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As A Caregiver, Is It Too Much For A Daughter In Law To Expect Some Gratitude From Her In Laws?

Posted: December 12, 2016
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This daughter in law left her job to be the primary caregiver. What is wrong if she expects some gratitude from her in laws?

Shikha was happy in her joint family where everything revolved around her. She was single-handedly managing all the tasks both inside and outside, from paying bills to helping with homework, taking her in-laws to doctors and almost everything which you expect from normal an Indian Bahu. Perfect indeed!

Her mother in law had become completely bedridden a few years back after her marriage. Her husband was the only son, and was responsible for taking care of their old parents. She had never discriminated between her parents and her in-laws.

Shikha had to leave her job when her MIL got paralyzed and was completely bed-ridden. Her life revolved around her paralyzed mother in law, aging father in law and two growing children with a busy husband. Her husband had a traveling job so she had no other option but to take complete charge. She was well educated, sweet, fun loving and had always believed in putting in effort to make her relations better and smooth.

It was a daunting task for her to take care of someone who was completely bedridden. Even though she had appointed a nurse to help her MIL, one needed to check on her too. In between giving her medicines, food as directed, washing her clothes, she was working all day long without any breaks. She knew her MIL was not able to lift her lower back but she had not lost her memory and senses. She was completely fine mentally and verbally too.

Shikha was doing her best to ease her. And managing all alone an entire family was not easy too. From early morning till night, every day and every second, she had a timetable to follow. She had never expected that she should move out of from this house or wished someone else could take care of her MIL. The only one thing she was missing, “Just a few words of appreciation from those who are her family and for those she had killed ME”.

Even though her mother-in-law was not well physically, she had never uttered a single word to say thanks or a word of appreciation for her. Forget about gratitude that she was indeed doing a good job and was able to manage so well all alone. For them, it was her duty and those who do their duties should not ask for Gratitude.

Really? But is this logic really logical? What will happen if her in-laws, or the husband expressed a little gratitude towards her? Everyone does their duty but if someone thinks that gratitude and duty are opposite poles then one must think to change it around. Does expressing gratitude towards someone affect your EGO?

I know it happens many times when our domestic help, could be a maid, car washer, gardener does their duty – and if you ask them to do some favors, in terms of change of timings or little extra work, for which they might get paid off too, and you end up adding a small thank you, it makes a lot of difference.

A big smile, sense of motivation and a feeling that EGOs are not there in between the rich and poor or the big and small – makes all the difference! We do respect each other’s work and see no dominance as a payer and receiver!

I understand society is made in a manner that most of the times, younger ones are supposed to do all work for elders. It’s completely OKAY, but do elders feel the need to thank them sometimes? Everyone is busy now and trying hard to satisfy all their near and dear ones.

It happens generally when you look for an auto or taxi and they refuse to go – and there are few who don’t want to know where you want to go – they just say YES. Can we just add a small THANK YOU to them so that they feel elated and a general feel good factor prevails?

Why does GRATITUDE have demarcated lines between the Big and small, Rich and poor, Elder and younger, Owner and servant and DIL and In-laws?

Can we remove that thin line and add a smile with thanks to people around us? Indeed it will not make any difference in our status and but will just add some value as a human being when we leave our Egos behind, and make an effort spread love and respect.

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12 Comments


  1. hmm, haven’t we all, sweetheart even after 25yrs of marriage, my husbands parents treat me like I have plague it used to hurt at one time, now, I realize I do things because of I am what they do with it is their karma, I don’t walk the extra mile either, finally I am less stressed.

    • Ekta Shah

      Thanks for reading Parwatisingari! I understand DIL is always taken for granted for work and ultimately it leads to stress. On the contrary, a small appreciation can always bond the people in better way but its difficult to make them understand. Surely, karmas is different outlook which we can never deny. Its like give your best and leave the rest!

    • One does appreciate, appreciation, for a while I ran a theme blog on squidoo, it was on the dynamics of MIL and DIL it was amazing how the responses world wide are the same.!! It was nice connecting to your blog. Take Care,

  2. ritu mehta

    Read it.Love it. Relate with it to some extent. May be Shikha should give less of “her” and outsource more of what she can. She can be a “manager” who has life outside the “work”. May be she should throw tantrum once in a while 🙂 Call in sick one of these days 🙂 Gratitude may still not come but she will live a little in the process. Happy writing!

    • Ekta Shah

      Thanks Ritu for your words! Ya she can reduce her burden too but in either ways she would be taken for granted! What I feel, a woman can work as much as someone can really think of, she just need an appreciation and gratitude, These words are enough to fuel her enough for happiness!

    • Out source!! that would require some shrewd marketing… one time I had made raagi idli 20 people it was for MIL and her satsang sorority, FIL, says,”as if she will leave her clinic and cook, she must have used the mix, for a moment it hurt and I wanted to lash back. then I realized each time they put me down they are setting me free, now I can detach and do what I want to do, I am not trapped in the have to do drama.

