2011 Women's Conference
Class taught by Debra Stewart
“The following are ideas gathered on the subject from the scriptures, books, on-line information and questionnaire answers from fellow women who are trying to create good relationships just like you are. We began a wonderful dialog at our class during the stake women’s conference which we hope will generate more discussions and interactions. I very much enjoyed the whole experience and have learned a lot in the process. I am open to providing any future discussion or classes anyone in the stake would wish to provide. It is a “dance” worth the effort in learning the “steps”. It begins small and always with remembering that: CHARITY NEVER FAILETH.
(Debra Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org )
“BY SMALL AND SIMPLE THINGS ARE GREAT THINGS BROUGHT TO PASS”
THE SMALL AND SIMPLE THINGS
“When you have a seemingly overwhelming problem in a relationship, or a problem that has persisted for years, it’s natural to think that you need a big solution. However, your answer may be found in the wisdom of D&C 64:33: Out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”
A small adjustment in the way we think about something can often bring great changes in our feelings and behavior…..We might feel foolish for having struggled so long with problems that could have been solved by a small thing. “You mean it is as simple as that?” may be our initial protest, echoing Naaman’s indignation when Elisha prescribed something as easy as bathing seven times in the Jordan river as a cure for leprosy. But the truth is that small things can bring about great changes in our relationships.” (Rock Solid Relationships by Wendy Watson Nelson, PhD.)
HE THAT DILIGENTLY SEEKETH SHALL FIND AND THE MYSTERIES OF GOD SHALL BE UNFOLDED UNTO THEM, BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST…..WHEREFORE, THE COURSE OF THE LORD IS ONE ETERNAL ROUND.” (1 Nephi 10:19)
“We are all in this together. We need each other. Oh, how we need each other. Those of us who are old need you who are young. And, hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old. It is a sociological fact that women need women. We need deep and satisfying and loyal friendships with each other. These friendships are a necessary source of sustenance. We need to renew our faith every day. We need to lock arms and help build the kingdom so that it will roll forth and fill the whole earth.” (Marjorie Pay Hinckley)
“That I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” (Romans 1:12
MOTHERS–IN-LAW AND DAUGTHERS-IN-LAW: RULES OF THE GAME
(By Barbara Graham a grandparents.com columnist)
“I hate it when clichés turn out to contain more truth than rumor, but so many grandparents on the paternal side feel like second-class citizens, compared with maternal grandparents. In many families, the mom’s mom and dad often have easier and more frequent access to the kids. In other families, maternal grandmothers even act the part of what I call alpha nanas. One paternal grandmother complained that her daughter-in-law’s mother expects the grandkids to be with her side of the family on all major holidays—and her daughter goes along with it.
On the other hand, daughters-in-law don’t necessarily have it any easier. There are mothers-in-law who, while not clinically deaf, routinely ignore their daughters-in-law’s perfectly reasonable requests. “Tomorrow is not a good day to visit,” one daughter-in-law said to her husband’s mother, but the grandmother turned a deaf ear and showed up anyway…and not for the first time.
For the mothers-in-law:
Respect your daughter-in-law’s parenting style—even if you don’t agree with it. Much has changed since you were raising kids. More to the point, you’re the grandparent now and you’re not in charge. Earn your daughter-in-law’s trust by playing by her rules when you’re with the kids.
Respect her relationship with her mom—and don’t try to compete. You’ll lose!
Respect her relationship with your son—and don’t badmouth her to him. You’ll lose that battle too.
Remember good parenting is learned on the job—and she’s doing the best she can. Give her the benefit of the doubt, and never forget how sensitive you were as a young parent trying to do your best.
For the daughters-in-law:
Respect your son’s relationship with his mother—whatever your opinion of her. You may get him on your side of your conflict with her, but your entire family, especially your children, will suffer as a result.
Remember that all grandparents—unless they are absolute or their behavior is in some way harmful to the kids—deserve to know their grandchildren, and vice-versa. If possible, let all the grandparents spend time alone with the kids. That is the only way they can establish bonds.
Cut the grandparents some slack—within reason. They may buy the kids two scoops of ice cream instead of one, or ridiculous toys—and then let them stay up an hour past bedtime. They don’t mean to disobey you; this is just their way of showing their extravagant love for your children.
If you happen to be the mother of sons, beware. Someday, if you’re lucky, you’ll be a mother-in-law with grandchildren too. Behave accordingly.
For Both Mothers-in-law and Daughters-in-law:
Boundaries is not a dirty word. In fact, it’s one of the best words in the English language—and in practice, healthy boundaries are what keep us sane and foster friendly relations. Set boundaries for yourself, and respect your in-law’s boundaries. When you do stray into each other’s boundaries try to see the situation from her point of view.
Let go of your expectations about how things should be and work with the way things are. This means accepting the complete cast of characters who make up your whole crazy extended family, as well as other nonnegotiable circumstances.
Always think of the kids. Model the values you want the children to learn. Do you want to train them in sniping and disrespect, or trust and compassion?
Remember the heart is a living muscle that needs exercise and use to keep it healthy. In the end, the love you take is equal to the love your make. IN-LAW RELATIONSHIP ADVICE
(Excerpts from In-Law Relationships: The Chapman Guide by Gary Chapman)
The purpose of listening is to discover what is going on inside the minds and emotions of other people. If we understand why people do what they do, we can have appropriate responses.
Relationships are built by seeking understanding. They are destroyed by interruption and argument.
Affirming statements do not mean that you necessarily agree with what your in-laws have said. It does mean you listened long enough to see the world through their eyes and to understand that, in their minds, what they are doing makes good sense. You are affirming their humanity, the right to think, and feel differently from other people.
Respect leads me to give my in-laws the same freedom that God allows me and all humans—the freedom to be different. Therefore, I will not seek to impose my will upon my in-laws. Rather, when I find myself at odds with them, I will look for a solution that will show respect for differences.
Religious differences often become divisive in the marriage. They can also create barriers to wholesome in-law relationships.
The invasion of privacy is a common area of conflict with in-laws. But when the younger couple show respect for their parents’ and in-laws’ intentions and openly share with them their own frustrations, most of the problems can be resolved.
The mature person is always looking for wisdom, even if it is spoken by a mother-in-law. When parents and in-laws make suggestions, their ideas should be given due consideration. After all, they are older and perhaps wiser than we are.
Learning to respect the peculiarities of our in-laws is necessary if we are to have harmonious in-laws relationships. In fact, if we were to fight our in-laws over every issue we consider to be weird, quirky, or wrong, we would spend the rest of our live in battle.
When we begin a sentence with “YOU” we are speaking as though we have ultimate knowledge of the situation. In reality we are giving only our own perspective.
