Mothers-in-Law Change

Another reader of Nourishing Relationships has commented about how difficult the role of mother-in-law is: “As the mother of sons who adored bringing them up, I never realized until they married what difficult issues I’d face. I foolishly thought we would just widen our wonderful circle and they, my daughters-in-law, would join in the dance. I forgot, they had mothers and did not want another one! There’s also the cultural piece, which takes a great deal of work and understanding when two cultures are involved. It is a real challenge, but we are working on it!”

Just as you have learned how to get along with your significant other over the years, you can try out new ways of responding to your son- and daughter-in-law. Some of the tools that have worked for you in other settings are similar to those that will help improve your relationship with your children-in-law. Here are some tips adapted to your role as a mother-in-law.

Learn more about your son- and daughter-in-law. Spend time with them hearing about, and even doing, what they like. This is even more important when they come from a different culture. When you are genuinely interested in them and their activities, you’ll see them more as complete people rather than just in relation to you. And they’ll be more likely to think about you positively.

Look at the issues from their perspective. This may help soothe your emotions when they don’t see things as you do. Consider that there generally is more than one way of handling a situation and that your method isn’t necessarily the only right one.

Focus on what you do like about your children-in-law rather than what you don’t. What drew your child to fall in love and marry this person? Think about what he or she does to bring happiness to your child. What traits do you have in common with your son- or daughter-in-law? There are likely to be qualities you sincerely admire and respect in your DIL and SIL, if you allow yourself to brainstorm about them.

Choose your battles. When some difference of opinion is particularly important to you, you may decide to bring up your feelings and viewpoint for discussion. But don’t feel you need to address every disagreement you have with your children and their spouses.

To review how you can be fair in communicating about your disputes, click on the title of this post to take you to our website, and our article, Boomer Couples: 5 Tips for Fighting Fair. And tune in tomorrow for more tips on enriching your relationship with your son- and daughter-in-law.

The oil paintings of women pictured on our blog this week were done by dear friend, Leslie Roth. To see more of her work, visit

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