Mother-in-Law Relationships

This week I asked Go Grandmas about mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationships. I’m quite certain that I couldn’t have asked about a more CONTROVERSIAL topic.  It actually caught me a bit off guard.  There were some STRONG opinions on this.

I adore my sweet mother-in-law.  She has always been kind and loving to me and my children.

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My sweet mother-in-law with her first great grandchild.

However, there is a saying:her-life

This slogan has always worried me a little, having no daughters.  I’m not alone in that worry:

Chris S. (Minnesota): As a mom of only boys, it makes me really sad to know that I’ll never hold that “maternal trump card” or be a holiday priority.  I can only hope that my boys find wives who are understanding and hopefully inclusive of me, their mother-in-law.

One Sunday as I sat in church I could hear two young moms whispering behind me complaining about their mothers-in-law.  It hurt me just a little because I knew that a mother-in-law was what I was forever destined to be.

I mean, when was the last time you heard a mean daughter-in-law joke?  NEVER. But mothers-in-law get a bad rap.  Some is deserved but I’m guessing mostly it is not.

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I vowed I would NEVER be the mother-in-law that would be the subject of negative gossip by my daughters-in-law.  I’ve since learned that you can’t always control that – you make mistakes and I certainly have given my daughters-in-law reasons, on occasion, for eye rolls or perhaps even hurt feelings or a tear.  However, I’m working darn hard to behave myself.

So I asked Go Grandmas what their advice was for building POSITIVE relationships with their daughters-in-law and also how daughters-in-law could do the same with their mothers-in-law.

Here’s some excellent advice from daughters-in-law:

Natalee C. (Minnesota): Daughters-in-law just want to feel understood. On their terms. They want to feel accepted for who they are, what they like, and feel valued and important

Julie C. (Minnesota):  It helps if mothers-in-law not constantly mother their son while visiting. Include your daughter-in-law in conversations and not have your entire visit be focused on your son.

Konnie G. (Minnesota)Support your daughter-in-law by giving them what they need, not what is convenient for you. (Ask them what they need, never assume).  Also don’t tell your daughter-in-law how to parent your grand babies.

Ashley M. (Minnesota): Don’t give advice unless explicitly asked. Don’t boss around your son, especially in front of your daughter in law.

Kate T.: Let your sons go. It’s hard but you need to accept that his wife is the #1 woman in his life now and that’s how it should be

These daughters-in-law have great relationships with their mothers-in-law.  I love what they had to say and how they honor their mothers-in-law:

Stacy A.: My mother-in-law figured out what I hate (taking kids clothes shopping) and she takes them shopping.  They are happy, she’s happy and I’m happy.

Jessica F.: I personally love that my mother in law treats me as if I am her child. I feel I am not just the daughter-in-law. She takes the same pride in me as she does her own son, my accomplishments are hers.  I didn’t just marry my husband, I gained another family

Jeni P.: My MIL is like another mother to me. She loves me dearly and tells me often. She doesn’t get involved in our life issues unless we invite her to. Because of her unconditional love I look forward to spending time with her often and hearing her life experiences.

Sandra B. (Canada):  I love my (mother-in-law) and appreciate (her) so much.

What about the mothers-in-law you ask?  Don’t worry – they had A LOT to say on the matter.  However, their advice seemed to come from places of POSITIVE experience, as well as some admitted trial and error, I’m sure:

Sherry K. (Canada):  Only give information or feedback if you are asked.
Don’t expect to have equal time at Christmas or other special occasions with your son’s family.  Remember that as a mother-in-law you ALWAYS involve your daughter(s)-in-law in planning family activities and time with the littles.   Maternal grandma’s hold the trump card – let it go when your plans are cancelled or changed last minute.  Remember that your son’s first responsibility is his wife and her happiness, and he walks a tight-rope everyday trying to balance everything.  Give your love and attention to all, and carefully build positive relationships with no favorites!

Colleen M. (Minnesota):  Remember that they are now their own family who need to figure out what works best for them in ALL areas. If they ask, I give them my advice. If not, I keep it to myself(mostly).  If one of my kids comes to me complaining about their in-laws I try to help them see the other point of view.

Karla C. (Minnesota): Be honest and don’t take offense.

Andrea G. (Minnesota):  I just try to learn about what interests they have and find a connection, even if it is a small connection with each one. And sometimes feelings get hurt, but hopefully whatever it is it’s not too big to say sorry.

Darnell N. (Minnesota): I don’t interfere or take sides EVER. I give advice if asked but don’t expect them to use it or feel hurt if they don’t use it. I’m thankful they love their spouses and children and happy they tolerate me!

Camille B. (Canada): I have sons and I remember how annoying it was when my husband’s mother interfered. I don’t ever want my daughter’s in law to have those feeling about me. So I say let your sons grow up. Don’t ever demand that your son check in with you about his girlfriend or wife.

Denise B. (Canada):  Be giving, if you want your daughter-in-law to hold space and respect for you, please reciprocate and hold space and respect for her.

Phew!  That is a lot of great advice.

Any new relationship is hard.   I could be wrong but my guess is that most mothers-in-law genuinely want their sons to be happy and truly want a relationship with the love of their son’s life.  I know that’s what I want.

So mothers-in-law, try a little harder to respect that relationship between your son and his wife.  And daughters-in-law, be patient with your mother-in-law.  She has given you her child and just wants a little window into your life once in a while.

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