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Redditor At Odds With Mother-In-Law After Refusing To Lend Her Their Fragile Heirloom Cookbook

Woman cooking from cookbook recipe.
Yuri_Arcurs/Getty Images

Not everyone feels comfortable lending things to others.

Even friends or family.

As some things are so precious or have such high sentimental value, the very thought of it being damaged or lost is enough to bring people to tears.

While most people understand people’s hesitancy to lend various items, others find it greedy and inconsiderate.

The mother-in-law (MIL) of Redditor Valuable-Extreme1450 was hoping they might share one of their grandmother’s most prized possessions.

While the original poster (OP) didn’t feel comfortable handing it over, they did come up with what they thought would be a fair compromise.

Unfortunately, their MIL did not appreciate this compromise one bit and was not afraid to let her displeasure be known.

Wondering if they were being unreasonable, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where they asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for telling my MIL she can have a copy of a recipe but not the recipe book?”

The OP explained how they wanted to help their MIL out with their request, but only up to a point.

“There’s a cookbook that has been in my family for a few generations now and was started by my grandma’s grandma.”

“The book is extremely fragile now and held up, but it’s also something I made a digital copy of (with backups) because it really is more of an heirloom to look at and not use.”

“I have the cookbook now and have cooked many recipes for many people.”

“There’s one particular cake in it that has been a hit with my ILs.”

“MIL asked me recently for the cookbook so she could try out the recipe and make it for the family and some of her friends.”

“I told her I could not give her the book but would be happy to share the recipe.”

“She flipped out and accused me of not trusting her and would not listen to the reason not to hand her the book.”

“She told me I was hogging food, and that is never a good move, especially with ILs.”

“My husband had my back and told his mom she was being ridiculous.”

“But she said I was an a**hole and being very unfair.”


Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the op fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community unanimously agreed that the OP was not the a**hole for refusing to lend her MIL her grandmother’s cookbook.

Everyone thought that since the OP did oblige her MIL’s request by offering her the recipe, she was in no way obligated to lend her the entire cookbook, particularly owing to its fragile state, with a few even questioning if she was worthy of the recipe based on her behavior.



“That is actually hilarious.”

“The level of entitlement here is really impressive.”

“It’s a family heirloom. She has zero claim on the original.”

“At this point, I wouldn’t even give her the cake recipe.”

“Something tells me she wants more than just the one recipe.”

“You are NTA here.”- IamIrene


“I cannot fathom her demanding a cookbook from you when you are perfectly fine sharing the specific recipe she asked for.”

“I would #1 not give her the book, #2 not give her the recipe, and #3 never make that cake when she will be present again.”- OrangeAnomaly


“This is not about the recipe.”

“This is about control.”- lascivious_chicken

“There is no reason to tolerate, let alone reward, verbal abuse from your MIL.”

“If you haven’t given her the recipe yet, I recommend that you don’t even give that to her until she offers an unsolicited, sincere apology.”

“Your collection of family recipes is meant to be shared among loved ones, not hateful shrews.”

“You are absolutely NTA and owe this horrible woman nothing.”- Due_Laugh_3852


“Why is she so offended you wouldn’t loan her A PRICELESS AND FRAGILE ANTIQUE family HEIRLOOM?”

“The book is obviously over 100 YEARS OLD and is NOT TO BE HANDLED.”

“Does she know how museums handle books?”

“They are kept in a vacuum-sealed environment. You have to put on special jumpsuits and gloves to touch them, and then you literally cannot even BREATHE on them.”

“It makes me wonder what her ACTUAL intentions were!”

“Was she going to try to keep the book, try to make a profit from it?”

“Ruin it because she doesn’t like you?”

“I could list reasons all day, but she SAID she wanted a RECIPE for a specific cake, so what is wrong with just giving her the recipe?”

“If she TRULY WANTED that recipe, I DOUBT she would have flipped out like this.”

“It really seems to me like she had a plan for YOUR family heirloom cookbook, and you were right to keep her grubby paws off of it.”- SageGreen98


“You told her she can have the recipe.”

