Regardless of how you feel about this, I advise you in the strongest possible terms to talk the issue over with your husband.

    This is NOT your problem alone. This is your husband’s problem too, because this is HIS mother we’re talking about. It is his responsibility to take a stand in a conflict between you and his mother. He cannot just sit on the fence and watch the conflict from a distance. He must participate in it.

    Make your position clear to your husband and make it a point to let him know about any issues that do crop up.

    Remember that you married a man, not his family. Dealing with the family should not be a full-time job for you. If you are uncomfortable with how members of his family behave, you have every right to ask him to intervene on your behalf or at least make his position clear.

    I wish you all the best.


      • Well, then at least we’ll know where he stands on the issue.

        If he completely sides with his mother, I’d say – try living away from the mother. And if that doesn’t work, the end of the relationship may be warranted.

        But this is all hypothetical. We don’t REALLY know what the husband even thinks.


        • 🙂 brings me back to the few posts back where I said the same, that tal kto husband first we dont know what he will say ..
          and OH MY OH MY had tons of people giving the thubs down to that 🙂

          I guess its my FACE that brings about this reaction from others he he he he he


  6. It is indeed sad the the husband is “neutral”. When the MIL’s behavior (or anyone’s behavior) is affecting the wife so much, shouldnt the husband be concerned over his wife’s worries and concerns? I would be extremely mad if my husband were to be “neutral” on issues which are bothering me. Especially when he is one of the important person who can bring about a change in the behaviour of the MIL. Because, it is his mother. Isn’t the mom-son relationship stronger and closer than a MIL-DIL relationship? And the letter writer should definitely take the initiative and get her husband involved in the issues concerning her. Especially if it is something to do with his mother.


    • And regarding the girl child issue: It just breaks my heart that someone can even throw a child in a dustbin. I dont even feel like discussing the gender bias these people have, because first it needs to be discussed if such people are human or not. I mean, throwing a newborn, innocent life in a dustbin?!! How cruel can one get?


    • I think her husband subscribes to the view that if it doesn’t hurt him, it’s not his problem.

      Many Indian men throw their wives “under the bus” when it comes to in-law issues.

      They think its a wife’s job to deal with interfering in-laws all by herself.

      They expect her to either put up with in-laws who have boundary issues or deal with them in a way that no conflict is created.

      Have my cake and eat it too — typical!


      • // I think her husband subscribes to the view that if it doesn’t hurt him, it’s not his problem.//

        If it is hurting his wife should it not be hurting him? Is that not what caring and love is?


  7. Forgot to add this:

    The Jodhpur incident is terribly sad. I can’t help thinking that neither set of parents deserve to raise this poor girl.

    Parents who think kids are just insurance policies really do not deserve to be parents.


  8. “Do you think any amount of dramatic and half hearted efforts can make Indian parents want to have daughters if we continue to think like the mother in law in the email below?”

    To answer this question, we will have to look to many factors – The socio-cultural conditioning, the parenting style and expectations from our off-spring, the education(not literacy or degrees after the name), the critical thinking skills of the individuals in the community and most importantly the self-esteem that each individual of the community, mostly importantly in the present scenario, that of the woman. If a woman valued herself then she would never de-value another person, whatever their gender is. Most women(and some men) attach their self-esteem to external factors like approval from parents, in-laws, elders, teachers, bosses at work, neighbours, relatives(even the far-off never seeing ones) and what the sages of pre-historic era ordain as revealed by God(rolls eyes). Most things woman do, stem from the fear of Disapproval or Rejection, very rarely from the point of Knowing Ourselves. Yes, the fear of Disapproval/Rejection helped us survive as a species through critical points of our evolution, so there was a need. But we also need to learn to discern when there is a need and when the need is irrelevent so we can move ahead in our evolution.

    Personally, I have a bleak view of the generation like the MIL above. I dont think we can change the earlier generations attitude to life, but we can break free from it(there is a good reason when in nature you dont see Bird’s nests filled with generations of birds), with how we do things and how we parent our future generations. So I look with Hope. I see we are waking up, albeit a little too slow but we will reach a tipping point(cause thats where we are heading) and things will move to the positive/harmonious/conducive side.


    • Are we really reaching a tipping point?

      I think not. Successive generations of Indian wives and DILs have struggled with these very same issues.

      These dysfunctional patterns are passed down the generations with nary a thought given to the question WHY?

      If it really wanted to, don’t you think that society would have evolved ways to minimise in-law-related conflict by now?


      • @biwo,

        It is a matter of perspective. Yours is as valid as mine. I am looking at the past 20 years and I see a lot of changes. I also see how it was for my grandparents generation, my mothers generation, now mine and my cousins who are about 15 years younger than I am. My grandparents time was really bad and they werent even aware that it was bad. They lived through abusive marriages thinking thats what life is about. You never heard of a divorce ever, no matter how miserable the woman was, there wasnt even a talk of laws to protect them. My mother’s time, there was a change, women were more aware of the wrongs they dealt with, I saw a few women of grit leave the stranglehold of tradition, abusive IL/husbands and forge a life no matter how tough it was, women worked but not necessarily built a career, women questioned the wrongs within their own peer groups or in the hush of their family circles, there were a few laws in place to protect women. In my time, women arent sitting quietly when the Inlaws burden them unreasonably, they are leaving such homes and are unwilling to put up with nonsense, more women are working and building careers, more women are questioning and now are working to bring about the change within their communities and within the laws of the nation. We have learned to leave our cloistered lives for a greater good in a number that wasnt there during the previous generations….so I say we are heading towards the tipping point. It will change for the better. Not everyone will change but a Majority will change and over a time that majority will rear the future generation with ideas that will change the way the society works, what the majority wants will become the Norm. And that majority will take care of Idgits who want to go back to the dark ages. Dark Ages was Good, only during the Dark Ages. Theres a time and space for all things, but we cant cling to what was or what we want, instead we have to learn to use what we have/need NOW to get what we want.

        Just because it is not so right now doesnt mean it wont happen. We’ve had generations of women putting in their brick of work into making things better. I believe it will be so.


        • My Soul. Your perspective is as valid as mine is, certainly.

          You view the gradual loosening of societal control over women through a generational prism.

          I was coming form a different perspective. I view gender as an integral part of the larger social structure. In India, that structure is conformist, collectivist and tradition-bound.

          The Western women’s movement was so successful largely because it was rooted in a 200-year struggle rooted in classical liberal thought; putting the individual at the heart of the social order.

          Contrary to popular thinking, the Western women’s movement did not succeed in a vacuum. Gains in women’s rights were accompanied by overall gains in the rights of other marginalised groups.

          So the seed of women’s liberation was planted in a soil made fertile by 200 years of (post-Enlightenment) liberal thinking.

          I do not see such a similar, deep-rooted move towards individualism in Indian society. Also, I firmly believe that women are given fewer freedoms in collectivist societies than in those which are individualist.

          What’s really happening now is a clash between individualist and collectivist modes of thinking. The MIL-DIL struggle is a reflection of this larger phenonmenon.

          Until Indian society recognises women’s rights as a function of individual rights, I do not see family structures changing that much.

          Hope I’ve made my POV clearer. 🙂


  9. The Jodhpur incident is depressing but that is the truth weneed to face.

    Regarding this lady,
    – Your husband needs to know. I doubt he will be neutral after you argue with his mother.
    – Do not let your in laws stay too long.
    – Say outright, you are an adult and it is your kid, you are not a child any more.
    – Point out that your parents are in no way inferior in the nicest way possible.
    – You should dicuss with your husband and all of you should have a talk together.


  10. Well you really cannot change the ideas of people who are so steeped in backward traditions. Just do what you want and ignore her taunts. And how dare anyone give you ‘permission’ to visit your parents? The people who raised you and took care of you! It’s your birthright and I hate it when women express ‘gratitude’ that they have full freedom to visit their maternal home. I’ll be damned if those words ever escape my mouth! (in the future)

    It’s going to be a tough fight ahead but if you succeed, you’ll be so much happier than you are now.

    As for paternal grandparents’ “rights”, well my only response is a sneer..


  11. Men are always told that when they get married, the wife ‘belongs’ to the family, which is automatically considered as ‘not belonging anymore’ to her own family. And that is one of the major reasons for their ‘neutral’ attitude.Majority of men do not actually disagree with that thinking of their parents even if they make wonderful husbands otherwise. Even the most liberal of them is happy when she considers his parents as her own (read as pleasing them) and make them the first priority in her life, like they are his. In turn, he will manage to be ‘nice’ to her parents too and the society too appreciates and lauds this kind of a man and his wife.
    Another reason for their neutral attitude is also because men are judged a lot more of their ‘duties’ and ‘attitude’ towards their parents after they get married, the ‘joru ka ghulam’ tag always hangs around to be garlanded anytime by anybody. And most men are very sensitive to that.

    To the email writer, all I will say is their attitude does not matter, you cannot change them. But what you can only do is let them know that your thoughts are different from theirs. This you can do by not taking any ‘permission’ to visit your own parents.They need to know that you have only extended your family, and not abandoned all the people you loved till marriage. Be clear with your husband and let him know that your parents come first in your life, just like his parents are to him. We all have big hearts to love everybody, we do not reject some to accept others. Let your MIL speak about her rights over the grandchild, when the child arrives you show to them how important your mother is to her grandchild. You will have to stand your ground, it will upset a lot of people, but it does not matter, some people do not understand reason, you have to show that only in action.

