How to deal with a toxic mother in law? How to get away with her critical and cunning behavior and save yourselves from the damage caused by her abusive words? If we come across toxic people in life who are not our family members, we can completely cut the chords with them but how to deal with a toxic mother in law who stays with us?
The most saddening part of our patriarchal society is, even after witnessing a lot of difference at the global level, where women have proven themselves, made their mark, and reached the moon. Still, the head woman of a house cannot get over her superiority complex, insecurities with a new daughter in law and criticism.
When an elder person of the house cannot deal with such sensibility and maturity, how is a newly married girl who suddenly becomes a woman is burdened with so many expectations?
Questions like these kill us from the inside, bothers us, and we indulge in mental arguments, finding ways to deal with the toxic mother in law we got to stay with. Let me help you with your journey and make it a little less stressful. Let us hold hands, take a deep breath, and stay hopeful for a better tomorrow.
How to deal with a toxic mother in law?
Dealing with a toxic mother in law is not a cakewalk but we can at least try to make things work from our end. It is said the be the change you want to see in the world. Perhaps we can start with a change in approach in our reactions towards our mother in laws’ nasty actions. Easy way to start right? Let’s see what we got to discuss.
Ten effective ways to stay sane while dealing with her toxicity
In my post titled, is your mother in law jealous of you? I have mentioned that envy is one of the most common traits in human beings, especially women. It has affected us all. And jealousy and comparison are the most common attributes of any mother in law.
It sounds so unreasonable comparing yourself as a mother in law to a 25-year-old newly married girl. But since she cannot change her mindset let us help her and help ourselves by following some useful ways.
|1. Maintain emotional distance|
|2. Do not pull triggers|
|3. Don’t judge yourself|
|4. Don’t please the society|
|5. Don’t seek validation|
|6. Don’t lose your kindness|
|7. Think about your sanity|
|8. Forgive and forget|
|9. Stop expecting|
|10. Stop overthinking|
1. Maintain emotional distance
This is very important. What do we do as soon as we realize we have landed at the wrong address, we step back? Right? Now when you have learned that the mother in law you got gifted with is a toxic one who will leave no chance to pull you down. You need to step back right there. How will you save your sanity by living and dealing with difficult in laws?
The thing about toxic people is that even if they try to be nice, their superiority complex will not allow them to do so, which will ruin you emotionally. Maintain an emotional distance. Do not give access to your happiness in her hands. Stay away. Detach and indulge in some fruitful activities.
2. Do not pull triggers
Never pick up fights and get into arguments to prove yourself right. Do you think she will let you win? Rather she will turn it into a situation of war and in the end, she will use her biggest weapon, TEARS, she will cry and make you feel guilty, and unknowingly you will find yourselves soothing her. Just recall your past experiences and you will understand how to deal with a toxic mother in law in such a situation. Leave her on her own.
Don’t say things that might end up in a troubling situation and cause mental stress, yes the hateful behavior of your in laws can cause you mental stress. With time, you understand the triggers which lead to a very unpleasant situation between you and your mother in law. Avoid pulling such triggers.
3. Don’t judge yourself
Dealing with toxic people leaves you rattling and stressed. You drain your energy thinking about what went wrong, how you could have avoided this and what you could have done, and all the series of thoughts pointing towards judging your own self. It only leads to a series of disturbing thoughts in your mind.
It happens, and it is very common in a daughter in laws to feel that they might lack a certain ability to manage her mother in law and keep her happy. This is because of the societal conditioning we are part of. They make us believe that it is a daughter in laws’ job to keep things smooth and flowing in the family.
4. Don’t please the society
A toxic mother in law is hard to please and will never be happy no matter what you do to please her. There would be times when you will be forced to strike a conversation, especially in public or social gatherings. The societal pressure to show that everything is good, you know?
But who knows once the party is over the game of playing well also gets over. Toxic people are also great manipulators; They can be two-faced and will always hide the face they show to you in public. She could be an example of a living narcissist, you know what does it mean? Narcissism is a type of personality disorder in which a person is full of himself and is too hard to deal with.
5. Don’t seek validation
A toxic mother in law will validate nothing you do. She will question you, criticize you, and even doubt your intention. Why do you need validation at all? I know you will think that they are elders; we have to respect them and in order to balance the peaceful environment of your house you give up on yourselves and seek validation from your mother in law in everything you do?
