Managing your Mother-in-Law

What sort of mother-in-law do you have? Is she a steamroller, an apologist or a dodgy Managing MILgran? Whatever the case, you have to have a strategy, says Katy Rink author of a new book on the subject Managing MIL.

Katy is guest blogging for Netmums today and she shares with us some common types of mother-in-law – with instructions for careful handling in her inimitable very tongue-firmly-in-cheek style.

We also have copies of Managing MIL to giveaway to 10 very lucky readers. Simply scroll down to the bottom of the page to find out how to enter.


1 – The Steamroller

No sooner through your door than she’ll be in your cupboards, commenting on how on Managing MIL coping strategiesearth her grandchildren can be surviving on cheese strings and Actimels. She’ll hook out your greying bras from your washing like a factory sorter on quality control and stand at your shoulder whilst you are ironing, to make sure you centre your in-seams.

Top Tip: Crank up the temperature control on your iron and slam it in her face. Just kidding. But seriously, learn to stand up for yourself. You’re all grown up now.

2 – The Snob

She’ll introduce herself as Lady D, even though her name is Dawn and she lives in a two up, two down in Bayswater. She has a ten year subscription to Country Life and had secretly hoped for a ‘girl in pearls’; you know the sort, between the property and the shooting features, snuggling Hungarian Vizslas in her cleavage and sucking a cake-pop.

Top Tip: Learn to ignore her repeated digs and allusions to ‘your sort’. Be polite, in your own way, but don’t feel you have to commit the whole of Debrett’s Etiquette to memory. Be yourself and don’t let her wobble you! You were good enough for him, you are good enough for her!

3 – The Storyteller

With her jazzy, low-cut tops, big jewellery and bingo wings, she lights up any room. But it’s her endless stories that get under your skin. Like the epic tale of the ‘ninety-nine-pee-chilli-sauce’; you don’t just get A to B with her, you get A to Z.

Top Tip: Remind yourself that she means well and fix your listening face with a few stiff gins before she arrives. Just because her conversation is less stimulating than benzodiazepines doesn’t make her any less of a person… Be kind and behave!

4 – The Reluctant Grandma

She rolls her eyes when you ask her to babysit. Everything is too much trouble. She’s doneManaging MIL illustration her bit. She had two children of her own and she didn’t much like raising them. She’s not about to start all over again with yours.

Top Tips: Make sure you haven’t got the wrong end of the stick. Apparent reluctance can mask hurt feelings. Otherwise, expect nothing and then you won’t be disappointed. Recognise her right to feel this way. Not everyone can be a fawning, devoted Nan.

5 – The Apologist

She tiptoes around you like a gopher in a bear cave, terrified to breathe; apologising,

Katy Rink

Katy Rink

almost for her very existence. She always rings at the very worst of times, with: ‘I’m sorry, is this a bad time?’ You know you shouldn’t, but you just can’t help poking her with a stick, just for fun.

Top Tip: Play nice. That is just not cricket. She might well wind you up with her tense and insincere apologies, but if you allow her to relax you might find she’s quite a different person and much easier to get along with.


Read Netmums members top tips for dealing with your Mother-in-law! To get extra help with your MIL why not try your hand at winning a copy? 

Managing MIL

We have ten copies of Managing MIL published by Peridot Press and worth £6.99 each to giveaway. To be in with a chance of winning a copy simply leave us a comment on this blog post and from all comments received by midnight on 30th November we will pick out ten lucky winners. Usual Netmums terms and conditions apply.

Do you recognise your mother-in-law as one of these types? Do you have a good or a strained relationship with her and what are your top tips for dealing with your mother-in-law? Share a comment and let us know and you could win your own copy of the book. 

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38 Responses to Managing your Mother-in-Law

  1. Very realistic guide to compating ml syndrome

  2. faye says:

    shes a bit of all of them haha

  3. aly c says:

    Definitely a steamroller. Makes me feel so inadequate… I used to struggle to stand up for myself but after 12 years I’m getting better 😀

  4. Sari Kincaid says:

    I need this book! Long suffering D.I.L looking for tips!

  5. Angela Paull says:

    Not really any of these – the occasional steamroller tendency but not 100% of the time thankfully 🙂

  6. Mine is quite good better than my own but hates changes in routine

  7. Sadie says:

    Mine is a bit of 1 & 2 but generally just a rude know it all!

  8. haylz says:

    Aww I love my MiL. She has a busy life of her own to lead and she lets us live ours. She is always at the end of the phone or email if we need her. She adores all of her grandchildren and I have never felt undermined by her. I guess I’m lucky! She’s a superstar ❤

  9. Lisa Hidderley says:

    These all seem a little polite to me 😉
    I have an apologetic steam roller – she drives me nuts but after 10 years of marriage & 2 daughters I think I am learning how to deal with her – we all stay away from her lol.

  10. Jenna says:

    My MIL is an irritating mix of The steamroller and The Snob. With a hint of Reluctant Grandmother!!
    Great descriptions described mine to a T!!!

  11. tory says:

    I am very lucky to have a lovely mother in Law!! Very helpful and dotes on my little one. Is sometimes to nice thou! and lets my son have/do whatever he likes, so would be interesting if there is a section on how to tell her, to tell him – no!

  12. Kat Perkins says:

    Both my mother in laws are amazing. I may not be with their son anymore but they still are always on hand to help me with the grandkids.
    I am even a carer for one of them after she nearly died in 2012.