    You are not alone in this, most of us are in a similar situation, and it is upto us women of this generation to take control of our situations.


  12. Allright, I will stir another drama, so be it.

    I think this is not a place and time to discuss the husband’s “neutral” approach and the way this marriage is heading in general. First of all, the woman is pregnant – the last thing she needs now is to question her relationship and the relative success of it.

    You may agree or not, but the man here (her husband) is of a very limited importance. He is just a side observer, with a typical frustration – “how not to hurt his mommy”.

    What the problem really is, is the bitchiness of MIL.

    And in my opinion there is no other way to solve this than to: a) not involve yourself in her rhetoric style and the way of presenting the issue, b) show her that you are a person of a much greater mental stability – at the end of the day, she feels inferior and insecure and that’s why all this crap, remember that a weak woman always searches for validation of a man – in this case – the son c) there can only be one alpha female in the house – in your home, make sure it is you d) maintain a close bond with your own parents and try to keep them away from insults as much as possible, even if it is at the cost of family gatherings etc.

    And for the record: YOU SHOULD NEVER EVER LIVE WITH YOUR MIL UNDER THE SAME ROOF. It is time Indian women noticed that. You cannot be some sort of a cross-generational BFF. This will always be a woman for whom you are a competition in the fight for her son’s attention. Do yourself a favour and skip this drama.


    • It is actually easier said than done when you say one shouldn’t stay with the MIL. In 99% of Indian families, if the son resides in the same town he is expected to live in the same house as his parents, especially if he is the eldest son or the only son. Most women ( and men) have no choice about that unless the parents broadminded enough to understand and care for their freedom as much.

      The sons are brought up to look after their parents, they are made to feel guilty and selfish if they stay away. The DILs are blamed here for ‘separating’ the son from his parents. There is a lot of DRAMA and MELODRAMA that comes into play in Indian families. Very very few people can escape it, and for others the only way is to stay unmarried. Harsh Truth even if one wants to deny it.


      • I know it’s easier said than done. But somebody has to break the nonsense, or start a good trend, if you prefer.

        The author of the email wrote that her inlaws are “so called modern family”. I guess modern family is reasonable enough to let the adult child live normaly (i.e. independently). If not, maybe it’s better to drop the “modern” label while describing them.

        After getting married it is too late to cry over spilled milk, but women who are in the process of “groom matching” should really pay attention to such nuances.

        Even in the West having good relations with inlaws is a rare occurrence. You rather keep your distance to assure privacy and set the boundaries. MILs like to boss over and piss people off everywhere. The question is if you allow for that.


      • lady,

        As a guy who has done exactly that, and is therefore condemned to endure pointed barbs from mother dear at every occasion, I would say – everyone has a choice.

        You can take the “easy” way, and bow to the melodrama, which usually results in a life full of meaningless sacrifices and an old age in which you become increasingly bitter over missed opportunities.

        Or you can choose to not bow to the drama. This will cause friction and prolonged “cold wars” with your parents, but will allow you to lead a much fuller life and do what is best for you, not what your parents think is best for you.

        While I agree that brainwashing is pretty much the norm in India, it is not THAT hard to break it.

        Like it or not, the world just isn’t meant for mentally weak people. You have to be a bit selfish to be happy.
        Physical strength doesn’t matter – you can easily live without it. But if you are mentally weak and cannot take harsh decisions at times, you will tend to suffer. That’s reality.

        Just like women, men must strive to break free of the toxic patriarchal conditioning that is part and parcel of living in India. If they cannot break free, they will be deserving of sympathy – just like all those women in unhappy semi-forced marriages – but sympathy doesn’t really help, does it? You have to take control of your own life, no matter how hard it is. No one else is going to do it for you.

        You get one life. It would be sad indeed if that one life was spent pleasing your parents and society, and never yourself.

        It’s not like you get another chance.


        • Praveen, really admire you for taking that stand. It really takes a lot of guts which comes as a result of clear thinking like yours.
          Unfortunately, I have seen only two kinds of married men, those who yield unquestioningly, or those who rebel unreasonably. I really men of your kind were more visible in our Indian society.


        • @PT – nodding head in agreement. As someone who made that choice as well, I know how hard it can be (we live down the road from MIL). but its like ripping off a bandage – its stings like hell at first but then everything settles down. Love all your comments btw 🙂
          @intercultured-agree with you 100%. I cannot say it enough – there are 2 people in a marriage. No place for anyone else. Sometimes the best way to save a relationship is to not live together.


        • “While I agree that brainwashing is pretty much the norm in India, it is not THAT hard to break it.”

          You said it PT. It is indeed not that hard to break. It can definitely be done. But how much easier to remain brainwashed, does not require any effort. Just be a sheep and follow blindly. *eye roll*


      • @Lady.

        I do think Intercultured has a point. Living with in-laws immediately after marriage is generally not a good idea.

        I think women should only agree to live with in-laws if they are confident that their individuality will be respected and there will be no personality clashes.

        A couple should live by themselves for a few years at least.

        I have married male cousins who have never paid an electricity bill because they live with their parents.

        I think such dependency can be avoided if a couple lives apart from the in-laws — the men get to grow up and the wife gets her space. 🙂


        • @biwo, of course I agree with you, but what I am saying is it is not practically possible in most Indian homes if the parents and the son happen to live in the same town. Those who live on their own are really a minority. It may become possible probably when the current generation of liberal thinking population become in-laws themselves .


    • IC,

      Far from being a side issue, the husband’s intervention can make an immediate and very noticeable difference. Moreover, it is one of the only things that will make a real difference as far as the ‘bitchiness’ is concerned.

      Many women in India are conditioned to accept the MIL vs DIL thing as perfectly normal and a lot of MILs don’t even realize they are doing something wrong when they behave as though they were in some bad K-serial.

      Their own son telling them that their authoritarian attitude is unacceptable usually drives the point home extremely well. Whereas this woman’s MIL might not even be inclined to listen to her, she WILL certainly listen to her son.

      There is simply no point arguing – rhetorically or otherwise – with a person who holds such medieval attitudes, nor is there any need to tolerate it for long. There shouldn’t BE any arguments about a woman wanting to meet her own parents, and the couple should make this point very clear, if it is not clear.

      With people who insist on constantly interfering, you need to set firm boundaries. When your parents become one of these people, it’s a bit sad, but the boundaries need to be set anyway.

      I can tell you all of this with an air of relative authority, because my own mother is one of those MILs/interfering parents from hell. I’ve had to tell her to stay out of my life several times, just so that I can retain my sanity. I’ve also had to tell her to keep her opinions on womanhood to herself and to not try and impose those beliefs on my wife, so that she can retain HER sanity.

      I haven’t lived with my parents since I was 18, but I can tell you that my mother hasn’t quite given up trying to remote-control my life. However, taking a firm stand has worked quite well, by and large. Her actions are confined to bitter, self-pitying comments made at opportune occasions.
      There is always a strain in your relationship with your parents when you take such a course, but this is infinitely better than living in constant misery (or even worse, asking your partner to live in constant misery) just because you were too weak to say no.

      If the husband stays “neutral” and continues to silently condone these actions by not condemning them, there is little chance of any improvement at all, unless they stop living with the guy’s mother.

      Fighting a lone battle against an entire family’s medieval attitude is very, very hard if you are not really part of the family in the first place and cannot get away from them.


      • Praveen,

        I agree with what you’re saying. It is always better to have support in fighting against the old unreasonable attitudes.

        But the woman here said clearly that she would not prefer to talk about the issue with her “neutral” husband. We can only assume that this is because he isn’t the kind of guy who would “set his mother straight”.

        In that case what should she do? Endure everything just because her husband is not willing to help? At some point of time everyone needs to develop some self-defence skills.

        You said it right, the world is not for mentally weak people. That means, one should be able to protect his/her own interest even if there is no external support.

        And this is the case. She sees her husband indifferent. So to remain sane she needs to find a way to change things on her own.


        • Yes, you need to defend yourself, but before resorting to that, it’s a good idea to at least see if he would help. There may be all sorts of valid reasons for assuming that he wouldn’t, but it never hurts to try.


      • This is exactly what I have been trying to convince people (I might have gone hoarse in the process) since almost thirty years. But of course it makes a lot of difference when it comes form a man who has been there, done that. I applaud you for the stand you have taken. I expect my sons to do the same. In fact I brought them up reminding them about it frequently: “If I do or say something that is infringing on your rights, you have got to speak up and tell me. No thinking, ‘she is our mother, shouldn’t hurt her’ and such utter nonsense. If/when you don’t tell me I am in the wrong (when I am) you will be doing me a grave injustice.” That had been my advice. I did not want my sons to grow up and be spineless ‘yes-men’ to their mother. I am fed up to here seeing men who are as if walking on egg-shells in the presence of their mothers/parents and then calling it filial devotion.


      • “Fighting a lone battle against an entire family’s medieval attitude is very, very hard if you are not really part of the family in the first place and cannot get away from them.”

        Exactly. This also takes a toll on other areas of your life.

