How to Choose Your Hill to Die On

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In the Reddit community, there’s a sub called JUSTNOMIL. In it are thousands of stories of women dealing with crazy mothers-in-law, sometimes in “the wild” and often on a daily or weekly basis with their own.

There’s a certain level of entitlement that these mothers-in-law exhibit.

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Things like “rights” to their grandchildren, or demanding things from their sons/daughters/in-laws, or manipulation to make things go their way, and much, much more that is honestly a little horrifying.

But one central characteristic of a lot of the women in this community is having a “shiny spine” to stand up to their mothers-in-law.

And the most important time this “shiny spine” comes into play is when they finally find their hill to die on.

Your “Hill to Die On” is Something That You Will Absolutely Not Compromise.

On JUSTNOMIL there are plenty of examples of these hills, but a lot of them revolve around making someone (usually the spouse or the MIL) choose between the wife (daughter-in-law) or the status quo.

A huge hill to die on revolves around children. (For me, my hill to die on IS children, or rather, there ain’t gonna be any for me.) MILs undermining DILs in their parenting, telling their grands that “mommy doesn’t love you” or other bullshit, and sometimes the husbands not doing anything to make their mother shut up.

Choosing Your Hill to Die On is a Lot Like Picking Your Battles

You don’t want your hill to die on to be something that’s just “bitch eating crackers,” which is the phrase for a MIL doing small, but annoying things that over time show that the MIL is a JUSTNO.

This would be something like your MIL walking through the front door and immediately asking what’s for dinner instead of saying “Hi, how are you?”

That’s Not Your Hill to Die On.

Your hill to die on is your MIL going to your child’s preschool (after you told her not to) and attempting to pick up your child without telling you.

AKA attempted kidnapping.

Your hill to die on is your husband not sure if he should side with you or his mother because she raised him to never question her. This is a “Mummy knows what’s best for her baby” type of situation.

Your hill to die on is repeated familial stomping of boundaries, such as continuing verbal abuse when told not to. Situations like this can result in long periods of no contact, or completely cutting that person out of your life.

Your hill to die on is the idea that something can continue no longer, go no further, not be compromised, at all, or you lose your sense of worth and your integrity to sticking to your values and your guns.

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Gaslighting

In the JUSTNO community, that last one has a LOT to do with MILs gaslighting people.

This idea of your “hill to die on” is a major part of maintaining (or gaining) good mental health. It directly ties in with creating and enforcing strong boundaries and having the confidence in yourself to know which battles to pick and how important they are.

Finding your hill might take a while. It might take years of buildup before something finally clicks and you realize that you will not take any more of the bullshit.

It Also Might Be Immediately Clear to You.

You might have grown up knowing exactly which hill was the important one and communicated that right away to everyone important.

If you’re in a JUSTNO situation with your MIL (or anyone else) I highly recommend checking out the r/JUSTNOMIL sub on Reddit. Even if you’ve got a great MIL, it can help clarify behaviors that don’t qualify as normal or accepted. You just might have to use those newfound skills to intervene with a MIL in the wild.

Much like what happened in this saga… 

I hope you never have to fight on your hill to die on. If you do, it means people you thought were on your side are testing and pressing against your boundaries and limits.

It can be scary.

But just knowing what that hill is, prepares you for that fight, anyway. And that’s the kind of security you need in your life.

8 thoughts on “How to Choose Your Hill to Die On”

  1. My dad’s mom was my biggest role model. My dad was one of her 8 children and I am the youngest of her 36 grandchildren. I remember her saying one time that it wasn’t up to her to choose her children’s spouses and she was simply committed to loving them regardless. This is what I aspire to when I become a mother in law someday!

  2. My in laws were here for last Christmas. Having family for Christmas always stresses me out. I have presents to buy, decorating to do, activities to do with the children, and the I have to do extra cleaning and entertaining. After all of that last year my MIL complained aftereards. While she was here she said it was the best Christmas ever. After she left she complained that we didn’t go and do enough. That is why this year, I put my foot down and said that they could not visit for Christmas. I said they are welcome any other time, but we want a simple and relaxing Christmas this year.

  3. Good lord! I think I am happy I don’t have a husband, I have heard about horrible MIL, but I really think it’s the husband who needs to put a stop to it. But I do have to say that when people show you who they are at the beginning, believe them!

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