The greatest gift that parents can give their married children is the gift of freedom.
Love is not a feeling. Love is an attitude, a way of thinking, and a way of behavior. Love is the attitude that says, “I choose to look out for your interests. How may I help you?” A loving attitude leads to loving behavior
We make in-law relationships better or worse depending on how we speak to our in-laws. Gentle, soft words make things better.
THE DANCE STEPS NEEDED TO BUILD A HEALTHY MOTHER-IN-LAW/DAUGHTER-IN-LAW RELATIONSHIP excerpts from The Mother in Law Dance by Annie Chapman)
“LEARNING TO DANCE”
“One of the consequences of “learning to dance” is the risk it presents to the dance partner. Without malice or ill intentions, often toes are bruised. Embarrassing moments are simply part of the process of beginning, and even intermediate dancing. Learning to relate to each other as MIL and DIL poses the same type of hazard. Out of ignorance and discomfort at the situation, sometimes things are said and done that may offend one or the other.”
FROM DAUGHTER-IN-LAW TO MOTHER-IN- LAW:
Be positive and encouraging
Pray for the young couple
Respect your DIL’s different way of doing things
Let them live their own lives
No meddling allowed
Send cards/acknowledge important days
Be sensitive when to share your thoughts and when to be quiet
Give advice only when requested
Don’t set too many expectations for DIL to meet
Give her time and space
Affirm her every chance you get: compliment her abilities/tastes/character
Be a Christ-like example to her by being non-judgmental and loving
Praise much and consider criticism poison to the relationship
Don’t compare your DIL to your daughter
Have a sense of humor; don’t be afraid to lighten up.
FROM MOTHER-IN-LAW TO DAUGHTER-IN-LAW:
Love your husband
Be yourself and relax
Love your MIL and tell her you do
Be patient with his mother. It is hard to let go
Pray for her. God can change her even when no one else can
Don’t complain about your husband to other people
Keep close to your own family, you need their support
Maintain your personal relationship with God. Go to Church even if by yourself
Pay attention to your marriage. Don’t get so involved with everyone and everything else that you forget your husband
Don’t compare your MIL to your mother. Appreciate both of them and their differences. Just because they may do things differently doesn’t mean one is right and the other is wrong.
Tell your MIL how much you love her son and what a good job she did in raising him
Work out holiday schedules well in advance
Give it time and keep a sense of humor
“WHO IS GOING TO LEAD?”
Regardless of how difficult the transitions for both MIL and DIL may be, the fact remains that “the dance” will go on. One of the first decisions that must be made when learning to dance together is “who is going to Lead?” If both dancers insist on that powerful position, confusion and chaos is the only possible outcome. Before long, one or the other is going to trip and fall. In the MIL/DIL dance, the leader is not the one who takes over and directs action. Instead the leader, in this fragile shuffle, steps back and gets out of the way. Without question, the leader in this waltz should be the MIL. She is the one who lets go and lovingly releases her son and his wife to establish their own lives and routine.
(Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts I found online that have good merit)
TO BE A GREAT DAUGHTER-IN-LAW, DO:
1. Be clear, honest, and calm with both your husband and mother in law about your needs and desires. To be a great daughter in law, be honest.
2. Gracefully and humbly admit it if you've made a mistake, such as expecting too much or trying to control your husband's mother's actions or personality.
3. Respect your mother in law's opinions, wisdom, age, and experience. Build a good relationship with your husband's mother by listening to her.
4. Stay away from your in laws if they could harm or abuse you or your children.
5. Have a "party line" and stick to it ("We chose to spend the money this way and we stand by our decision," said calmly and repeatedly will eventually dissuade even the most stubborn mother in law).
6. Let your husband – her son – discuss big issues with her. As the daughter in law, stand back. Encourage him to set and maintain boundaries, such as calling before visiting.
7. Call your mother in law just to say hi. Being a great daughter in law starts with being thoughtful.
8. Be firm that your mother in law respects your wishes. If she shows up uninvited despite your request to call first, gently turn her away. You may be her daughter in law but you can stick to your guns!
9. Stand up for yourself if your mother in law criticizes your appearance, house, or parenting style. Point out remarks you think are unfair or unnecessary when they happen (not months later, or to your husband that night).
10. Enlist your husband's support in standing up for yourself. Building a good relationship with you mother in law involves getting support.
11. Stick to your decisions as wife, mother, and daughter in law.
12. Be considerate of health concerns of your mother in law, such as depression, failing physical health, and fears of aging. A great daughter in law cares about other people's health.
13. Be consistently clear that your mother in law is not in control of your home, children, or husband.
14. Be patient in the face of hostility, silence, or rejection. Building a good relationship with your mother in law requires patience.
15. Show respect and compassion to your husband's mother even when you don't feel like it.
16. Learn the difference between "help" and "control". Help is lending money; control is dictating how it's spent. Build a good relationship with your mother in law by focusing on helping or being helped.
17. Realize that being firm and clear about your wishes won't ruin your relationship. Building a good relationship with your husband's mother requires work!
18. Pay attention to your mother in law's needs and wishes. A great daughter in law considers others' desires.
19. Ask your mother in law to join your world! Invite her to take a walk, yoga class, or art gallery tour with you. Change your environment, and you may change your daughter in law relationship.
20. Accept that personality conflicts happen, and learn to live with differences of opinion, perspective, and culture. A great daughter in law knows and accepts who she is.
AS A DAUGHTER-in-LAW (with your MOTHER-in-Law):
1-WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP?
I feel very grateful for my mother-in-law for several reasons.
First- she shares with me often how much she appreciates me as a mother to her grandchildren. She is very positive about my children and of course compliments her son, for being a great father, which he is BUT she also recognizes my effort and is always positive in her comments.
Second, she remembers all of our birthdays. She writes a kind letter for each person’s birthday. Yet again another way she demonstrates her love.
Third, she is not judgmental. As children were sometimes loud or naughty or even sassy, she still was kind and loving. She has had grandchildren from other families that have been VERY REBELLIOUS and yet she has been a safe harbor as they struggled.
Fourth, she treats me as her equal. She asks me questions, seeks to learn from me and values my thoughts.
Fifth, she tells me frequently she is glad Larry found and married me. She believes that we are a good match.
* I like the fact that some of our main priorities in life are focused around the same things – the gospel of Jesus Christ and our families. It’s nice to know that we have similar eternal goals and perspectives.
* Aside from those basic foundations, we also share other similar interests. One of my favorite memories is discussing books we’ve both read (Jane Eyre, North & South). It’s nice to have something fun and leisurely to connect on.
*I also like that I feel very loved and treasured. Perhaps since she only raised boys, it left that open spot for daughters or daughters-in-law. I think from the beginning all of the daughters-in-law have felt a sense of belonging in the family because we automatically fulfilled a need and a spot.
* Another thing I like is that she is very good at trying to figure out the styles, tastes, and preferences of each daughter-in-law. Instead of assuming we are all the same or we are all like you, she takes the time to notice that we are different. One example of this is in the quilts she has made (for us and for the kids). They are always personalized for each family/child because she has picked up on color/style preferences. I thought the same thing about our aprons and table runners that she made…they are unique to each daughter-in-law.
* I also like that she is willing to share her knowledge and expertise with me. I remember she helped me as a newlywed decorate above the cupboards in the kitchen in our Provo condo. I didn’t have very many decorations, but she helped me arrange them in a nice way and make them look unified. It was so nice to have her creative expertise so freely shared with me.
* Another thing I like is that we make sacrifices for each other…whether that means staying up late cleaning my house (while pregnant), or she preparing a freezer full of Christmas treats (right after she’s had surgery) when people come to visit…it shows that we are willing to work hard and sacrifice for the other person.
*I like that we have a common ground in the Gospel. So many in-law relationships don't have this, and I am grateful for it. It gave us an instant bond before we knew each other well. It brings us closer during trials and strengthens our individual faith.
*My mother in Law is experienced in many things. I like being able to call her for advice on anything from how to take down wall paper to questions on raising children.
*Some things I like the most about the relationship: my MIL is always willing to help me and my family, not only physically but financially as well. She goes above and beyond the call of duty and serves me whenever she can. I try to reciprocate as often as I can. She is also very willing to talk to me and we often sit around the table and chat about life, people, and just whatever. I don't feel like there is too much pressure and feel like she accepts me for who I am and loves me for being me.
*I like that we both care about the same man so much. It gives us a great common ground. I love the advice and the help and support that we feel even from far away. I really like when we can have real conversations about things that are important to us (even though those conversations are few and far between).
*Our ability to be friends and have good talks (since we are far apart). My MIL is fun and approachable. I can go to her if I am excited about something, blue, or puzzled and could use advice. I like that she is different from my own Mom and kind of fills in some relationship gaps.
*For my situation, the best thing is that I have someone to talk about church/spiritual stuff with as a mother figure. My mother is not an active member, and was never a strong member. So, I guess getting her feedback, discussion, opinion for that side of life is something I can go to her about.
*I love that my kids feel safe with my mother-in-law. What do I mean? The first thing that comes to mind is that my kids love her. And they know she loves them. When they are with her or talk with her on the phone they are happy. Of course she offers them physical safety, but when they are all together they are all happy. They are well. “Cloud 9”, really. I think our basic backgrounds in the church provide us with common ground with the real basics, important basics. Like language we use, TV/movie content, entertainment, etc. Those things I might worry about if I were to leave them with a non-church member (or even some members) for an extended (overnight +) time. Some people might have to worry about that with their in-laws. So all that is easy for me, because my mother-in-law and my father-in-law live the gospel! Definitely, safety in that. My kids don't feel comfortable overnight with everyone. There's something about their relationship with my mother-in-law, that she is family, that they know we all love each other, and that she is plain fun and loves them back. This gives them safety and peace with her, and when they feel safe, I do.
*Provides a new source of recipes and insight into my husband’s likes/dislikes, etc.
*I love that I get to have another mom to talk to! I also love that I have the insight into my husband’s life and upbringing as I get to know his mom more and more.
*It helped that I grew up in a family where you called your in-law’s “mom and dad”, rather than by their first names. That’s something that I just thought everyone automatically did! I never was totally comfy with that, but I asked them what they preferred. They were some of the nicest people you’d ever meet. They just wanted me to be comfy. So……I called them Mom and Dad J. I never remember them telling me what to do, or correcting things they thought were wrong.
*I like that I was accepted (or felt as if I was) right away. Being the 2nd wife to a widowed man has it's challenges. I don't feel like my MIL compares me to my husband's first wife or anyone. We can talk and be open with one another. I lost my own mother shortly after gaining this MIL.
It feels good to have a "mom" who cares about me and my well-being.
*I loved her loving my husband and our sons so much. She enjoyed spending time with us. We shared a love of hosting and making things beautiful, reading and girl stuff. Having only sons and not being particularly close to my own mother she filled in the empty holes. After the years passed, she became one of my best friends. It took longer than I would have wished, but I now see that was OK. It takes time to build strong women bonds. But once they are formed, they cannot be broken.
*My husband was an only child and my mother died 8 years after I was married, so my mother-in-law really became like my mother and friend. I asked her up front before we got married what she wanted to be called so there would be no weirdness about what to call her. In her case she wanted to be called by her first name (she said," I am not your mother so no need to call me mom or mother or some nickname"). I think this is good to get it out there from the beginning especially for younger women (I was 30 when I got married so I just asked but younger girls/women may feel squeamish about asking). She would only give advice if asked and was careful not to interfere though she most often sided with me when an issue came up. I think for her, she loved having a daughter-in-law and taught me about gardening, decorating, cooking, knitting, travel, entertaining, generosity, quality and style. I loved having a friend and mother figured especially after my mother died. Like having a mother but without any baggage leftover form growing up!
*The son that she raised. She loved her grandchildren and was willing to have them around a lot. Baby sit on a rare occasion (but I always hired sitters and didn’t consider her an option very often).
*My in-laws were wonderful. They helped when they visited us and they did not interfere at all. One time mom (my mother-in-law) was concerned about something but tastefully and lovingly asked about it. Very supportive.
*I feel like my mother-in-law is as much a mentor in motherhood as my own mom is. She and my father-in-law say the nicest things about me. They say nice things about everyone, but no one has ever been as complimentary of me as they are.
*I like that we have been able to relate to each other about many different things. We have been able to find similarities that we have and build on those. Plus, she has introduced things she enjoys (sewing, quilting, etc) to me that I now really enjoy, but she didn’t push me to do it unless I liked it. I also love that I feel like one of her own children. She is always interested in what I am doing and how things are going. I appreciate all her wisdom and advice about being a new wife and now a new mom.
*She is loving, supportive, and I feel comfortable asking for her opinion about things like discipline, schools, etc. I know she won't judge me.
2-WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU WISH WERE A PART OF THE RELATIONSHIP? *
*I wish she felt more comfortable to visit our home. She feels we are busy and that we don’t have time to visit or to have them visit. They live about 60 – 70 minutes away and yet they don’t come here very often. They love when we go to their home. I just wish they would come to ours more often.
