The Alpha Female Syndrome.......... - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-22-2008, 02:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The Alpha Female Syndrome........

In another thread on here - "Asian IL's disliking white DIL's" - someone mentioned an Alpha Female Syndrome. It was in reference to when Asian MIL's and SIL's don't like or get along with their DIL's (whether the DILs are non-asian or asian).

I was wondering if someone could explain this to me -- the alpha female part.

The reason is, I've been living with it for over 10 years, as I'm white and married to a Korean man. My Korean MIL and SIL don't like me, and have never treated me like family -- and my Korean SIL (older than my husband) is very threatened by me. I'm not sure why, since my MIL and I are not close at all. We barely talk. They are critical of me, underhanded, sneering, etc... until several years ago when I started to directly stand up to them. Now they do it in a much quieter way, and they don't get a chance to do it as much because we see them a lot less (because they are a PITA). But, as I said in the other thread, if I let my guard down, I see that condescending sneering and criticizing again.
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Old 12-22-2008, 02:04 PM
 
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from a korean outlook i have seen the alfa female dominate in my sister's inlaw family... her inlaws. are very traditional korean- older generation. fil and mil had three boys. sister married middle brother. her mil and fil lived in sisters house for a majority of this year- they expected my sister to cook and clean for them after working a 12 hour shift at her job, and take care of the kids.. after ten months of making different meals then what her dh and kids will eat to please her mil and fil she snapped. ... mil and fil now live with another son and his wife and their kids..

mil, and deceased grandma inlaw and "older" sil purposely made my sister's life a living hell. when i was pregnant with my second child and living at home. my older sister would rather crash on the couch then go to her house because of the mistreatment.

and having a dh who is a mama's boy didnt help --cuz her dh would side with his mom and his dad then stand up for his wife...
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Old 12-22-2008, 02:06 PM
 
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i think this happens when the mil doesnt get to choose her childrens spouse and so they make it damn near impossible to be civil to all who marry into the family
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Old 12-22-2008, 06:23 PM
 
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I think it's common among Korean families for the mother to be overbearing. It was kind of funny, b/c when my parents found out I was dating a Korean guy they said, "OMG, Koreans beat their wives!" When my DH (then boyfriend) and his brother heard, they were rolling on the floor with tears in their eyes. They said, "If anyone is beating anyone in this house, it would be mom beating dad!" So, yes, my mil is an alpha-female, but she held that title even before my sil and I came into the picture.

She has always demanded the full attn and admiration of fil and her two sons. As soon as bil and my DH both got married, my mil got busy doing everything in her power to challenge her son's marriages by trying to make them choose her over the dils. She caused a lot of trouble in both marriages for the first few yrs, BUT the turning point was after both sons started their own families. My sil continued to put up with mil until she had her 2nd child (a girl, my mil hates girls, she even told sil and I that she was so happy she didn't have any dd's), and mil basically crapped on sil and niece one too many times and bil finally stood up to his mom, b/c the way she was behaving was just deplorable. For me, it was after I had my first baby, my DH started standing up to his mom, but we were married for five yrs before we had children and during those five yrs, mil was just awful and I would say that 90% of the arguments that my DH and I had at that time, stemmed from his mom causing trouble btwn us. I still resent that my DH often sided with his mother during our pre-children yrs of our marriage. It was always, "Why are you so mean to my mom?" "You made my mom cry." "You should feel sorry for my mom." I hated it. Now he realizes how manipulative his mother is and when she starts up with her act, he puts a stop to it right away. However, she had him eating out of her hand for most of his childhood and early adult life.

I still do not like my kmil (and I do not think I can ever forgive her for the things she has said/done to me), BUT she has improved a lot in the past few yrs. I think she finally realized that her sons chose to stick up for their wives, not for her. She is upset about this, but in some ways I think it has put her in her place and she knows that if she tries anything, that instead of gaining favor with her sons, she will just further push them away. She has always been very selfish and the type who is envious and jealous of others. My mil doesn't have a good marriage (she blames fil, but really it's not fil, he is an exceptionally nice guy, SHE is a total BITCH to deal with, I don't think anyone could be happily married to her and I really don't understand why fil hasn't divorced her), and when she sees that her boys are happily married, instead of feeling happy for them, she feels jealous that she doesn't have the same thing and takes it out on the dils. I can never tell my mil that my DH did something nice for me, or she immediately becomes bitter and angry. For our first wedding anniversary, my DH went to Amish country and bought me a very nice handcrafted Amish wedding ring quilt. I made the mistake of showing my mil, not realizing that it would just cause her to get upset. When she saw it, instead of being happy for me, she became very upset and said that she never got anything like this from fil and how awful fil was, etc.. I have learned from that exp and from others, that I cannot tell my mil anything good that has happened, b/c she always turns it around and plays victim and it becomes a bitter, pity party for herself. She is incapable of feeling happy for other ppl, when she sees other ppl happy, her reaction is to become jealous of them and to think that it's not fair that she doesn't have the same happiness.

Oh and fwiw, I think that females in general are just catty to one another. I mean, alpha-female exists in the workforce as well. I'm an RN, and when I was working I NEVER fit in at work, and was often treated poorly by other female staff for whatever reason. Younger, prettier, well-liked by patients, b/c I actually treated my patients nicely, etc.. On one unit I worked at, I found out that my nickname from the nurses on the other unit was, "the nice nurse," b/c all other nurses on my unit were so nasty and rude, that nobody ever wanted to deal with them and I was the only nurse that anyone, including patients and nursing staff on other units actually wanted to deal with. In fact, that is how I got recruited onto another unit, b/c I was sick of being treated like garbage from my own unit's nursing staff, and of course when they found out I was leaving, they had nothing but nasty things to say and they told me I would hate it and come crawling back (didn't happen!). If given the choice, I would almost always choose to work with the male nurses, b/c I didn't have to deal with the gossipy, catty, female bitchiness that I would often have to deal with when it came to the female nursing staff. MANY of those nurses who were mean to me were older, like probably closer to my mom's age, those who were divorced, recent empty-nesters or never married. Sometimes I think that at a certain age, some women just become mean or something. There seem to be a high # of women in their 50's, who are unhappy with their lives and jealous of younger women, and they seem to get enjoyment out of trying to, "bring down" younger women. I've noticed my mom started to act, "mean" in her 50's, it was like she wanted me to go through all the crap she had to go through and is over-critical. One of my friends had the same exact experience with her mom as well.
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Old 12-22-2008, 07:02 PM
 
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what an eye opener for me !!!!!
thank you for explaining it all so clearly mags
I have been wondering for YEARS about my mil (non korean but very much like some older women you describe) ... I was the first dil & the first one to have children so litterally am the one who pushed her back one generation ....and she too never seemed to be able to be happy for us but kept on creating more and more problems
my dh STILL doesn't understand how she pulls strings and stir coals or else doesn't want to/can't stand up to her ...
am nowhere near resolving anything but at least I can now see that I'm far from alone in that situation ....
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Old 12-22-2008, 08:38 PM
 
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I've seen this dynamic with my MIL as well. She's now living in her home country of Kyrgyzstan, where she'll probably remain until she's unable to support herself. But she took nine months off from her job as a college professor and stayed with us in the U.S. to care for our son after I went back to work when he was 4 m.o. What a wonderful gift she gave us, and yet there was so much tension in our household at times--she was constantly pushing dh's buttons, calling me a "slattern" when I was within earshot, and generally saying that I was a bad housekeeper and that dh was always on my side and against her.
In my IL's native culture, the daughter-in-law is basically low, low, status. My MIL had to live with her MIL when she and my FIL were newlyweds, and I can imagine how poorly she was treated. So, I guess I was the lucky recipient of that.
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Old 12-22-2008, 10:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hannahi View Post
I've seen this dynamic with my MIL as well. She's now living in her home country of Kyrgyzstan, where she'll probably remain until she's unable to support herself. But she took nine months off from her job as a college professor and stayed with us in the U.S. to care for our son after I went back to work when he was 4 m.o. What a wonderful gift she gave us, and yet there was so much tension in our household at times--she was constantly pushing dh's buttons, calling me a "slattern" when I was within earshot, and generally saying that I was a bad housekeeper and that dh was always on my side and against her.
In my IL's native culture, the daughter-in-law is basically low, low, status. My MIL had to live with her MIL when she and my FIL were newlyweds, and I can imagine how poorly she was treated. So, I guess I was the lucky recipient of that.
Isn't it weird though? You would think that if they were poorly treated, that they would attempt to make an effort to treat their dils better, b/c they would understand what it is like to be treated like dirt. I guess not? I have never understood ppl who were abused and continue the cycle of abuse. My mil is the same way. She complains that she was treated poorly by her in laws, BUT in the same breath she brags about what a great mil she is to us (yeah, sil and I both rolled our eyes, mil is obviously delusional or on crack). Sometimes I just feel like it's that attitude that if they went through it, then you should have to too, b/c in their mind they think that it's only fair. : In nursing, it used to be pretty common for older nurses to throw new grads to the sharks to see if they would sink or swim. I was probably one of the last nurses to deal with that. I think that the attitude toward new grads now is more supportive than before, but it was very much the, "this is how it was when I was new, so this is what you NEED to experience too," type of mentality. It's like hazing.
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Old 12-23-2008, 02:53 AM
 
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In traditional Chinese families, battles between MIL and DIL were legendary, probably because MIL had suffered bitterness in her early married life and just wanted to "pay it forward", as it were.

I am beginning to think that traditional Chinese families of a certain generation are rife with melodrama, as a matter of our culture being the way it is (patriarchy, hierarchy, no concept of privacy, clearly defined relationships thanks to Confucius that aren't quite egalitarian) and women just being their nasty catty selves.

My late mother could be described in some of these posts... she was mean to me waaay before I moved out of the house and got married, never mind when DH entered the picture.

DH is a gentle, generous soul and we are lucky not to have meddling in-laws! What a blessing!

Sign hanging in Albert Einstein's office at Princeton: Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.
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