Rude Sister-In-Law

Updated on October 27, 2010
T.A. asks from Blackstone, VA
19 answers

When my husband and I started dating we would take my daughter (who was 5 at the time) to play with his niece (who was 4). Right from the get go she was very rude to me and my child. It started with the kids going into my nieces room and tearing out toys to play with. Yes, they emptied the toy box. I made my daughter clean up her mess and my husband and I helped too but the whole time his sister was rolling her eyes and making comments about how her daughter "never acts like that" insinuating that it was completely my child's fault even though my daughter was very honest about what she did and did not do. At another play date my daughter slapped my niece. Now, I'm not trying to say my daughter is completely innocent, but my niece was allowed to get away with anything and never has to worry about being punished. She gets in my daughters face and screams at her, grabs her, slaps at her and neither one of her parents will say anything past "no, ma'am". While my daughter can be hyper (ADHD) she is extremely sensitive to other people and doesn't normally hit so I do think she was defending herself. My nieces father heard the slap and instead of telling me so I can punish my child he started getting on her right in front of me. At first my daughter lied and said she didn't do it (I don't blame her, somebody she didn't even know at the time was laying her out) but before long admitted she did and hasn't done it since. A couple months later my husband was out with my sister and law (me and my daughter were not present) and she said that we "need to punish" my daughter and that she "has a problem lying to our faces". Neither my husband or I could figure out what the hell she was talking about! While my sister in law does invite my daughter to my nieces birthday parties she won't associate with us at any other time. She will only talk to my husband on the phone. She hardly said a word to me at our wedding. The month before our wedding all she could do was try to steal the attention by dying her hair black and wearing gothic makeup and constantly facebooking every tiny bit of info about her life then as soon as the wedding was over she stopped. My niece (now 5) and my daughter (now 7) don't play together. She won't let us take her off and she has never arranged one playdate. The few times we've gone out as couples all they do is complain. How do I deal with this? I would like to have at least a civil relationship.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all of the support and advice. For the most part I've stopped associating with my SIL. She is my husband's sister. I guess after such a terrible relationship with my ex's family (my MIL and SIL wanted nothing to do with me or even my daughter-their blood!) I was hoping for a better relationship with my in-laws this time around. Certainly clear that's not going to happen! My husband has started to see how his sister is acting and no longer pushes for the kids to have a relationship, something he was really hoping for. For him it really stung when he asked if he could take his niece to the amusement park since we were taking my daughter and 2 nieces and he was told no and she listed 3 failed excuses. You all are right. I need to stop trying and just be happy with my wonderful husband and daughter.

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answers from Phoenix on

It sounds like she has made this easy for you and is limiting her contact with you. Whoo hoo! Just what you need. Do not feel obligated to hang out with them. Go to the nieces bday party but stay only a short time. Why are you going on a couples date with them if you guys don't like them and don't have a good time? Find some other friends and move on. It looks like she is doing the same. Good luck!!!


It sounds like she has made this easy for you and is limiting her contact with you. Whoo hoo! Just what you need. Do not feel obligated to hang out with them. Go to the nieces bday party but stay only a short time. Why are you going on a couples date with them if you guys don't like them and don't have a good time? Find some other friends and move on. It looks like she is doing the same. Good luck!!!

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answers from Houston on

Just be cordial and friendly when you are all around. You are different people who raise their children differently. It sucks, but honestly, it isn't that bad compared to many nightmare in-law stories I've heard.

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answers from St. Louis on

make your life happy & forget about her. Continue to gather as a family, but -seriously - as your daughter hits teen years, she'll want to bring a friend along anyway!

Keep that as your focus: your daughter's happiness....& that's all that matters. Don't think about what's missing in your life due to your SIL...fill your life without her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I'd avoid her as much as possible. Let your husband deal with her. Why push play dates? Sounds like agony anyway.

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answers from Boise on

Just stop associating with them. If you husband wants to have a relationship with his sister fine, but there is no reason to subject yourself and your daughter to that.

My SIL didn't stay for pics at my wedding (kind glad), she wore tennis shoes and left after 30 minutes at the reception. At the dress rehearsal, she bailed the day of. When I was pregnant, all of a sudden she had a horrible disease. Luckily, this is the wife of my husband's brother, and no blood relation, and she has a 25 yo from a first marriage, so we don't have that issue with young kids. She also usually bails on any family event, but we never socialize unless it is a holiday and she mainly goes away for those.

The question is, would you even be concerned about playdates if she wasn't a relative? What if this was just another mother, wouldn't you just stop seeing them?

