Meet the MILs: Which of These Mother-in-Law Types is Yours?
17 mins read

Meet the MILs: Which of These Mother-in-Law Types is Yours?

Let’s face it, when you said “I do,” you probably didn’t realize you were also signing up for a lifelong subscription to MIL Magazine, complete with monthly issues filled with unsolicited advice, invasive questions, and the occasional guilt trip, courtesy of your brand new mother-in-law. For many, entering this uncharted territory can feel more like stepping into a soap opera than starting a new chapter of marital bliss.

Just for fun (and for some hilarious laughs) we have compiled some quirky MIL types along with some VERY relatable posts from the JustNOMIL Reddit thread.

The Narcissist: A Self-Centered and Manipulative Mother-in-Law

The Narcissist MIL is characterized by her excessive need for admiration, lack of empathy for others, and often a pattern of manipulative and controlling behavior. Her actions are typically centered around maintaining a superior image and asserting dominance or control over family dynamics.


Narcissistic mil, adores her sons and hates daughter in law
byu/PeachiSprinkles509 inJUSTNOMIL

Strategies for Dealing with The Narcissist:

  1. Set Firm Boundaries: Clearly define what behaviors are not acceptable and stick to these boundaries. Be consistent in enforcing them.
  2. Limit Exposure: Reduce the amount of time spent in her presence to minimize stress and potential conflicts.
  3. Avoid Personalization: Understand that her behavior is a reflection of her own issues and not a reflection of your worth or actions.
  4. Seek Support: Talking to a therapist or joining a support group can provide strategies for dealing with narcissistic behavior and emotional support for maintaining your mental health.
  5. Stay Calm and Detached: Avoid getting emotionally entangled in her dramas or manipulations. Keep interactions as neutral and factual as possible.
  6. Communicate Through Your Partner: Sometimes, having your spouse communicate your joint decisions to his mother can help in maintaining a united front and reducing direct conflict.

Dealing with a narcissistic mother-in-law often requires patience, strategic planning, and emotional resilience. It’s important to protect your emotional and psychological well-being by managing interactions and expectations with her carefully.

The Over-Enthusiast: The Overly Excited and Invasive Mother-in-Law

The Over-Enthusiast is characterized by her boundless enthusiasm which, although well-intentioned, often crosses boundaries and disregards the personal space and emotional needs of others. Her excitement about major life events, especially ones that involve her becoming a grandparent, can lead her to become overly involved and suffocating.


Overbearing MIL giving me the ick
byu/SweetBites0216 inJUSTNOMIL

Strategies for Managing The Over-Enthusiast:

  1. Clear Communication of Boundaries: It’s crucial to have a frank conversation about your needs and boundaries. Clearly explain what kind of communication and visits are acceptable.
  2. Scheduled Updates and Visits: Set specific times for updates or visits to manage her expectations and reduce spontaneous intrusions.
  3. Reinforce Boundaries with Consequences: If boundaries are crossed after being set, it’s important to enforce consequences, such as delaying the next update or visit.
  4. Engage Your Partner: Ensure your partner understands how you feel and can help communicate and enforce these boundaries with his mother.
  5. Find Support: Discussing these feelings with friends, a support group, or a therapist can provide relief and practical strategies for handling the stress.

The Spotlight Stealer: A Mother-in-Law Who Needs to Be the Center of Attention

The Spotlight Stealer can’t resist the urge to shift the focus onto herself, often overshadowing significant events or milestones in others’ lives. Her need for attention can manifest in various ways, from interrupting conversations to relate them to her own experiences, to taking credit for things she has contributed to, even when it’s not relevant.


Me Me Me
byu/Bish85136 inJUSTNOMIL

Strategies for Dealing with The Spotlight Stealer:

  1. Manage Expectations: It helps to anticipate her behavior and mentally prepare for her attempts to steal the spotlight, reducing the frustration when it happens.
  2. Set Boundaries for Conversation: Gently steer conversations back to the topic at hand when she attempts to divert focus. Firm reminders of the topic can discourage her from derailing discussions.
  3. Limit Information Sharing: Share less information about events or plans that you don’t want to become about her, reducing her opportunities to make them about herself.
  4. Direct Attention: Actively involve others in the conversation and direct their attention towards the intended subject or person.
  5. Private Celebrations: Consider having more intimate celebrations or announcements with just close friends or family members who respect the significance of your milestones.

The Manipulator: A Mother-in-Law with an Agenda

The Manipulator is strategic and often cloaks her intentions in seemingly generous offers or gestures that are actually aimed at altering situations to her liking. She typically operates under the guise of good intentions, but her actions often have a self-serving motive behind them.


byu/throwradoodoopoopoo inJUSTNOMIL

Strategies for Dealing with The Manipulator:

  1. Firm Boundaries: Clearly define what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of gifts, favors, and interventions in your personal choices and lifestyle.
  2. Direct Communication: If a questionable offer is made, it’s important to ask directly about the intention behind it and to express clearly why it may be inappropriate or unwelcome.
  3. United Front: Ensure that your partner understands the implications of his mother’s behavior and that both of you are aligned in how to respond to her manipulative tactics.
  4. Decline Politely but Firmly: When offers are made that cross boundaries, politely but firmly decline them. It’s okay to say no without providing extensive justification.
  5. Educate: Sometimes, it helps to explain the significance or personal meaning behind your choices to prevent misunderstanding and reduce manipulative behavior due to ignorance.

The Helicopter MIL: Overbearing and Ever-Present

The Helicopter MIL is defined by her need to be overly involved in her adult child’s life, often to the detriment of his personal space and independence. Her behavior is typically driven by a combination of fear of being left out, and a desire to remain the most important person in her son’s life.


MIL calls all day long
byu/Electronic_Fee1067 inJUSTNOMIL

Strategies for Managing The Helicopter MIL:

  1. Set Clear Boundaries: It’s crucial for your husband to establish and communicate clear boundaries regarding call frequency and duration. These need to be consistent and agreed upon by both of you.
  2. Scheduled Calls: Propose specific times for when she can call. This helps manage expectations and reduces the frequency of interruptions throughout the day.
  3. United Front: Both you and your husband need to present a united front. He should understand how the constant interruptions impact your life together and address it with his mother.
  4. Gradual Weaning: Instead of sudden changes, gradually decrease the call frequency to help her adjust without feeling abruptly cut off.
  5. Engagement in Activities: Encourage your husband to engage more in activities that don’t allow for constant phone use, such as sports, movies, or dinners out, where he can put the phone away.
  6. Counseling: If the issue persists and it’s affecting your marriage, consider couple’s counseling. A professional can provide neutral ground for discussing this issue and strategies to deal with it effectively.

The Drama Queen: The Emotionally Explosive Mother-in-Law

The Drama Queen is notorious for her over-the-top reactions and her ability to turn any event into a stage for her emotional performances. She has a knack for making every situation about her feelings and experiences, often overshadowing major milestones or celebrations with her theatrics.


Telling MIL To Behave At Bday Party
byu/free-earth736 inJUSTNOMIL

Strategies for Dealing with The Drama Queen:

  1. Pre-emptive Communication: Have a clear and direct conversation about expectations before the event. It seems you’ve already done this, which is great! Reinforce these boundaries as needed gently.
  2. Have a Buffer: Assign a family member or a close friend who can keep an eye on her during the event and intervene if she starts to create a scene.
  3. Redirect Focus: Keep her involved in specific tasks during the event to help her feel included and distracted from potential drama.
  4. Limit Interaction: If possible, limit your direct interaction with her during high-stress moments of the event to minimize her impact on your enjoyment.
  5. Emotional Detachment: Try to detach emotionally from her actions. Recognize that her behavior is about her needs and not a reflection of you or your family.
  6. Plan for Contingencies: Have a plan in place for how to handle her if she does start to become disruptive. This might mean having a private space she can go to cool down, or even having a prepared line to gently but firmly remind her of the need to keep the peace.

The Underminer: The Passive-Aggressive Mother-in-Law

The Underminer is a master of subtle digs and thinly veiled criticism. She often uses concern or helpfulness as a guise to express her unsolicited opinions and critiques. This MIL type excels in making you question your choices and subtly chips away at your confidence, all while maintaining a façade of caring and support.


Passing comments my MIL has said this week.
byu/Jaehol inJUSTNOMIL

How to Handle The Underminer:

  1. Acknowledge but Don’t Engage: Recognize her comments without getting drawn into a debate. A simple “Thank you for your input,” can suffice.
  2. Set Clear Boundaries: Especially with unannounced visits and opinions on personal choices like childbirth and child-rearing, clear boundaries are essential.
  3. Keep Your Cool: Maintaining your composure and not letting her see you ruffled can often discourage further undermining behavior.
  4. Communication is Key: Discuss her behavior with your spouse to ensure a united front and to address how her actions affect you both.
  5. Choose Strategic Responses: Sometimes, a well-placed comment acknowledging the irony of her actions, as in the toy situation, can highlight her contradictory behavior without direct confrontation.

The Secret Agent

This mother-in-law could give any private investigator a run for their money. No stone in your past is left unturned, no secret too deeply buried. The Secret Agent operates behind the scenes, equipped with a knack for uncovering the most hidden details of your past life. Whether she’s casually browsing through your old social media posts or striking up conversations with your long-lost high school friends, her mission is clear: know everything about you.


