Ask the Rebbetzin – Relationships

Q: I think that I have a pretty good relationship with my mother-in-law. But sometimes she will say something hurtful. How should I respond?

A: It’s completely valid to feel hurt by your mother-in-law’s words. Sometimes, hurtful comments from family members can sting even more deeply than those from friends due to the closeness of the relationship. 

So, how should you respond? Firstly, resist the urge to react immediately. Take some time to reflect on why the comment hurt you and try to understand why your mother-in-law said what she did. Are you missing pieces of the puzzle? Is she? Consider whether there might be any truth to her criticism and whether there are areas where you could make positive changes.

Once you’ve given it some thought, decide whether you want to address the issue directly or let it go. If you choose to respond, do so with care and respect, being mindful of the obligation of kibud av v’em, honoring your parents.  The less said the less there is to regret. 

Avoid involving other family members or friends unnecessarily. It’s best to keep the details of the situation between you and your spouse, unless you need outside support to forgive or resolve the conflict. 

Focus on finding resolutions together and moving forward positively in your relationship. Avoid any response that could escalate tensions or lead to lingering resentment. Opt for the path of peace and goodwill. 

If you need help getting past the hurt, it’s essential to keep a few things in mind. Remember, role modeling plays a crucial role in our children’s education. Each time we react to challenging situations, especially when it involves showing respect and love to our parents, our children are watching and storing our reactions in their minds.

When you manage to overcome feelings of resentment, it not only brightens your inner world but also sets a powerful example for your children. Additionally, your acts of forgiveness will engender forgiveness from above and you will emerge unscathed in the face of heavenly scrutiny for wherever peace reigns, the Satan cannot prosecute. (Tomer Devorah Ch. 1; Sefer Chareidim Ch. 4) Not only will you reduce your own suffering but the troubles of Klal Yisroel will also be diminished. That’s a considerable benefit for brushing off your mother-in-law’s hurtful remark.

May your efforts be met with reciprocity and may your relationship with your mother-in-law blossom.

The next Q&A will be on emotional resilience. 

Click here to submit your own questions to the Rebbetzin.

Rebbetzin Sara Feldbrand is an educator and writer. The Rebbetzin’s best selling books have been praised by many well known rabbis, educators and mental health professionals. Some of her books have been translated into French, German and Russian. She is currently available to conduct workshops on topics such as tefillah, personal growth and emotional resilience. She also counsels, mainly through her email address: