How Penangites handle difficult in-laws


Hello everyone, on a lighter note, since blog reader tunglang is having a spot of bother with his in-laws, I thought I would try and find out how folks in Penang would soothe ruffled in-law feathers.

It would give us sort of an insight into local Penang social culture, don’t you think?

So what’s the Penang way to improve relations with in-laws? Will a night out for a few platefuls of Penang char koay teow at your favourite joint do the trick? Or do you have any other wiser ideas?

I suppose the solutions would depend on the exact nature of the problem and how deep-seated it is. But assuming the problem can be resolved, how would you go about it?

Feel free to share your thoughts and dispense some free advice.

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Fate chooses your parents.
Blame no one if they are poor
Stupidity chooses your in laws.
Blame yourself.


One chooses one’s beloved wife. Not to choose the in-laws first, then the wife second! Unless of course one is looking at the fat bank account or mountain high assets. I personally believe my life is my individual journey to be lived with my passion, joy and unchartered adventures. That doesn’t mean to start blaming anything, anyone or myself if things go wrong. I don’t believe in fancy-word fate or much touted intelligent choice. The journey of one’s life can take a turn or twist anytime, so how can one be so sure of one’s prior ‘good’ decisions until after… Read more »


A hint of regret?

You cannot turn back the clock. But learn from your experience and write a book like John Gray of Mars/Venus fame.

You can name your book ‘I am from Penang, My In-laws are nearby’ detailing your experiece. If Niamah Teohlogy can hit best-seller list, your good writing and humour will stand a chance as this is a topic close to many hearts.
You can earn royalty to prove a point to your in-laws!


I love that motherly advice.
No regrets, otherwise where’s the individualized life experiences for my nostalgic recall in pristine ambience during my much anticipated retirement years eating bananas in the pristine rainforest of Belum.



perhaps you are having trouble with the in-laws because you live with them or have close interactions with them on a daily basis?

some distance might actually do you good, albeit it’s not the so-called “asian culture”, where every family member is in your face all the time.

but to think in the long term, your parents and in-laws will not be around forever. just take what they say with a pinch of salt. treat them with respect when can, but if they say something disagreeable, just one ear in and one ear out.


Just for the convenience of my wife and children, I decided to stay quite near to the in-laws. Never knew that it is too close for comfort. Before, it was not that bad.
Nevermind, till my children are grown ups, I will merrily move to Belum, Perak to relive my ultimate joy and rejuvenation in the pristine rainforest. Animals are better companion than conniving humans and leeching politicians.

Andrew I

That’s if there are still any pristine rain forests left.


Whatever’s left like the Belum National Park is worth the fighting for. At least we still have some tigers to feed with leeches barbecue mild or blackened. Or better still live fat leeches dip in Rojak sauce wrapped in banana leaves for the slow chewing.

najib manaukau

Be respectful of each other and everything right will follow.


Treat ur mother-in-law like u would ur neighbour. Be gracious, and if she complains, just let in go in one ear and out in another. Remember, most of u also have kids. Show them how u would like to be treated in ur old age! IMHO, as long as the in-laws don suck onto u like a parasite, u should maintain a civil relationship. If u have a gambling in-law, esp a bro-in-law running away from alongs, break the relations ASAP! Save ur family from the long-term heartache. I think problems with in-laws start from a very controlling+egoist can’t care… Read more »


How many of you especially Penangites have depended on your in-laws to look after your children when they were little? Come on — the truth!

We had maids but it was the presence of my mother-in-law around the children that gave us the peace of mind to leave our precious babies to go to work. Now, that, I think is an eternal debt — I give my in-laws thumbs up any time. What is a little in-law tantrum here and there?


Some mother-in-laws truly create bonds with their grandsons / granddaughters because they took care of them while they were young. Most were done out of pure love for their lineage. But there are some who charge for babysitting regardless of whose young children. Maybe as an ex-active career woman, they count it as opportunity cost to be compensated for. Blame it on Barang Naik Siok-Siok every now and then! This minding of the grandchildren by caring in-laws is in fact priceless for their early character building, mannerism and social cohesiveness in the extended families. I put that above and better… Read more »


Tunglang, I follow a very strict regime with my in-laws and parents. You can visit but you can’t stay (more than a few days). We don’t need your advise on what is good for me, for my wife or children. You can give your opinion If I need I will ask Don’t you dare scold or raise your voice against my children or my wife (both to parents and in-laws) You do not tell me whether I should go to church or temple or which Cult to follow I am willing to take you to hospitals and other places, but… Read more »


Why should anyone needs you as a son-in-law? My neighbour treats me better than that.

Foo Mee Har

Setting so much conditions in a strict regime may gain you the short-term convenience but not the respect. The cosmic law of karma will work its way the next time you become an in-law yourself. It is still not too late to reverse the effect. Show some respect without any conditions as it is a basic rules of filial piety.


Don’t you ever need them?
Especially the time when you just became a father?


To all the men out there, please not only love your wife but please love your parents in law as well…

And to all the parents please love your daughter in law as if she is your very own daughter, then, there will be peace in the family…


kee: And to all the parents please love your daughter in law as if she is your very own daughter, then, there will be peace in the family…

But what will happen to the ‘working like a dog’ son-in-law?


tunglang, i know some mothers- in-law can be headache… However, i have also seen those who love their mothers in law, and they earn the respect from their mothers in law in return, and these sons in law they are not rich. Of course, i believe some mothers in law they only respect the sons in law who have money… then, in this case, just ignore them la… Anyway, i am very sad to share that my brother divorces because he cannot stand his wife’s siblings… He said he works like a dog but his wife’s siblings are lazy people… Read more »


In-laws means to follow a set of unwritten laws, whether instinctively or prearranged (pre understood) or slowly indoctrinated. It is most often a unfavorable one-way, one-sided laws if you are the less influential in-law or ‘Tau Kua’ guys. It is a social, relational and financial ‘understanding’ carved in stones in the psyche during the first few months of courtship or marriage. The ‘triba’l code of ethics and conduct (depending on who is the more influential) will overrun the weaker side, especially where money power is concerned. Let’s say if you are the rich guy, you will definitely be honored with… Read more »

Foo Mee Har


I am curious to know if you are expecting this (the $$$ factor from your in-laws) before marrying your wife? Did you commit to stuff that you are unable to deliver?

I think your sincerity and honesty will give you the edge in the long run. Stay positive and share you cup of coffee with your father-in-law.


A good and appropriate song for tunglang to sing to his in-laws in the karaoke session:

Simply Red’s “Money’s Too Tight’ (To Mention)”:


“My wife does not read Malaysiakini”


One solution will definitely do the job. Divorce the wife and keep a mistress!!! You wil o problems with in-laws and out-laws….hehehe

Andrew I

This joke has been around for a while, but for those who haven’t realized: if you rearrange the letters in mother-in-law, you get woman hitler.

Now, if you were to say that to her face, you are very likely to get a peacock response.

Guaranteed no ruffled feathers…very beautiful, in fact.