Woman Blasting Mom-in-law Walking Around in Underpants Backed: 'Invasive'

A woman has been supported online after asking if it's okay to say something to her mother-in-law who has been walking around the house in just a T-shirt and underwear, something the poster is very uncomfortable about.

Mumsnet user BillHadersNewWife shared a post on January 25 on the advice forum asking if it's unreasonable "to expect MIL to put some pyjamas bottoms on." The poster, who feels as though she's seen a bit too much of her mother-in-law, said she walks around in just "a t-shirt and knickers."

Having her mother-in-law stay at the moment since she sold her own house, the poster noted how the 75-year-old will often get up in the night and go "to the kitchen for a drink, or to the bathroom" in the night. While this can't be helped, what makes the person feel uneasy is that she does so wearing so little clothing.

Mother-in-law walks around inappropriately dressed
A stock image of a woman arguing with an older relative. A Mumsnet user has sought advice online after finding her mother-in-law's choice of clothing inappropriate. fizkes/Getty Images

The poster wrote: "It's not a long nightie type of t-shirt, but one that just sits above her knickers. I find this so...invasive or something. I just don't want to see MIL in her knickers."

It appears that user BillHadersWife isn't alone when it comes to feeling awkward around in-laws. A 2010 survey that was released by the website iVilllage, found that 51 percent of participants would rather stay at home and do something like cleaning than spend time with their in-laws, regardless of how they're dressed. It also found that 28 percent of the women surveyed reported a negative relationship with their mother-in-law.

Navigating problematic in-laws can lead to difficult conversations. Newsweek spoke to Gabrielle Morse, a psychotherapist about how they can be resolved: "The first step to creating boundaries is self-awareness and knowing when a boundary is necessary. I would suggest mindful awareness of when and where you are feeling resentment and frustration towards your in-laws.

"If you're not used to setting boundaries, keep in mind that it may feel awkward and uncomfortable, but this doesn't mean you're doing something wrong."

The mental health counselor also gave advice about how to prepare ahead of a tough conversation. Morse said: "If in-laws are overstepping and not abiding by house rules, I'd recommend writing a script of what you might say to teach them your expectations. I'd also recommend becoming comfortable with short-term discomfort for long-term gain."

Mother-in-law oversteps boundaries
Stock image of a woman arguing with a mother. A Mumsnet user has sought advice about how to address her mother-in-law's habits in her home. Prostock-Studio/Getty Images

Fellow Mumsnet users agreed that the mother-in-law appears to be overstepping the mark, but added that confronting her about it could create more tension. One person wrote: "Yeah, I wouldn't want to see that either, but I don't know what you can say really. She clearly doesn't see anything wrong with it, so she may well get offended if you bring it up."

Another person suggested the user could "speak to your DH [dear husband] and get him to say something", as an alternative option.

After receiving more than 400 replies to the post at the time of writing, the original poster shared an update to everyone's comments: "Such a variation of answers! That's even harder for me to decide what to do. I'm genuinely jarred by it every time I see it. It's nothing to do with her age...I'd feel the same if it were my SIL [sister-in-law]."

If you have a family dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.