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answers from New York on

Be cordial and polite and love her any way. Loving someone inspite of themselves doesn't mean you let them run over you but loving them gives you an unobtainable upper hand. When you fast forward a life time of not being corrected by your parents versus a loving relationship with your parents where they discipline and correct your incorrect behavior you just end up in different places. A time may come where this child may end up in your home and you will have to deal with her. This is only one of the many reasons you stay polite and reserved.

Try not to be overly defensive. They haven't spent any time with your child recently so they don't know her and while it would have been wonderful to have these girls be buddies or even friends they are cousins by marriage and her mother and father seem like family just isn't that important. There is however more than one side to a story I would just brush the dust off. Be polite when necessary, never speak an unkind word about them because we all have our challenges and just get one with your life. If you have to have any further contact with her you may want to voice your concerns to your husband and let him deal with things if he is able but I really wouldn't pour any added energy in that direction. There are so many other things about life and living to deal with. She isn't even a drop in that bucket.

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answers from Bakersfield on

She sounds toxic to your well being. I'd totally limit time spent with her. Family getogethers only... definitely no one on one time, can't see the point in it. Even the girls don't get on well, so I don't see the need to encourage the relationship. When the girls get older and if they choose to hang out, cross that bridge then.

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answers from Phoenix on

I recommend you read the book "The Disease to Please" by Harriet Braiker, PhD.

There is not going to be a happy ending where you EVER satisfy self-absorbed, 'their child does no wrong' kind of people. Regardless if they are family or not.

You hit the nail on the head already - just be CIVIL. Talk about the weather. Smile.

Your sweet daughter is the only one acting normally here. She's not pretending to get along. She plain and simple does not get along with such spoiled, snobby kids and should NEVER take ALL the blame for any situation, especially between children. There are always 3 sides to every story - hers, the kids and the truth. And it's probably not worth your time trying to investigate very single mishap.

So - limit your time with them. Especially limit your daughters time with them and invest both of your time in making real friends - not ones who steal the show..I know you're not kidding, but that behavior alone is a red flag.....Keep your distance safe.

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answers from Dallas on

My opinion I wouldn't have much to do with her. Let her live in her world and enjoy yours. When you have to be around each other, I would warn your daughter that if her cousin starts acting badly to get away from her. I do understand that your niece was getting in your daughter's face and acting all mean, however, as a parent I would have said something in front my my sister and brother-in-law if my child was hit. Just like I think when you saw your daughter being bullied by their daughter, I'd call her out on it. You already know they don't think their daughter does anything wrong so when she does, point it out, and have your daughter's back.
I'm sorry your SIL is the way she is, she's the only one to change and it doesn't look like that will happen. Keep being the bigger person!

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answers from San Francisco on

I understand wanting a relationship with someone who it seems logically should be supportive and would seem have a lot of the same vaules. This person sure doesn't sound like someone I'd want to hang out with or want in my daughters life, relative or not. My suggestion is to be civil to her and her husband. Don't take conversation past "How's the Weather?" Ignore any drama, attention grabbing from her and let it roll off your back. If she starts to tell you or your husband what to do about your daughter (or anything for that matter) tell her you don't want to talk about it. (Find your own words to politely but firmly say "Thank you but No Thank you") Even though these people are relatives, since they have such different values and are overstepping boundaries, they should be not much more than acquaintances to you. If they ask about why you're not seeing them, calling can say something vague about being busy, the girls have different interests....etc.

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answers from Chicago on

It sounds like all you can do is try not to give her anything to talk about, keep your distance overall and be polite and sociable when needed. I have to do something simmilar with my SO's best friends fiance whom neither of us care for but have to put up with if we want to see his best friend. But I am interested to see if anyone else out there has another solution.

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answers from Anchorage on

I know she is family, and that makes it hard, but I would really just try not to have much to do with her. At family functions be civil, but I wouldn't go out of my way to be her friend, and if either one of them ever tries to discipline your daughter call them out on it and insist they never do it again. If the kids are together always watch to be sure your daughter is not being blamed for things that are not her fault.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Ain't gonna happen.
Don't subject your child to this cousin any more.
And don't spend time with this couple;
it's not a good use of your limited time.
Is this your husband's sister?
So . . . at extended family get-togethers, go.
But socialize with other people, not this particular SIL and her DD.

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answers from Philadelphia on

It's a good thing the kids don't play together anymore. I say avoid the SIL till she grows up. What a immature brat! I don't think she will be civil till she wants to. You can't make her be respectful to you. She may never be nice to you so you will need to prepare yourself for her nasty attitude. If you have to be with her treat her with respect and ignore her.

