Everyone is familiar with the terrible mother-in-law trope. You may even have a terrible MIL yourself. However, is there such a thing as a toxic father-in-law? Absolutely! These individuals share the outrageous things their FILs have done that made them cut ties with their families. Content has been edited for clarity.
Garlic Bread Grief
“A co-worker of mine, ‘Marissa,’ had an awful father-in-law.
She and her husband, ‘Nick,’ were meeting up with a cousin and his spouse who were visiting from another state. Because the cousin hadn’t seen Marissa’s in-laws (the cousin’s aunt and uncle) in ages, the plan was for the in-laws to join everyone for dinner.
Marissa despised having dinner with the in-laws in the best of circumstances. For example, the two always insisted on eating at the same restaurant. Marissa didn’t enjoy the restaurant, as it was an old hole-in-the-wall diner.
The restaurant managed to get away with not changing its prices for ten years by offering cheap and exceedingly terrible food. It didn’t matter if Marissa offered to pay for everyone’s dinner or not, both in-laws demanded to go to the same old restaurant.
But in this case, Marissa had an excuse to eat at a different restaurant. The cousins were both vegan, and one was gluten intolerant. The in-law’s old diner wouldn’t be capable of catering to their dietary needs. Marissa planned on forcing the in-laws to go to a different restaurant, one where the food and service would be of better quality. The meal would even be free for the in-laws, they just had to agree to go.
Marissa explained to the in-laws how they had to eat somewhere else, and they complained the entire car ride to dinner. It didn’t matter if the in-laws were seeing the cousins for the first time in ages, as they just wanted to complain.
When everyone was seated in the restaurant, the in-laws continued to complain while looking at the menu.
No matter how often Marissa pointed to the menu and said, ‘Look! This restaurant has the same food you like on their menu,’ they continued to gripe about being forced against their will to go somewhere else.
Here’s where Marissa’s story became interesting. One of the FIL’s supposed reasons for not trusting other restaurants was because he claimed he was allergic to garlic.
The FIL said, ‘You never know what they put in their food, and I might become very sick.’
However, per Marissa who had a medical degree, the FIL was not allergic to garlic.
While at the restaurant, the waiter arrived to take everyone’s orders.
The FIL proceeded to tell the waiter, ‘I have a garlic allergy. Please make sure you do not expose me to any garlic. If you do, I will sue this restaurant.’
The waiter replied, ‘We are used to dealing with customers who have strict dietary requirements, and we will ensure you have a clean plate and utensils. Garlic will not be anywhere near your meal.’
Then, the bombshell.
The FIL proceeded to order garlic bread with his meal.
Now completely confused, the waiter asked, ‘Did you mean to order a different type of bread?’
The FIL angrily yelled, ‘No! Are you not listening to me? I said I wanted garlic bread, and I meant it!’
The waiter pressed, ‘Do you just want the same type of bread we use for our garlic bread? You said you were allergic to garlic, sir.’
‘No!’ the FIL replied, ‘I need garlic bread!’
After the FIL’s meltdown, Marissa proceeded to pull the highly confused waiter aside and explain, ‘He is not allergic to garlic bread. He is just a mean, stubborn, man.’
The waiter went back to the table and finished taking everyone’s orders. The FIL, who had been complaining about being forced to go to another pub, finished off all of the garlic bread he claimed to be allergic to. He didn’t wind up sick or with hives. He and his wife continued to spend their entire night complaining about being forced to go somewhere else.
I never understood how people could be so miserable.”
“He Was The Meanest Man I Had Ever Met”
“My father-in-law didn’t like me at all. He was one of the meanest men I had ever met.
My FIL was passive-aggressive, and he would either make his displeasure known by using cold silence or pretending like I wasn’t in the room. Or more likely, he used actions that were always cruel.
For example, one holiday morning, he and his wife asked to speak to my wife (his daughter) and me in private. At this point, my wife and I had a daughter who was only one year old. My FIL and MIL started the conversation by telling my wife and me about how we were terrible parents because we let our daughter sleep in too late.
My MIL proceeded to say, ‘I want to kidnap your daughter and fly her to a place where you will never find her again.’
My FIL shook his head and added, ‘You are the most obnoxious and self-centered person I have ever met. I wholeheartedly despise you.’
Let’s just say, it wasn’t the best holiday ever. The same night, karma came and gave my MIL and FIL the stomach flu. My wife and I left the next morning, and our relationship with my in-laws was never the same.
