A prior post on what mothers-in-law should never say to their daughters-in-law caused a lot of buzz. Many readers wrote in to share their own horrid MIL stories, and wow, some of them were truly harsh. Yet there were a lot of daughters-in-law who said their MIL was great, and even some mothers-in-law who stressed that this important relationship is nothing less than a two-way street.
Though most of us identify with the DIL perspective, don’t we all know at least one or two acquaintances who are outright evil to their mothers-in-law? In many cases, jealousy and wanting to be top dog play a big part in the underlying hostility. It’s also possible that some things are not intentionally meant to cause any strife. For example, “The baby was fine as soon as you left” from our mother-in-law list is something that can be said as a means of comfort, yet it’s also something that offends certain daughters-in-law.
We polled mothers-in-law and asked them what they wish their daughters-in-law would stop doing. Here’s the results:
1. Talking negatively about the husband’s childhood. You might have heard stories about childhood fights, vendettas, and family secrets but you weren’t there and you shouldn’t comment on it.
2. Restricting contact with the grandkids. It’s one thing if your mother-in-law is cruel or crazy but to keep your kids away from their grandma just because you don’t enjoy spending time with her is unfair- to both of them.
3. Ignoring the fact that your husband was raised by this woman. I consider about how deeply I love my son. I would do anything for him and I treasure raising him. When he grows up and gets married, I truly hope to have a very good relationship with his wife. It would hurt me immensely to not have contact with him, and it would make me irate if his wife purposely tried to keep him way from me. A man will always need his mother and a wife shouldn’t try to hinder that relationship. A wife and a mother are two vastly different things and most guys get that. Does it really hurt you if he takes an hour or two out of the weekend to fix her car or drive her to the store? To me, that behavior should be encouraged.
4. Looking for trouble that isn’t there. We have to keep in my mind that many of our mothers-in-law lived in a different time and many lived in other countries. Their way of doing things may not be the same as yours. They might tell you certain things that helped them when they were raising their kids, or lessons they wish they knew back then and it can be out of a genuine desire to help, not a need to preach or judge. Learn to recognize the difference.
5. Badmouthing Grandma in front of your kids. Kids are sponges and they will pick up your feelings about their grandma sooner or later. When they overhear stories that you tell your friends or complaints to your husband, they hold on to them and you never really know when they’ll choose to share them. Even worse, your words can change the way they feel about their Grandma. You’ll not only rob your mother-in-law of the relationship, you’ll rob your child of it, too.
Compromise and change is possible in most relationships and the bond between your husband’s mother and you is one that deserves some effort. After all, she did raise your husband. And let us not forget that one day, we may be a mother-in-law ourselves.
Did you do anything to improve your relationship with your mother-in-law? Did you stop doing something that was hurtful?
Read Danielle’s blog Just Write Mom.
Over at Babble Voices: All moms are (unintentional) liars!