Should I just give into Mother in Law?

Before my husband and I got married my future in-laws “told” me I was to call them mom and dad after my now husband and I got married. I said nothing to them but confided in my fiance that I was uncomfortable with this. He couldn’t see the problem and I didn’t want to stir the waters so I just called them nothing after our marriage. Well, the in laws picked up on this and confronted my husband about it. So reluctantly I called them mom and dad once or twice and then reverted back to studiously not calling them anything. Well my MIL has repeatedly hurt my feelings in some pretty serious ways (like laughing at me in the ER while going through a miscarriage). I decided I was no longer calling them mom and dad even occasionally and got away with this for quite some time till I addressed a letter to them using their first names. Well now they will not let me in their house (but they still manage to come uninvited to the big events in our lives) or have any relationship with them until I am willing to call them mom and dad or possibly Mr. and Mrs. x or Grandma and Grandpa. It seems like such a silly thing to feud over but it is what it is. I feel like them not letting me call them by their first name is a power trip. As a side note my MIL called her MIL Mom against her MIL’s wishes for 30 some years till her MIL had dementia and then started calling her by her first name. I feel like if she could call her MIL something she didn’t want to be called and by her first name she should give me that leeway too. The incident at the ER was probably the worst incident (there has been no apology for that or anything else, I have repeatedly apologized for any rudeness on my part) but there have been others that seemed a bit more planned out and calculated to emphasis her power in the relationship. My husband totally stands by and supports my decision to not call her mom and he handles all correspondence (which is basically limited too information about who in the family has just died) with my in-laws. I honestly think my mother in law is a good person with a very prickly personality who has no concept of what her role as the mother of an adult son should be. This call me mom or no relationship problem has been going on for about a year and a half, should I just give in and call her whatever she wants to be called? I really feel uncomfortable calling anyone other than my parents mom and dad, my husband and I use “mr. and mrs. x” as pet names for each other so calling them that would be, well, strange. So that leaves Grandma and Grandpa which I think is just weird to call them if my son isn’t in their presence. I feel like agreeing to call them Grandma and Grandpa (i’m not positive they’d be okay with that but they have hinted that they would accept that title) is giving into my MIL’s attempts to treat me like a child. In fact she has insisted rather vocally that I am her child. So any suggestions on what I should do?

I don’t think they have the right to require you to call them Mom and Dad. But they DO have the right to ask you not to refer to them by only their first names. As common as it is for people to refer to their in-laws by the first name (I do it), they are your elders, and should be given a title of respect if that is what they prefer. It’s not an unreasonable request. I think you should pick one of the options they are suggesting - Grandma and Grandpa may be a little weird, but so what? And Mr. and Mrs. X may be what you and dh call each other, but since you don’t like the other options, you may have to consider coming up with other pet names for each other so you can stomach using those names for your in-laws. To be fair, it was their name first anyway - is it really fair to take it from them? They have come up with 3 ideas, so they aren’t being completely inflexible.

That said, it sounds like there are other problems between you and her than the name. It is perfectly ok for you and your dh to expect that you are treated with respect. If that means that there is less contact, or if it means that they need to be called out on their behavior, fine. But don’t let the hurt feelings tempt you to be disrespectful to them - so make sure to use a name that they understand is respectful, and then deal with the other issues separately. I feel for you though, because it is difficult enough to deal with what to call in-laws when there aren’t other issues.