Years later, my FIL visited my wife and me. He and his new wife took us out to dinner, and we spent the day together talking and laughing. I kept my distance because even though he was being friendly, I still felt like I couldn’t trust him.
After dinner, I heard my FIL rambling about not being able to find directions to get to his nearby hotel. I gave him directions, but he disregarded me and began looking at a map on his phone.
His wife asked, ‘Why are you looking it up? He just gave you the right directions.’
My FIL turned to me and coldly said, ‘I’m not trusting any instructions he gives me.’
Just in one second, he revealed his true self and made me furious.
Flashback twenty years ago, my wife and I joined the in-laws and their kids on a family vacation. It was a holiday in July, and my FIL and his grown children were sitting on the dock at the lake. My FIL and his children decided to blow off some fireworks, and it sounded like a good time. Even though there were enough fireworks for us all to have fun, my FIL completely disregarded me while I sat off to the side alone. Once again, I was resentful.
Ten years ago, I hosted a holiday party for our family. My FIL had been drinking, and he began asking me ridiculous questions.
He asked, ‘So, what life goals do you think you have?’
Before I got the chance to answer, my FIL responded, ‘My goal is to retire by seventy years old and outlive my ex-wife. I can’t wait until the day when I can dance on her grave.’
Sweet guy. Everyone could dream.
After twenty-eight years of marriage and thirty years of living together, my wife and I decided to get a divorce. It was her decision, and I was heartbroken. From the day we separated, I never heard from a single member of her family to check on me and see how I was doing. Let alone from her FIL, whom I can only imagine was celebrating our separation. He was a selfish man who never made me feel welcome in the family.
Now, my daughter is thirty-one years old and married. I’ve always tried to be the FIL I never had to my son-in-law. I support my daughter and SIL in every way possible, and I always let them know I love them. If we take a family picture, I always make sure my SIL is included.
Be a good person to your child and their spouse. It isn’t hard to make someone feel welcome, wanted, and included.”
“He Was An Egocentric And Creepy Man”
“I had issues with my father-in-law. He was mean, rude, and made nasty comments to me.
Within the first year of my boyfriend and I dating, I had a problem with my current roommate. I spent most of my time at my boyfriend’s house.
Staying at my boyfriend’s house was great until his father started making strange comments to me.
His father would say things like, ‘Oh, I love girls with long hair,’ and, ‘The only girls who are worth dating look just like you.’
My boyfriend’s mother only seemed to encourage these types of comments. I once caught them both smiling at me.
Upon me asking her what was so funny, my boyfriend’s mother replied, ‘It’s nothing. He has always just loved girls with long hair like you.’
The worst comment my boyfriend’s father ever said was, ‘I think we would have dated if we were in high school together.’
At this point, he was fifty-five and I was twenty-four. It was incredibly creepy. I chalked a lot of his behavior up to his male ego, and I didn’t think it was worth acknowledging. My boyfriend was never there when the comments were made, which was probably a deliberate move on his father’s part.
However, I knew I needed to move out when his father crossed a line. I had been having lower abdominal pain for the past two years, and it had gotten increasingly worse in the last six months. There was a hospital close to the house, so I told my in-laws I was going to walk to get some relief from the pain. His father instead insisted on driving me to the hospital, and he accompanied me to the emergency room.
The nurse didn’t ask him to leave the room when she pulled my pants down and shirt up to inspect my abdomen. I think she assumed he was my father. Even still, I wouldn’t have my father come in the room with me now unless I was very sick.
I was so foggy from the pain, so I didn’t question what was happening until the emergency room doctor joked about my FIL’s presence.
The doctor asked, ‘Is he your boyfriend?’
And my FIL replied, ‘I wish I was.’
I then knew I had to leave. When my boyfriend found out his father took me to the hospital, he was livid. My boyfriend told me he didn’t realize how dark his relationship had become with his father until then. He didn’t trust his father around me anymore.
My boyfriend and I moved out of the house one month later. Since my boyfriend ‘outing,’ his father to the rest of the family, we were labeled as ‘lying, manipulative, and violent.’ My ‘stories’ about my boyfriend’s father were barbaric and wrong. Ironically, his father admitted to everything and said he found me attractive.
Two years later, the relationship is still strained. My boyfriend now sees a counselor. As you could imagine, his father’s behavior didn’t start because of me. The father had a history of being verbally abusive and controlling.
