Sick of My Sister in Law!!

Updated on August 30, 2010
T.L. asks from Corpus Christi, TX
17 answers

Strong title, I know, but I am reaching my boiling point and fear a confrontation is near. Will someone please give me advice on how to handle my SIL and her constant need to put me, my husband, and my little ones down all the time?
Let me start from the beginning. My brother and sister in law have been married now for twenty years. When they first married, we had a wonderful relationship. We talked all the time, shared each others clothes, and I babysat their first two kids while they were working and I was in college. Ten years ago, I got married and we talked constantly about how quickly I could get pregnant so our kids could grow up together. It took us a while to get pregnant but I had my first eight months after she had her fourth. Well, everything has gone downhill since! My sister in law now sees everything as a competition. If someone comments on how cute my little boy is, she says he needs a haircut. If someone mentions what well behaved little boys I have, she says my oldest needs to lose weight! No rhyme or reason for her ruthless comments sometimes, she just has to get her negative two cents in there! If someone says something nice about me or my parenting, she shoots back with how I rely on my parents too much because we see them everyday. She even had the nerve to say my husband, a professional musician, degree and all, didn't have enough music skills to teach his 6 and 3 year old sons how to play the piano! What he did to her, besides marry her idiot of a sister in law, I have know clue!
Her constant need to be superior is wearing me out! It has put a strain on our extended family because everyone sees how she treats me and my family but no one wants to say anything to her in fear that it will break up our family. If I give her a piece of my mind or start behaving the way she does and put down her kids all the time, our family get togethers won't be the same or stop all together.
My father has lost all respect for her and my mother has started to resent her because, after all, she is criticizing their only daughter and their grandkids! They say it is out of jealousy that she makes her rude comments, but I have to wonder what she is so jealous of? She and my brother are very well off and want for nothing. They have five beautiful and bright children, they live in a huge home twice the size of ours, and have the support of both sides of grandparents.
Ladies, I pray everyday for guidance on this subject, but I fear the only way this is going to get resolved is by me exploding the next time she goes too far. It took all of my strength this weekend to keep my comments to myself. The last straw was when my aunt asked me how I was feeling after having passed a kidney stone a few days ago while six months pregnant. It was the first my SIL had heard of my illness, but she quickly informed everyone there that I didn't know what I was talking about and that I did not pass a kidney stone. Apparently now she knows more than my "idiot" doctor too!! LOL!
Please someone out there...tell me I'm not the only one with a sister in law from hell!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Mine also steps on toes. She is a helicopter mom and steps in all the time with know-it-all parenting advice and judgment when her daughter is a year younger than mine. Once I almost exploded. But I held back and am so grateful I did. My mother had a sil like this and I have one and I think its best to either bring it up with her privately and respectfully, or let it roll off you. If you fear you are going to snap then definitely bring it up before that happens. Look on the bright side: everyone sees her for what she is and what she is doing. Take solace in that and try to find some humor in her outrageous behavior. If you feel the need to bring it up, do it in persons, not in writing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Bet she doesn't even realize she's doin' it. Try privately, carefully, tenderly pointing it out to her, you have a long history....might be an all out EMO moment for the two of you. Long term relationships of every kind change and grow, whether they grow apart or together is all about effective communication. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Toledo on

You are definitely not alone!My daughter has this in spades--S-I-L and M-I-L!! Thank goodness her hubby has a small family. Anyway, here was my advice to her. First off, try to understand that this comes from some type of pain in her. You may never know what causes it, but it's very real, and it causes her to snipe at you and your kids. By realizing this, you can take a more sympathetic attitude toward her instead of being hurt. She can't hurt unless you let her. Everyone else sees what she's doing, so it isn't like she's turning them against you. Secondly, the next time that she says something completely out of line, just look at her with raised eyebrows and say very sweetly but in an injured voice, "Why on EARTH would you say something like THAT?" It makes her accountable for her remark instead of just letting it slide.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You could try avoiding her forever.
Or you could try talking to her. When she says, "Your son is too heavy, he needs to lose weight." You could reply, "SIL, surely you don't mean to hurt his or my feelings with your comments." Call her out but give her the opportunity to re-state her comment. It will take time for you to re-train her.

Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Calmly - "What do you mean by that?" - a wonderful all purpose phrase that pretty much forces them to either correct what they implied or shove the other foot in their mouth while they dig themselves further into a hole.
It's apparent your whole family knows how she is and for the most part they are over looking it. I suppose you could yell at her while you are pregnant or postpartum and blame it on the hormones if you thought it might help. But is she really likely to change if you did? Can you (or another family member) talk to your brother about it? Try to see past her annoying behavior and find something positive to say or think about her. She's not so important you should be getting all worked up over it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Rapids on

Wow...I just had a flashback to a confrontation with my own SIL years ago. She had a way of scheduling family events and then cancelling them at the last minute, dissappointing all family members looking forward to the event. Essentially and generally speaking, she rarely carried through with promises...something I find unnecessary and inexcuseable. Don't tell people you'll do something if you can't or don't want to do it! Anyhow, when I knew how hurt everyone else was, I wrote her a very blunt and maybe too honest letter. All broke loose! She called my husband (who had nothing to do with my letter) every name in the book and told her other siblings that they were on her sh--list if they chose "my side". Long story short, family took the hit. Even my MIL was forbidden from talking to me or her son by my crazed SIL. It took years to repair the damage but all has been forgiven and things are good now. At any rate, if I could do it differently, I would call my SIL and ask to meet alone. I would not loose my temper and I would simply state how I feel and further state what I would want in the future. You two seem to have had a good relationship in the past and I would say that I wanted that relationship back but can't understand or get past the hostility she is showing. Maybe ask her why she acts as she does. She may not even recoginize it. Maybe she is jealous and as another person stated, money can not buy happiness. I would take the high road and offer an ear if she needs to talk but I would also tell her that her comments, especially about your kids, are not welcome and uncalled for. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You have known this woman a long time and have quite a history. Instead of blowing up work out what you want to say to her in a kind way. Set up a time to be alone, and go for it. Pledge you won't lose it before you go.

For example,
"I love you. I have always admired what a great mom you are and a wife to my brother. I adore my nieces and nephews and am so proud of them and what a great job you have done. I'm having a problem though and I want to be honest with you about it." At this point she should be encouraging you and this is your opportunity to voice yourself, but please do it without anger. Don't bring in the rest of the family and what they think. That would be like ganging up. Keep your tone "I feel.........."

Hopefully you will leave her with a hug, but don't expect perfection. Less criticism but like with your kids pick your battles. Arguing won't help. Possibly come up with a mantra for when she criticizes. Like if she points out your child is over weight, "We are okay with that." or laugh and say, "If you can't say something nice about someone then I tell my kids not to say anything at all!"

Bottom line. Chances are there will be some friction, but you have already stated that things are like they used to be.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I can't stand my brother in law or sister in law and like you we were close at one point but now we hardly see each other or talk and they live around the corner from us. I want to befriend them on facebook but know that it will cause problems so I just hid them so I can't see there stupid comments. They have 3 girls and still act like they are in high school. So pretty much we have two different life styles now. I would really just ignore her at all cost when you are at family functions just try and stay in a different room than her and if she says something act like you didn't hear her. I feel awful since I don't see me nieces that much but it is what it is. good luck and god bless


answers from Dover on

Man, I think you have my ex-sister in law (she is now ex because my BIL divorced her!). I typically let stuff go concerning me but when it came to my son (didn't have my daughter yet) I would tell her to back off (actual wording varied based on what was said). Everyone felt the same as I did but they too wouldn't say anything just to keep peace...I tried but my son was the line she was not allow to cross.

On the up side, she doesn't hide it and isn't being sneaky about it.I would NOT resort to stooping to her level. You are better than that and it isn't her kids' fault!

I am curious how your brother reacts to her putting down his sister and nephews? If he hasn't already, maybe you could talk to him and ask if he would have a conversation w/ his wife and ask her to knock it off, tell him how you feel about it...people can argue fault/blame/reason but not YOUR feelings. If he has already tried or doesn't want to get in the middle then I say you should have a private conversation w/ her yourself. Tell her that even if she truly believes/feels what she spouts, she should either keep it to herself or at least not say in front of your kids. Explain that you would never put her or her kids down like that and it is very hurtful that she feels this way about her nephews.

