I’m blessed to have a pretty awesome mother-in-law, so our disagreements are few and far between. Honestly, a lot of that probably stems from me entering as a stepmom and us both trying to figure out my place in the family.
Redefining roles is actually central to the mother-in-law dilemma. Mothers-in-law have difficulty finding their new roles in their sons’ lives once they marry. Historically, they’ve been the providers, caretakers, and primary female influence in their sons’ lives. We can’t just expect them to stop on a dime because we feel ready.
It’s difficult to navigate uncharted territories, to stop behavior and resist tendencies they’ve spent 20+ years cultivating.
I posed a question to my Facebook friends, and WOW! the response was astounding. Call it miscommunication, uncharted territories, or opposing personalities – really, call it whatever you want – here are 20 things my friends wish they could say to their Mothers-in-Law.
20 Things I Wish I Could Tell my Mother-In-Law
1. Stop treating your son like a child. He’s a grown man.
Don’t do his laundry, fix his mistakes, or fight his battles. If he’s old enough to choose a wife and have a family, he’s old enough to make his own decisions, mistakes, and meals.
2. We don’t need to consult with you before we make decisions for our family (purchasing a home, having a baby, etc.).
We’re excited to share our exciting milestones with you, but we will make all decisions as a couple and inform our loved ones afterward. I promise you won’t find anything exciting out through the grapevine or social media!
3. You can be overbearing.
While I believe you’re full of good intentions and a huge heart, you can be overbearing. We’re going to want to experience some things as a couple and family without involving you. Other times we are definitely going to invite you along; we want a balance of alone time and family time.
4. We are different. I was raised differently than you were.
When you make comments about how you’d never do x, y, or z, knowing that it’s a behavior my family or I do, it’s judgmental, condescending, and rude. It would help our relationship if you were aware when you make comments like this and tried to refrain.
5. I will choose my children’s names.
I’m happy to have you tell us which family names you’d like to keep throughout the generations, but ultimately, you’re not going to be able to choose for us. Please try not to be upset if we don’t select your choice, or if we decide on something you don’t like. I promise there was a lot of thought and deliberation that went into choosing our perfect name.
6. We won’t be able to attend all of your family functions.
We don’t just have your family in our lives; we also have my family and our own little family. Sometimes we’ll need to celebrate with my family, others with yours, and occasionally we’ll want some time to ourselves. Don’t make us feel guilty for absenteeism; it’s not personal.
7. I’m not a bad wife or mom because I work.
My husband and I made a decision together that what was best for our family was if I also worked outside the home. I provide for my children financially and emotionally, even if I’m not home all day. Our home, children, and relationship are taken care of, and that’s all that should matter.
8. Only offer advice when asked.
Unwanted advice and ill-concealed judgment passed off as caring can actually be really offensive. This also goes for passive aggressive comments, even when you try to phrase them as a question or a cute remark. Trust that I will ask for your advice when warranted, and when it really matters most.
9. Talk to me when I hurt you, not about me.
I’d much prefer you talk to me if I do something that hurts you instead of venting to my husband about it. He doesn’t want to be caught up in our disagreements or misunderstandings. Choosing to speak ill of me will only damage your relationship with your son since it’s a direct reflection on his character and choices, so please don’t put that on him. I promise to have a listening ear and an open mind.
10. Don’t try to mediate our disagreements.
If your son and I are arguing, there’s a reason why. We had a miscommunication or a misunderstanding, and it’s up to us to resolve that misunderstanding. I know your intentions are pure, but you’re not helping.
11. I really hate when you show up unannounced.
Not only do we have plans as a family, but I don’t keep my house as clean on a daily basis as I would if company was coming over. Giving us advanced notice is requested and encouraged.
Further, if we’ve given you a key for emergencies, it should only be used for such. Please don’t let yourself into our home unannounced or uninvited (you’d be surprised by the stories I’ve heard!).
12. Don’t try to change me.
Your son loves me the way I am, so please don’t ask me to be anything other than what he wants in me and the person he chose to marry. I’ll treat him right, and I’ll raise your grandchildren to the very best of my ability. Why would you want to change that?! 🙂
13. Stop telling me how to raise my children.
You did things your way when you raised my husband and his siblings, and my husband and I are going to do things our way when we raise our kids. Advice is really helpful when I need it (See #8), and I vow to ask for it when I need it. I trust your experience and your knowledge, but I also want to find my own way until I ask for help. It’s also really unhelpful when you say things like, “I raised you that way, and you turned out just fine.”
14. Your son is not perfect.
He’s perfect for me, and he’s my soulmate through and through… But he’s not perfect. He has flaws, so don’t defend him to me. If we had a disagreement, you can’t assume he was in the right. I’m certainly not asking you to list out his less-than-ideal qualities, but at the very least acknowledge they exist.
15. Don’t ask my children to keep secrets from me. And do not break my rules.
Grandmother’s house is not a place for all of my rules to come undone. Homework must be completed, healthy dinner must be eaten, and bedtime must be followed. Don’t break my rules, and if you do, do not allow my child to keep the secret from me.
16. We would have a better relationship if you weren’t with your husband.
You know that you deserve better, right? After all he’s done to you and your kids, he doesn’t deserve your loyalty and dedication. You’re a brilliant, beautiful woman, and you deserve to feel cherished, loved, and respected every day.
17. I don’t like it when you tell me what we’re going to do instead of asking.
Out of respect for my husband and me, ask us if you can have a play date instead of telling us to drop our children off at your house at a certain time. If you’d like for us to join you for an event, ask us if we’re free; don’t tell us where to meet you and when. Even if the invitation isn’t optional, asking instead of telling goes a long way.
18. Include me in the picture.
I feel like this should go without being said, but include me in the picture. Taking photos with only your “real” family really hurts my feelings. I love your son, I married your son, I’m part of the family and should be included in the family photos.
19. I love you.
I don’t tell you enough, but I love you and think you’re a great lady. Our children are lucky to have you as their grandmother, and I’m lucky to have a mother-in-law that’s involved and invested in both my life and my kids’ lives. You’re invaluable to us.
20. I appreciate you.
The overwhelming thoughtfulness and positive attitude you embody is refreshing. We are so blessed to know we have someone we can count on any time of day, someone who’d give us the shirt off her back if we needed it, without hesitation. I don’t hesitate leaving my children in your care – I trust you completely! And I appreciate all you do to help me and my family. You’re a wonderful woman.
What do you wish you could say to your Mother-in-Law?
Click COMMENT and tell me below!