  13. Sam Winter says:

    My MIL is a bit of the first 3, I have a very strained relationship with her but I’m very lucky as my husband agrees with me that she is hard work. I’m also lucky that she lives 300 miles away! I am very aware of not saying anything in front of my children as she is their gran and I don’t want to influence their feelings. I think the worse thing she said to us was when we told her we were expecting our third baby ‘I don’t know know whether to say congratulations or commiserations’ (and she wasn’t joking!)

    • Madeleine says:

      Mine told me …do you know I cannot even write it! Lets just say I don’t think I have ever forgiven her but I will go to heaven because I have never shown my feelings to her and always make her welcome. It does make me think about what I say to my sons girlfriends though so maybe there was some positives. I have got on well with all of them (3in total) and get a card of them or text at birthdays

  14. Amanda Martin says:

    Sounds very familiar.

  15. Cath Joyce says:

    Mine is The Apologist, but I find the more I try and include her she is easier to get on with as we have more to talk about.

  16. Constance Durrant says:

    I have a very strained relationship with my mother in law! She’s a know it all, attention seeker who must be the centre of attention! Ahhhhh! Best tip to deal with her… avoid at all costs and If that doesn’t work standing up for myself.

  17. Anna says:

    Oh my lawd, send me a copy of this bible! I am constantly trying to come up with a successful strategy to cope with my MIL. As soon as I think I’ve cracked it…she’s off again and I feel I’ve lost all control of my household….argh!

    • katyrink says:

      Hi Anna, sorry to hear you are having trouble. I hope you do find some solutions in the book – or at least some comfort from seeing that you are not alone! All the best, Katy Rink

  18. Jen says:

    My tip… Let her spoil the grankids, let them watch loads of tv and eat junk food before dinner at hers if she insists…but then when she complains that they haven’t eaten the meal she has cooked for them, I just shrug my shoulders and say sweetly that I can’t understand why not, they eat my home cooked meals.

  19. Lisa Hibbard says:

    Can honestly say although I have known my MIL for 27 years I still don’t know her,understand her or even agree with her most of the time, but I try and get along with her the best I can for the sake of my husband

  20. Emma says:

    Mine is definitely the ”snob” with a bit of the “reluctant” thrown in for good measure. I get along just fine by ignoring her and expecting nothing, then everything else is a bonus (or is it!!!!!)
    This book looks like a great read and will be certain to bring a smile!

  21. Mary says:

    Hmm I think mine has a bit of everything but the pay off is a great baby sitter who will help at any time.

  22. auntagnes says:

    Definitely have a storyteller. Have lost my voice at the moment, so Granny is kindly looking after energetic toddler. Today she told my daughter all about the Mummy who shouted at her because she thought she was a naughty girl, and the very next day, when she tried to tell her off again, she found she’d lost her voice. Harump.

  23. auntagnes says:

    Definitely a storyteller. I’ve lost my voice and Granny is kindly looking after my energetic daughter, but today she told her a story about the Mummy who told her off for being naughty and the next day when she tried to tell her off again (presumably for still being naughty) she had lost her voice. Harumpf.

  24. Emmaline Higgs says:

    My MIL is upper class and likeD me until she found out I had grown up on a council estate and was not middle class as she had thought. Apparantly I dont look or speak like someone from one of those places! She picks on my appearance, lack of matching socks and my cooking which is a joke as her cooking strange at best lol. She didnt contribute to our wedding as she only wanted to pay for a horse and cart which I didnt want. She ignores my birthdays but I still make her a cake. It drives her crazy. MWAHAHAHA.

  25. Maryann says:

    Oh my … It’s not just me then with a nightmare MIL. Mine is a complete steamroller who knows no boundaries :-(.

  26. Julie says:

    An apologist…and yes, my stick is sharp 😉

  27. Su Austin says:

    Oh dear – age-old problem but what depressing comments on MIL’s! I was a daughter in law once so do appreciate how difficult it is – you’re the filling in the sandwich, trying to keep everyone happy. No easy solutions except to encourage MIL to take up new interests/hobbies ie: get more of a life of her own, So many older people feel lonely and no longer useful. I’m a MIL and have recently taken up writing children’s stories- it’s been a steep learning curve especially getting to grips with social media but keeps me busy and hopefully out of daughters’ and son in laws’ hair. So to all busy, struggling netmums – chins up – we oldies wont last too much longer!

  28. Madeleine says:

    My mil is and always will be an acquired taste. I could never work her out and I think I will die trying. However when she lost her husband and her mother and somehow her status as the matriarch I sort of feel sorry for her. She doesn’t bother with our seven year old daughter but adores our twenty year old which is sad as our daughter adores her. Do you know I think she may be a tad jealous because the attention has husband keeps his head down!


  29. Anna says:

    “Eccentric” would be the polite way to describe my MIL, although “bitchy” does the job just as well unfortunately. There’s very little I have said or done over 15 years that she likes or has approved of but I have not given her the pleasure of seeing me cry or be impolite thankfully. Visiting her is the only thing my husband & I routinely fall out over & even he moans about her afterwards. I’ve read loads on the web trying to figure out how best to deal with her so a whole book on the subject is very good news.

  30. Sally says:

    My MIL is non of the above…

  31. Katy Rink says:

    Hello everyone. Lovely comments, thank you – I very much wanted to get DILs talking. Sharing helps get things in perspective…!

  32. Cat says:

    How sad. No-one’s perfect. As a daughter-in-law and a mother-in-law I see both sides. I try to keep a respectful distance. I don’t appreciate interference in my life so try not to irritate my DIL either.

  33. Pingback: Katy Rink | Managing your Mother-in-Law

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