Best of luck to you.



answers from Chicago on

With any person like this it is great to have a few prepared comments for these situations. "I appreciate your concern, but I'd like to keep the diagnosis between my doctor and me" "I appreciate your wanting the best for my kids, my husband I are are very comfortable with our music lesson arrangement" "that hurts my feelings, I think my son's hair looks great" "thanks for the concern, in the future, can you bring things like this up to me privately. I don't think my boys need to hear that kind of criticism from their aunt"

She obviously has her own issues and because this is a relationship you don't want to burn, try a little kindness while letting her know you won't stand for her negative comments


answers from Dallas on

LMAO...your not the only one, I have a sister-in -law who acts the same way. Mines just doesn't have any children. I do my best to only have contact with her when I have to (family functions) and even then I keep it brief and don't tell her any of our family business because I hate how she takes even the most positive things and turn them negagtive in her own way. I don't want to start anything with her so unless she just goes too far I plan to keep my peace. Plus our mother-in-law just loves her to death (we are married to brothers), but doesn't know that my sister -in-law can't stand her lol. I would suggest that you talk to her and find out why she treats you like that. Good luck!!



answers from Phoenix on


Have you spoken to your brother about her behavior? I know my brother 95% of the time sticks up for his wife whether she is right or wrong, but it might help bring his attention to the situation. I am sure he would not want his nephews being put down by anyone, not even his own wife. If that does not work, I would plan to sit down with her in a public place without any kids or husbands and openly discuss the problem. By doing it in a public place, you are keeping it a neutral zone and chances are she will not make a scene.

I hope this helps! I wish you all the best!


answers from Los Angeles on

Oh, I feel for you. Kudos to you for taking the high road all these years, but it is now time for you to start sticking up for yourself and your children. Don't explode, just stop the comments in their tracks with a pointed look and a pointed question, "Why ever would you say such a thing??" Look at it this way ... either way, the family is suffering. It's not going to stop while you tacitly agree to doormat status. At least if you start challenging her rudeness, you may get to the bottom of it. She sounds like an unhappy person!



answers from Minneapolis on

In laws are tough. Hang in there. There's a lot of comfort to take in the fact that your family seems to see her negative behavior too and so you don't hafta wonder if you are just crazy.

It sounds like she is older than you? I would surmise she is seeing you getting to experience the super exilerating ramp up of your adult like. The siblings who are in this cycle of life (graduation, first career, engagement, marriage, pregnancy, babies...) seem like they have all the good stuff before them and are getting a lot of attention. But the older sibling (or SIL) is having to let go of this stage and may in fact be feeling unsure what the next stage of their life is or if they will enjoy it.

I would just firmly disagree with the worst of her statements and before she has a chance to reply, totally redirect the conversation. For example, "Suzie, with regard to your opinions about my kidney stones...I am sure you will understand why I choose to leave my medical care in the hands of doctors and not you. By the way, Aunt Betty, how was your vacation?"



answers from Pittsburgh on

You write that "She and my brother are very well off and want for nothing. They have five beautiful and bright children, they live in a huge home twice the size of ours, and have the support of both sides of grandparents. " but my guess is that she is massively unhappy and is jealous of you/your family/your life on O. or more levels. Obviously money cannot buy happiness (it can allow you to think about your unhappiness in the Bahamas for a month, though! lol). She deals with HER unhappiness by trying to make you unhappy (which she never will do).
The jig is up, so to speak, for her. Everyone sees what a wicked witch (!) she is being.
My advice to you--take the highest of the high roads. Lavish her with praise. Thank her profusely for any little thing she does. Compliment her parenting. Ask for her advice from time to time.
I think once she she's she won't get your goat--she'll bore of her little pathetic tactics.
Good luck. Your poor brother.



answers from Houston on

My opinion is to treat her like she treats you. Remember that you need to stick up for your kids and for yourself. I have a sister in law that I cannot stand. Is jealous of us no matter how much she has, she always wants to be first in my mother in law eyes. Do not let her walk all over you, and your family. She is doing this because you have not put a stop on her. You need to this as soon as possible. Good luck on your baby and keep your head up.



answers from Reno on

Oh I feel your pain. I too have two sis-in -laws from hell. It's really frustrating.
As far as I have found, the best way to deal with it has been the non response. When they says something respond with " good to know" and then go about your business. If she's doing it to get a rise out of you, not responding will eventually make her stop.
The way your sis in law is acting is bullying. If you really feel you need a confrontation, I'd suggest each time she says something nasty write down the day, and what was said. After 3 weeks of this say," I am wondering what you think I did that merits you being so angry with me." When she acts surprised or says she isn't pull out the list and go down it item by item. tell her that her comments are not what you expect of her and you are wondering what is wrong. That way you have hard data on what she says.... even better you could use your cell phone to tape her and play it back. Often negative people don't realize how they sound until someone confronts them about it.

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