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Here Is Why An Indian Daughter-in-law Is Often Labeled Uncultured And Rebellious

Posted: July 5, 2016

An Indian daughter-in-law today is no longer willing to do everything and anything that her in-laws want her too. It is time the in-laws and husbands realized this.

Experiences shared by several readers, friends and some memories from what seems like another life have compelled me to write this article.

In India, a lot of daughters-in-law are made to feel rebellious and uncultured because they do not blindly follow tradition. In-laws get a lot done in the name of ‘culture’ and ‘respect for elders’. The husband rarely supports the wife and sides with his mother.

An Indian daughter-in-law (DIL) has shared the following ways in her mother-in-law (MIL) has exercised control in her life. This has resulted in a lot of unpleasantness and disharmony in her marriage and fights with her husband. Here is what I think about it.

Deciding when and for how long DIL visits her parents

Not letting a woman visit her own family is cruel and inhumane. No good can come out of this.

Taunting or forcing the DIL to pray

Nobody can pray on demand. A person who believes in God feels connected and does not need to practice religion. They may do so by their choice. Or not. The whole purpose of praying is to attain inner peace. The ‘religious’ MIL who is constantly creating discord in the home by scolding the DIL for not praying proves the point that religion does not teach right from wrong!

Deciding what the DIL should wear

Especially at her own wedding or any other important weddings in the family. Again, nothing but control. No adult should be told what to wear.

Deciding which days DIL can wash her hair and the appropriate time to cut her finger nails

There were all kinds of traditions in the past which may have some logic at that point of time. Personally, I do not understand why I cannot wash my hair on a Tuesday or a Saturday.

I respect everybody who does believe in this. I do not have a problem with those who do. My problem is with the people who force others to following illogical traditions and judge them as being rebellious for questioning it!

Not washing the hair and not cutting finger nails in purely unhygienic! And NOBODY should tell us what we do with our bodies.

Deciding the name of grand-children, and whether or not they can attend western dance classes

Where does the interference stop?

I honestly do not see any logic in any of the above. What is sad is that the MIL tells her son that her sentiments are being hurt as a result of the DIL not respecting her wishes. The husband is happy to side with his mother and yell at his wife for not following his mother’s orders.

Wake up Indian men! What if YOU were asked to do the above by your MIL?

And no the DIL who refuses to accept the above is not uncultured or rebellious or lacks respect for elders. She is a normal human being with a brain of her own and not a robot who is programmed to follow instructions.

To all DILs who have been humiliated for not following tradition

Please don’t let yourself be bullied and put down. There is nothing bad about you. Your MIL is a control freak and your husband is spineless. Don’t let your parents ask you to “adjust”. There is nothing wrong with you. It is your husbands who needs to change and stand up for you. Husband may say that he cannot change his mother because she is old and set in her ways, so you should change. Again, there is no sense in this. She still seems strong enough to control you and ruin your happiness and wreck your marriage.

When will the MILs realise that they are ruining their children’s lives for the most immaterial things? They need to back off and stop poking their nose in their adult children’s lives. I understand they may have been treated like this by their MILs. And they may even consider themselves ‘too nice’ compared to them.

I have news for them: Times have changed. DILs have stopped taking shit.


I know that a lot of MILs are not like this. And I am glad to know that. I am not trying to generalize. This article is based on a certain perspective shared by some readers.

Published here earlier.

Image source: shutterstock.

I like to write about the problems that have plagued the Indian society. I feel

Learn More

What is Domestic Violence & How to report domestic Violence - घरेलु हिंसा से बचाव (in Hindi)



  1. From a sociological point of view, the traditional marriage can no longer sustain itself in its former form because the spouses no longer strictly perform their traditionally defined DISTINCT roles. This is especially so among the urban educated classes. In current times, marriage may be more clearly seen and defined as a partnership. Each partner’s role needs to be clearly defined to factor in the current trends(not age old ideas). When women work and earn and are less dependent on the male for livelihood, (she can even easily have a higher salary and thus status too than the husband) it changes the power balance in the traditionally defined marriage relationship. This cannot be ignored, because patriarchy was primarily reinforced in the traditional marriage on the basis of status and wealth. New dynamics of status and power have emerged and cannot be overlooked or trivialised. Marriage can still be a wonderful institution if all these factors are analysed and incorporated into the relationship equation. Companionship and mutual support should be the basis for the modern marriage relationships which should emphasise team work rather than power and status equations.

