I’ve been a mother-in-law for 23 years now.
And the things I’ve learned over the years have come mostly from the mistakes I’ve made.
I’ve had lots of opportunities to learn with having 5 kids — three daughters and two sons — and all of them married. In addition to my own experiences, I’ve also discovered many insights from older women, as well as from hanging out with younger women.
After asking a few questions and listening closely to their responses, it’s become increasingly clear that many of us share similar fears, struggles, and wishes for a better relationship.
My hope is that these 10 things will give you a little insight into the heart of your own mother-in-law . . . .
10 Things I’d Love My Daughter-in-Law To Know About Me
1. I really want to have a good relationship with you.
I am scared that I’ll mess up. And I will.
One mother-in-law expressed it this way:
As a mother-in-law, I wish my daughter-in-law knew how frightened I am that she won’t love and/or accept me and I will be locked out of a full relationship with her, my son, and future grandchildren. I am nervous to be myself and worry about a glass wall between them and me. I know I will always be in their life, but worry that it could be a formality and not true love.
2. Some of us come from a dysfunctional family.
We may have had a poor model or no model at all.
This hampers me in trying to establish a good relationship. If you consider my family of origin, it may enable you to understand a little bit why I do — or don’t do — what I do.
I need your grace.
3. When you married, I gave my son to you.
You are to be the number one woman in his life now, not me.
However because he’s been mine for his whole life, it might take me a while to live into this reality. I know that your marriage relationship is the primary one now—not mine with him. I want to enable you to “leave and cleave’ well. (Genesis 2:24)
4. I don’t want to judge, or compete, or control.
When I step over this line you can respond by gently saying, I know you are only trying to help but this decision has to be your son’s and mine.
5. As badly as I want to be close to you, I need to give us time.
The first two years may feel awkward for both of us. We are creating something new, and new things take time. That’s okay.
6. I long for you to feel like my daughter.
I want to have a relationship with you that is separate from my son. I want to communicate with you, to encourage your gifts, to listen to you.
You need to know that I’m interested in you because of you.
7. It means the world to be when you initiate contact with me.
Call me; email me; text me just to say “hey” or to find out how you can pray for me. Come to see me. Suggest ways we can be together.
I can be hesitant in initiating because I’m insecure and I don’t want to overwhelm you, so it helps when you reach out to me.
8. Please ask me questions about my life.
What was it like which I was a child? Who had a positive influence on me growing up? What is a happy memory? Ask me to share my faith journey with you. Ask me how you can pray for me in the coming weeks.
Every human being has a desire to be known. And the fact that you want to really know and understand me is incredibly encouraging to me.
9. It helps me when you appreciate specific things about me.
They can be little things. There is not a lot of appreciation in today’s world and when it comes from you it is most meaningful and uplifting. It can change my whole day!
10. Pray for me.
I need your prayers more than you might know, and I appreciate them.
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16)
Most mothers-in-law want good relationships with their daughters-in-law. We want to be your friend. We want your marriage to flourish. We want to have good relationships with your children. We want you to know that we love you.
We will mess up and try to remember to ask you for forgiveness.
Please be patient with us . . . God isn’t finished with us yet. We’ll be growing the rest of our lives!
Looking for more resources on loving your in-laws?
This week's post at Kindred Grace:
When Queens Collide: How to Become a More Gracious Mother-in-Law
Susan Alexander Yates is a mom to five children (including a set of twins) and grandmother to 21 (including a set of quadruplets!). Susan and her husband John have been married 51 years. Susan has written 16 books and speaks on the subjects of marriage, parenting, faith, and women’s issues. Susan’s favorite time of the year is June when all her kids and grandkids are together for a week of “cousins and family camp” in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia.