Developing and maintaining a good relationship takes effort on both sides. The tips below are general guidelines for a daughter-in-law to get along better with the in-laws. Each tip is important and not in any particular order. The main ideas are to have a positive attitude and show respect.
13 Tips for Daughter-in-Law to Get Along with Mother-in-Law
1. Sensitivity to mother-in-law's feelings: remember, your mother-in-law has spent 18+ years raising her son and may be sensitive to another person in his life. Although many mothers do not consider her daughter-in-law competition, there are some mothers who do, in particular those whose life revolved around their child, often because they are a single parent or had only one child, a son.
So, for example, if she is used to his calling her several times a week, then let them keep that connection. If your mother-in-law mentions how much her son always liked her home cooking, do not try to compete with how much he likes your cooking.
2. Positive attitude: convey a positive attitude toward your mother-in-law. Perhaps she is only trying her best and is new to being a mother-in-law.
3. Expectations: do not expect to be automatically welcomed into the family. You may be one of the fortunate ones who is welcomed with open arms, but many daughter-in-laws are not. Getting to know his family takes time and patience.
4. Communicate feelings: do not let hurt feelings build up. Always discuss with your husband any slights or snubs from your mother-in-law and how it makes you feel. It is up to your husband to help and support you. See letters on being snubbed in Section 2-6.
5. Advice from mother-in-law: welcome advice from your mother-in-law. She has years of experience. You may disagree with her and decide to not follow any of her suggestions, but be open to different ideas, at least listen, show respect, and do not take any advice as a personal attack. She is only trying to be helpful.
6. Mother-in-Law guest in home: treat your mother-in-law as you would any guest with the same courtesy. Sit and chat, show her around town, and if she wants to help you prepare meals, then let her. You two can get to know each other better and bond. If she prefers to sit around being waited on hand and foot, then enlist your husband to help prepare meals and clean up. What attitude would you have with any other guest? Have a similar attitude and expectation of your mother-in-law.
7. Raising children: unless it involves serious health or safety issues, let your mother-in-law take care of your children. If she wants to, let her spoil them a little, i.e. she lets them stay slightly past their bedtime or gives them a bit of candy.
8. Holidays: make every effort to include your mother-in-law during holiday celebrations as much as possible. If necessary, alternate the holidays, i.e. Thanksgiving with your folks, but Christmas with his, then vice versa the following year. Or, celebrate the day before or after the holiday.
9. Equality: treat your mother-in-law equally to your own mother, i.e. if you give your mother a birthday gift, then give your mother-in-law a gift for her birthday. If you have children, then visit your mother and your mother-in-law with similar frequency.
10. Keep mother-in-law informed: call and let her know about important events. Keep her in the loop. If you have children, send pictures to your mother-in-law. Grandmothers love getting pictures of their grandchildren.
11. Thank you notes: make sure you and your children write your mother-in-law thank you notes for birthday or special gifts from her. Your mother-in-law may be a traditional woman who expects to receive thank you notes, not just verbal thanks. It's best to err on the side of over-doing it than under-doing it. See letter, "Thank You Note Guidelines for Kids" in Section 4-8.
12. Respect: treat your mother-in-law with respect. Consider her older and wiser. She may have been through a lot of hardships in her life. In fact, talk to her, ask her about her childhood, growing up, raising kids, and life experiences.
13. Extreme negative situation: if you are involved with an impossibly negative mother-in-law, then read the letter, "In-Law Problems Can Be Worked Out" below.