Are You a New Mother-in-Law?

Tips for building a bond with your daughter-in-law

Every mother of a married son wants to get along well with his wife. However, adult sons don’t always pick a woman their mother would have chosen for them. But, even if she may not be exactly the person you may have envisioned for your child, your new daughter-in-law can be a delightful addition to your family. It’s possible the two women most important to your son will end up forging a strong, loving relationship with each other.

There’s no foolproof guide on how to be a mother-in-law. After all, building a relationship with someone entering a family from outside isn’t always easy. But putting in an effort and being open, accepting, and hopeful can only help.

Helpful tips from real mother-in-laws…

  • Get to know your daughter-in-law as a person. Build a relationship with her that’s independent of your son. Try to create a bond through things you have in common. You don’t have to be best friends, but having a foundation built on friendship will help you get through any rough spots that may come along.

  • Accept that your relationship with your son has changed. Your son is married. He has chosen his partner for life. You are no longer his primary female influence. Get in the back seat willingly. Expect and encourage him to consult with his wife about his feelings, thoughts, and decisions.

  • Don’t stress about being a “bad” mother-in-law. You don’t have to bend over backwards to be the perfect mother-in-law at all times. You’re a family now. Families discuss real issues. They’re honest with each other, and they sometimes disagree. Make sure your daughter-in-law feels comfortable disagreeing with you, and make sure you are not offended when she disagrees with you.

  • Do not complain about – or criticize – your daughter-in-law to your son. Try to stay focused on the positives you see in your daughter-in-law. Negative comments or observations from you will only put your son in a very difficult position. Your daughter-in-law is the #1 woman in his life now, and he loves her. Remember, as hard as it might be to admit, your son is not perfect either.

  • Praise your daughter-in-law. Make an effort to compliment her in an honest, loving way. Let her know you respect and appreciate her for being a good partner to your son and a good mother to your grandchildren, if you have them.

  • Never offer advice to your daughter-in-law, unless she asks for it. Try to be more encouraging than questioning. Your best intended suggestions could come across as criticism. Think about how your comment would have sounded to you coming from your own mother-in-law.

  • Respect the decisions your son and daughter-in-law make together. Undoubtedly, you’ll agree with some of their decisions and not with others. They’ll make plenty of mistakes, just as you’ve made plenty of mistakes in your own life. Mistakes help us learn and grow.

  • Don’t expect your daughter-in-law to call you “Mom.” Give her the opportunity to decide what she’s comfortable calling you. Spend quality time getting to know each other. Your daughter-in-law may come to think of you as a mother figure. However, building a friendly, loving relationship with your daughter-in-law is much more important than the word she uses to address you.

  • Don’t drop by unannounced. The home of your son and daughter-in-law is not your territory, it’s theirs. Respect their independence and autonomy. Ask your son and daughter-in-law to let you know when would be the most convenient time for you to stop by for a visit.

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