How to Be a Great Mother-in-Law

Be the type of in-law dreams are made of.

brittany alex wedding couple with parents
Photo: Sarah Ingram

After decades as a mother, it's safe to say you've mastered your role. Then, after a few I dos and a nice party, you became someone's mother-in-law overnight. What are the rules associated with this new title, and how can you be the type of mother-in-law your new son or daughter is proud to call family? Consider the following tips, which will help you create a long and loving relationship with your child's new spouse.

Recognize that your role in your child's life has been downgraded.

You may have been the most important person in your son or daughter's life until now. Once they're married, though, their spouse assumes that role. Accepting this is a major step toward a healthy relationship.

Sound happy and positive when talking to or about your new daughter- or son-in-law.

Negativity will sour any relationship, so why not keep things focused on their good qualities? It may be hard to ignore their less-than-stellar traits or behavior but for the sake of family bonding, staying on the bright side is a must.

Remember important details from their life.

Whether it's a job promotion that was up in the air or a half-marathon they planned to run, show you care by following up with them on things you talked about in your last conversation. They'll be touched that you remembered.

But don't be nosy.

You don't need every detail of their experience. You could simply ask, "How did the marathon go?" then let them speak. When they're done, say something encouraging like, "Even though you weren't one of the top finishers, it's a wonderful achievement that you ran the whole race."

Play fair.

If you give your son a cashmere sweater for the holidays, don't give your daughter-in-law a pair of goofy Santa socks. That will send a message of inequality. Give your daughter-in-law a gift of equal value and taste.

Avoid choosing sides.

If the newlyweds are having a fight, stay out of it. You'll always be on your child's team anyway.

Keep your opinions to yourself.

Think they should give up their pricey gym memberships and save for a house? Even if you have their best interest at heart, keep mum. They don't need your permission or approval, and challenging them will only make them annoyed or defensive.

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