Thursday, May 28, 2009


A report in The Star yesterday probably had many mothers-in-law either squirming with guilt or fuming with anger. It published the results of a study undertaken in 2004 by the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) that listed “meddlesome in-laws” as the number one cause of marital breakups in Malaysia.

Mothers-in-law (MIL) have long been the brunt of jokes and a favourite topic on late night talk shows.

Q: Why do they bury mothers-in-law 18 feet down, when everyone else is buried 6 feet down?
A: Because, deep down, they really are very nice people.

Adam and Eve were the happiest, and the luckiest, couple in the world, because neither of them had a mother-in-law.

Q: The difference between outlaws and in-laws?
A: Outlaws are Wanted!!

Are mothers-in-law really the monsters they are made out to be? Well, to be fair, there are some MIL who get along magnificently with their children-in-law. But by and large, judging from the numerous websites dedicated to the sisterhood of agrrieved daughters-in-law, there seems to be more MIL of the troublemaker and witch types.

As a mother-in-law myself, I'm blessed to have two most caring sons-in-law who are generous to a fault. Admittedly, sons-in-law are much easier to get along with than daughters-in-law. Perhaps that's because most mothers find it hard to accept that they are no longer the only woman in their darling son's life.

Me and my sons-in-law (photo taken in 1999)

Here are my 10 tips on how to get along with your daughter-in-law. If you need more tips from the experts, check out "The Mother-in-Law's Manual" by Susan Abel Lieberman, Ph. D.

1. Give your daughter-in-law (DIL) her own time and space, especially in her home.
2. Give your advice only when asked, especially advice on raising the children, housekeeping and budgeting.

3. Stay out of any argument between your son and your DIL.

4. Treat all your children (that includes DIL) and grandchildren equally.

5. Respect the rules set by your DIL e.g. no junk food or expensive toys for the grandchildren.

6. Show sincere appreciation when your DIL does something for you.

7. Keep any criticisms of your DIL to yourself.

8. Make an effort to bond with your DIL e.g. go shopping together or cook a family meal together.

9. Lend a helping hand and a sympathetic ear whenever your DIL needs it.

10. Look upon your DIL as a valued member of the family rather than a rival competing for your son's affection.

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