        When one is busy battliing things on the personal front, one is left with little time for anything else.

        Other goals, (professional, financial and personal) take a backseat and you stumble from one family crisis to the next.

        There is little point in expending your energies on petty domestic disputes when you could could invest that time in pursuing professional or personal growth.


        • There is little point in expending your energies on petty domestic disputes when you could could invest that time in pursuing professional or personal growth.


          Like I said in my previous comment, handling your in-laws shouldn’t be a full time job in itself.

          Many of these so called crises are rather like getting a cold. They make you feel completely miserable, but to an outsider, they are almost laughably trivial.

          You can’t spend your life battling colds.

          Liked by 1 person

      • I should start getting to this blog before you do or else I will forever be consigned to giving you thumbs ups instead of writing my own comments. What will I do with all the extra time on my hands???


      • Praveen, I think you are pretty awesome and If I was so happily married, I would have hunted you down. Kidding 😀

        I wish India had more men like you. You must make your wife very happy 🙂


      I don’t agree. If there is a healthy rescpect for each other’s freedom and space and lifestyle we can. There are a lot of pros of living with parents/ILs too. Especially for a working woman like me, it’s peace of mind that my kids are with them when I am in office.
      My MIL stays with us for extended periods and I don’t think there are any real issues. Conflict of opinions and lifestyle – yes. But we have always been able to discuss and reach a solution. Like in any relationship. And frankly, I am glad that she is around.
      Most of the DILs face the problems due to stereotypes – like belonging to husbands family. Let us not stereotype MILs too. Each MIL is different 🙂


  13. MIL is behaving what she learned from her mother or mother in law.
    the problem is rooted in society customs , traditions hope the what today she is experiencing will learn from it and she will not do the same or say repeat the same thing with her daughter in law.


  14. The MIL attitude is just a manifestation of the typical traditional view f marriage where a woman “is given away” to the husband’s family. Unless, the DIL in question rebels and does not accept this kind of treatment (a nuetral husband does not help), very little can be done change the MIL’s views.

    When somebody gets married, they should not live with either set of parents( this is the biggest cause of such issues).If needed, they can stay close by or different apt near by, but not under the same roof. This should be discussed before the marriage.

    The lady has to talk to her husband about it try to move out with her husband(act as a team). If the husband and wife are on the same page and pose an united front, very few people including Inlaws can create such problems. the issues will only magnify after a child comes into the picture.
    In the long run, not invading each other’s private space will benefit everybody(including the MIL).


  15. tell your husband to get involved and if he doesn’t then u will handle the situation your way. which means, either he stands by ur side and tells his mother to stay out of your life or you tell your MIL. If he is not agreeing to taking sides, then tell him he should not take side of his mother when you say things to her. this way he will get to decide what he wants to do. If he still decides to stay “neutral”, then you should be brave and tell your MIL that she has no right to say all that stuff to you. You will have full rights on your baby and she can’t dictate your life.

    I know a lady who was in the same situation. her parents were not as rich as her in-laws so her MIL would always say insulting things to her. The husband didn’t want to hurt his mother’s feeling so he was always “neutral”. So the wife had a talk with him and he said “handle it anyway u want, just don’t bring me into ur fights” so she set her MIL straight. at first the husband was upset because he didnt want to see his mother hurt but later, he learned that he should let his wife and mother fight their own battle. Now the MIL is scared to say anything to the DIL because she knows she will snap back at her.

    I know its hard and you probably feel scared for standing up. But if you don’t do it now, u will suffer a lot. Its better to set her straight now than to suffer the rest of ur life.


  16. The husband is neutral (like Switzerland?). He probably wants to avoid conflict and she is helping him by not discussing it with him. She needs to discuss it with him and make her feelings clear. So far the only person who is unhappy is her. Only when discomfort is caused to others will the situation change. She has to talk to her husband, and either get him to talk with his mother or if he is unwilling to take action, give him a heads up about the action she will take and confront her MIL. Make it clear that she will do exactly what she wants and that MILs attitude is unacceptable. She asks if people like her MIL can be made to understand their behavior is inappropriate. My answer is no. They will never understand. Such attitudes are ingrained and cannot be changed. If she had any understanding she would not be so badly behaved. Unlike some other commentators I believe the best person to deal with this issue is the son. I speak from experience. In my own case, my husband deals with his family when they act like jerks or shuts his mouth when I deal with it, and I deal with my family when they act like jerks towards him or his family (a rarer occurrence, but it has happened). It’s because his mother will forgive him ten times over, but will hold lifetime grudges towards me.


  17. First things first, take good care of your yourself. Since you are pregnant it is important you don’t stress yourself for any reasons, including reading stuff on this blog. Maybe you can make notes of these suggestions and really get going when you are ready to take more stress. Making changes – asking your freedom will still be a fight! If it can wait and if MIL & affairs aren’t too much live a happy life to bring a beautiful baby in this world.

    I will give you a quick example of my life. We stay away from parents, but after a year of my first job when IT returns were to be filed, my father asked me to send him details of my credit card bills/spendings. I argued with him (as such I m rebel & the right type 🙂 ) that why would IT guys want to know how I use my money. I don’t think you need to know my spendings. [remember those times I hardly had a monthly salary of some 15k]. It ended there! A few years later, after much dilly-dallying I got a car without consulting them (5 lakh decision!). My father felt really really bad! He couldn’t stand it! And he was so angry.. he said- after now I don’t care what you do with your money, and explained to my what money I had in the account at my hometown, etc! The good part- looking back! I earned my freedom. Everything is normal. But no one questions on how/what I do!! Similar remote controls were exercised in the initial days on when my wife should go to her mother’s place.. etc. Right from day one, I ensured that she would never do that.. initial bad is pretty settled now.

    The small incident above is to illustrate that freedom in life always comes with a price (prize – once you get it). And it is totally worth it. Our parents are used to patriarchy and they just can’t handle that their kids can go against them!! But, it is really really important to stand up !

    Husband neutral is not enough! He has to fight for you. The biggest problem I believe in our society is that husband happily disowns his responsibility. Often, staying neutral is abetting a situation. Remember like we say, the person who doesn’t do anything when a wrong is being committed is equally culpable (remember Mahabharata) .

    Tide over the present situation, and my take is live by your rules – and it will come at a price, but it will be worth it. At all points, remind everyone that I don’t intend to disrespect anyone but I think – certain things are in my rights! How often I go to my parents/talk to my parents/ how I help them, etc, what I do with my kids, etc.. everything.. is your right!

    In the meantime, I see how my sister’s come from USA for just two weeks, and the MIL wishes that she stays most of the time with her rather than be with her Mom, and interestingly that doesn’t apply to her son! (brother-in-law). And my father the great philanthropist he wants to be.. keep your MIL happy, it is OK.. you can stay for a few days with us.. But, I revolt – why ? If at all, you both stay with your respective Moms and maybe a few days overlap at both places! Simple logic.. but is is not easy to come..

    .. so take care.. and remember to get your freedom, whenever you are ready! But don’t delay too much.. else you will be so much in the rut – you will think – this is what your life was meant to be.. and we would have lost yet one more wonderful human being ..sacrificed for no good!


    • Anil, I agree with your comment. It is so easy when that first step is take. I had to stay at my own home during a short period with my two year old son. There were all sorts of interference on child care. Too many cooks spoil the broth, as the saying goes. I put my foot down. My child, I will decide what’s to be done. It was as simple as that. But it got me frowns and hurt outbursts and even silence. Yes, you can say I am a rebel too.
      Years later the same parents became appreciative of the same grandchildren who they found well behaved, obedient and respectful. And though they never ever told me, I heard from others what they said about me, “SHE knows and has brought them up well.” But imagine in case I had let the interference go on, I would have ended up having unruly children who recognized no authority figures. Not only would it have been troublesome for me, but for everyone else too, besides I would have had to take all the blame also.


    • @Anil,
      I applaud you for being firm in setting boundaries early on. It is way easier on everyone in the long run.

      Your sister’s predicament is similar to that of one of my friends. She overcame the problem by not letting her in-laws know the real date of her arrival in India. She spends a week at her parents’ and turns up at her in-laws’ on their ‘supposed’ day of arrival, spends the next six days with in-laws and the seventh day again with her parents. Her MIL is happy thinking her DIL went to her parents’ home for ‘only one day’ out of seven. Heh.


  18. Been there, done that.. and I have a slightly different view regarding handling the MIL and a ‘neutral’ husband. I feel the the letter writer should clearly and strongly do her own talking to her MIL without asking her ‘neutral’ husband to speak on her behalf as MIL is his mother after all etc etc. The letter writer should calmly make it clear to the husband that she expects him to continue to remain neutral. If he gets upset, agitated coz now his wife’s setting personal boundries for her MIL’s benefit than he is clearly not ‘neutral’ and cares only for himself and his mother. Such a relationship is NOT healthy and the letter writer’s problems will only increase once the baby is born. This is the right time for her to find out the truth and make appropriate arrangements which can include setting up a seperate residence etc.

    At times the husband’s heart is in the right place but he finds it impossible to take a stand against his mother….such is the power of social conditioning. I would rather fight my own battles and would be fine with a husband who continues to be neutral even when I am strongly stopping his mother to invade my personal space and dictate terms.


  19. Well obviously tradition has a lot to do with it .. she is simply behaving how her MIL probably behaved. I also think that she is somehow very insecure. She wants to ensure she comes first for you and your husband and that your child is more attached to the paternal side of the family rather than the maternal (I have seen this happen in real life, so I have a feeling this might be the case here as well)
    Also, there is no way your husband can remain neutral. His being neutral is not going to be very helpful towards finding an amicable solution.


  20. I don’t think the husband is neutral. Claiming neutrality here is basically saying that he doesn’t wish to upset his mum. Would he say the same if his wife behaved badly with his mother? My advice- discuss this right now and make it clear that you will not tolerate any high-handedness in future, especially with regards to childcare (trust me, if you don’t resolve this now, your child might just turn into a battlefield for egos) and that you and your husband will be the ones who will make joint decisions on everything to do with your child. It’s important that you do this as soon as possible because once the baby comes, the fights over ownership and who knows better will come too. Suggestions may be considered from both grandparents but in the end, both of you have veto power as parents. Don’t take it quietly if your MIL insults your parents- this sort of appeasement will only validate her behaviour. If she claims to care for you, tell her openly that her words and actions hurt you. Maybe you confronting this problem directly with your MIL might nudge your husband into taking a stance. Don’t be rude but get your point across bluntly and clearly.


  21. i barely visited my parents when i was newly married just to avoid confrontation from in-laws and when i visited my nanie in law had to be there so i barely visited because i felt she was high and mighty. i know how you feel. very sad that women have to leave there family and so call adopt in law but husband never ever do that


  22. I got married into a very so called modern family. My MIL treats me very well. But her treatment towards my parents disgusts me a lot. She always thinks she is superior to them. – Errr…if the family is modern…then shouldnt the MIL be treating everyone with respect…my definition of modern is – you and me are equal whether you are my son’s mother in law or my mother’s daughter in law!

    On every occasion now and then, she keeps reminding me that daughter’s parents have lesser rights – Oh is it? I am wondering what happens when my daughter gets married..should I be worried about being inferior to her spouse’s parents (Provided she marries a boy, if she marries a girl, I guess we will be on equal ground!)

    I am pregnant and before the child has actually arrived she has already given me a lecture about paternal grandparents rights‘ over the child. – hahahha! okie now let me tell you darling…whatever she says about paternal grandparents rights and all…the baby is yours and your husbands…no one else has ANY kind of right over the baby…while I do agree grandparents are very important, its the parents who should decide what the baby will eat or when the baby will go to school or which school, how much chocolate the baby can eat and how long can a baby’s tantrum be tolerated….dont ever let her make you ever feel that your parents have lesser rights over his parents…its not right.

    My husband is neutral about these issues. I feel better not discussing it with him. I don’t understand what to do. – Well he shouldnt be neutral. the best thing is unfortunately or fortunately, to DISCUSS with him…you dont need to fight with anyone to go to your parents house…..please go ahead and have that discussion with him..possibly in a ‘neutral’ place where he is not swayed by anyone’s opinions…

    Hugs to you!


  23. Unfortunately, it is all part of the good- son conditioning which most Indian men have received since childhood.To even appear to favour the wife in the event of a showdown between the wife and the mother is little short of blasphemy. The wife is, after all, just a kind of glorified servant– a woman whose parents gave her away to you, whose job it is to provide sex on demand and to keep you and your extended family happy in every little way. The mother, on the other hand, is this goddess, worthy of worship because she brought YOU into this world. The Great Indian Culture would collapse like a house of cards the day all sons begin to love, cherish and support their wives and speak out in their favour.

    I doubt that the husband in this particular case will be willing to give up his ‘neutrality’ because he might actually be in agreement with whatever the MIL is saying/ doing–suits him fine.Why should he risk his good-son image for this, then?

    My advice to the lady would be–speak up. Learn to be assertive. Talk back–be polite but firm. Tell her off in no uncertain terms if she is mean to your parents–you owe that much to them. Don’t take crap lying down.

    This will doubtless create friction in the household and your husband might well be forced to shed his neutral position in an attempt to restore ‘order’. Better to bring matters to a head than suffer silently. You only live once.


  24. Dear lady,

    Have you ever considered that NEUTRAL might sometimes be equal to being SPINELESS?

    And would he remain NEUTRAL in case your MIL has something to complain against you?

    If you don’t want your husband to be involved, you need to put your foot down for what you believe in – respecting and taking care of your parents, for example. Fight if you must…and don’t feel guilty about being assertive.

    Grandparents do have some right over the kids. But the equation should be simple – paternal = maternal. And if she refuses to be convinced/listen, just ignore her.


  25. Cowardice or indifference is masquerading as “neutrality” here.
    I don’t have anything to add after reading PT’s comments.
    Solution: Live separately.
    I believe that in modern times if a couple cannot afford to live separately, they must postpone their marriage.
    If the parents cannot afford to live separately then they must not be allowed to interfere in the affairs of their sons/daughters. They must limit themselves to merely advising if advice is sought.
    If these rules are understood, agreed to and followed right at the outset, most of the problems like these can be avoided.



  26. Plenty of people have given sound advices to the Letter Writer already, nothing much to say here then. I wonder What is LW’s MIL’s stance on ‘paternal grandparents’ rights’ if the baby is a girl? I asked it since according to her she has more rights over the baby and I assume it’s because it’s his SON’S child. If she is one of those people who think grandson is the ‘kuldeepak’ and granddaughter is ‘paraya dhan’, is letter writer’s husband still going to be ‘neutral’ when she treats the granddaughter in a ‘parayi’ way? I am just asking.


  27. Thank you all for the responses. As gk84 pointed out, my husband wants me to fight my battle my own way just making sure that I don’t go overboard. Yes, there is one thing which infuriates me that he says that it happens in every household and i should not spoil my sanity over such things.

    It’s not that I have not confronted her whenever she has caused an insult to my parents. I have done that several times through my husband and most of the times myself. But my MIL has made it very clear that whatever the matter is, we should deal within ourselves not involving my husband in all this as they share a different equation altogether. Well, she also follows it. I have observed that my MIL is much more saner then and at least listens to what i have to say and also provide explanations to it to me. But that does not improve the situation. All these conversations may bring a momentary change in her behavior but the ‘ladke wala’ attitude does not go away. About the paternal grandparents right, she didn’t mean it over my rights and she would dare not, but that lecture was to hint her rights over my parent’s right (which my parents never claim, not even on me). I might sound disoriented but that is because i am utterly confused. If i weigh my relationship with her independently minus her possesiveness and ‘ladke wala’ attitude, I feel very happy about her. Because she has been that helpful in many ways. Since I am working, she makes sure that i dont get overloaded with household chores. Cooking, she manages herself and i really have to do only some assistance. She also tries to help out on situations when I and my husband have a big fight over something. But what confuses me and makes me think is that if it is at the cost of me being more inclined to her than anyone including my parents.The point is everything is okay when we four are happy amongst oursleves. But the moment I involve my parents her weird behavior begins and my irritation starts. She feels jealous and insecure when I (sometimes along with my husband) participate in my parental home functions, problems or anything of that sort. All the more, she sometimes makes me feel guilty and is succesful at that. Frankly, i have started pretending to ignore her but internally i have to go through a lot more of mental thought process before going to my parent’s house before taking her approval. Is my situation really complex or is it just me not knowing to deal with it??


    • Ladkee,
      I completely understand where you are coming from. For a long time I was also very confused, because apart from these, they were most helpful, loving(in talks) and accommodating. But they ( both MIL & FIL) never liked me visiting my parents, and even if I did it had to be with their permission. I hated it but did not want to have unnecessary confrontations, like you I talked to them about it, even pointed out how their daughter stays with them all the time, everything worked only momentarily, they listened to me, nodded to what I said but I could not really alter their basic firm thinking that DIL now belongs to them and their house, and not to her parents. My Inlaws always said ..”This is your house, you belong to us, you are our daughter” , I was so touched by those words and it confused me when I realized it also meant my I was obligated to them and in order to please them I had to do just what they wanted, and that I had to ignore my own family. Now, I have changed, I had to because I realized this was all about control, this is a manipulative way of keeping DILs in control, it also increases their status in society , I saw them bragging …”Our DIL never goes to her house, we look after her like our daughter” ..they were happy to get praises as best in-laws ( not from me but others)….
      Society respects in-laws and husbands who are in control. I changed because when my parents really needed me they tried to control me, and even to this day they complain, advise, manipulate and do everything to change my behavior to the way I was…..but I dont budge, and they now call me names, and blame my parents for the way they have raised me. They dont even remember how I listened to them and stayed with them without giving my parents a second thought for years.
      THe ‘neutral’ husband was also manipulated when it did not go their way, till then yes everyone told me to sort out between ourselves.


    • You do not need your MIL’s ( or even Husband’s) permission to visit your own parents, to help and get involved in your parents house. It is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. And they are your family, they come FIRST in your life. You can take permission from your in-laws the day your husband takes permission from his in-laws to visit or do anything to his own parents.
      We women really have to change our thinking if we need to keep our sanity intact in this biased world.