“She doesn’t need to get her oily fingerprints and dead skin cells all over your family heirloom, using it in a kitchen where it can get anything spilled on it ‘by accident’.”- otsukaren_613

“She‘s planning something she isn’t saying with the book.”

“NTA.”- Rfg711


“And honestly, I’d not even be sharing that one recipe with her anymore.”- nejnoneinniet


“I bet she suspects you’ll ‘accidentally’ leave out an ingredient the way some people do with special recipes, so they’re the only ones who can really make it.”

“Don’t give her that book.”

“It sounds like a treasure.”- MaIngallsisaracist


“MIL has some kind of issue.”

“I agree that at this point, I wouldn’t even send her a copy of the recipe without a genuine apology.”

“I suppose you could have avoided the whole drama by responding with ‘sure, I’ll send you a copy!’ from the get-go, but her response is still childish.”- magicsusan42

“NTA, wtf you’re giving her the recipe still.”

“Seems rational to not want to risk the destruction of a family heirloom smh, she’s wack.”- DrDateJust420


“I’d just say it’s very old and fragile, and everyone only uses the digital copy now.”

“You yourself don’t even use it.”

“If she’s still annoyed, that’s on her.”- Laurajenn


“Who flips out over a book that they were offered a copy of.”- Own-Whereas-7420


“From what I have gathered from your post and responses, you offered MIL a copy of the recipe she wanted.”

“But she wanted the physical book, flipping out before you could explain that it was no longer in use, just the digital copies?”

“That’s bloody entitled!”

“Being your MIL does not give her the right to demand a fragile family heirloom from you!”

“One that your family has been working on for five generations.”- Charming-Argument693

“You offered to give your MIL the cake recipe.”

“You probably would give her all the recipes if she asked nicely.”

“But you drew the line at giving the ‘extremely fragile’ heirloom book itself out of your possession.”

“Sounds reasonable.”

“Too bad your MIL disagrees.”

“So maybe she gets no recipes at all.”

“NTA.”- YouthNAsia63


“Let me look into the crystal ball and see what the future conversation with MIl would be:”

“MIL: ‘I looked over the recipes.’ None of them are good enough for my son, so I got rid of the whole thing’.”

“Op: ‘how could you just throw away 100 years of my family history?? That book was very important to me.”

MIL: ‘how dare you attack me for looking out for my son!'”

“Op: ‘couldn’t you have just given me back the book and left it up to your son to pick what he eats?'”

“MIL: ‘this is why I told him not to marry you…you just aren’t able to take care of him like me. You should thank me for rescuing you both from those recipes.'”- Impossible-Ebb7828


“Lmao, hogging food?”

“Recipes are very important and secret. This is what all restaurants do. They have the best recipes and protect them.”

“Some chefs even SELL their recipes.”

“Don’t share the recipe with her anymore.”- EndorsiKhun


“MIL seems a little unhinged.”- No_Belt_4148


“You offered the recipe.”

“Obviously, you won’t want to share a book if it’s fragile as it won’t hold the same respect (obviously not purposely) with someone outside the family.”- Selmo20


“It’s an heirloom.”

“It’s fragile, so you’ve made digital copies.”

“The fact that she’s having a tantrum over not getting the book… don’t let her borrow it.”

“I don’t trust her to give it back now.”

“Because if she just wants to make the cake, then giving her a copy of the recipe is fine.”

“It would be fine even if the book was brand new.”

“Giving a copy of the recipe is actually better because she can keep it and store it with her other recipes.”

“There are zero reasons for her to take the whole book just to make the cake, and her reaction is suspicious.”

“Getting the recipe but not the whole book does not prevent her from making the cake, but it prevents her from keeping the book.”

“I feel like that’s the core of her issue.”- CemeteryDweller7719

It’s hard to imagine why the OP’s MIL was so insistent on being lent the entire cookbook when the OP was ready and willing to give her a copy of the recipe.

Which is what she asked for in the first place.

One can only wonder how the OP’s MIL would react if the tables were turned and the OP asked to borrow a priceless heirloom of hers.

Perhaps then she might understand and look back with embarrassment on her past behavior.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.