Dr. Laura Is Wrong: Mother-in-Laws Are No Queens

03/30/2015 01:50 pm ET | Updated May 30, 2015
Catherine Yeulet via Getty Images

Recently, across my news feed, there was a cartoon from Dr. Laura Schlessinger's Facebook page, with the caption, "The mother and daughter-in-law can never be equal, nor should they strive to be." Dr. Laura went on to say that there's a hierarchy, and that the MIL is the queen, and the DIL the princess, and the problems arise when the princess attempts to dethrone the Queen. That's my summation, anyways. (You can find it here, and let me know if you read it differently.)

Honestly, reading that made me wonder how close Dr. Laura is to becoming a MIL herself, because I just can't imagine why else she'd be spouting such crap.

The idea that when a woman marries, she should accept, and bow to, her MIL being a higher rank than her?

No. Just... no.

I find it wholly repugnant that Dr. Laura would encourage young women to view their MILs as having power over them like this. MIL may be queen of her own castle, and that's all well and good. But her son's home ISN'T her castle. She doesn't, and shouldn't reign there. That's for her son and his wife. They are in control of their lives, and the very idea that simply because the MIL is older, and therefore assumed to be wiser and more mature, is ridiculous at best, and downright damaging at worst.

First of all, everyone involved is an adult. This makes them peers. No longer is the parent-child dynamic in play... or at least, it shouldn't be. Adults are presumed to be independent, capable of decision-making, and no longer in need of active, hands-on parenting.

If your adult child still needs you to be able to manage, then I would suggest that something is very wrong. It's one thing for someone to seek advice from another adult. That's totally normal, be it a parent, a best friend, boss or co-worker. When someone is unable to make decisions without handholding, there's a problem. When turning to parents before, or instead of, their spouse, there's a massive problem.

Second, why on Earth would any woman believe that she must give up her power, her independence, to be a second fiddle in her own family? Who the heck would want to sign up for a lifetime of that? Of someone else having the ultimate authority in their home, that doesn't even live there?!

Third, to what extent does the queen in this situation reign? Does she get final decision in career choices, moving, children, parenting? I was under the impression that adults had the freedom, and the right, to make those choices for themselves. The idea that someone else gets a vote in how another couple runs their home, their marriage, their family gives me the flat-out willies.

I do agree on one thing, however...

MIL and DIL are not equal. They each have very different roles, and that is how it should be. MIL had her years as the primary female in her son's life. That time ends when a DIL comes along. Never again should the MIL be the primary female in his life, when he has a spouse.

A man who's unable, or unwilling to make that switch of loyalty, from his family of origin (FOO) to his family of creation, that of his spouse and children, is not being a good husband nor father. The role of being a 'son' should no longer be the top priority.

Any mother who has not encouraged that growth in her son, during her raising of him, has willingly attempted to damage him, to stunt him for his adulthood, and ought to be ashamed of herself. She's put her concerns, or fears of losing her primary role in her son's life ahead of his well-being and happiness. Her selfish concerns are damaging to her adult child, and any relationship he may have in the future, unless he's able to make these changes on his own, despite her interference.

And, any mother who attempts to keep her adult child hobbled, and in need of her, should be prepared for him, and his family, to completely cut ties, away from someone who would so willingly put their own selfish wants over what is healthy and right for those around them. She will be the agent of her own worst fears coming to fruition.