I really think that your MIL and FIL want so badly to just be a part of the family (even though you and your DH are a separate entity). In fact, in my case, it was the opposite! I wanted to call them mom and dad (and still do) and they wanted me to just call them by their first names. My thinking is that if you call them by their first names, it is like being on the same level as they are which they think you are not, since your MIL has clearly stated that you are her “child”. You are her daughter in law, but she wants to see you as her “new” daughter. I think in the grand scheme of things, it is not worth disturbing the peace, especially because they have grandkids with you. I do not condone the rudeness in the ER, but treat them with kindness, regardless, for the sake of your son/s and your DH. When you said you were not allowed to come into their house, how did you and DH handle this? This will affect your own dynamics with your DH and can potentially make an unhappy union because they are his parents. (Been there done that!). It really, really is not worth it. Try not to compare her behavior with her own MIL. That was her business back then…this is yours now. If there is a power trip that you think is coming along, talk to your DH (and make sure you both are on the same page) about boundaries and how you have your own rules, schedules, plans, etc…without being exclusive of them. Compromise always works, but this has to be communicated politely.:slight_smile:

It’s a power struggle. The name is just a symptom. Your MIL is having trouble letting go of your husband and she’s picked the hill she’s ready to die on. Silly, isn’t it?

I think it’s got to be your husband’s problem to deal with. He needs to sit down with his mother (I’m sure his father isn’t causing the problem) and tell her in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that from now on, she will be called either (Her First Name) or (Mrs. Blank) by his wife. That she is NOT your mother and it is ridiculous for her to call you Mom if you do not wish to. (Now, if she really wants YOU to call her “Grandma,” I’d roll with that, knowing that it makes her sound like YOUR grandmother. Kinda funny.)

I think you have been very patient and have gone above and beyond not to make this into a problem, but there comes a time for every husband to truly “leave and cleave.” He has to draw the line with his mother and give his loyalty to you. To tell his mother, “This is how it is from now on, period” will be a big step for him, it sounds as though his mother is used to bullying people to get her own way. Or everyone caves in, just to keep the peace. That’s the way to create a real monster in law. LOL

She laughed at you after a miscarriage???:eek::eek::eek: Now that’s a heck of a lot worse offense, and I’d be calling her something a lot worse than Grandma!!!


Can you call them “Mom (last name)” and “Dad (last name)” or “Mom (first name)” and “Dad (first name)”? I don’t think you need to call them Mom and Dad if you aren’t comfortable with it but maybe something slightly different would make things better for you.

Sorry to hear about the laughing during the miscarriage :hug1:…I’ve severed the little relationship I did have with my mom for the way she behaved during my last miscarriage. It was my 4th, so she knew better. :shrug:


Calling someone Mom and Dad doesn’t mean that they aren’t rude…If I didn’t call my dad dad just because he said somehting rude or hurtful…well…that would be a long time…

Find a compromise beside their first names…and count yourself lucky that this is the only problem you have. For your sake…and your husbands.

It is really silly hill to die on…for both of us. I feel like this is one of the only times I’ve really strongly requested something of them that was contrary to their wishes and they don’t have the decency to give in once…ugh. Personally I’d rather just let the issue go away and call them nothing at all and have a infrequent but civil relationship but the only way we’ll be able to reestablish a relationship is if I give on the name thing and actually tell them verbally that I’ll call them what they want to be called. I don’t want to die on this hill but I don’t seem to have the humility to get off of it. I’m also reluctant to restart a relationship that distresses me so much, I am always very unsure of how to act around them and how to voice my displeasure in their behavior without offending them or being rude.

I’ll be honest my behavior towards them in the past has been less than admirable, when I’m in their presence I feel like a teenager who is desperate to be an adult but whose parents treat them like a child and unfortunately I at times then act like a teenager. They are very overbearing people who want a full explanation for the reasons behind everything that we do and often find our explanation lacking. When we were in contact it felt like every conversation was an interrogation.

My problem is they are not horrible people but they sure make me feel like a horrible person.

Well when my in laws said “you” they meant “us”. They view us as literally one person…which is a good and a bad thing. I kind of wish they could just have an okay relationship with my husband and leave me out of it. My husband is totally 100% on board with holding the line and not budging on the name issue. It is more me than him that feels bad about the current situation. He is relieved to not have to deal with them much at all now, it’s a relief to me too. However, I feel that it is setting a bad example to my son on how to treat parents and I’m not sure what we are required to do to be “honoring” them. Is praying for them from afar enough? If they were horrible people I’d definitely say yes praying is enough but, well, I’m not sure if it’s enough for our particular situation.

