Ask An Indian Auntie

Friday, January 23, 2009
Indian Auntie is back! Check out her debut here. This week she is tackling two questions along the same lines:

Q: Dear Indian Auntie:

What do I do with MIL/FIL who are so sympathetic to their daughter cause she is "working so hard and their son in law does not support" but who easily turn around in their son's case when they complain that "their bahu should let their son work late cause now "he" is working hard! Daughter in law should now support! Why is it that a daughter in law is never as good as their son?


Q: Dear Indian Auntie:

I want to second the question about the double standard between daughter and daughter in law, son and son in law. Where does it come from? And are we allowed to point it out to our in laws? My twist on it is that my husband's sister's husband can do NO wrong and yet I could serve tea and spring ten million male heirs from my head and I would never be "good enough"!!


A: My dear Betis,

Yes, betis. It is too sad Indian parents are so backward how they are thinking about the daughter-in-laws.

On the day my son was married, I told my cute little new bahu Arundhati that she would be treated with the utmost of complete respect from me. Even during all the engagement hangama, I told Arundhati's parents that we did not believe in all the nonsense of dowry or inequality of girl's family, and that they should only give us what they felt was right in exchange for taking their daughter. No drama from this momma, I said to her, to be joking in a rhyming style! After the wedding ceremony when I told my Arundhati to make me some tea because I was feeling thirsty, I didn't make her change her outfit to wear something clean and understood that the tea ws really not that good because it was clear she hadn't really been raised properly and I knew because I am a modern mother in law that I would be able to teach her properly. When my friends told me that it was because she was so dark that her tea was so different I scolded them. Of course yes she is much darker than my beta and I don't know why I deserved that but if my beta is happy than I am happy, that is what I always say and she isn't as dark as poor Prabhu's betrothed, thank God.

But, shall we talk more about this problem? I asked my daughter-in-law to help us also to discuss, because together we can give some good advice about the modern relationship of love and respect that we have together only. It is good to be having her perspectives also. She was already at my home today anyway as it is Friday and she is helping me with my poor feet. I need a pedicure - my feet are almost looking as bad as her mother's birdie toes!

You see, there is so much long history of bad treatment of daughter-in-laws in our cultures. So many, many years ago, maybe even twenty, all women in India were treated as a burden, as a stinky property. When someone married your daughter, thank God! It was so much relief. And, then her new family would have this burden. So, this is the history. And, it is so sad history.

Sorry, I lost my thinking for two moments. What I want to say is that everybody can change. Arundhati is lucky that I am modern but I wasn't always modern. Right now, for instance, she is hurting my pinky toe with her crude filing of it and when I was a little girl this may have been cause for her banishment but I understand times have changed and I just told her how hopeless she still is at things and how I don't understand why she doesn't practice more, or cook my beta proper meals. We have an "open communication," as you young people like to say. She is sensitive and she sometimes cries but I understand that she is probably just upset that she had disappointed in so many ways and I try to tell her that I will allow her to make it up to me. Even though my toes are ruined for the day. Will have to wear closed-toe shoes to the mehndi tonight. Array, bullshit!

So, for conclusions, I think it is terrible to be treating any children different or less special than any other childrens. All childrens are same I say! And we love all of them, even when they are crying in the bathroom about nothing. I tell Arundhati, I love you. Even though you are a dark fat balloon...still, I love you like you were my daughter.

Love you,
Your Indian Auntie

Send your questions to Indian Auntie at, or leave them in the comments below.

Neela said...

Hahahahaha this is perfect. How did you get my mother in law to agree to write these? Ha.

Anonymous said...

you hit on it all indian auntie: the obsequious DIL you secretly want, and the gap between how you act and how you think you act! tell me this: how do indian aunties ever raise daughters?!?

Competing for 3 Year Old said...

My question: Both my in laws and my parents want to take my 3 year old son with them for a week this summer. I would love it to have one week of adult time, but I don't want him gone for two, and telling them one year with you, one year with you won't work. Any suggestions on how to pick where he goes?

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this - I had initially sent the 1st question you are writing about.

Thanks for the hilarious perspective on this - I guess thats all we can do - try to find humor in our daily lives.

Maybe I should consider myself lucky, since I am not stuck with pedicures like Arundhati. I do however wish that my in-laws would treat my career as important as they do their son's or my sister-in-law's, and not keep expecting just me to be the one to make sacrifices for "kids sake".

Thanks Auntie!

Wondering... said...

Are we to take from this that our situation is hopeless? That our in laws are not going to regard our marriages to their sons as equal? I actually think this response is hilariously accurate. I think most in laws think they are very progressive, forgiving etc. But the fact is that most are not. So do we actually confront them on this? Show them the double standard? Not a very desi thing to do: Confronting your elders. What do you think Auntie?

Uma said...

If I could take a stab at a response: The only thing you can do is live your life as you want to live your life, and let your in laws grow to accept it. I have tried the other way (becoming "Arundati") and it only leads to resentment (on both sides, surprisingly!) Things are much better now that I am myself. There is much that is probably not "ideal" about me to my mother in law but at least I can sleep at night.

Anonymous said...

Ohmy poor Arundathi. Thanks Indian Aunty. I feel better about my situation now! Touching my MIL's toes--jesus, it gives me shivers!

Furious Nari said...

I think the reason why alot of desi in-laws get so involved in their grown adult sons and daughter in law's lives is because they don't have a life. They need to get out and get some hobbies. If a mother or father in law is widowed, they need to start dating.