*I think it’s important to remember that it’s alright to have differing habits and opinions, and to be able to express them. Expressing differences in opinions does not mean there is contention. Open communication allows feelings to be shared in a non-threatening way, even when opinions differ. One of the things I enjoy about our visits is sharing her and my latest thoughts, insights, impressions, and experiences. It’s fun to be able to share that with someone. It would be nice to hear more of those things…life lessons learned, wisdom and insight, things she wants her posterity to remember.
*I wish we had similar interests. I wish we could go out alone together more often: to the movies, to lunch, to get our nails done, etc.
*I think that our relationship is pretty strong, but if I had to think of something to improve... it would be nice if we had a bit more of a friendship and enjoyed just calling to chat. We call each other, but our conversations tend to be very functional or very purpose oriented.
*Things I wish were part of the relationship: a better ability to communicate. While we talk often about everything, there is a language barrier there and it's sometimes difficult to convey complex emotions or ideas for both of us. I wish we both spoke the same language perfectly... I really feel like it would enhance our relationship.
*I mostly wish that we could see each other more often. It's hard to build a relationship over phone and email, because you never feel like you get to know each other.
*Honestly, I don't know! I'm certain there are things I could do better... But I think we have a good thing going!
*Maybe a better understanding/observance/respect of my choices and our choices as a husband and wife, or family.
*This is something else I thought of that may relate to others, but may not. It's definitely something that I've taken note of that I will be careful about not only as a future MIL, but even as a mother. If there are things that you are hyper-critical of---weight, clean/orderly house, clothing choice, home decor choices, cooking skills --- comments and opinions of those nature are best kept to yourself. That's not to say you can't encourage or suggest, but take caution, think it out.
For example: weight - my MIL was worried about my 1 year old daughter being so pudgy - obviously comments at that age plays no effect in her life, and she has since slimmed down a lot with growth (which is to be expected), but the point is that the last thing girl's need in this life is someone they love to comment on their weight. The more damaging part of this is when she makes comments about others in front of my daughter. I want my daughter to grow up not seeing people for how they look and I try really hard to make it clear to my kids that it matters not what a person looks like, we're all children of Heavenly Father and He does not love one more than the other.
home decor choice - does it really matter? Suggestions: sure, but finances are a thing to consider. If you want to help out in that category I suggest taking her shopping and maybe footing some of the bill.
*I have had a very challenging situation with my mother-in-law because of my husband’s choices. It is very hard when things are heightened by the son’s/husband’s crisis. You can either end up on the same side of the fence, or end up enemies. Especially because we (me and my mother in law) are so different to begin with. Luckily we have remained very close, though we have certainly had our ups and downs. Never blame each other for the misdeed of the son/husband. They are HIS actions and choices. We need to constantly acknowledge that everyone is just doing the best they can.
*Again – luck. We had a great relationship
*More time doing things one-on-one together.
*With my own mother-in-law it has taken a long time to have the relationship we have now. I wish it could have come about sooner, probably some my fault and some hers. We have almost always lived away from our families so these have been long distance relationships. My mother-in-law has been way more distant than I would have liked. They have rarely visited us here, and rarely call us to chat. My husband is the oldest so I was the first daughter-in-law. I have always felt loved and welcomed by her, but she is not warm and seemed to lack interest in our lives. I would have liked more contact from her, just to say hi, how are things, what’s new. . .. She is also very protective of her home, and because of that it is hard to stay with them and feel completely comfortable. We can never do the dishes after we eat, help make meals, she supervises if I have to do laundry, and I would never help myself to food while there. She has loosened a little on some of these over the years, but not a lot and we just accept it now and try to do just as we are asked. I should have asked her advice a little more when it comes to child rearing and found other things we could have in common. We are now working on genealogy together and that has helped our relationship greatly. Of course, internet, free phones, etc. have made communicating much easier.
*I wish I didn’t have such a need to “Prove Myself” to my mother-in-law. I want her to like me and accept me. When I am with her, I seem to feel a pressure to do everything just right. Wonder why I have that?
*My MIL is in her 80s. She has dementia. I wish I could have known her "before". It would have been nice to do things with her, learn from her (recipes, knitting, etc.), and to have her spend time getting to know our kids. I wish we shared similar religious beliefs. We share similar values--family, simple living, and ethics, but faith isn't a big part of her life.
*I have been sorry that my mother-in-law didn’t like me at first so it took time to build up a relationship. I think I should have called her “mom” instead of by her first name maybe that would have helped. (But I had such a poor relationship with my own mother that I thought I was doing her a favor by not using the title.) It wasn’t until my children were older and she could see that I was being a good mother that we began to be more open to each other.
*That she was more accepting of me and more considerate of my time with my own family. (her son/my husband and our children). They demanded a lot of extended family involvement and at times it was a big problem. She had definite ideas of how things should have gone and didn’t think there was any other way.
*If I am looking for tips, I’ve got plenty of resources—including friends, my pediatrician, and most important, your son. Unless we specifically ask for your opinion, let the two of us figure it out. We want to raise the kids our own way—mistakes and all.
*I wish she could be more honest/direct about her preferences in almost every situation. This is just a personality thing, though. She’s kind of passive aggressive.
*I think I have a great relationship with my mother-in-law! I have had lots of friends who have said they admire our relationship when I tell them that I have gone to visit her by myself and that I would go up to the family cabin without my husband and be with her and my father in law. I married into a great family!
*I wish we could visit them more often. We only get to see them a couple of times a year.
3-WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE THE MOST HELPFUL IN BUILDING A POSITIVE RELATIONSHIP?
*At first, when I was young and dumb, I tried to prove myself to her. As time passed I realized she was not judging me and I needed to extend a hand of friendship and appreciation to her. I remember one night we were watching family movies of when my husband was a little boy. I was so touched, sitting there watching my husband as a little boy and suddenly it struck me, his mom feels the very same way about my husband as I do my little boys. I got up from my seat and went and sat by her, took her hand and thanked her for raising him the way she did and thanked her for blessing my life. I have never again felt in competition with her. So I guess, it has taken me a long time to say, when I treated her as a trusted friend, she became a trusted friend.
*While in college, my roommate and I had a quote in a prominent place in our kitchen: “Assume the good and doubt the bad.” (From Jeffrey R. Holland, BYU Devotional, February 2000). I have found this to be some of the best advice for any relationship. When we focus on another person’s weaknesses, they are often magnified in our eyes and soon block the view of the myriad of strengths. Assuming that someone’s intentions were good has saved me from worthless frustration and worrying. Of course we all make mistakes and have weaknesses, but if we assume the good and doubt the bad, we develop a habit of recognizing and appreciating the goodness in another person. Though I have many imperfections and weaknesses, I feel like my mother-in-law has been so kind in not accentuating them, but rather focusing on the positive. One example of this is how patient she has been with my indecisiveness (let’s face it, especially in decorating). I tend to mull things over in my mind and contemplate all the options ten times longer than most people. But, she has been so patient and has assumed I must have some reason for such hesitancy.
*Talking. A lot! Sending emails and texts to each other just to say "hi" helps establish friendship. We try to get out and do "girls only" outings once in a while. LISTENING is a big one, too. It goes both ways.
*I honestly think distance really helps our relationship. I think that the fact that we only see each other a few times a year makes it much easier. We are always so excited to see each other, but we are not together enough to let our quirks bother each other. I let her have her space and she lets me have mine but we are there for each other when we need it. Also, she has always been welcoming and loving. I never had to worry about her liking me because it was obvious that she was overjoyed to have me join her family. If I felt that she were judging me, things would be much more difficult, especially since I already mentally struggle to live up to her accomplishments.
*Most helpful in building a positive relationship: serving one another
*Frequent communication and doing things for each other.
*I find my MIL to be very nonjudgmental. I know I don't do things exactly as she might, but she is respectful, positive, and she never puts me down
*Kind communication. No defensiveness. Realizing that my husband grew up with his mother, not me – I can’t do everything the same, and I don’t need to. There is much to be learned if you just watch the example. (sometimes better to watch and observe than to talk about it!!)
*Patience, humility, non-judgemental, respect. Those are things I never thought I lacked so much, but definitely did when it came to meeting and dealing with my in-laws.
*Never complaining or saying anything negative about my husband. Not that I would anyway, but it’s her son and she is never the person that I should vent to if there were an issue to come up in my relationship with my husband.
*Staying in touch, calling and visiting them.
*Communication. Just talking to one another. Sharing our experiences as mothers and wives. Serving one another. Accepting one another.
*I learned early that my mother-in-law had a great need to connect in person with my husband, her son. So when she would be coming for a visit, we would arrange right in the beginning of the visit for the two of them to have some time alone. It worked like a charm. She would be so relaxed and happy the rest of the visit. That taught me to look for her needs above my own and it sure made the visits beautiful. Plus, my husband really enjoyed the time with his mom. She did love him first and still has the right to have a relationship with him.
*? (death) just kidding, kind of…..
Moving further away actually did help the relationship somewhat. We lived right next door and that was just too close (think “Everyone Loves Raymond”)
*We found common ground: like sharing favorite books, parenting questions, sewing. She taught me how to crochet.
*Spending time with her. Asking her to help me with things when I know it’s a strength for her and a weakness for me. Opening up to her about my joys and sorrows.
*“A CLOSED MOUTH GATHERS NO FOOT”
*Finding similarities between each other, rather than pointing out differences. Finding activities/ similar interests you can do together.
*Stay positive. My mother-in-law is really good about listening and letting me know she cares. I don't think she has ever criticized my mothering or housekeeping. She gives me advice, but only when I ask for it. She sends me little packages and notes to let me know she's thinking about me and the boys.
*My Mother-in-Law was cute and funny. She was also fuzzy-brained and didn't much care for the grandkids. Since she lived with us for years, I can recount my mistakes more than my successes. Being fuzzy-brained, she forgot lots of things and did some things that were not appropriate. We started out correcting her and spent way too much time doing that. When you raise kids, you assume that, with time, they will improve. But with dementia it is the opposite. Once we figured that out we were much more patient with her. In fact, we learned to laugh with her at the crazy things she would sometimes do and say. It helped to understand that she was doing the best she could and that should be all we expected of her. If I were to do it all over again, I would be more accepting of things as they were instead of wasting my time hoping for improvements that could never come. I should have invested sooner in the joys of her basically happy-spirited ways. Where family is concerned, I think we just have to accept them as they are and learn to appreciate what is noble and good in them and, "with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away."
4-DO YOU HAVE AN EXAMPLE YOU COULD SHARE? (positive and/or negative)
*I helped her go to the temple for the very first time and it was a very special day. We have traveled together and we have a great time. Some times my husband shares some annoying habits with his Father. My mother in law and I joke and support each other about those silly little habits. It’s funJ I feel very blessed to have the In-Laws that I do. No horror stories here!
*My mother-in-law has set some goals for herself this year and I have the ability to help her reach one of her fitness goals. I offered to meet her at the gym and show her some ways to meet her goals. This is fun for both of us, and we get to bond for a little while. On the other hand, she has helped and served me in many ways, specifically when I had a baby. She offers to watch my son so my husband and I can go out together.
*One thing that sticks out in my mind is her acceptance not only of me, but of my son (who isn't biologically hers). We were at a family gathering right after a grandchild of hers was born and someone asked her how many grandchildren she had now. Her daughter (my sister-in-law) answered and said three--her two kids and the new grandson. My mother-in-law shook her head and said, "No. I have four….and she proceeded to name them all including my son." My love for her skyrocketed! She is the sweetest lady and works so hard to serve everyone around her.
*She helped us to plant a little garden last year and it was great to get her expert opinion about something she was so knowledgeable about, and something I knew NOTHING about.
*When I was a new mom I was upset that the family, who was babysitting our baby, took my baby out to dinner instead of putting him to bed/keeping him home. My MIL told me previously to always come to her and we could always talk about things. So, I did. We talked about my problem and she was really respectful about it. As I grew as a mother I realized that the evening's "transgression" of taking baby out without me knowing was really not a big deal. I've regretted being upset about it. BUT, never did my MIL give me a bad time or make me feel foolish. She's been good to me about other things I've grown into with marriage and motherhood, and I appreciate her letting me grow on my own and not giving me a bad time when I make a mistake, or do it a different way.
There are ways that they 'parented' their kids that I didn't think were so great - ways that were damaging to them, more on the emotional side. It took me a while to step back and realize that, though they could have done better, that everyone makes mistakes, not everyone understands the consequences of what they do/say at the time that they do/say it, and that they were most likely doing the best they could. Their life definitely had its difficulties (a child that was born mentally handicapped) and so I had to humble myself and realize that it was not my place to judge and I needed to respect who they were now, and not dwell on what I think were 'mistakes' from their past. Having patience with them being 'overly involved' - and other personality traits that I would normally avoid in people, and just being more humble.
What I mean by being “Overly Involved” is this: (this included my FIL as well). They wanted to know our finances and help make a budget with us. My husband didn't care that they knew, but I was brought up that you pretty much keep your finances to yourself. But, with their knowing our finances, they then scrutinized our purchases. After that, my husband saw my point and they were cut off from that knowledge. They also, early on in marriage, wanted to help out - so they offered to help pay for some stuff. Of course, this backfired as well, because they held that over us for a good while, and made them feel as though their 'scrutiny' of our purchases were justified since they had given us money. My point would be, if you're going to help out your kids financially, it should either be a gift or it should be a loan. Either way it should not be brought up again. If you find that the gift or loan was not your best choice, then don't offer it again.