Quite telling. Overbearing, treat you like a child or a teenager, you end up walking on eggshells. No, they are not axe murderers, but also not very mature people.

I’m sure your husband must be relieved, pretty sure this is how he grew up, especially with his mother. People like this are very tiring to be around. It’s like you get angry before you even realize it, and it seems almost without reason, yet the reason is there.

They don’t respect you as a person.

No, it’s not wrong to minimize your contact. How are your parents? Do they live close enough to see your son? The contrast will be very educational. You may have to gently teach your son what kind of behavior is acceptable and unacceptable from his grandparents. Just because they are his grandparents does not mean they can bully him or abuse him. You will need to talk out loud if they cross the line with you and your husband, of course in a kind way, but “Well, grandma wasn’t very nice to us today, she gets that way sometimes but it’s not respectful to speak to us in that way, so we had to leave.” That sort of thing.

Sigh…families and in-laws…

I wonder if you feel that her treating you like a teenager and asking you to call her mom is connected? The thing is, a man’s mother may be gaining a daughter when he marries, but that would be an adult daughter, right?

I say you and your husband deal with their treating you two like teenagers first. You and your hasband should discuss this between the two of you, and then go to your mil or pil if you think the father is also doing this, and lay your cards on the table. Your husband should be the one who does this.

And he should say something like Mom, I love you very much, but i feel very uncomfortable with you. I want us to have a good relationship, but the way you treat me is really rude, and I end up feeling bad and stupid when you ask these questions the way you do [all along, of course, he should be giving vrry accurate descriptions and giving examples] I’m sure you do this because you care about me, but I am now an adult, and we will have a much better relationship if you could do x instead.

And then stick with it. When she starts up,'just gently remind her not to treat him or you like a kid. Hey, Mom, I’m a grown-up now, or, you’re doing that thing again.

i have had to do this with my mother, and my daughter does it with me from time to time. I just tell her that just as she is learning an adult, I am learning to be the mother of an adult.

I may be totally off-base, this is just my two cents from being on both sides of the fence. oh, and my mother took it better than I thought she would, once I hung up on her when she started criticizing homeschooling again (i warned her I would if she continued).

And it doesn’t mean everything will be perfect, because nothing ever is.

I would give in at times to your Mother-in-law. I think it is a good practice, so long as you are not letting her wreak havoc in your lives. It doesn’t sound like she is the kind of person that is in danger of doing that.

Your husband has already demonstrated that he has your back, so remember that you are not in a tug-of-war situation. Also, by being kind and gracious to your mother-in-law you are modeling to your son the kind of treatment he should expect someday from his wife towards you.

Another thing, just because you “feel” like your mother-in-law thinks of you as a child doesn’t mean that she does. It’s really important to remember that we do not always know what people are thinking and feeling, and should give them the benefit of the doubt.

I can empathize a bit. There was NO WAY I was going to call anyone but my parents “Mom and Dad”, and, after the wedding, “Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so” felt very stiff and formal, so I pretty much called them…nothing…until we had our first child (7 years, so that was a lot of “nothing”!) Then, “Grandma and Grandpa” worked just fine.

My MIL was a sweet woman, very loving and kind, but had her quirks. We lived 1500 miles away, however, which made it easier to deal with anything.

One of our SIL’s has a hard time calling us anything now…he is quite close to his parents, so I understand. He usually resorts to “Mrs. G”, which is fine. Other SIL has called me “Miss (My first name)”, which is a real Southern thing that I like and find works well. I’m a brand new grandmother YIKES! and “GiGi” is what I’ve chosen for my “grandma name”, so I think I’ll be hearing a lot of that.

It’s good your husband has your back. Both of you simply need to act like the adults and parents you are, and expect to be treated as such… and don’t call her “Mom” if you don’t mean it. (I could never in a million years have called my in-laws by their first names, either…just never felt right.)