  3. Very poignant post and its true in many households. You have highlighted the situation very well Ekta. Family members often undermine the role of the care givers and home makers (be they working or not) who contribute to the smooth working of the home. This is firstly because people tend to acknowledge or praise only those who contribute flamboyant monetary, material or tangible things (even if only a few) rather than those who contribute (even daily and countless) thoughtful, kind, caring gestures in words, time and effort. This is the sad truth because most are unable to value kindness or generosity of effort above tangible money/wealth/gifts. So unfortunately family will often forget emotional support or even physical effort in terms of care but they will always remember and praise help in kind/money!! This is pathetic but its true and widespread!!
    Secondly in the skewed understanding of marital roles in traditional patriarchal societies, women are expected to be the care givers and men are expected only to bring in the money. However even in families where roles are traditional, we hardly acknowledge that non-working women do financially support men/marital home by contributing wealth as dowry or gifts in cash/jewellery/property and when they work they contribute salaries too in addition to all the care giving duties and needs they usually fulfil. Men on the other hand are largely not expected to contribute greatly to the actual physical efforts or emotional support of care giving- either to parents or children and hardly ever to his in-laws. Why has this been acceptable? It is clearly an unfair inequity in role expectations- a gross undue advantage to the male married member of a family and a clear gross disadvantage to the female married members of the family. Are males so weak and fragile they can only do one task and women are super strong super heroes that they can multi task so much more or have women just been exploited?
    Women must not be so naïve and blind to this exploitation where it exists and we must seek to change it for ourselves and our children. Many educated and decent men understand this and have begun to share the load in as many ways as they can because they understand that this is the decent and fair way to have a wholesome and happy relationship with one’s conscience and one’s wife!!! Where women continue to fulfil these care giving roles (whether they work or not) they must not undervalue their contribution nor should they allow themselves to be unfairly or unduly exploited if they do not receive adequate compensation in gratitude and respect if not in cash. Parents and family members must also be honest in acknowledging/praising the immense contributions of care givers be they daughters-in-laws or any other person who puts in effort for the well being of others rather than only praising and respecting earning or male members of families. If they do not wake up to this, families may soon find a crisis on their hands when they have to pay large sums to outside care givers/ nurses or nursing/old age homes simply because educated, earning and willing daughters in law refuse to be exploited any longer, without respect or rewards.

    • Ekta Shah

      Sonia, this is one of the best description I have ever read, and even better than my words! I second you for each and every thought you have penned down. Every word, every sentence need to reach out more. Surely, I will post it on my Facebook account too. Let people also know that they need to leave the perception of taking people for granted. With this fast moving life everyone is over occupied and if someone is doing with love then please appreciate! Whoever its, could be our own family or in laws or any other. It will always connect you more leaving aside all the grudges which might have cropped in between.
      Once again thanks Sonia for dropping by your valuable comment!! I really appreciate this!!!

  4. Well.. aren’t women the backup plan for any calamity, any failure? Who taught us to be everything and know all the work to be done? and expecting anything is a sin. So, there.. that’s how we are groomed since childhood.

    • Ekta Shah

      Yes Lata very much we have tuned in that manner. But what happens at the end?Housewives are more prone to depression. Just because their work is not valued enough. With so many races around, sometimes its difficult to think for yourself. There is nothing wrong in the way we have groomed but I feel personally, there is nothing wrong in appreciate the caregiver. AT least once:) May be my view are different form yours….but let it be. I respect your views!! take care!!

  5. I totally second the view that women should be respected irrespective of whether they are homemakers or working women. But girls, I have a slightly different perspective here. There is a difference between being appreciated and being exploited. I do things for my family out of love and do not seek appreciation. I think women at times, take it on themselves and assume that they should be the ones sacrificing things. And when this sacrifice isnt appreciated, they feel not valued. But my view is that women can put their foot down and refuse to do things that they do not want to do. Make their own choices, stand up for themselves. It will mean that you stop being the ideal “bahu” and people will strike you off their good books, but so be it. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone. But most of the times, it is simply a difficult choice that we do not want to make. Most of us have been conditioned that way, to want to be liked. I agree with the perspective that in households, it is mostly women who suppress other women. Unless a woman takes charge of her life without giving in to such suppression, it will never end.

    • Ekta Shah

      Thanks for reading and dropping by Praveena. Yes, you might be right in saying that women need to stand for themselves, irrespective of others. I too agree for this but if you see most of the Indian households are not so liberal when it comes to women of their house. There are few among many odd who stood for them and one must be! For at large they not allowed to follow their heart and their love, affection as a caregiver is taken as Duty or for granted. This later takes them to feel guilty for doing those things which no one notices. Certainly,its a matter of one line of love that they are so beautifully taking care of them. I have seen personally, many who do their best to keep others happy and at the end, depressed. Because their wok is not valued enough. This is more in the case of homemakers where they are for grant thank them, whether they are maids, office boy, car washer. I have seen and felt the special connect when you say” thank-you” to them for their work. Its a magic of few words, thats it and most of the time out ego comes first to speak out:)

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