    • Dear Ladkee

      I have a very modern FIL too. Expect for the part where he thought that I will now automatically “belong” to their family. He did not tell it outright, but he would tell stories of how my MIL totally adopted and “adjusted” to his family and called his town her native town.

      From my part, I made sure there were enough signals that such things were not to be expected from me. I would casually mention how my husband now “belongs” to my family too and that he has “adjusted” very well with my relatives 🙂 . I did not change my last name (something I believed I should do, not a backlash of my FILs comments) and when my daughter was born, she has the last names of both me and my husband. All this was done in a respectful, non confrontational manner which really helped the cause.

      For every other part, I have gotten along well with my FIL. I take him shopping when he visits and we have really nice time together. But that does not mean I will step back on issues that I do not agree on. And on his side, my FIL now no longer has any such expectations of me. All in all, a happier extended family.


      • PS: It also really helped that my husband make such similar casual statements about “adjusting” with my relatives and such to my FIL. Not as an argument, but to simply point out how it feels to be on the receiving end. Worked wonders.


    • I don’t understand why you have to take her approval before meeting anybody, let alone your parents. Does she take your approval before meeting anyone? Talking about plans for coordination of schedules is one thing, asking for approval is another.


    • Okay, I still don’t get why you are averse to involving your husband. Your MIL seems to be petrified about involving him. But why?

      What’s the meaning of “different equation”? Does this mean that she only wants him to know about her good side and not her jealous, possessive side?

      As a husband, I’d actually be mildly offended if my wife continuously hid her conflicts from me, just because my mother didn’t want me to know.

      Your husband probably loves his mother, but I doubt that he is stupid. I’m sure he’ll be well aware of any faults that she does have. You cannot change his equation with his mother by yourself even if you try. It is only her OWN ACTIONS that will change this equation.
      And if you want to see an improvement, you need to stop feeling so apprehensive and be a little proactive.

      No doubt your MIL can be a very nice person, but this business about restricting your movements and disrespecting your parents is just not acceptable. She must be told this, and she must stop. It really is as simple as that. You must not see this as an act that is necessarily “against” her. In fact, you are just setting certain boundaries, and ensuring that conflict is minimized.


  28. You might find this approach strange. I used social networking sites like Facebook to express my ideas about feminism, and how lack of feminism leads to problems in society. A lot of my friends and relatives agreed to them. I also shared IHM’s articles. I did this because I knew a direct approach won’t work and will e countered by, ‘you know no better, dear son or jkg’.This approach worked though. I didn’t have to give personal examples, but the messages were conveyed in as neutral way as possible.
    But yes, your husband should be on the same page as you.


  29. My advise, Use actions not words . Show your MIL that you value both parents the same, Show your MIL that you are still your parents child. and SHOW your husband you can be fair but not a pushover. As for grandkids, when the time comes, show your MIL that your child will know both grandparents equally.

    Showing them sinks it in much better than arguing for something that is pointless anyway, they WILL not change by your mere words but they will understand they are wrong by your actions 🙂

    My parental family ( of the you are dead to us fame ) now does not oppose so called love marriages of the younger generation beyong a token protest, someone had to be the pioneer and Bali right 🙂

    sometimes i think we’re sooo lucky that we found each other – sheer luck a man who has a spine and no parents and my parents disowned me ( can you really disown a child!!!)
    the end result is we have a strong bond having to depend on each other ,no MIL-DIl_parent drama, no wasteful wedding expenses, no one to critique us , no girls’s side boy’s side tamasha and plenty of friends who would give their heart if needed .

    the lesson i learn from this, when my sons leave to college i cut the cord 🙂 well it’s kind of almost hanging by a single thread now that they are 17 , except where we still provide food, clothing,shelter and fees . but i look forward to the time when they finish college ,get employed and are totally on their own and then our FUN begins… back to honeymoon days. i dont’t understand why this MIL’s and parents want to hang on to their kids, when they can have so much fun with no responsibility for the rest of their lives. child’s married, have someone to share their burdens means the parents can have a rocking time minus responsibilites….how can the older generation not know this.


    • “but i look forward to the time when they finish college ,get employed and are totally on their own and then our FUN begins… back to honeymoon days.”

      That’s where we are as of now 🙂 And really, I too don’t understand why MILs and parents want to hang on, bossing the young ones, instead of having a life of their own..


      • @ Shailji, Heres a theory – After all the being around for their children, they dont know how to be by themselves without bossing the young ones. Having a life of their own is a concept they have never heard of. They married into families with Interfering Inlaws and now its their turn, especially Parents of the Man, to feel a sense of entitlement to interfere in the lives of their Adult Offspring. The idea of separation from their offspring is unbearable for most parents of a Boy. Maybe it is because they arent reminded the way the Parents of the Woman are constantly reminded that Girls belong to the clan they marry into. I feel if the Boy’s Parents are also reminded at every step and turn since their birth that – Boys grow up and have families and lives of their own. Our job is to make sure that we rear the Boys to be Capable of living their own lives happily- maybe they will stifle their urge to make the DIL’s life miserable.

        P.S. I dont mean that all Inlaws make lives of DIL miserable, just, that is the way most are.


      • ah shail – one more yr top go and lots of hope they will go out of town 🙂
        I’m looking forward to travel with my husband and he’s looking forward to my complete attention to whatever we are doing.

        First thing i want to go someplace with him for 2days – just 2 without the ph ringing even once and without worry . I thnk the boys in a hostel will achieve that.
        oh so looking forward to your lucky state 🙂


  30. To the parents who are going to get the male child – Get ready to be kicked out of your son’s home in just over 25 years from now. By then, you stand a better chance to be supported by your daughter than a son.

    Destination Infinity


      • ‘Better chance to be supported’ doesn’t mean that someone is going to live in their son’s house/daughter’s house. It means, even though parents are living separately, there is a better chance that daughters might stay physically closer to them, help them with small things, support them in rare events like parents getting sick/ parents having small finance problems/ parents needing help with using technology/gadgets, and other such small things which can be done only if basic communication channel is open between the parents/children.

        Destination Infinity


    • Dear Destination Infinity

      Why assume that we will be living in a kid’s home and need to be “taken care of” 25 years from now?
      I am hoping that I will not become a feeble person when I am not even 60? I


  31. I feel, if you stop giving explanations and taking permissions for when you would like to visit your parents or your parents would like to visit you. Just inform your MIL on this and keep doing things you want to do. Do exactly what is your right, don’t let others to define your rights. You MIL might get surprised on this but she will start accepting it and I suppose your husband will be same “neutral” all the time.
    Stop expecting that your MIL will start behaving well with your parents or equally to you and your husband. She has been conditioned for decades by this society where women have left their houses after their marriage and a daughters has been considered as a “paraya dhan” amongst their parents. Start understanding her behaviour to you is a reflection of what she has went through in her life years ago and that she is in pressure in her peer group to become a superior MIL. The she has never got any training on how to deal with a stranger women (who is called her DIL) in her house and that it is not easy. Also that she is feeling insecure of loosing her son to an younger woman. All the strictness she is showing to you can be an outcome of her insecurity and is her defensive attitude.
    Keep your husband informed and keep asking him how would he have reacted if he were in your situation.
    Start finding things or actions which you both like to do, cooking shopping, watching good movies, going out, reading books, taking her for regular check ups and so on and find time to do them together once in a while. Pampering does good to every one. Genuinely praise for her good things. Stop looking at her like a competitor or a controller. Deal with her like a senior office colleague. Show that you do want a casual relationship with her and that it will be easier for both of you. Talk about the things which bothers her and you haven’t mention whether you have a SIL. If yes, then sometimes talk about the same things with your SIL in front your MIL, your MIL will start mellowing down.

    We might ask why a DIL should start all this, this is a MIL’s duty too. Yes, off course but is there any harm in logically trying and initiating a process which can bring harmony in the long run than staying stuck in a ego and complain trap.


  32. I agree that not all attitudes can be corrected. I agree that not all disputes can be resolved. And I agree that when people are conditioned to behave in a certain way it’s hard for them to do otherwise. But I’m seriously distressed by these blanket judgments of a woman based on another person’s brief account. My advice is that MIL and DIL should sit down and have a frank conversation. When a conflict is between two adults, no one else needs to arbitrate unless things escalate to a terrible level. Husbands included. I wouldn’t expect my husband to interfere if I had a dispute with someone outside the family, why should he poke his nose in just because I don’t agree with his mother?

    I understand that the rights of a woman are important, but of late, we seem to be forgetting that the MIL is a woman too. And feminism is as much about this woman and her rights as about those of the email writer. Surely it’s important to at least try and understand where the “ladke wale” motivations are coming from.

    We’re always ready to view the condition of the DIL in a sympathetic light. But when it comes to a MIL, the comments are always in the “Oh, she must be medieval”. “Oh, she just feels superior.” “Oh, that’s the way mothers of sons are” category. No one would dare say that about a woman of our generation. No, I can just imagine how everyone would react if some troll posted a “Modern women are like this only” kind of statement. Then why are we so determined to paint another woman in black and white?

    Maybe IHM, we could have a discussion on the topic of the rights of mothers in law too.