First of all, respect can never be demanded, it is something which comes naturally for a wonderful soul. Secondly, if you will seek validation for everything, that too from someone who already dislikes you, you will end up living a life of a prisoner of your own circumstances.
6. Don’t lose your kindness
Remember that maintaining family harmony and peace is every family member’s duty, not yours alone. If your mother in law is so blind that she cannot see what harm her behavior is causing at the family level at least you deal with the situation with a sane mind and do not let it hamper you.
You don’t stop being yourself, be kind, be courteous. Do not leave your true nature just because they do not appreciate you being yourself. You never will be appreciated for all the good deeds you do, but it doesn’t mean you stop doing it. You don’t have to do it for others but where you feel the peaceful environment of the house is at cost; you need to stay kind.
7. Think about your sanity
There is nothing worth losing your sanity for. How will you live a life in such a condition when your mind is filled with so much negativity? It will ruin you from the inside. It will make you restless and helpless. Think about your own future, your kids, and yourself.
No one will come to rescue you; if you are lucky enough, your partner will support you morally, and that too with very limited involvement. Take charge of your inner self to reflect some positivity around your life. Pause and reflect, take charge of your life before it is too late.
8. Forgive and forget
It is hard to forgive someone who is not seeking forgiveness; a toxic mother in law will never seek your forgiveness. Just remember this if she has been a toxic element in your life for a long time and if any given circumstances, she tries to change her approach towards you. She might not apologize for what all she did to you.
Accept her the day you see her changed approach, forgive because she won’t ask and you need closure. Forget because she is trying and you want happiness around you too. Look ahead. Move on. DO not hold grudges for too long as they might turn infectious and ruin you from inside.
9. Stop expecting
The biggest problem in every relationship is the burden of expectation we put on each other and others put on us. It has to be this way or that way, as they say. But maybe those ways don’t work anymore. There could never be a set of benchmarks to deal with relationships.
Every person is different, and every situation is different. Then how to deal with a toxic mother in law and expect less despite living in the same house? As being a woman there would be situations when you might feel that she should help you, look after you but in the back of your mind you always know, you will be hurt if you expect her to help you. Because you know she won’t, then what will hurt you more, she not helping you or your expectations?
10. Stop overthinking
A toxic mother in law plays with your head. Don’t let her toxic behavior spread poison in your mind and your thought patterns because it will affect how you think and how you deal with others. The only reason she is toxic because she feels she is important, she is above all, and her dismissive behavior ruins your mental peace.
But the more you think about what she says to you or what you could have done. It will only lead to a trail of mental arguments in your mind. Whenever you will be alone, you will deal with such negative thoughts, stop doing that to yourself.
What causes toxicity in mother in laws?
Exactly my reaction when I think about this. I have thought a lot about this, what makes a mother in law so notoriously toxic? Why she cannot accept another woman in her house with dignity and pride. Treat her as her own. Provide love, make her understand things, and explain her family rules if any. Once a mother in law adapts this approach, it helps in breaking the ice and a daughter in law also feels welcomed as an equal family member. This kind of approach can set a benchmark and prove that yes a woman can care about another woman.
But contrary to my fairy tale belief, what I see is even in the 21st-century mother in laws still sticks to their rude, arrogant, ignorant, insecure and snobbish behavior, which ultimately fills a daughter in law with negativity and bitterness. What causes such toxicity in the mother in laws? Why do they behave so illicitly? I wonder. Hence, I new bride is always filled with negativity towards mother in law because of the fearful stories she had heard and experiences she had witnessed with her near and dear ones.
How it affects daughter in laws?
It is sad to see that a daughter in law hardly gets any breathing time and moment to understand every family member before she is dished out completely. Even at a workplace, when you join a new profile, employers give you the advantage of the honeymoon period. You see things; you understand the surroundings and then you gel.
I would just like to add that no matter how much one thinks about, how to deal with a toxic mother in law and how much you try to please your mother in law who doesn’t like you. It will only upset you.
Don’t try too hard; she is frustrated but maybe not at how you are as an individual, but with the place, you are at. If she would have made your companion and shared things with you, it would have been a different story; You could have even helped her. But some people choose the other way round to suppress their inner fears. Forgive, forget, and learn to let go, for your sanity.
Priyanka Nair is the author of 26 Days 26 Ways for a Happier you and Ardhaviram. An NLP practitioner and Founder of Sanity Daily, helping you prioritize your mental health. Let’s build a happy community.