*I just remember that my MIL was a kind, non-judgmental person. She welcomed me into her home, treated me as another daughter, offered to help with children or where needed. I’m sure there were many choices that I and my husband made that she probably rolled her eyes over or was worried about, but that was never mentioned to us.
*My mother-in-law did not often criticize me, but was quietly helpful when I needed someone...after babies came for example.
*Honestly, my relationship with my mother-in-law has never been particularly close, but it has been warm and fun. After we had been married for about 4 years, a couple of years after my husband’s father died, she took me with her on a 2-week trip to Italy along with a group of University of Utah Art History students. The 2 of us were roommates, and I think that really "cemented" our relationship. That is about the only thing we did just the 2 of us, but she would often take me and her daughters on "girls' trips" and her family still has a monthly "Girls' Night Out." --which is good female bonding! I've probably grown closest to her helping to take care of her in her older age.
*I have had the opportunity to serve my MIL by helping to care for her and her home. I think it has created a strong bond between us. She has told me on a number of occasions that she is grateful that my husband and I found each other. That is the kindest thing, in my opinion, that a MIL can say to her DIL. She has served our family by helping us with financial gifts that allowed us to have and do things that would have been impossible otherwise. She has shared her experiences with me---she is a wonderful example of a mother. I am so grateful to her for raising the wonderful boy that would grow up to be my husband.
*My mother-in-law is Jewish and an atheist. She thought our belief in God was endearing and quaint and thought any change for the positive my husband had made could be attributed to me and not his membership in the church (which greatly benefited me and my standing with her!) She did come to my son's baptism and as she said " I felt so much love being poured down on that child," (She of course did not recognize that it was the Spirit that she felt but it did make quite an impression). That was the only church related thing she ever attended. The gospel would have been a nice thing to share but she was not at all interested in God or religion. She died of lung cancer in 1998 and we were all with her. I spent the last days of her life talking to her about how she would be surprised that she was not dying and going NOWHERE or into SOME GREAT ABYSS as she imagined and that I would have liked to see her reach that other side and see her beloved husband (who preceeded her in death and who she never quite got over since she thought she would never see him again) We joked about a great cadillac in the sky that would pick her up and Martin would be there!!!! She just patted my hand and said: "You are very sweet. It is a nice thought." But I know she didn't buy any of it. It takes a lot of courage to die with no belief in an after life which she had and I had a lot of respect for her for that.
*We did get off to an uncomfortable start however.......we went to visit right before we were married and she was concerned about what to serve as a drink since she was French and a wine drinker. She served cranberry juice in delicate wine glasses.....I who am usually very dexterous somehow managed to spill my glass on her$ 10,000 white rug!!!!!!!!!!! She said, " don't worry dear,,,,,it will NEVER come out. " She had some magic stuff she used and it actually did come out. I will never forget that event! Things got better from there and she denied later that she ever said that ( but she did!!!!).
*Negative: had little patience with my nursing my first baby; I canned the way mother canned and it was “not right”; if I tried to stand up for myself I was told I was hard to live with.
*I chose to fly and visit my mother-in-law by myself the first year I was married. It was really great for our relationship. We were able to connect and talk and learn more about each other. There was also one night at my husband’s family cabin where she and I were able to have a really good conversation about lots of different things--we talked about how we felt about family dinners and coupons and other things. Those are two examples that stick out in my mind.
*I don't have any specific positive examples. My mother-in-law sent me flowers in the hospital with the birth of each child. I've always felt like my mother-in-law is my ally. Maybe it's because the first time I met her she thanked me for marrying her son. The only negative I can think of is that I recently asked her to come help with the kids while Josh is out of town in a couple of months. I just had twin girls so I'll need the extra hands. I requested that she come by herself, but she's bringing my father-in-law anyway. I'm nursing, so it will be awkward having him around all week. I wish she would come out by herself like I asked, but I guess she feels like she needs the extra help.
AS A MOTHER-in-LAW (with your DAUGHTER-in-Law)
1-WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP?
*I love that she loves my son as much as I do! I also like that she loves to share experiences they are having together, and that she is so appreciative
*Being with her to do girlie shopping and lunches. Holidays together.
*I love that they are there to take care of my sons. I enjoy being with them, hearing their stories and doing things together like hiking, scrapbooking, cooking. Love that I am trusted with secrets, and their children. We can be honest with each other and not be judged---we don’t necessarily agree with each other all the time either. That they recognize that our origin families are different and have embraced our family fully—at times even pointing out the things that they prefer over how they were raised. In other words, they are open minded and trying to find a balance to bring into their own little families. They are good with money and active in the gospel and raising our grandchildren nicely.
*We can talk about anything. We are quite alike in many ways, so I can relate with her on some things. She honors me as a grandmother and has taught her 3 boys to respect us when around us. Every few years, all us girls in our family attend BYU Education Week together to bond and have girl time.
*My daughters-in-law assume that I mean them well. And I do. That makes our relationship sweet.
*I love that they desire to build a strong marriage and family and see the vision of how that can be done. I love that they have included me in on that vision and thank me for raising their husband so that that is a possibility. I love it when they call me and share their joys, sorrows, new discoveries, frustrations, excitement, or just to chat. It makes me feel connected to them and that I have value in their lives. I am especially touched when they call to share something very deep and meaningful to them. I love anything that helps me feel connected to their world for I have a deep desire to be a part of it. I love anything that allows me to be a “daughter” to them.
2- WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU WISH WERE PART OF THE RELATIONSHIP?
*I wish we had a more comfortable relationship. I’m still a little insecure in it. I wish she would just call me to share joys or frustrations. We both seem a little more comfortable with the relationship when my son is involved, just because we really haven’t spent much one-on-one time together. Honestly, this has been one of the trickiest relationships of my life so far! So I would love any help I can get!
*Communication!!!! They never call me. The Mother-In-law will always be the outsider...but we seldom know what we are missing because they are so nice when we are around. Right?
*The newest to the family---wish she knew me better so she wouldn’t be afraid that she might “offend” me; she sometimes thinks she will or has when that isn’t even remotely close. I wonder if that is something she brings from her own family relationships??? I cannot think of a time I have ever felt offended. Other daughter in law doesn’t feel that way—but has been in family for 10 years. Maybe time is the secret.
*I wish I had more one-on-one time with them. With so much family between us, it is hard to accomplish that.