It isn’t always the mother-in-law who has issues. Sometimes, your FIL is an egocentric, strange, and creepy man.”
“We Were All Scared Of My Father-In-Law”
“My mother-in-law passed away three or four years before my marriage to her son. There wasn’t an elderly woman in the house, only my fifty-six-year-old father-in-law, my two unmarried sisters-in-law, and a younger brother-in-law.
My marriage was arranged, and I had people try to warn me about the foul nature of my FIL. When I started living in his home, I realized how much he felt the need to dominate everyone. Each family member was scared of the FIL, and he would display his temper by shouting and screaming at his children.
I put up with him and his tantrums only because my husband was very loving and caring. My FIL was so demanding to the extent that only he would decide what would be cooked for dinner in which particular way. It was irritating because my SILs tolerated all of his nonsense, and they asked me to keep quiet because I was expected to respect him.
I lived with my terrible FIL for seven years until one of my husband’s sisters and brother-in-law were married. The oldest sister-in-law decided not to marry, and she still isn’t to this day. My husband and I, fortunately, got a new house built and shifted there. When we moved, my misery ended there and the dreadful days with my FIL came to an end.
My husband and I still live close to the FIL, so we visit him often and take care of things if the need arises. We have a cordial relationship with him, but I still couldn’t forget how a FIL could be worse than a MIL.”
The Foul Father-In-Law And Manipulative Mother-In-Law
“Both my mother-in-law (my husband’s stepmother) and father-in-law are terrible people. They were deceitful and manipulative liars, and my husband and I had to cut ties with them entirely. My MIL and FIL have no morality, and they have lied countless times to my husband and me.
My MIL and FIL did strange things like copy bullet points from my resume and trying to pass them off as their own. My FIL stole my son’s social security card when he visited after his birth. My MIL and FIL took money from a trust left to my husband by his birth mother to pay for their other children’s college education. At the same time, they saddled my husband with student loans. They spread lies to our extended family and tried to pass off my husband and me as being bad people.
Even more shocking, my extended family believed the lies my MIL and FIL spread about my husband and me. My husband and I are successful professionals and both have our Master’s of Business Administration, and we generally have good relationships with our co-workers and friends. Meanwhile, my FIL got his Doctor of Philosophy degree, but could barely hold down a job his entire life because of his terrible social skills. Similarly, my MIL struggles at work because of her manipulative mind games and unpleasant personality. The only reason my MIL and FIL both have jobs still is because they work for the government. A private job sector would never tolerate their behavior.
Yet, somehow, our hard-working extended family continues to believe their lies and rumors. It hurts my husband and me, but people will only see what they want to see.”
“My Father-In-Law Told My Daughter She Wasn’t Good Enough”
“My father-in-law spent the first year of our marriage writing to my husband and me to tell us we were bad people. Since my husband and I didn’t idolize my FIL, agree with everything he said, or allow him to ruin our lives, he despised us.
I finally wrote my FIL and said, ‘If you can’t think of anything kind to say to us or about us, please don’t write anymore.’
So, my FIL didn’t contact my husband and me anymore. He was a selfish and narcissistic person.
My FIL spent his life secretly slandering anyone who didn’t idolize him or conform to his expectations. He wasn’t used to dealing with someone like me who knew better and refused to comply with his attitude.
Fast forward to when my daughter was ten years old, my husband and I sent her for a long summer visit to her grandparent’s house.
My FIL told my daughter, ‘I don’t care what your parents do, so long as they have a son to carry on the family name. Not another daughter.’
My FIL told this to my ten-year-old daughter, who had no control over her parent’s reproductive plans! My daughter understood his statement as ‘You’re not good enough for me because you aren’t a boy.’
From the time my daughter was an infant, my FIL rarely ever held her or did anything with her. As soon as the first of his grandsons were three years old, he took them with him everywhere.
My FIL also forced my daughter to lie to make her younger brother believe he had won a game of Candy Land. I had always told my daughter how lying was wrong, so being forced to lie was a frightening experience for her.
My daughter, now a grown adult, learned well what her grandparents were actually like. She also learned about how her aunts were equally unkind and trustworthy, despite their pretense of ‘love,’ to our faces.
As a result of the knowledge, she and I were never sucked into the dishonest, dysfunctional family dynamic. We understood what it took to protect ourselves from them. However, along with her father, we treated her grandparents with courtesy and respect whenever we did interact with them. Why?