All this moping around a house with your nose in another person's face all day long is exasperating. I don't know how anyone can live like that and I don't know why anyone would want to.

Strange indeed.

Indian Auntie In Training said...

LOL Indian Auntie is hilarious. You know what's scary? We will BE Indian Aunties one day. And I know we all think we will be so much better but come on, every generation thinks they are so much more progressive than the next. I wonder if my 3 year old is going to find a wife who can give me the french manicures i so love! Hahahaha.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I get particularly annoyed with the double standard (and it happens often) I remind myself that I knew what I was getting into. And I remind myself that they are a plane ride away!

Lonely said...

Dear Indian Auntie and others:

I have a question, unrelated, kind of embarrassing but I am looking for help anywhere.

How do I get my husband to pay attention to me again? We have been married for almost 6 years and the last year seems like we have been more roommates than partners. I can't blame it all on the kid. We just don't seem to click.

We had a wonderful courtship. We were in love. I was sure this was "it."

The scariest part is that the patterns we are setting into are EXACTLY like my husband's parents. I am at home, I take care of the kid. He goes to work, he comes home tired. We barely talk and he expects things from me that we never agreed upon.

It feels hopeless. I am always sad. I don't want to live the life my in laws have and the few times I have brought this up to my husband he acks like I am personally insulting his parents. I am just using them as an example.

He seems totally uninterested in me and I don't know how it happened. And I don't think this is about sex, if that is what you guys might think. Maybe in part, actually, but not entire.

It's horrible to feel lonely in a marriage.

I Like to wear Black said...

Okay this isn't as heavy as some of the questions but I want to know: Why are Indians so against wearing black?? It's as if I am some wild child because I prefer dark colors. It's absurd.

To Lonely said...

To "Lonely": I have been where you are. It only gets worse. Time does not heal wounds, time makes strangers. If you are committed to your marriage (and it sounds like you are) get in therapy. Now. Take it from someone who was married at 26 and divorced at 30.

Another Take On It? said...

Indian Auntie is hilarious. And also kind of sad. Somebody out there: Got any stories of a super progressive, actually modern mother in law? Need something uplifting!

Anonymous said...

Also to lonely . . .
In addition to couples therapy, I would also suggest individual therapy. I have a tendency to put my own self worth in the success of my relationship . . . and it has taken a lot of therapy for me to realize that the success of all of my relationships (romantic, familial, etc.) depends upon my individual happiness. Focus on yourself first -- find things and people that make you happy (and invite your hubby along!) -- and from there, suggest that you both focus on your relationship.

Anonymous said...

I am going to take one sentence from the reply at face value: "We can change." The evolution of the relationship between me and my in laws is amazing. I have had to give a little and so have they but now it's actually enjoyable to see eachother. Granted, it is 9 years later! But I never thought it would happen. They still tell me things like my husband looks thin, and he looks worried is he stressed and it still makes me scratch my head--how they can still think of him as a child--but I have learned what to let go!

Furious Nari Advice Goddess said...

To Lonely

Relationships take work. Relationships are reciprocal. Just like your hubby probably makes time to call his parents or makes time to spend with them, makes time to call his friends or makes time to spend with him, and even just as he makes time to connect with his boss or meet the demands of the work place, similarly, he has to make time to spend with you and meet your demands.

There is now scientific evidence that proves that without touch, physical bonding, humans will and do die. Therfore it is of the upmost importance, for his health as well as your's that you both mend the broken ends of your relationship.

It doesn't take much. A kiss and hug when coming home from work. Five or ten minutes of focused conversation with EYE CONTACT, acknowledging each other's presence and re-connecting after being apart for so many hours, etc.

It really does not take much time at all.

You can also plan weekend getaways or even just a one day getaway WITHOUT THE KIDS, just the two of you at the beach or at a museum, wherever. The point is to take the time FOR EACH OTHER.

Without some personal interaction your marriage is doomed to fail. One (or both) of you will end up having an affair to get the attention/affection that you crave.

Before spending lots of money on thearapy I advise you to get some audio books on relationships and listen to them together at bedtime.


You could pretend to not be interested in him as well. Keep yourself busy with other interests and act very detached towards him. That will peak his interest in what exactly it is you are doing with your time when he's not around and why all of a sudden you seem so happy and content. It builds mystery, mystique, which is an important componant of ATTRACTION. He will start wondering, worrying, and might try to "win you back".

It works.

JD said...

To Lonely,
Does he not want to talk with you at all? Is he distant and not even trying to hear you? I mean, what is the situation exactly? If you ask to talk with him, does he want to go away and read or go on the computer? If he is distancing himself from you, you should tell him point blank what is on his mind and what you are feeling. If he doesn't respond, ask him if there are stresses at work getting to him. I don't mean to scare you, but do you think he has met someone else? Sometimes men get distant when they have found someone. But don't get scared--most men tend to be withdrawn anyway and don't like to communicate much, especially if they are under some stress.

Anonymous said...


Could be some brain thing going on. Over activity in one area or under activity in another. That can be help with allopathic, homeopathic or ayurvedic natural drugs like herbs. Vitamins and amino acids help. There are websites about this.

Sometimes it's a brain thing and with a little tweaking, his limbic system will open right up.

Also To Lonely said...

To Lonely: Your question makes me so sad! I also hope you have some people who you can talk with and some friends to take you out and get your mind off things. Nothing like a night out with the girls to get your spirts up right? I don't know your whole situation but I wish you all the best.

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