*I wish they lived closer. I know that with more one-on-one interaction there wouldn’t be such a “transition” stage whenever I visit. It is hard work to jump right into their world and pick up on all their schedule/parenting/house choices. Sometimes it feels like walking on a land mine, one false step and the whole thing can blow up in your face. Luckily they have been very kind and if there is a problem we discuss it. I think we both tip-toe a bit too much as we try and figure out how to be ourselves with each other, or at least I am, maybe they are just being themselves and have no idea that I am concerned. Luckily, time is fixing some of this.
*Sometimes it is hard to visit my daughter-in-law’s home. I feel like a guest instead of family. I seem to have to watch everything I do. I wish she would allow me to help her more with the kids, the dishes, the house cleaning, etc. I also get the feeling that I am competing with her mother and it makes me feel uncomfortable. It is as if she is there in the home with us everyday and in everything we do. I guess I wish there were a more comfortableness to our relationship. I know time will help with this but still it is an impediment to building a relationship. It is as if there is a great fear to let go of her mother and let someone else in. It isn’t a matter of “either or” but of “both”. I would like to know ways to let her know I don’t want to take over as her mother but just be a supplement and friend to her. Help her understand that having more women on her team is a blessing not a hindrance.
*Finding ways to stay connected are difficult sometimes. I find that what my daughter-in-law thinks and what I think means “having a good connection” is very different and can be challenging. Communication tools are so varied and trying to keep up with the latest is taxing…do I text? Twitter? Facebook? Phone? Letters? Gifts? Generation gaps seem to rise up in this area and appear to have their own demands. Trying to bridge this gap can cause some misunderstandings. Would love to have a better grasp on this.
*I wish they would call me more often and share their dreams.
3- WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE THE MOST HELPFUL IN BUILDING A POSITIVE RELATIONSHIP?
*When a son marries a girl and she joins your family, you don't automatically have a great bond of love or past experiences to tie you together. As women you have to grow to love each other. So, we need to not expect too much of ourselves or our new daughter-in-laws in the beginning. They are very tied to their mothers and how their mothers do things. As you share family reunions together, as you serve them and they have opportunities to serve you that love and respect for each other should grow. So, we need to concentrate on having good experiences with them to build that love. Each daughter-in-law will each be different. Some will fit right in immediately; others will draw back. Normally, they will be much closer to their own mothers and families...especially at first. We as mother in laws need to learn to take what we can get from them graciously and be appreciative even though at times we wish things were different. The important thing is that we don't throw tantrums and be jerks because our daughter-in-laws are not exactly as we would expect them to be. We don't want to make problems for our sons or to get in the way of their relationships with their wives. I'm learning to just take all that I get from them and to be happy and satisfied with that.
*Our family of daughters and daughters-in-law are planning for the first time this year a getaway. I have rented a small cabin at the beach and have invited the 7 of them to join me for 2 nights. They are all invited and were all told they could bring babies that don't walk but the others are to stay home with their daddy. I didn't put pressure on them to come but told them that we would be having this each year at about this time of year and they would be invited. So far my two daughters have responded they are coming and 2 daughter-in-laws have responded they are trying to arrange it. We'll see how it turns out and how many actually come...especially this first time. I know that if the women of our family are close and good friends that they will have closer ties to our family and we'll have more to do with one another.
*At our yearly reunion we girls try to arrange an afternoon of “Girl Time”. The grandkids are left with their Dads and Grandpa and we leave to have fun chatting, shopping and/or eating. The most important part is the opportunity to build face-to-face connections since we all live in different states.
*Don’t meddle. Seek advice from them. Keep open communication.
*I encouraged my sons to accept the way their wife did things. If he always said, "my mom did this or she did it this way or why don't you do it the way my mom did", that would be the kiss of death to developing a relationship with my new daughter-in-law. Over time, the new family adopts some things/traditions from the wife's family and some from the husband's but if either party feels threatened or feels that their "way" is inferior, that leads to hard feelings and estrangement. My sons are very loyal to their mother but if I have ever been caught in the middle of some debate about how something should be done, I always defer to my daughter-in-law. My support of them has gone a long way in allowing them to trust me and know that my acceptance of them is complete and without reservation. My son's loyalty to their wives is a key to my not being a threat to my daughter-in-laws.
*Try to keep your relationship as separate as possible from that of “in law”. Learn all you can about each other, build on strengths. Make sure you are seen as a woman and friend, not just “the mother in law”.
*Respect daughter-in-law’s space and her decisions, even if you disagree. Don’t EVER talk behind their backs or put your child in the middle of touchy communications issues. (easier said than done)
*Remember we can’t expect 50 (or 70) years of wisdom from 30 or younger year old people. We also were once young and naïve and sometimes foolish. We must respect their journey as theirs, not ours to control or judge.
*Never blame each other for the misdeed of the son/husband. They are HIS actions and choices. We need to constantly acknowledge that everyone is just doing the best they can.
*Forgive. Love. Quietly and humbly model what you want to pass on to the next generation. Hold your tongue when necessary. Express love openly. And forgive again.
*My husband and I skype every week with her and my son—the skype camera was a great investment, as they moved across the country right after their wedding (5 months ago). I also had her help me edit a paper I had to present.
*Praising their talents and cooking
*Respecting their opinions and that sometimes they may even know more than I do about some things. Do fun things together and finding that common interest to enjoy together---and it could be a different thing for each daughter in law. (One of mine LOVES to shop and the other HATES it. One likes to scrapbook and the other feels overwhelmed by it. One loves to sing while I play the piano---but it hasn’t been part of the other’s.) ALSO, a great relationship building thing for me has been to listen closely and watch carefully so that I can choose very personal and thoughtful gifts for them—or even sending the “perfect for them” greeting card. Both of mine have told me that I know them better than their moms when it comes to gift-giving. Recognizing their little quirks and learning to accept and even embrace.
*As a mother-in-law I want my in- law children to feel completely comfortable in our home and act as if it were their own, eat when and what they want, use any of our things freely etc. (I suppose some of this is reactionary to my experience at my in-laws, and I also have very great sons and daughters-in-law that I feel would never take advantage of our home and always are conscientious to clean up after themselves and treat our home with respect.) I try to treat them the same as our children and hope that they act as if they were ‘equals’. I try to call and talk with my daughter-in-law about once a week but not more and try not to give advice unless asked. It is easy to lavish praise on her because she is quite terrific, it would be harder if that were not the case, but I think that is the role of in-laws – to almost only speak of the good.
*I want my children to be honest with me and tell me if I am doing something that truly bothers them, don’t be mad about something for years and never say something. (and this includes my daughters-in-law). Honestly and lovingly said of course, is always best. At least that gives me the chance to change or explain my position. I hope to do the same with them if necessary. Sometimes it helps to employ spouses on this – the non-involved can carry the message where it can be received without confrontation.
*My latest mantra is “appreciate everything and criticize nothing” – maybe that is the best way to sum up.