The fact that your DH is behind you 100% should be a relief. But I say he should take it a step further and deal with his mother when they are crossing the line. Julianne is right. They are not very mature people and do not respect you. Good luck. I was not as lucky, that’s why I just bit the bullet.

Your inlaws sound very controlling. I would not give in on anything that makes you uncomfortable. you will only set yourself up for future instances where they think they can walk al over you and bend you to their will.

Count it as a blessing that you aren’t allowed in their house and don’t invite them over to yours.

They won’t let you in there house? Well, if it were me I would be happy to not have to visit!! Your DH should make it clear to them that you will not call them Mom and Dad,…you already have a Mom and Dad. If they don’t want a relationship based on that, that is their choice.


I actually think the whole mom/dad for inlaws thing is wierd. I really don’t like when my SIL does it (one does, one doesn’t). They’re my parents, get your own. Thing is she has great parents and extended realitives that she adores. I think it just gets confusing.

My parents are fine with whatever, as long as they know we’re good.

I call a nun who’s very close to me Mom or Ma from time to time, but I think that’s different…it’s truly an sign of love, care and respect. It reflects her role in my life, and I think it helps her also feel less lonely at times. My mom understands and dosn’t mind.

Neither of my brothers address their in-laws as mom or dad. One addresses both by first names, the other addresses the wife by a first name, and the guy by his last name (no “mr”) beucase that’s the way he likes it.

Seriously, this is insane…

If it’s brought up again, I would ask them if they think you’re an orphan in need of parents?

And if they continue to insist you call them mom and dad, I think I’d make something up for them to call me…

You must now call me Princess Lala Elsport1… I will not answer to anything else.

And when their eyes bulge out… you say “WHAT? I thought we were selecting titles that have nothing to do with reality, I"ve always wanted to be a princess.”

Did I mention that I’m a loudmouth! I just no longer have time for this kind of thing… I’ve got much bigger fish to fry. If they can’t handle being addressed by their first names, then they are not familiar enough to be guests in your house, left alone with your children, or be privy to ANY information about you and you no longer need to go to their home or anything of the sort.

I went through something similar and, like the OP, went for years not calling my in-laws anything. I think you need to stand firm and insist that your husband handle the issue. In my case I asked over and over again what they wanted me to call them and they always refused to give me a straight answer. After a few years of not calling them anything, my FIL suddenly wanted to be called Dad, which I refused to do. I finally settled on their first names, which they would sometimes respond to, sometimes not. Now that it’s just my MIL, we still get a lot of the power struggle going on and the best way to handle it is to hold my wife’s feet to the flames and force her to deal with it. It’s the only way to get a binding solution to 99% of what comes up.

I was raised not to call my elders by their first names unless they specifically requested it. I remember getting “the look” from my mom when I would call an adult by their first name, until it was clarified that it was the person’s request. I’ve called my inlaws by their first names since the day we met. I was introduced to them and I tried to call them Mr & Mrs, and was told “call me firstname” But I would never have presumed to call them their first names without being invited to do so.

To presume to call someone by their first name without their permission is a lack of respect. And to insist on doing it despite their objection, is just, well…

She was Mrs Lastname before you were. And she wants to be called her rightful name. However overbearing or inappropriate about other issues she may be, she has every right to be called the name she prefers. And you have every right not to call her mom. She is not your mom, and she certainly doesn’t have the kind of warm fuzzy relationship with you that would cause you to think of her as a mother figure.

Now about the other issues…ohhh boy! She has earned herself a place far away from you and your family. Sounds like your husband is fine with that. And your son will grow up hearing you speak of them respectfully (by calling them their preferred names) but having minimal contact. As he grows older and sees how she behaves when contact is unavoidable, he will come to understand why contact is not more frequent. Laughing at someone having a miscarriage is inexcusable.

Again, any adult that I don’t know well enough to call by their first name, I don’t know well enough to leave my children with…

Sounds like grandparents they don’t want to be…

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