What your mum-in-law wants you to know

Aishwarya Rai Raavan World Film Premiere Inside 1TBFfa1fT-NlWe’ve been talking to a few desi mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law dotted around India, the Middle East and US. It appears they have a lot to say to each other, whether they live together or not. Here’s what the mothers-in-law want their bahus to know:

  1. We’ve got a life, you know. Babysitting your kids isn’t the top thing on our agenda every day.
  2. We raised our kids without maids or assistance and with even crabbier mums-in-law.
  3. No, you may not wear my jewellery without permission.
  4. My son was a much nicer person before he married you.
  5. I’d appreciate some appreciation for my contributions to your life.
  6. I don’t think too much of your cooking.
  7. Daughters-in-law these days are a pampered lot; they expect to be treated like daughters.
  8. But I cannot treat you like I treat my daughter. Many reasons.
  9. I wish we could be friends. I’d like to have someone I can really talk to.
  10. I do love you, even if I may not always show it. You are taking forward my legacy.

And then we asked the daughters-in-law what they’d like their mothers-in-law to know. This is what they said:

  1. We work all day, look after your son, our own kids, and just expect a little relief when you’re around. Is that too much to ask?
  2. You’re overly critical and nasty, and have unreasonable expectations of me. I am what I am and I cannot be you.
  3. I don’t think too much of your fashion sensibility.
  4. Your son is different when you’re around. I miss him then.
  5. I don’t agree with your parenting techniques.
  6. I love your cooking.
  7. I hate that friend of yours who comes in every week and leaves you even more critical of me.
  8. How could you leave the kid alone to go shopping when I was at work? How could you?
  9. I wish we could be friends. As I grow older, I think it would be good to have an (even) older woman’s support.
  10. I do love you, even if I may not always show it. You’re precious to my husband.

(Pictures of Jaya Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for representative purposes only — since we couldn’t get any of the real saas-bahu interviewees to give us theirs.)

About eShe

eShe is an independent women’s magazine and blog based in New Delhi that amplifies women's voices and stories about our shared humanity. Reach us at

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