MIL dug into my private family history and crossed a major line. How do I address her without becoming the JustNo?
byu/Commercial_Ball_234 inJUSTNOMIL

Coping Strategies for Dealing with The Secret Agent MIL

  1. Privacy Settings: Now is a great time to check and tighten your social media privacy settings. Limit what’s visible to friends of friends or public viewers.
  2. Clear Communication: Sometimes direct conversation about privacy expectations can help set boundaries. Let her know politely but firmly that your past is a topic you prefer not to dig into.
  3. Information Control: Be cautious about the information you share openly, knowing it could be relayed or misinterpreted.
  4. Solidarity with Your Partner: Ensure your partner understands how their mother’s behavior affects you and discuss ways they can support you in setting boundaries.
  5. Decoy Stories: If all else fails, having a few benign but misleading stories or “facts” ready to throw her off the scent can keep her busy while protecting your real past.

The Master of Subtlety: The Passive-Aggressive Mother-in-Law

Meet the mother-in-law who has turned the art of passive aggression into her very own masterpiece. This MIL communicates her displeasure not through direct confrontation, but through sly comments, backhanded compliments, and an arsenal of under-the-radar tactics that leave you second-guessing whether you’re actually being criticized or it’s all in your head.


MIL and young adult grandchildren, how much do you facilitate the relationship?
byu/TamsynRaine inJUSTNOMIL

Strategies for Handling The Master of Subtlety:

  1. Stay Calm and Collected: Maintain your composure when she makes passive-aggressive remarks. Avoiding emotional reactions prevents the situation from escalating and discourages further such behavior.
  2. Clarify and Confront: Request clarification on vague or double-meaning statements. For example, if she makes a remark about your cooking, you could say, “I’m not sure what you mean by that, could you explain?”
  3. Set Clear Boundaries: Define what is acceptable and what isn’t in her behavior towards you. Be firm and consistent in enforcing these boundaries to avoid ambiguity about what you will tolerate.
  4. Use Assertive Communication: Express your feelings and needs clearly and directly using “I” statements, such as, “I feel disregarded when you ignore my opinion. I need my decisions to be respected.”
  5. Seek Support from Your Partner: Discuss her behavior with your partner to ensure they understand how it affects you. It’s important that your partner supports you and addresses the behavior with his mother if necessary.
  6. Choose Your Battles: Not every passive-aggressive comment or action needs a confrontation. Decide which issues are significant enough to address and which are better to let go in the interest of peace.

The Guilt Tripper

Last but certainly not least, the master of manipulation: the guilt-tripping MIL. This one knows how to push all your buttons, from subtle sighs to outright statements like, “I guess you’re just too busy to visit us anymore.” She wears her heart not just on her sleeve but uses it like a lasso to keep you close and compliant.


MIL shows up unannounced to my house and got upset when I wouldn’t put the kids I was watching aside for her visit.
byu/ParentingMultiples inJUSTNOMIL

Coping with The Guilt Tripper

  1. Recognize the Guilt Trips: Be aware of the tactics she uses to induce guilt, such as emotional blackmail or constantly reminding you of her sacrifices. Recognizing these patterns is the first step in neutralizing their effect.
  2. Set Clear Boundaries: Firmly establish what behaviors you will accept and which you won’t. Let her know that guilt-inducing comments are not helpful and you would prefer constructive conversations.
  3. Maintain Emotional Distance: Keep your emotional responses in check. When she attempts to guilt-trip, respond calmly and rationally, without yielding to emotional manipulation.
  4. Use Assertive Communication: Directly communicate how her actions make you feel without being aggressive. Use “I” statements, such as, “I feel pressured when you constantly remind me of your expectations. I need to make decisions based on what’s best for my family.”
  5. Seek Support from Your Partner: Ensure your partner understands how the guilt trips affect you. It’s crucial that your partner supports you and communicates with his mother about the impact of her behavior.
  6. Reframe the Conversation: When she starts to lay on the guilt, redirect the conversation to a more positive or neutral topic. This can help to steer clear of unnecessary guilt and keep interactions more pleasant.

Enhancing Your Coping Arsenal

With these additional MIL types in your life, it’s essential to bolster your coping strategies:

  1. Develop a Support Network: Having friends or a community who understands and can share a laugh over your experiences can be a lifeline.
  2. Keep a Sense of Perspective: It’s important to remember that your MIL’s behavior says more about her than about you. Don’t take it personally!
  3. Utilize Humor: Laughter truly is the best medicine when it comes to handling the absurdities of life with a challenging MIL.
  4. Document Your Boundaries: Sometimes, you might need to remind your MIL of the rules. Keeping a record can help maintain consistency and clarity.
  5. Self-Care is Crucial: Make sure to take time for yourself. Dealing with a difficult MIL can be draining, and it’s important to recharge.

Remember, navigating the wild waters of a relationship with a challenging mother-in-law is not just about survival—it’s about maintaining your sanity and sense of humor in the face of the storm. Keep your wits about you and maybe even enjoy the ride! After all, every family needs a little bit of drama to keep things interesting, right?

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