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Mother-in-Law

  • By: Marcella Bush Trevino
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

The mother-in-law, the mother of one's husband or wife, has historically been a controversial figure in society and culture. While the relationship between a mother-in-law and son-in-law can be filled with tension, it is the relationship between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law that is most conflicted. Their prescribed gender and family roles as matriarchs frequently clash as two families with often-different traditions and values merge. The most common points of contention between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law are the domestic matters of housework and child rearing. The long-term stress such friction can cause can affect the success of a marriage as the son is caught between conflicted loyalties toward his mother and his wife.

Mother-in-Law Stereotypes

The stereotypical mother-in-law is a long-standing staple in stand-up comedy routines and popular culture, ...

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