      • DI it’s not Men versus Women, or MIL versus DIL, Son versus Father, do take a look at Fem’s response above, and let me quote from her comment,
        //If and when a MIL posts something about her DIL telling her to take permission to go visit her brother or sister, then I am sure the opinion of this page will swing the other way.//


      • I do understand that IHM. Mostly in independent families, there are so many scheming DIL’s who kick their MIL’s out of the house or give a preferential ‘treatment’ to their MIL’s mostly by doing politics. Most of your blog readers, will first refuse that such things are happening at all and secondly will not even want to read about such things. That’s because the majority here are DIL’s and in democratic societies, we are conditioned to think that majority opinion/ consensus is always right!

        Think about it: The number of posts about cases where MIL’s are treated badly get much lesser coverage in your blog. It’s not that none of the MIL’s are treated badly by their DIL’s. It’s that MIL’s cannot/do not know how to write emails to you, MIL’s are technologically challenged and may not be able to use the Internet/ computers, etc.

        I am also unclear on how the emails sent to you are verified for factual accuracy. I understand that it may not be possible, even if we know someone personally. They might say something and might actually be doing something else back home. This para is not a complaint per say, but I just wanted to highlight the possibility of emails being lies, to you. Because they are clearly one sided and represent the opinion of one party alone.

        Destination Infinity


    • Simbly Bored,

      I understand where you are coming from, and you have a valid point. However, the fact is that it is usually (note the word usually) the DILs whose rights are trampled on by the MILs, not the other way around. As with the lady asking help in this email, and in many others their rights have been trampled by another woman who should have known better. Feminism isn’t simply about saving women from men’s chauvinist ideas, it is also about saving women from other women’s chauvinist ideas.

      If and when a MIL posts something about her DIL telling her to take permission to go visit her brother or sister, then I am sure the opinion of this page will swing the other way. Until then, we must address the atrocities committed by the older members of the female sex on the younger members. Let us address the victim’s needs, not the perpetrators’ needs.


    • When a conflict is between two adults, no one else needs to arbitrate unless things escalate to a terrible level


      Why do things have to “escalate to a terrible level” before someone else arbitrates?

      It is not your JOB to have to handle your in-laws full time. That’s simply not part of the package when you marry a person. Making sure that my parents don’t unreasonably interfere in my wife’s life is MY job, not my wife’s job. Any conflicts are at least partly my responsibility too.
      As a member of the family, I should hope that I’d be informed of, and allowed to clearly state my stand on, a conflict which involves my own spouse, for god’s sake!

      I wouldn’t expect my husband to interfere if I had a dispute with someone outside the family, why should he poke his nose in just because I don’t agree with his mother?

      Simply because she is HIS mother, and not an outsider you met on your own accord. The same rules don’t apply.

      A closer situation would be that of the said outsider being a close friend of your husband’s, who met you through him, and who continually makes rude remarks about your parents, despite your telling him not to.

      I don’t know about you, but I’d certainly poke my nose into that situation, or at least try to get that friend away from me.

      Besides, we’re not dealing with a simple “disagreement” here. Having a row every time you want to visit your own parents, and having your parents insulted in your own home is not mere disagreement – it borders on abuse.

      We’re always ready to view the condition of the DIL in a sympathetic light. But when it comes to a MIL, the comments are always in the “Oh, she must be medieval”. “Oh, she just feels superior.” “Oh, that’s the way mothers of sons are” category. No one would dare say that about a woman of our generation. No, I can just imagine how everyone would react if some troll posted a “Modern women are like this only” kind of statement. Then why are we so determined to paint another woman in black and white?

      I don’t think most of us would agree with an “all MILs are like this only” kind of statement. My own MIL is pretty pleasant and quite liberal.

      However, it is a fact that many MILs in India are indeed medieval in their attitudes and this particular woman, it seems to me, is no real exception.

      As well, I do very often say many things about the present generation IF I believe those things to be true. The outrage against “modern women are like this only” statements usually is usually spa not because such statements attempt to paint a black and white picture of a nuanced subject, but because they are usually untrue and owe their origin largely to stereotype.

      While I have no way to actually prove that a substantial proportion of MILs in India hold regressive attitudes, I consider this statement to be a true one, based on my personal experiences and the experiences of people I have interacted with. You are free to disregard such an assertion, but I doubt that you would truly disagree with it.

      we could have a discussion on the topic of the rights of mothers in law too.

      Rights to what?

      My mother lives a rather luxurious life on the business my father built, and has all the rights of a private citizen. My mother in law also lives pretty well over in Kolkata, and also has all the rights of a private citizen.

      Neither have any inherent rights or privileges when it comes to my marriage, or my wife, or me, or my kids (should we, hypothetically, have any).

      Why should MILs have special rights? We might as well have a discussion on the rights of paternal aunts, or the rights of first cousins!

      As far as I’m concerned, an MIL is just another close relative. I have many.


    • I don’t think anyone is just assuming that the MIL is medieval. The only thing that is being assumed is that the letter writer is writing truthfully about her MIL. If that is the case I don’t think that there is any doubt that the MIL has a primitive attitude wrt her DILs. What gives this woman the right to consider her DILs parents as being inferior? Why does the letter writer need “to fight a lot” to visit her parents? The MILs attitude is not at all unusual, in fact it is depressingly common in India. Anyone who has lived in India and has interaction with Indian families has known such MILs. These attitudes are the norm and not the exception. Spineless, gutless men like the writer’s husband are also the norm.
      Why should the rights of the MIL be in this situation? In my opinion no adult has a “right” over another adult. Certainly no MIL has any right over a DIL. Parents only have a duty to bring up their children and do their best for them as they have brought a life into this world and it is their duty to care for it. They are not supposed to extract a price for it. Also parents are responsible for the children until the kids reach adulthood. After that I believe that responsibility ends.
      Let me make it clear I am not endorsing an every man for himself sort of society. Parents will continue to do things out of love for the children and vice versa, but none of this is a right hence to answer your question, I don’t think think the MIL has any rights on her DIL. But in this situation the DIL lives with her and says the MIL does a lot for her, so she is paying a price for her dependency. When people choose to live with in-laws and use them as substitute cook/housekeepers/babysitters, then they have handed over a chunk of their lives to the in-laws. That I think is the whole problem. A lot of Indian kids behave like little children, have their parents take care of them well into adulthood and then complain when parents continue to treat them like little kids.


      • I find it funny when people say that it’s the duty of parents to bring up kids and the parents have no rights to expect anything in return. Forget parents, isn’t it a basic human nature to help someone back? That too, when someone has spent so much of their time/energy/resources on brining up kids, often sacrificing their careers/happiness?

        I am not saying that children should always be with their parents. I am saying that when parents are older (like 70+) and are NOT able to take care of themselves, children SHOULD allow the parents to stay with them and take care of them. This applies to both sets of parents (the boys side and girls side).

        The militant attitude taken by this blog readers that parents should ONLY stay alone till they die, is the reason why many parents are trying to control their children. Of course, there is one more reason: The parents themselves might have ignored their MIL’s/parents when they were younger and hence they do not trust their children now.

        To all the people who advocate living alone during old age – Do you think it’s easy to live alone after 70+ years of age? Do you think that you can exercise for a month and become fit at that age? Do you know how difficult it can become to do even simple chores for certain people? Are you aware of the security risks elders face?

        When children claim their ‘right’ not to even help them at that time, it means that we are marching backwards as a civilization and will reach the stone age once again.

        Destination Infinity


        • I don’t think anyone ever said anywhere DON’t take care of parents when they are old and infirm.
          however there are a few things to rmember..
          1. Kids didn’t ask to be born
          2, Didn’t ask their parents to make a great sacrifice.

          so unless parents agree that they give birht to kids as future caregiver insurance this is nothng but a circular ponzi scheme which we indians are great at.

          Living alone at 70 is not easy , neither is it impossible. so what happens to people who don’t marry or beget kids ? who takes care of them they seem to go on fine.

          When parents need kids to take care of them it is also assumed that you come live with kids and not throw your weight around.
          Old age doesn’t give anyone wisdom, or insight into the mind of their kids, all it states is that you have lived onthis earth for so many yrs .

          There are so many 70+ yr olds living around us, alone and happy there are also plenty that live with their sons and torment their kids, and even more that live with their kids and are happy.

          It has nothing to do with the kids, it has everything to do with their state of mindMy neighbour has her infirm MIL live with her , the old lady is infirm physically but has been mentally annoying my neighbour for over 20 yrs, she can’t walk properly so she chooses to ruin the life of her DIL for 20+ yrs, now her DIL is close to 45 , has spent her entire married life and youth taking BS fromthis old lady and doing seva? i doubt the old lady will go soon, i’d give it easily another 5-8 yrs . so ineffect instead of the MIL being nice to her unpaid nurse ( which is what the DIL is) she deems it her right to be cared for just because she raised a son for 28yrs and sacrificed for him …
          My neighbour after this tamasha of 20 yrs hopes this lady willgo soon so she can atleast salvage her 40’s adn 50’s and with her 2 sons, she doesn’t even want to see her future DIL’s anywhere around her house she is seriously sick of company and wants to spend a few yrs ALONE with her spouse.
          Yes this is an extreme example but not so uncommon either. the MIl would have been much better off staying in an adj apt , hiring a nurse and having the DIl help out daily for a few hrs maybe? and most important be THANKFUL that a strange girl ( not the SON) but a stranger is willing to take care of her.

          again no one says you shouldn’t take care of old parents, we should but not at the cost of your own unhappiness and if the old parents realize this, they can make their stay with their kids a pleasent one.


