How To Handle A Difficult Daughter In Law

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We cannot choose family. This is true – even with in laws! This is not a special case either – many mother- and daughter- in law pairs don’t seem to see eye to eye. And while much has been said about the difficult mother in law, there isn’t a lot of tips on how to handle a difficult daughter in law.

What do you do?


Every person has at least one good quality, and everyone should be given a chance. If you feel that it is your daughter in law (or son in law) who is causing friction and you feel like you are going into battle every time you have to deal with her, you will want to proceed carefully. A stressful relationship with your daughter in law is unhealthy and this can, in time, put strain in your relationship with your own child. There are some things that you can do to put some grease in there to avoid further friction and ease things a bit.

Tips in dealing with a difficult daughter in law

  • Respect your son’s choice and recognize her new role in your family. Accepting her is very important here, and this will be your first step in trying to build a relationship with your new daughter. Pushing her away, rejecting her or criticizing your son’s choice will do you no good, and will only create more friction. This is it, she is here. Accept her as part of your family. She is not just your son’s wife, but will also be the mother of your grandchildren.
  • Always be cordial. Even if your daughter in law is being rude or curt, keep your cool and be civil. Reciprocating with a similarly negative attitude will only heat things up. On the other hand, if you continue to show politeness and courtesy, she may actually eventually stop the negative behavior when she realizes you are not engaging. If she is rude, impolite, difficult, unkind or cruel, there is nothing you can do to change who she is. You can only choose the way you will respond. Keep your calm, poise and grace at all times. Also, remember that she will be the mother of your grandchildren and the best way to retain your visitation rights is to stay civil with her. Don’t criticize her parenting skills or get upset over how much control she has. Bite your tongue if you must and keep criticisms to yourself to keep an amicable relationship.
  • Set your boundaries early. If you already know that you dislike her or that you do not support this marriage at all, set boundaries that you are comfortable with. If she drops by at your house unannounced, let her know that you are not comfortable with this. When you open the door, say “Hi Kim. Its great of you to drop by but (think of an excuse, something that you have to do that is urgent). I’d love visits like this, but maybe call me in advance next time, just to make sure I’m not in the shower or out doing the groceries.” If she makes a nasty comment about someone you know, say something like “She may not have very good taste in clothes, but she is very sweet and thoughtful.”
  • Talk to your son (or daughter). But be careful not to give a litany of complains about your daughter in law. State the problem and request the solution or course of action that you prefer.
  • Never compare. Do not compare her with other daughters or daughters in law. This will never make anyone feel good.
  • Fix any misunderstandings asap. Rifts are inevitable, but the sooner you work on fixing them, the smaller the risk of a misunderstanding getting bigger.
  • Find common grounds. Invite her to do pleasant activities, something that you will both enjoy. Find other ways to relate with her.

Handling a difficult family member is difficult. Be patient, keep sending her notes or small presents and hopefully she will come around. At the end of the day, just accept. Accept her and all her qualities, both good and bad. Think about it, she has to do the same with you too.

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