Friday, June 24, 2011

A Modest MOTB Proposal

Is this a picture of a Moby?
Most married women I have spoken to wouldn’t be comfortable calling their mothers-in-law, “Mom.” without having endearing reasons for the term of endearment. A quick Internet search indicates this is not so in all cultures. 
A Chinese living in Hong Kong reports her countrymen traditionally address mothers-in-law as mom or mother.  The same is true in Pakistan, though it’s more common for older women to address their husbands' mothers by the simple address. The younger Pakistan population  more commonly uses, “Auntie.”

There's actually an entire web discussion that answers the question: How do you address your mother-in-law in your own culture at

The apparent fascination with this question makes me wonder why our culture has not come up with generally accepted identifiers for the parents in-law, the way it has granted identifications for other extended family members - especially cousins. My parents' siblings' children are my first cousins. Second cousins are children of first cousins.The countdown of cousins continues to cover ensuing generations. Some of these designators are confusing -- especially when you start dealing the with "removed" cousins. But they are still terms meant to identify family relationships, not evaluate affection toward them. The most helpful "cousin calculator"  I've found online is

I especially like this website's dictionary of cousin terms. And it does occur to me that mother-in-law and father-in-law are meant to be just as helpful in designating relationships between family members by marriage, But that" in-law"  part sounds so cold, as does, I admit, the "removed" cousin distinction. But we usually don't have as immediate and regular relationships with "removed" cousins as we do with our in-laws. In-laws, afterall, share grandchildren.

So, I propose more user-friendly (with the emphasis on friendly) apellations for parent-in-laws. I wouldn't mind being referred to as Moby, a name derived from a few of the key letters in Mother of the Bride. Moby doesn't compete with the groom's connection to his Mom. Yet, it's not as steeped in legalese as mother-in-law . The Father of the Bride could be Fab. What father-in-law wouldn't mind being referred to as Fab?

Following the same nicknaming pattern, the groom's mom would be Mogy and his dad . . . . .  er. . . . oh well, back to the in-law ID drawing board. 


  1. I've heard Millie and Fil, which comes from MIL and FIL, Mother-In-Law and Father-In-Law

  2. I like both of those better than Moby, Fab, and Mogy. Thanks for reading and replying.