Mothers-in-Law Step Back

Our focus on the complex role of mother-in-law draws to a close today. We want to leave you with some more suggestions to keep in mind as you work on taking a step back – and taking lots of deep breaths as you do. Change is never easy but it may be especially difficult in this relationship given the complicated emotions and tensions that are percolating just below the surface. As issues boil up, everyone is affected – you, your grown children, their partners, your own spouse. While you can’t control others’ reactions, here are some tips to help you nourish yourself as a MIL as well as your family in flux.

There are some things you can’t change, you just have to accept them. The relationship with your married children and their spouses may grow and develop as you all settle into your new roles, but you can only work on your behavior. Theirs may change but they may not. You can’t make them act differently, even though you give it your best shot.

Remember, it’s their life. It really is. Remember how it was with your own mother-in-law? You wanted to be your own person, make your own decisions and have her respect your choices. Why did you think it would be different with your daughter-in-law?

Be supportive of their partnership. Your children and their spouses have chosen to form bonds that, hopefully, will stand the test of time. Support them as they strengthen their connections. You may be tempted to turn to your child in your complaint about his or her spouse, but resist and don’t do anything to come between them.

Don’t rush things. Stay calm. Keep working on the relationship and it is likely that things will begin to change, even if ever so slightly. You have the wisdom and long-term perspective that you have cultivated over the years – draw on both as you patiently take one step at a time.

So, MILs, hang in there and don’t give up. The challenge of creating a good relationship is well worth your efforts. And many mothers-in-law have found that as their children become confident parents themselves, the relationship changes for the better all around. Click on the post title to take you to an article on our website,, about how to get started making the changes you want, Sandwiched Boomers: 7 Tips on Fighting Inertia.

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