  2. All these and several other are the ways where in laws tries to make life of there daughter in law so controlled by them, that even if she wants to cooperate she cant. I am from semi urban area, studied and worked in Urban and now living at rural area with my husband. the kind of contrast i have seen in culture is vast. The utmost difficulty arises with Semi Urban girl who have all resources of Urban Girl but not kind of Culture which makes her even more stressed.

    • “Even if she wants to cooperate she can’t”. This is absolutely the point I wanted to make. A DIL who wants to live respectfully and peacefully with her in-laws is put in such situations that make her life absoutely (and unnecessarily) miserable.

  3. Tapapriya Lahiri -

    Tanvi, you curated in a right way. All the sub-headers are very much relevant.

  4. Let me share my story..!
    Mine was love marriage. We did masters from same college. We went on some outing and stayed together for sometimes. When my MIL get to knew that, she called up my parents and abused them for raising a terrible daughter (who is staying with boys in night). She was not ready for marriage because according to her I was characterless. Anyways we eloped and later as they didn’t have any option so they get us married properly.
    Now her younger son wanted to go out with her girlfriend. The girl was very young (17) she refused to stay with him at hotel. So my MIL called her parents and abused them for raising such a pathetic daughter (who promises her boyfriend and never completes it, who is just using her boyfriend for money #though I know she has never wanted a single penny from him#, etc.)

    I am still thinking if she is wrong than how I was wrong.. And if I was wrong then how she is wrong….

    And then I heard that perfect words from her ” Aaj kal ki ladkiyo ne tto pareshan hi kar diya hai ladko ko “

    • it is well said that:in your case you are best lawyer , for other best judge”
      what comfort MIL she will always continue o do that. I have lost all hope that they can ever mature

  5. Oh God! I missed this point – the modus opertandi of calling up the DIL’s parents and telling them what a poory raised woman she is.

  6. I got married in December and my home and my in laws home happen to be in the same city. Post my marriage i went to join my husband abroad and i came back in April for my dependent visa processing. Now the thing is, every time i go to my home to visit my parents my in laws go into another zone…its like there’s a total behavioural change. Once i leave the country again i don’t know when i’ll come back and see my parents. 🙁

    • Hope you get to see your parents frequently. Distance because of geographical barriers is one thing, but unfair restrictions imposed by in-laws is unacceptable.

  7. You have been extremely restrained in your description of the treatment given to DILS things r much worse

  8. Pingback: An Indian daughter-in-law is labeled uncultured and rebellious - Here is why - Whynotsayit | Whynotsayit

  9. Why do we have to take someone else’s permission to visit or stay in our homes and meet our parents

    • I have the same issue that i have to take permission from my mother in law to visit my home and i know she always refuse and i like to wear knee length shorts but my inlaws makes a big issue of that also… How to change their thinking that we also need comfort.

  10. Things are much worse at times.. In my case I was a post graduate working woman.. had a respected life…was young and beautiful …earning as much as my class one officer husband. It was an arranged marriage. Everything was fine…
    but started getting shocks within a week of marriage… my MIL was totally illiterate rural upbringing…had suffered a lot from her MIL…
    My first shock was I was suggested to leave my job and get a new job in the city where my in laws live …so that MIL can relax from her motherly duties..
    I shouldn’t cut my hair…should cover my head all the time … shouldn’t eat in front of others… should wear saree only… must get up early to make tiffin for my father in law and husband’s school and college going siblings… shouldn’t travel alone… have to bear tantrums of my sis in law Because she is a Nanad… etc etc …lot of bogus rules…
    I silently revolted and left for my job… my husband couldn’t take my side… things were really tough to adjust…
    Anything and everything i was doing was questioned… they were all a team in making me feel depressed…
    Now after so many years that female lost total respect in my eyes… my husband still finds me having attitude problems…
    I am not able to make my husband a friend…Not because I am a negative person… but because I can’t disrespect myself by following those stupid norms of the so called cultured family…
    Your article touched my nerves… all though you covered only 10% issues…

    • I am so sorry to hear this, Alka. In-laws often feel that no matter they treat her, the girl will stay. In my personal opinion, if the husband also is not supportive, then there is no point in continuing in such relationships. I hope that things get better for you.

  11. Well written. i could relate to most of it. I chose to stand for myself without feeling guilty. Just being human!!

  12. In my case my husband is very loving and caring. My mother in law is very jealous of this. She doesn’t say anything. But one can feel the heat on her face. Her life experiences were very harsh which has made her so paranoid about losing her only son. I can understand that, but cannot help her. It really hurts at times. But also feel sorry for her. Why this DIL – MIL relationship so complicated….??

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