Human Interest

Do You Have Toxic In-Laws? Experts Weigh-In On The Top Signs

Do you have in-laws who make you feel like you’ve stepped into a reality TV drama? There are even movies about toxic in-laws, like Meet The Parents, Monster-In-Law, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and The Big Sick. Whether it’s offering unsolicited parenting advice, making passive-aggressive comments about your cooking, or showing up unannounced, toxic in-laws can make life challenging. Many people can relate to this. While you can't control who your in-laws are, therapists say being able to recognize their toxic ways is the first step toward protecting your well-being and even your relationship with your spouse. Best Life, a lifestyle magazine collaborated with therapists to compile the top signs of toxic-in-laws. Defining Toxic Behavior One expert told the outlet that toxic behavior is any behavior that’s harmful in a controlling, manipulative, or disrespectful way. “If someone's actions or words consistently make you feel uncomfortable, distressed, anxious, or otherwise upset, that's a good sign that their behavior is toxic,” said one of their experts. Top Signs of Toxic In-Laws They said a “hallmark sign” of toxic in-laws is constant criticism. "They might frequently criticize your choices, appearance, or parenting style," explained one expert. The outlet went on to explain that persistent criticism can undermine your self-esteem and create a hostile environment and that it shows “a lack of respect and support.” If you have an in-law who keeps trampling over the limits you set, that's a red flag. Their experts said this might include asking invasive questions even after you've declined to answer them, showing up unannounced after asking them not to, insisting on being involved in financial decisions between you and your spouse, and overall ignoring boundaries. “It can be especially confusing if your in-laws agree to your boundaries after you vocalize them, but then their actions don't align,” another expert who was interviewed for the article said. They added that this is a classic example of passive-aggressive behavior. If the guilt trips never end, then this could be a sign of toxicity. No matter how much you try to spend holidays with them or include them in your child's life, toxic mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law often make you feel like it’s never enough. They’ll say anything to make you feel guilty and get their way. Other top signs of toxic in-laws on their list include undermining you in front of your children, stirring the pot, and others. If you find yourself with toxic in-laws, the outlet points out that the most important thing to remember is that while you may not be able to control your in-laws' behavior, you can control how you react to it, how much time you spend with them, and how you communicate your boundaries. Take a look at the complete list here.

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