Because none of us wanted to be anything like them.”
“He Made Family Gatherings Unnecessarily Tense”
“My father-in-law was a handful, but he is now late.
He was a professor at a university when I first met him, and he fit the stereotype of a typical old professor. My FIL spoke very slowly with elaborate fancy language. He was intelligent but extremely old-fashioned in his thinking. He traveled around the world, but he looked down on many cultures and traditions except his own. My FIL wasn’t open-minded, and he only saw the world from a right versus the wrong perspective.
My FIL had a favorite son, and the son was not my husband. He didn’t bother to hide his favoritism, but my husband still craved validation from his father. He craved more validation than I have seen from any grown man.
As my FIL grew older, he came more intolerant and difficult to be around. My husband and I would go over to his home to visit often. Once pleasantries were exchanged, my FIL would ask me to take our children to the living room, then he would lock the dividing door so he didn’t have to see his grandchildren. I expressed how odd and rude this was to my husband, but he continued to make up a thousand excuses for his father’s behavior.
My FIL treated his daughters-in-law like black sheep in the family. We were only acknowledged when we were to run an errand, cook, or stop his grandchildren from making noise. My husband’s father was also very confrontational and rude to everyone.
Once, when my FIL’s grandsons were running through the home and acting like children, he told me and the other SIL, ‘You need to do a better job at raising your children. They are far too noisy for my liking.’
The children weren’t even being noisy. They were just doing normal activities as children do.
When my FIL passed on, I felt pain for my husband. He lost his father and mentor, but I honestly can’t say I missed him. My FIL made family gatherings unnecessarily tense.”
“My Father-In-Law Was A Mean Man”
“I despised my father-in-law to the moon and back.
From the day of my marriage, he began displaying erratic behavior towards everyone in the house. He didn’t like my spouse, his son. My FIL also treated my mother-in-law terribly, to the point where I constantly felt bad for her.
He began lying to me about my husband, and his main goal was to tear apart our marriage. On the outside, he tried to act like a good person. However, I knew on the inside my FIL was a sad, mean, man. Before throwing my husband and me out of his home, he insulted us and cursed at us for months.
My husband and I have since vacated my FIL’s home, and we now live happily in our own house. Even still, my FIL tried to convince my child about how my husband and I were bad parents.
My FIL’s behavior came to a point where my MIL couldn’t stand him anymore. My MIL moved in with my husband and me to avoid him at all costs. Even still, my MIL insisted the FIL didn’t deserve to be kicked out of my life.
I would be fine if I never saw my FIL again. He makes my family’s lives miserable.”
“My Father-In-Law Didn’t See His Grandchildren For Ten Years”
“I dealt with my awful father-in-law by ignoring him.
One weekend, my family drove to his house to visit him. About an hour into the visit, my FIL’s roommate made an uncalled-for comment about my son.
The roommate said, ‘Your son’s behavior is awful! You are a bad parent, and you need to be doing more to control his behavior.’
I angrily replied, ‘No, I think I am parenting my son just fine.’
It became a heated argument, and my FIL took his roommate’s side. He believed I was a terrible parent, too. I grabbed my children, went to the car, and told my husband we weren’t going to be staying any longer.
I further explained to my husband, ‘You are welcome to visit your father anytime, as is our oldest son. However, I don’t like the way your father and his roommate speak about our youngest son. I don’t want our youngest coming here anymore.’
After talking to my husband, it was a tense two-hour drive home. For ten years afterward, my FIL never came around to see his grandchildren.
One holiday, my FIL showed up at my home and acted as if we were the best of friends. It was bizarre. His attitude toward me completely changed, and he was more respectful and treated me like a daughter.
My FIL used to have control issues about how I parented my children. I found it was best to send him away for a bit until he could check his attitude.”
“The Entire Family Was Simply Terrible”
“I had issues with both of my in-laws. My late father-in-law was terrified of my mother-in-law. He used to do whatever she wanted and accepted whatever she did in the house.
My MIL asked my FIL to kick me, my husband, and our three-year-old son out of the house. My FIL followed her demand in no time, just so he couldn’t refuse her.
Later, my FIL became very ill and was shifted to the intensive care unit in the hospital. My husband never left my FIL’s side, but my MIL was nowhere to be found. Instead of tending to her husband during his final days, she was out shopping with his money.
The entire family was simply terrible.”