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Things You Should Never Say to Your Mother in Law

by Nadia Haris

Your mother-in-law likely plays some role in your life. She might be a sweet-natured woman who loves you dearly or a busybody who acidly notes the flaws in everything you do. It is your job to keep the peace and respect your mother-in-law as one of the most important women in your husband's life. Saying the right words to her can help diffuse tension and avoid conflicts. You might even find you enjoy her company and have much to learn from her.

'We Don't Need Your Opinions'

You're having a discussion with your husband about finances, the kids or something as mundane as the lawn. Then your mother-in-law pipes up with her two cents on the matter. As tempting as it is to tell her that this is a discussion with your husband about your family and she should keep her opinions to herself, resist the urge. The Mother Nature Network website advises that you can avoid a lot of melodrama and tension with your mother-in-law by respectfully listening to her opinions. Remember that in her home, she was the matriarch and in her eyes, your family is her family, too. Even if you do not agree with her opinion, give her a diplomatic answer that will not make her feel ignored or slighted. Tactful responses include, "we should consider that, too" or "that's a good idea, you must have so much experience with this." Say it sweetly without a hint of sarcasm.

'I Can't Eat This Food'

Mothering typically involves nurturing through cooking for your family and children. Remember that mother-in-laws often see their husbands as their little boys who need to be nourished. Hence, she might make a big fuss and whip up foods he has likely not eaten anywhere else in years. Because you are now married to her son, this means that she is feeding you, too. Unless you have health or religious reasons to avoid certain foods, politely eat your mother-in-law's cooking to make her feel appreciated and useful. Even if you would rather not eat the mayonnaise-laden salad or greasy chicken, taking enough bites to not make her suspicious won't kill you and it will keep the peace with your mother-in-law. To really get on her good side, ask for the recipe, Mother Nature Network advises.

'You Didn't Raise Your Son Right'

Although you might call your mother-in-law "Mom" and she might refer to you as her daughter, the fact remains that she is your husband's mother and likely will prioritize him, if necessary. An article in "Psychology Today" advises that you should never complain about your husband to your mother-in-law and definitely do not criticize how she raised him. This will put her in a position to defend her son, who she will naturally show loyalty to. She might also repeat your private conversation to your husband, leading to more conflict and arguments. Resist even carelessly joking about how your husband never learned to take out the garbage or can't do his laundry. Your mother-in-law might be offended by this as a slight against her mothering skills and also feel you are disrespecting her son.

'The Kids Aren't Allowed To Do That'

In your home, your kids follow your rules -- or at least they are supposed to. These rules include how much TV they can watch, what time they go to bed and how much dessert they can have. However, your mother-in-law might override your rules and let the kids stay up past their bedtimes. The "Psychology Today" article notes that you should remember the grandparent privilege. This means that on occasion, grandparents can spoil their grandchildren and let them get away with things they cannot with their parents. Your mother-in-law is allowed to be indulgent with your kids and have fun with them. She is not the parent or the disciplinarian. As long as this isn't an everyday occurrence and is not causing lasting harm, ignore it and enjoy that your kids will have good memories of hanging out with grandma.

About the Author

Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.

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