        • I find it funny when people say that it’s the duty of parents to bring up kids and the parents have no rights to expect anything in return

          You may find it funny, immoral, horrendous and outrageous, but that is just how it works.

          Parents aren’t forced to bring up kids. It’s a CHOICE they make. If they don’t feel up to it, they can always choose not to have kids. Contraception is cheap and reliable in this day and age.

          Children are not investments. You can’t expect something in return for bringing up your own children, because you’re not really doing THEM a favor by bringing them up. It’s simply a choice you have made, mostly for your own emotional satisfaction. The idea is usually “hmm, I want to have a child” and not “hmm, I think my unborn child would want me to have her”. The kid has no choice BUT to be brought up by you.

          Having said that, do you really think most people don’t help their parents out at all? Most do, simply out of love and respect for the people who brought them up, not out of some fake sense of duty.

          I have every sympathy for the 70 year olds who find it hard to take care of themselves on their own, but the solution to their problems does not lie in hoisting themselves on their unwilling children and degrading themselves by staying where they are not welcome.


        • Fake sense of duty? Perhaps you the TRUE LOVE for MONEY and PROPERTY that makes people ‘help’ their parents during old age, better? Anyways, I will leave it to the law of Karma to deal with such people, eventually. If I continue to say anything here, I am sure I will set a new record for the number of thumbs down 🙂

          Destination Infinity


        • I believe it is love and respect that makes people help their parents.

          You are free to believe in the myth of filial duty, but let me state here that I have nothing but pity for the people who are kind to their parents purely because they are duty bound and I have nothing but pity for their parents. Further, if they impose that duty on their spouse as well, the pity morphs to contempt.

          I do not have children, but I should rather hope to rot at the bottom of the deepest sea than shove a sense of “duty” down their collective esophagi for something that must have absolutely no strings attached. I’d much rather die than be some kind of parasite, living off them when they do not want me to.

          If they would want me to live with them, it would be all very well, but I’d be perfectly content and prepared to blunder through on my own if they didn’t.

          I’d NEVER sabotage the lives of my own children, NEVER sabotage their marriages, NEVER drown them with guilt just because I found it hard to dress myself at the ripe old age of seventy.

          Children are brought up not so you can tag along with them when you are old, but so that they can live their own, full lives here on earth, the way they want.

          If you think children are old age insurance, you are much mistaken.

          May karma catch up with me if it will, and may I be judged for what I do by one supremely worthy to judge, but by all I hold sacred, I will steadfastly refuse to buy into this ridiculous circular ponzi scheme of elder worship that passes for “care” in this country. I refuse to be part of it, and make no mistake, I will refuse to let others be part of it on my behalf when the time comes for me to be on the other side of the age fence.

          That, sir, is all I have to say.


        • After reading your, /* they can live their own, full lives here on earth, the way they want */, I am reminded of a quote – “It is by the fortune of God that, in this country, we have three benefits: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and the wisdom never to use either” – Mark Twain. Of course, this is not related to our discussion 🙂

          Destination Infinity


    • I read your blog and I am surprised by your view. The fact is that the MIL would have dare not interfered if it was her son-in-law who wishes to spend more time with his parents. Why on earth should a mother of a son have special privileges to tell off her DIL when it comes to visiting her parents?


    • Simply Bored. According to you, what rights does a mother-in-law have on her daughter-in-law? Rights of ownership? Rights of first preference?

      I think family members should have equal and reciprocal duties towards each other, not rights. Children are the only exception, in my view. They have legal rights — one of them is protection from violence and abuse.

      Many MILs feel a proprietary right to dictate terms to their DILs. As many others have pointed out, these arise usually from the concept of a married woman “belonging” to her husband’s family, mind, body and soul.

      Also, many MILs try to consciously break from tradition and attempt to establish an equitable, respectful relationship with their DILs.

      My in-laws’ poor treatment of me and my subsequent divorce was a lifechanging experience for my mother.

      She tries very hard to ensure that my brother’s wife and her parents are treated with respect by our extended family and makes a conscious effort to stay out of my brother’s marriage


  33. Do grandparents have any legal rights over their grand children? I think not. There. end of matter.

    As for dealing with the expectations v duties conundrum, do what makes you feel good. I any relationship that should be the norm- after all if you are unhappy, people around you cannot be happy. Don’t fall for the nice to me, but old fashioned act- in most cases that is an act. Funny that “traditional” people have no problems adopting to cell phones or TVs ( those are modern too)- modernity bothers them when it means they can no longer rule and roost in the name of tradition.

    As for the MIL’s rights- usually other people’s rights end where another person begins. You can yell all you like, but if you disturb my peace, you are infringing on my rights.


  34. My Soul. Your perspective is as valid as mine is, certainly.

    You view the gradual loosening of societal control over women through a generational prism.

    I was coming form a different perspective. I view gender as an integral part of the larger social structure. In India, that structure is conformist, collectivist and tradition-bound.

    The Western women’s movement was so successful largely because it arose from a 200-year struggle rooted in classical liberal thought; putting the individual at the heart of the social order.

    Contrary to popular thinking, the Western women’s movement did not succeed in a vacuum. Gains in women’s rights were accompanied by overall gains in the rights of other marginalised groups.

    So the seed of women’s liberation was planted in a soil made fertile by 200 years of (post-Enlightenment) liberal thinking.

    I do not see such a similar, deep-rooted move towards individualism in Indian society. Also, I firmly believe that women are given fewer freedoms in collectivist societies than in individualist ones.

    What’s really happening now is a clash between individualist and collectivist modes of thinking. The MIL-DIL struggle is a reflection of this larger phenonmenon.

    Until Indian society recognises women’s rights as a function of individual rights, I do not see family structures changing that much.

    Hope I’ve made my POV clearer. 🙂


    • I rather agree with that.

      Until Indian society recognises women’s rights as a function of individual rights

      Not meaning to nitpick here, but many feminists in the West don’t see it that way either.

      Years ago, I had a rather interesting discussion with a group of American feminists over at the University of Toronto over their feeling that men cannot, or should not, play a real part in the feminist movement, since feminism is “for the women, by the women”. Men could be allies, but not leaders or real harbingers of change.

      In that view of things, individual rights would be small potatoes . What should be challenged is patriarchy itself, because until patriarchy is destroyed, individual rights are meaningless to half the population – they may exist on paper, and with proper policies and good enforcement, those rights may actually exist in practice, but women would never be able to exercise them because patriarchal society and lack of privilege would prevent them from doing so.

      I disagreed rather strongly, and the discussion got a bit intense but since this was Canada, we just ended up going out and getting some coffee and and a Danish at Tim Hortons.

      I’m not endorsing this view, but I just wanted to point out that it exists.

      The collectivist vs individualist modes of thought thing is just one of the ways of looking at the situation – a way that I happen to agree with, and a way that is arguably a lot more suitable to be applied to societies like India.


      • To be precise, what I really believe is that couching the argument in terms of patriarchy rather misses the point of what individual rights are all about.

        When one says “individuals should have equal rights”, one implicitly asserts that individuals should be free to exercise them too. Patriarchy is a small part of a much broader problem, and merely attacking oppressive patriarchal ideas won’t help women as much as a broad based movement for individual rights for EVERYONE which would, by definition, aim to destroy patriarchy too.


        • Hi PT, sorry for the delayed reply — I was out of town and did not have access to the Internet.

          I guess I didn’t phrase my comment very well; but that was exactly what I was trying to point out.

          In India, neglect of women’s rights is symptomatic of a larger neglect of individual rights.

          We tend to see individuals as components of a large social unit — caste, community, family, gender, regional, linguistic groups etc. Individuals are just another brick in the wall.

          A person’s life choices are dictated not by his or her inclinations, but by socio-religious determinants like dharma, obligation and duty to family and society .

          Indian society is intensely hierarchical, collectivist and status-quo-oriented. So gains in women’s rights will always be limited by this larger social constraint.

          Guess we’re saying the same thing in different ways. 🙂


  35. I have seen this kind of control happening towards in-laws too by the DIL and their son.
    My own grandparents lived almost in imprisonment taking care of their son’s home, his kids only because DIL was a working women and had a social life of her own. They had to seek permission to visit their other kids, and were refused most of the times, I remember them living in constant fear and worried even to use the phone in their son’s house.

    This is what I hate about this Indian society, one person DOMINATES and wants to have full CONTROL over others.


  36. This situation has less to do with society, and more with women not evaluating the men they marry. Women need to unapologetically ask men certain questions before marriage. Will they live with the guy’s parents? If yes, what are the ground rules?

    I read in some posts above about how men change after marriage and turn conservative. I disagree. It’s hard to act for long. A man in a relationship will often show signs of the husband he will be. A lot of women like traditional men: they like the guy making the first move, the guy being patient in matters of sex, the guy who always pays for dinner, the guy who proposes on bent knee, the guy would gladly fight other men for her etc etc. When they state preferences for such men, even subconsciously, they set up a Darwinian game where traditional and conservative men win and liberal and respectful men lose.