*Mutual respect. Being positive and complimentary.
*QUICK TO HEAR. SLOW TO SPEAK. SLOW TO ANGER
*To praise instead of criticize; to look for what I love about them and focus on that; to refuse to take offense, especially when none was intended.
*In responding to my daughters-in-law when something bothers me, I have found it safer (wiser?) to bend toward not saying anything immediately with my daughters-in-law and let time either ease it away (giving me time to digest whether it is a preference of hers I should let go or if it is a core principle I need to address) or waiting until a better time/situation brings it up again for discussion. It is a bit of a "dance" for a mother in law to come right out and say things directly. When my daughter-in-law comes out and asks me something that is very helpful for me and I love it. This shows me she has interest in what I think and cares about making the situation better or improved. I then can gauge how much to share and what direction to take in my comments. I love the saying: "When the Student is ready, the Teacher will come." Often as mothers-in-law we wait until the time is good or we feel the daughter in law is ready to listen before we say anything...we want to honor your right to learn in your own way. There is more space needed or required of a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law than there is between daughter and mother. We also know, that even if you ask for advice you may not want it, like it or use it. Being open and honest is essential but yet one doesn’t need to put out a candle with a fire hose either.
*I think the thing that has helped the most with our daughters and daughters-in-law is to recognize them for who they are. To find the special things that they bring to our sons, sons-in-law and celebrate them. As the older, more mature participant, we lead out in the relationship, so if we lead out with love and a positive attitude, we get it back. Sometimes it takes time and patience, but it eventually works.
*I love Shari Dew’s comment when she said that if you want to connect with a love one you need to use their love language. If they are over 30 it is email, under 30 it is texting. “I hate texting” says Shari, “but my nieces love it, so I text to them because I want to stay connected and that is their language.” I have thought about this a lot since I heard it and am trying to be more flexible and aware of ways to interact with my daughters-in-law…some are over 30 and some under 30. It takes commitment but I feel it is sending a huge love message whenever I try…so texting here I come!
*I have been very nervous throughout the years of making a wrong move in building a relationship with my daughters-in law. I just felt so unsure of how to build a relationship with them. As a default I have tried to let them lead and teach me the path to keep my mistakes at a minimum. As a result I have found out that was exactly what I should do. It has really helped. I have had to learn to “listen” much better than I ever had before and it has really paid off. It has opened up a new opportunity for a very positive relationship….so glad I followed that prompting.
*Sometimes I find myself asking why I have to do most of the work in building up the relationship. And then I ask myself, “Why Not?” It has helped so much to have that changed perspective.
*IT IS NOT ABOUT ME!
4-DO YOU HAVE AN EXAMPLE YOU COULD SHARE? (positive and/or negative)
*I know I learned a huge lesson with my relationship with my own mother-in-law. I was always kind to her. Through the years I sent my weekly family letters to her when she lived far away. We always were on a good relationship. We never quarreled or had harsh words between us. And I loved her. But I never really loved her with a deep love until I nursed her the last 2 years of her life as she lay in bed unable to get out of bed...wearing the diapers that I changed every day and eating only whatever food I brought to her. My love for her changed as I served her. I had never really served her before.
I do have some regrets about her. When her husband died, she came to live with us for the last 6 years of her life. I was busy at the time, teaching early morning seminary and with 10 people in my household. I know that she was not happy that first while after he died and I didn't give her much of my time. I should have been more sensitive to her needs. I can look back on it now with some regrets that I didn't pay more attention to her. Life is full of regrets, especially in regards to relationships.
*It was a little tough for me when they came for Christmas, because her parents live in the vicinity and she wanted to stay with them and spend most of their holiday time with her family and their traditions. I didn’t take it personally (I hope!) because I could understand her desire to be with them and all her married siblings. We don’t have any other married kids yet, so we’re not as fun to hang out with! To try and build our one-on-one relationship when they were here for Christmas, I took her Christmas shopping and to lunch. It was a little awkward, but I figure we have lots of time ahead of us!
* I don't enjoy family trips where the girls don't include me because you know they want to dish about the guys family!!
*This past Christmas when we were all together, my daughters talked often about their mothers-in-law and how they really felt a huge need to ‘prove themselves’ to their MILs. We have a fairly good relationship with both of the other mothers and I don’t think the mothers are in any way critical or looking for that intentionally - and I have fairly strong girls so I was very surprised that they both felt that way. I think it is mostly self- imposed. They have somehow made themselves believe they need to do this and so it strains the relationship some. Of course as an in-law parent they, and we have certainly said something the wrong way or been a little too questioning about something that made them feel judged or offered a suggestion when it wasn’t asked for – as have our children….. Those are the times you have to let it slide off and ask yourself what is their real intent here – and am I taking this wrong.
So my advice to them was to let that idea go (no judging being done by your mother-in-law – even if she is, you are doing your best and be happy with that) and work at making her your friend – treat her like you would a friend - call on occasion, visit when able to, include her in some of your activities, ask advice about something she is expert in. . . That is how I would like to be treated as a mother-in-law, and how I hope I am treating my DIL.
*Quirks: when traveling one of my daughters-in-law moves on her own timetable, which can cause issues with our schedule and/or cause us to have to alter our plans which is frustrating to me and really frustrating to my husband. We learned the best approach is.to notify way ahead of time what our plans are, that the “tour bus” will be leaving at X time and if they are ready to join us that is great and if they are not we will assume they have other plans for the day that they would enjoy more--no questions asked. (They have yet to fail to show up on time with that approach and have never had other plans).
*One of my daughters-in-law lived with us for a year. Even though she was surrounded by her husband’s family, she never felt left out or took offense at our family ways. She accepted us all with affection. That cemented her in my heart forever.
*Both of my daughters-in-law have traits that my girls and I didn't like at first, but we talked about being tolerant and setting better examples. Some things still annoy my girls--but they have learned to shrug and tolerate it. There is a fine line where as a mother in law, you let them run their house and you adjust when you are with them, you model good personal boundaries and communication and NOT discipline their children, unless asked or babysitting--or at your home. They do things their mother did--we do what we know and learn, if we set a good example for things we can see they could use or learn in their life, when they are ready they will notice, observe and incorporate in into their lives.
(these are ones I found helpful…if anyone has others, please let us know)
The Daughter-in-Law Rules by Sally Shields
The Mother-in-Law Dance by Annie Chapman
The Mother-in-Law’s Manual by Susan Abel Lieberman
Rock Solid Relationships by Wendy L. Watson
For Every Mother: Celebrating All Stages/Ages of Motherhood by Janeene Wolsey Baadsgaard
Bonds That Set Us Free by C. Terry Warner
Small and Simple Things by Marjorie Pay Hinckley