A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

20 Things Your Father-In-Law Is Secretly Thinking

Anonymous dads spill their funny, poignant, and tough-love lessons about life, love and marriage—all in the name of being closer to the person their child married, of course.

1 / 20

I want you to be happy

“At my son’s funeral I wanted to tell my daughter-in-law [his widow] that it wasn’t healthy to sit around and cry too much. I missed my son too—I still do, every day—but I wanted her to know that we don’t want her to be sad forever and we want her to find happiness again. I tried to say that but I don’t think it came out right. Hopefully one day she’ll understand where I was coming from and I meant well when I told her to ‘knock it off.'” Here are some more things you should never say to someone who just lost a spouse.

2 / 20

This relationship won’t last

“The night before my daughter’s wedding, I asked her if she was nervous. She said, ‘Yeah, it’s kind of forever.’ And I said, ‘It’s not forever.’ Turns out I was right! He didn’t treat her right and she when she finally saw it, they got divorced.”

3 / 20

You’re making this marriage thing too complicated

“Kids these days are so into making relationships work that it just turns into a lot of work. Where’s the fun?  Like I told my son-in-law, you caught the bus, so you can stop running already.” Here are some super-simple relationship boosters that actually work.

4 / 20

You whine too much

“My daughter-in-law expects everything to be given to her and when she doesn’t get it, she complains. But I’ve always thought there’s no point in complaining and you should use that energy to better the situation. My motto is ‘Life is hard and then you die.'”

5 / 20

You’re on “shoulder duty” now. Don’t screw it up

“When my daughter got married, I realized I was handing over “shoulder duty” to her husband. It used to be my shoulder she’d lean on, cry on, and laugh on and now it’s his. He better not screw it up because she really needs a strong shoulder.” These are some surprising secrets from the most happily married couples.

6 / 20

Do what I say, not what I do

“At the wedding I told my son-in-law that the first thing he should every morning is roll over and say ‘I’m sorry’ to his wife. It got a lot of laughs but I wish I’d apologized more to my wife.”

7 / 20

Your finances are a mess

“I gave my son-in-law a book about home finances when he popped the question. Not subtle, I know, but he’d been around long enough for me to know he needed it.”

8 / 20

My kid is a jerk, but I still love him

“At my son’s wedding, after I told him and his new bride to always love each other, I pulled him aside and told him not to be an a**hole to her. Because you know what? That kid can be a real a**hole and I like my daughter-in-law and want her to stay in the family.”

9 / 20

Are you sure you know what you’re doing with that kid?

“I know I wasn’t a perfect parent but it’s hard to watch my kids with my grandkids and not worry. I see them making the same mistakes I did plus some new ones but I have to bite my tongue.” Check out these surprising signs you’ll make a great parent.

10 / 20

My kid is too good for you

“I’d never say it but I’ve thought since the day they got married that my son is too good for the girl he married. She doesn’t respect him. She doesn’t listen to him. Every time I see him he looks a little more beat down. She’s gonna break his heart one day and I can’t decide if that will be a good thing.” Here are some tips for surviving the holidays with your in-laws.

11 / 20

Why aren’t you knocked up yet?

“My son and daughter-in-law have been married for years and they still don’t have kids. Every time they come over I try not to stare at her belly but it makes me wonder if something’s wrong. Are they having fertility problems? Do they not know how sex works? It’s none of my business except I want grandchildren.” Here are some more things you should never say to your family.

12 / 20

I really do want you to name your kid after me

“My name is a family tradition handed down over five generations so I really want my son-in-law to name the baby after me. My daughter accuses me of ‘campaigning’ but it’s just a suggestion! Besides, it’s a great name, if I do say so myself.”

13 / 20

Your political beliefs are wrong

“I was a fighter pilot in the Navy and so I’ve seen some things and know some things about our great country. It really upsets me to hear my daughter-in-law complaining about our government or our country or our leaders. I’ve tried to argue with her but she won’t listen to my point of view. We didn’t speak for five years because of it but now we just try to be polite. I still think she’s wrong though.” Here’s how to win an argument with someone who is convinced you’re wrong.

14 / 20

You’re hot

“My daughter-in-law is a real knockout. My son has great taste in ladies; he gets it from me, what can I say?”

15 / 20

You need a better job

“My son-in-law and I are in the same field. I see lots of opportunities that he could take advantage of but he doesn’t. So I just try to connect him with the right people and hope he figures it out.”

16 / 20

I feel like your dad too

“My daughter-in-law’s father died when she was young so she grew up without a dad. Now I feel like her surrogate dad and I love it. I buy her birthday presents and fix her car and she always sends me a card on father’s day. She really is the daughter I never had.”

17 / 20

I had to learn to love you

“When my daughter first got married I hated her husband and couldn’t wait for their marriage to end. Well it’s been nearly 20 years and they’re still together and it turns out I actually like the guy. He’s grown up a lot in those years and I guess so have I.” Here’s how to make your partner’s parents like you right from the first meeting.

18 / 20

I’m judging your mini skirt

“My daughter-in-law wears all kinds of things out that frankly are just embarrassing. Like mini skirts and tight dresses and things designed to catch a guy’s eye. But she’s married now, what’s she got to do that for? I know my son doesn’t like it either.” Here are some of the best-ever clap-backs to body-shaming.

19 / 20

Your kids annoy me

“My son and his wife let their kids do whatever they want and it drives me and my wife nuts. The stuff they do, like run around in restaurants or hit people, we would never have let our kids do. I don’t want to be ‘that’ guy who says the youth are all going to hell but it does seem like they’re raising hellions.” Here are some ways you’re being a toxic parent without realizing it.

20 / 20

Someday you’re gonna be me

“I see the way my son-in-law looks at me and rolls his eyes but the truth is that he has a daughter now and someday she’s going to get married and he’s going to understand why I’m the way I am. A daughter is special and it’s the dad’s job to protect her. And until I’m sure he’s going to do it right, I’m going to keep an eye on things. Some day he’s going to be the father-in-law and then he’ll get it.” Next, check out the things your mother-in-law won’t tell you.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is a health, lifestyle and fitness expert and teacher. She covers all things wellness for Reader’s Digest and The Healthy. With dual masters degrees in information technology and education, she has been a journalist for 17 years and is the author of The Great Fitness Experiment. She lives in Denver with her husband, five kids and three pets.