Horrid Mother-in-laws may be a well-used resource for comedians, but mine isn’t the least bit amusing. From the time my husband introduced me to her twelve years ago, when we were already secretly engaged, she’s relentlessly criticised and tried to undermine me. I come from a warm and close family and it’s been a real shock just how awful a mother can be. The irony is she works as a counsellor for Relate and spends her days advising couples how to behave. She is also a trustee of two family-based charities, a member of several women’s groups and seems to have lots of friends.
Despite this her coldness towards me is never ending. The crunch came last month at my eldest daughter’s 10th birthday when she decided to mock my behaviour as a mother in front of all four of our children. My husband faced up to her, no easy task, and told her she was not to behave like that again. He also spoke to his father who just shrugged his shoulders and said: ‘You know what she is like.’ We both feel we would have no contact with her at all if it weren’t for the children, but it’s a difficult step to take because family life is so important to me. Before we make up our mind can you explain why someone can appear to be so positive and helpful at work and with friends but be the opposite with their own family. It just doesn’t make sense.