    If women are willing to approach men and risk rejection or marry men who earn less money but are more sensitive and nurturing, their experiences will be more positive. I think that it’s better even for men to live close to but not with their parents after marriage.


  37. It is not possible to evaluate a person completely before marriage. You never know what a person will do in a given situation unless they are acutally in it. The mother is a narcisstic, controlling, guilt inducing, toxic lump (NCGTL – this should be a new abbreviation from now on in this blog – please IHM?). The son is probably under her ‘love’ spell of his mother and the wife is miserable, that sh** will never change.


  38. I think the situation has not ended here with your MIL lecturing you about her rights/ disrespecting your parents.There is more to come when you have your baby.So,the best thing you can do as of now is to totally IGNORE her altogether.Do what you feel is correct and respect your parents as you would naturally do inspite of her silly remarks.She might get annoyed at first by your ignoring her in your life but then she will understand her minimal role in your life as time moves on.She will then surely start complaining to your hubby regarding your “disrespect” towards her and I am sure your husband will remain neutral here too ; ).Post delivery the whole lecturing thing will actually shift towards how you take care of the baby/no. of times you feed her etc.etc.So a final solution for this would be to keep her at bay by moving out with your hubby or attach no importance to her words and let her struggle with her insecurity within herself.


    • “Do what you feel is correct and respect your parents as you would naturally do inspite of her silly remarks”

      It only works for so long, then she would want to punch the MIL’s face.


  39. Yet another case of woman against woman. We are such a bad lot!
    I would ask the MIL if she has broken ties with her family after marriage, if she has, is that something that she is proud of?
    On the subject of the husband, he cannot be a fly on the wall paper when his mother is misbehaving with the wife. If the tables were reversed and the wife’s parents were being mean to him, would he not object and ask the wife to intervene and would he be happy with the ‘neutral’ attitude ? Husbands with no backbone are the worst of the lot. Why do wives put up with this nonsense?
    This whole argument about vetting grooms, is a little misguided. How can one perceive every situation and be convinced that the way the groom reacts then is how he’ll behave after the wedding? The point is that you build a life together and you must live it like that.


    • About women being against women, it’s not men versus women, or women versus women. Men or husbands in Patriarchal societies are provided with wives as a care givers in their older years (hence they are married to someone younger, who is warned that she will have no life worth living without the husband) but women are not provided with wives to take care of them in their old age, they are to be taken care of by the spouse of their male children, the daughters in law. The dependence and insecurity, the lack of option in choosing who to interact with (Women are not allowed friends, they are forced to live with their husband’s families, while men have many friends and live with their own families. How do you think would a father in law and son in law get along if they had to live together and the son in law was to obey and respect his father in law and the wife was neutral about disrespect from her father, but probably not so neutral if the husband asked for respect and decent behavior?


      • IHM, I agree with you that patriarchy was designed for a different age and is no more relevant. But the alternative which you suggest, ‘Live alone, away from your parents’ is planting a seed for the couple involved to ignore both sets of parents. These people will know the pain, when they are similarly ignored by their own children, irrespective of how many times they say, ‘I can live by myself even after 95 years’ during their youth.

        Destination Infinity


        • These people will know the pain, when they are similarly ignored by their own children, irrespective of how many times they say, ‘I can live by myself even after 95 years’ during their youth.

          Really? Do you have a crystal ball? Can you tell the future? Pretending that you know what I will say even a second from now, let alone half a century later, points to a truly breathtaking degree of intellectual arrogance.

          I’m really not sure why you continue to insist that living away from one’s parents is somehow the same as “ignoring” them, and that the only way to sufficiently care for them is to make them stay with us.

          Pegging this as some kind of a panacea to elder care issues is even worse. It is terribly fallacious at best and nothing more than a form of patriarchal apologism at worst.

          What if the kids are globetrotters?
          What if they live in a country where no one speaks their parents’ language?
          What if they move every year?
          What if they are a military family?
          What if they never choose to marry at all?
          What if they live in a tent in the Himalayas?
          What if they are too poor to keep their parents with them?
          What if they have to work sixteen hours a day?
          What if the parents actually have their own life, their own circle that they are comfortable with?
          What if both sets of in laws need care and don’t get on with each other?
          What if there simply aren’t any children?
          What if the parents were nasty to their kids and the kids hate them now?

          Elder care is a far more complex process than just saying “oh, we’ll stay with our kids when we’re old, they’re really dutiful”.

          All the moralizing in the world and all the warnings of a bleak future, will not change this.


        • There is one quote – “Don’t be concerned that your children are not listening to you. But be really concerned that they are watching and learning from you”. It’s simple really – Your kids will follow the example set by you. So if you are ok with that, you can be globe trotter, live in himalayas, etc.

          Ultimately, we are responsible for our own decisions and usually, get back what we give. Being over-clever and doing the worst things to your parents and (still) expecting the best out of your kids (as many people do these days) will have shocking consequences. I know you are prepared and are clear about what you gain and what you lose, but many other readers of this blog are not. This message is for them, mainly.

          Destination Infinity


        • “These people will know the pain, when they are similarly ignored by their own children, irrespective of how many times they say, ‘I can live by myself even after 95 years’ during their youth.”

          I don’t see anyone here suggesting that one should “live alone and away from one’s parents”. You are just making assumptions and being insultingly sanctimonious about what people have written. Saying that in-laws and parents have no rights over adult children cannot be translated into “let the elderly live alone and leave them to die in a corner”. I know plenty of people who do not live with their elderly parents ( because the parents do not want to be with the kids) and take care of the parent’s needs. A very common scenario is that of elderly Indian parents whose children are abroad. The parents do not want to spend their twilight yrs abroad where language, and lack of independence are huge barriers. The parents choose to live in India even though the kids want their parents with them. In such situations there are only hard choices, one being is for the adult kids to leave their careers, uproot the family and move back to India to care for elderly parents. Of course not too many people make that choice. A lot of adults I know keep shuttling back and forth between India and their home to take care of parental needs. This is all done out of love and yes, an idea of duty, but none of it is a right.


        • @destination infinity – you seem to be ignoring something that everyone has consistently said on this blog. That children can/should care for their parents, even if they don’t live with them. It is very much possible. I agree with Praveen – staying with parents doesn’t equal caring for them, and staying separately doesn’t mean ignoring them. Living away from parents doesn’t mean you’re being over-clever.


    • This whole argument about vetting grooms, is a little misguided. How can one perceive every situation and be convinced that the way the groom reacts then is how he’ll behave after the wedding? The point is that you build a life together and you must live it like that

      It is neither possible nor necessary to do that.

      However, it is entirely possible to get a general idea of what you partner’s reactions would be to things you care about.

      One must not be afraid to ask candid questions, and come up with independent conclusions.
      My wife, for example, was apprehensive about my parents’ attitudes. I assured her that I did not subscribe to those attitudes, and that we would not live with them in any case. She believed me, because she knew me well enough to – she’d known me for years, first as a friend and later as the SO.

      You can still end up making mistakes and may still get into tricky situations, but the idea is to try and minimize that possibility by clearing the air beforehand to the best of your ability. That we cannot do the job perfectly is no reason to not do the job at all.


      • Oh you forgot one more, what if the Parents don’t want to support their grown up married kids 🙂

        I for one am done raising my boys and i’m not looking forward to changing any MORE dirty diapersin my LIFE . No more spitups, no morecleaning and no more wailing in the middle of the night. no more cooking what they like , but if we’re old and infirm and stay with my sons in the very same house we can’t ignore all this and get labelled as an uncaring PIL right?

        i think every parent should in addition to sacrificing their all for their kids , save a healthy chunck of money for themselves -so they can live if need be close ot the kids, leanon them for support and care yet exist alone givinf them their privacy and the dirty diapers.
        My husband always tells my y sons, that like a dutiful indian parent he will pony up for their education and setup post education but if there is ever a time when we have only X amount of cash and it’s a choice between our retirement saving and their college , guess which one is going ot win — YEP our retirment fund 🙂


      • I am confused, are you agreeing with me or disagreeing?

        @IHM – when I said woman against woman- I am talking about the situation where the MIL might have some respect for the DIL, considering not to so long ago she was herself in those shoes? Why must a mother be against her daughter, a MIL against her DIL a DIL against the MIL? Can’t we all see that it’s just roles we play along our life and be compassionate towards each other. Patriarchy be damned – if the woman in a household are not strong enough to support each other then even Matriarchy is a waste for them.


  40. The comments before this have pretty much captured the right thing(s) to do – to over come the situation this person is in.

    I never been to India, but here in the UK I know many families who originated from South Asia. I have met girls who studied with me and who worked with me – they all had the same view about these things. Unfortunately there is nothing new with how girls are treated, especially when they are married into a family. On a rare occasion, you may well find a good story but that rare. This problem has been going on for centuries, at least back then male status in a society was recognised, since they were the ones who brought in the bread and butter so to speak. But in today’s society where women are equally matching the ability of men, and are proving to be just as powerful and independent, so women should not have to deal with these pressures.

    Sometimes, I think it’s the lack of education that some elders need to have, but who dares go down that route without being kicked in the teeth repeatedly.


  41. Pingback: An email: “I find it very hard to forgive my husband for all that happened at the time of my delivery.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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