My mother-in-law had always wanted girls. She had two boys. At the age of nineteen I became her second daughter-in-law. One day about a year after our wedding she casually told me, “I had always wanted daughters. I thought that when my sons got married I’d have the daughters I always wanted but that didn’t happen. I lost my sons.”
I decided I would try to be the best daughter-in-law I could be to her, but truthfully, I never thought she liked me. Until just before she passed. I’ll get to that at the end.
I recently wrote a post titled The ABC’S on Being a Good Mother-In-Law and it hit me that I have way more experience on being a daughter-in-law than a mother-in law. After 33 years I thought I’d pass on some of what I’ve learned.
5 Tips on how to be the best daughter-in-law:
1 – Be good to their son. Every mother wants to know that her son is being loved and cared for. Remember a mother’s heart. She is the one who raised him, loved him, changed his diapers, cried over him. Handing her “baby” off is the greatest gift a mother can give. Some try and pull back and hold on because it can be a very painful process. Nothing brings me more joy than to see my daughter-in-law bring love and happiness to my son’s world.
2 – Keep them in the loop. Parents love to hear how their children are doing. My daughter-in-law will send me random pictures of new boots, my son teaching (he’s a pastor), places they go, dogs they are babysitting, my son being goofy…I love every one! She keeps me in the loop and I love it! I call my father-in-law regularly to keep him updated on our lives. He loves the calls and we have great conversations. Parents love hearing about their children!
3 – Give them one-on-one time. When I was visiting, my daughter-in-law told my son to take me out for breakfast one morning. Jenny had to work and she pushed Tim to spend some alone time with me. I love the time we all spend together but her pushing Tim to spend some time with me was very special. Don’t take it as a threat if your husband wants to spend time with his parents.
4 – Be forgiving. All mother-in-laws say and do silly things. Stupid things even. I sure do! Don’t hold grudges. My mother-in-law would sometimes say the oddest things. One time she said, “I saw your mother, she was poured into her paints.” I remember it because it was so funny! My mom has always been very particular about her clothing so there was no credence to what was said. But it was funny. I laughed at it, but didn’t tell my mom.
To my mom: Sorry Mom, it was over 30 years ago.
5 – Love, respect, and appreciate them. My daughter calls her mother-in-law Mama Judy. I love this! Calling her by that title shows love and honor. Look for ways to extend love. We all have our own ways of showing love and respect. Maybe it is as simple as truly loving them. When our heart is filled with love we extend love.
Just before my mother-in-law passed she reached out to me in a way she didn’t anyone else. Maybe because she knew I deeply loved her son and wanted to show appreciation. I don’t know. But I was the one she prayed with to ask Jesus into her life. She died from dementia and would go in and out, but had small glimpses of clarity. During one of those last times of clarity she reached out for me. The whole family was there but it was me she reached for.
Walking away that day I knew without a doubt she liked me all along, I just never knew it.
Bottom line: Loving your husband’s parents is loving your husband.
Until next time, love all out.