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o hear the wives of Asian men talk, they're the mothers-in-law from hell -- tyrannical and nitpicky, with an iron grip on their sons.
     The rap isn't entirely unfounded. Traditional Asian culture holds wives to be subordinate to mothers-in-law. Thus women who suffered long and hard under their MIL's thumbs looked forward to the day when they could rule their sons' wives with the same heavy hand. They expected to dictate how their daughters-in-law cook, clean, shop, educate the grandkids and even over how they dress and wear makeup.
     These days fewer families share a roof with parents. But old mindsets die hard. The expectations of some Asian mothers-in-law seem to have survived into the new millennium. Their ways seem especially terrifying to young wives who grew up in more laissez-faire western culture. The terror is compounded when the MILs appear to impose old-fashioned prejudices on their sons' choice of mates and the way their wives run the household. Stories abound of how otherwise promising marriages have been killed by the old gal's all-seeing evil eyes.
     But are Asian MILs as bad as they say? Maybe they've been getting a bum rap based on the horror stories of the unlucky few. Here's your chance to paint a balanced picture of how awful or wonderful Asian mothers-in-law can be.

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(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 04:58:45 PM)

I'm not married yet but it seems from what I hear that Asian MILs treat Asian daughter-in-laws worse than if their daughter-in-law were White. Could be a inferiority/superiority complex, a language barrier issue, or just simply because they can get away with it with us.

My boyfriend is the only child, which can make it an even more complicated situation since the two are close.

She hasn't been too bad yet, but I have noticed that she sometimes indirectly insults me. Remarks about other women being better, or asking only him if he's had enough to eat yet when I'm also over for lunch/dinner (aren't you supposed to also ask the guest?). Even worse, I'll answer for him (simple questions) when she asks a question and she'll ignore me and wait for his reply.

I am lucky though, because I sense that he is aware of some of this going on (though we never speak of it)...and pays me the proper attention and respect I deserve.

Is it just me?
   Monday, May 06, 2002 at 13:10:23 (PDT)
There's been a series of articles over the last few months in the Washington Post that might be subtitled Living Without Asian Mothers-in-Law.

Kind of a gruesome story about an AM in love with a WF. AM's parents hate the girl and send him back to the Old Country to forget her. When they get back to the states AM kills his entire family and marries the WF. The article has lots of creepy details.

Man of Lha-sa(mancha)
   Saturday, May 04, 2002 at 16:48:33 (PDT)
Being married to a Chinese man is a challenge in itself. However, having a Chinese mother-in-law is a whole different ball of wax. I am half vietnamese which was also a problem. Two grandchildren and ten years later, things are still not great. However, having my own son and an asian mother who is VERY traditional has made me more understanding of my MIL's point of view. It is difficult for any mother to let go of her child but the bond between an asian mother and her son is one that is unique. The importance placed on sons in asian culture is well known; but it's more than that it's the love and attention asian mothers give their sons. My father-in-law told me something that summed it up best, all parents love their children equally but they also love them differently. Asian fathers some their sons how to be men, their mothers show them what it is to love and be loved. For that I will always be grateful to my in-law, my husband is everything I knew (and never knew) I wanted. What you see from these MILs is not disdain for the wives, it's a desire for their sons to have the best of everything. Hopefully, the wives want the same thing and can find a middle ground. I have and it was worth the effort.
lkl220    Wednesday, May 01, 2002 at 18:22:21 (PDT)
I met my first husband when I was a soldier in the army in Korea. He was a Korean soldier. I met his family on a visit, short time later was discharged to the states. He asked me to come back and marry him, and I did. He was still in the army so when I returned to Korea, I arrived at the home, he basically greeted me and said "see ya in three weeks" and had to leave. There I was with the extended family, gathered around looking at me like I was a pink poodle or something. I have a bizarre sense of humor, and having dated Asian men (mostly Thai though) all my life, I knew what cooked. I grabbed a pencil and paper and started pointing at things and they got into the spirit of it and thus began my language instruction. I got up early every morning and cleaned the entire house with the housekeeper, and my mother-in-law was the boss. I got a job teaching English, and made big $$$ which impressed, and got me out of the housework. Some family members took to me right away, some didn't. I'm a stong feminist, but love involves sacrifices so I did pretty much what was expected of me. My mother-in-law was really strict at first, but the whole family was very intelligent, so their sense of humor was great, and they thought I was a riot at times. After two years, and a son (that I gave the Korean version of a girl's name, HAH!) that my mother-in-law was crazy about, they pretty much liked me almost better than they did their own son. Hang in there and have a good sense of humor.
   Friday, April 26, 2002 at 18:59:16 (PDT)