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answers from Portland on

Unless and until you can hold out an olive branch to her, there may not be much point in putting yourself or your family into such hostile situations. She's not too likely to change unless you start the process yourself.

If you genuinely want a civil relationship, you can learn an effective and informative process called Non-Violent Communication (google this for descriptions, examples and resources). I have never found anything more effective for getting to the crux of an issue, learning to leave our personal sentiments out of it, listening with genuine respect, and asking clearly and specifically for respect in return.

There will never be a way to get respect from your SIL unless you can show her that you respect her as a human being with legitimate needs and feelings. Once you are able to do that, she will be able to lay down some of her judgment and defensiveness, and accept that you are a person of good faith.

My husband and I both learned this process, and have used it to positive effect in some personally challenging relationships. They are not yet delightful, and maybe never will be, but they are vastly improved. It's been worth the effort – some of which has been the necessity of laying down our own judgments. I think we're both better, more patient and compassionate people for it.


answers from Dover on

Don't leave your daughter unsupervised and try to stay keep then kids in your vision. If the niece acts up towards your daughter and isn't being corrected, simply remove your daughter from the situation and say something like "come with me for a little bit while your cousin calms down and wants to play nice again". Be ready to correct your child as well (if someone else steps in, you should calmly say "I will handle her"). As for your SIL's comment to your husband about your child lying, he should have and both of you should going foward reply by "she hasn't lied to us and we will correct it if she does". It is better to take care of these things head on because otherwise it will cause resentment.

It sounds like it may be a jealousy issue (she isn't the only "daughter" anymore, she is not the only woman in her brother's life, and her daughter is not the only grandchild). She may feel threatened. I went through this w/ my BIL's wife for a long time after dating then marrying the youngest brother (I had a child and they had not been able to conceive). We butted head often (she is now his ex wife and we have very little interaction).



answers from Erie on

How does your husband feel about her (I'm assuming that she's his sister, but I couldn't tell from your post)? I'd follow his lead here. As women, we tend to want to maintain family relationships even when they're problematic. Guys are often more willing to sever ties. I'm not suggesting that you do that, just that you let him call the shots, e.g. regular couples dates, family events, etc. If you continue to see them socially, you'll have to endure (and it sounds like you are) the criticisms and negativity without letting it drag you down. If distance is OK with him, don't feel the need to push for more contact - your immediate family is your first priority. On that note, just make sure that your daughter is learning the right lessons from and interaction she has with your niece, discussing things afterward when appropriate. Good luck~



answers from Chicago on

I have a similar relationship with my SIL.

I think the best way to summarize your situation is that it sounds like you are just two different people, with two different parenting styles and you will likely never be friends. Once you can accept those facts, perhaps you can just get along with her and her family?

Face it, you probably wouldn't be "friends" with her and her daughter unless you married your husband. Maybe she feels like "they" came first and don't have to change for anyone. Perhaps it's hard for her to "share the spotlight" with your daughter - maybe her daughter got all of "Uncle ____" attention before you and your daughter came along?

I have found that the best way to "get along" with my sister in law is to give a lot of "un huh" (yes) to whatever she says, to mostly ignore my nephew's behavior and to not offer up ANY personal advice, suggestions or information.

I realize this isn't an ideal situation and I dearly wish my answer was different. However I think some people just don't gel. And trying to force the issue is just going to make everyone miserable.

Let the girls play together when the family is together. Send her a card in the mail for her birthday and other holidays. Be the bigger person.

Don't spend time with her, them (as a couple) or the family unless it's a family gathering with other relatives. It's just going to be "difficult".

Some families gel great. Some do get along. Others, not so much.

Just know that if YOU try to be civil, be her friend, invite them out on couples dates, etc. then YOU don't get to complain to your husband about how rude they are, how much they complain, how they treated you or your child, etc. If YOU are going to take that on, then YOU have to learn how to deal with their behavior.

Personally, I have opted out. I have chosen to be nice/civil with no extras. I have accepted that my SIL and I will never be "friends", so I've stopped trying. And actually, we get along better now that we only need to be "nice" to each other at holiday/family parties.

I hope you find some peace.



answers from Chicago on

Some sisters get jealous when there brothers get married. There are sisters who maybe depend on their brothers for everything, then when someone else steps in it's devastating. They don't know how to share.

It's obvious, she's made up her mind about you. Put some distance between you and her. If your husband wants to continue his relationship with her, then you don't get in his way. I would just leave her be. That's too much negativity. Your daughter probably can tell you more than what you are feeling regarding your SIL. When your child is out playing you want her to play with someone whose parent is going to eventually distribute punishment if needed. If you didn't know this person, you probably would have bailed out. Let her go and live in peace.

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