Don't Be "That" Mother In Law

family Jul 16, 2020
Don't Be

We mothers of sons often get a bad rap when our sons marry and we become mothers in law. We are portrayed as overly attached to our sons to the point of doing anything we can to sabotage the relationship. Jane Fonda in the movie “Monster in Law” jumping through hoops to prevent her doctor son from marrying Jennifer Lopez is a perfect example of how we are portrayed in books and movies. It’s hilarious and exaggerated – or is it?

I would argue that it is hilarious and exaggerated. But, there are some of us – especially those of us with control issues – who have a harder time “letting go.” And letting go is exactly what we have to do. Because unless your daughter in law is beating your son or your grandchildren, there should be NO reason to be involved with any decisions that she and your son make as a couple and as a family.

While many may feel that it’s their right to be fully included in their son’s family, I would argue that it’s a privilege.

Guidelines for Being a Good Mother In Law to Your Son's Wife

She is Not Your Daughter - You Have Not "Gained a Daughter"

Many use this statement as just an endearment and leave it at that. But there are others who take this and “try too hard” to create that mother/daughter relationship. She is not your daughter – she is your son’s wife. She is a grown woman who has been raised by her own parents. And she is the woman in her household. She is in charge.

Keep Your Opinions to Yourself on Anything Unless Asked – And, Even Then, Tread Carefully

I am blessed and grateful to be a part of my children’s lives and families and get along very well with both of my daughters in law. Part of this is because they are great women. The other part of this is because I respect their place and more importantly, mine. They do ask my opinion quite often, especially in matters related to the kids. And, my immediate response anytime I’m asked my opinion is, “What are your thoughts?” Once I have an idea of how they are leaning, I support that and back them up. EVERY. TIME. They are both great wives and mothers and have the best interests of their children and husbands at heart. So whether or not I would do what they’re doing given a situation doesn’t matter. There’s more than one way to do something and my way isn’t always the right one.

We are given two ears and one mouth for a reason. And we mothers in law need to remember that and spend more time listening and less time talking.

Stay Out of Any Disagreements

Disagreements between our sons and their wives are not our business. Just walk away. They’ll figure it out without any input from us.

Make Yourself Available and Accessible As Much As You Can Without Being Pushy or Needy

This is more relevant after the grands start arriving on the scene. Let your daughter in law know that you are available for whatever she might need in terms of babysitting or giving her a break so she can jump in the shower. Coming at it from a place of, “I remember days of not showering” or “I remember how great it was to be able to get out for an hour and share a glass of wine with my husband” will make her feel like you understand and empathize.

Coming at it from a place of knowing better and criticizing will defeat your purpose and accomplish nothing.

Again, it is a privilege to be involved and included with your grandchildren – not a right.

Be Self-Aware and Check Any Jealousy at the Door

There’s no other way to say this except to just say it – it’s not okay to be jealous of your daughter in law because she gets attention from your son. It’s not healthy. It’s not normal.

If you have devoted your entire life to raising your son, it’s normal and healthy to feel a little sad and maybe even a little lost now that he’s grown and married. That’s a time to maybe think about seeking counseling to talk it through or to sit down and look at what’s next for you now that you’ve raised your son to be independent! Your job is done! Now, it’s time to do some things for you!

Nothing makes me happier than hanging out with my sons and their wives. I love watching them interact with each other and with their kids. I take pride in the relationships that I have with all of them. I’m grateful to be able to be so involved in the lives of all of my grandchildren.

It’s a privilege.