What Makes a Good MIL?

What Makes a Good MIL?

time icon 4 min read update icon Sept. 26, 2019

Is your daughter or son getting married or newly married? If so, you’re probably already well acquainted with your (future) daughter or son-in-law and have opinions as to how you feel about them. Hopefully, you have positive feelings. But whether you like this new family member or not, have you thought about what it takes to be a good mother-in-law? I have.

My daughter is getting married in June. I can honestly say that I truly love my son-in-law to be. He, as my daughter says, thinks “the sun shines out of her butt.” Hmmm, not such a bad thing in a Son-in-law! We both love the same girl! He’s very good to her. He and I get along well. Her engagement ring rivals the Hope Diamond (well, almost.) When we go out to dinner, not only is he happy if I’m occasionally along, but he wants to buy. What’s not to like? He loves my daughter and likes me, which makes it obvious that he has very good taste.

Perhaps, attempting to be a good mother-in-law is even more important if you don’t like your soon-to-be daughter or son-in-law. Most of us want our children to be happy.

So what do you need to do, or not do, to be a good MIL?
  • You need to show respect for your daughter or son-in-law. If you expect respect from your new family member you need to show them respect as well. He or she may be marrying your baby but your baby’s new spouse is an adult, not a child.
  • Keep in mind that this new family member has his or her own mother. You shouldn’t speak to your new son or daughter-in-law in the same way that you speak to your own child. Leave that to the other mother!
  • Your new in-law is your child’s chosen life partner. This makes him or her first in your son or daughter’s wife. Not treating your child’s spouse with respect puts your own child in a difficult position. He or she shouldn’t have to choose between his mother and his spouse so play nice!
  • Remember that the holidays are family times – for both families! I remember my own mother-in-law being angry because her daughter couldn’t come to every single holiday. Well, what was she expecting? Sometimes the couple has to go to a holiday at the spouse’s family’s home, or stay at their own home, or go to a friend’s home instead.
  • Don’t interfere! Don’t offer too much advice or nit-pick or criticize. It’s time for the two of them to be a couple and build a life together. If they want your help or advice they’ll ask for it. Be sure they know that you’re there if they need you. Sometimes you have to figure out how to keep your opinions to yourself.
  • Remember the things that your own mother-in-law did and said that hurt you? Make sure not to repeat them!
  • Don’t say things about your son or daughter’s new spouse that you don’t want to get back to them. A bad relationship with the daughter or wife of your child can last for the rest of your life.
  • Don’t “just drop in,” take food out of their refrigerator, read their mail, listen to their answering machine, answer their phone, rearrange their furniture, clean their house, or remake their dinner using YOUR recipes. Would you like someone to do those things at your house?
  • Do you like it if someone tells you that you’re too fat, eat too much, dress funny, are too loud, or makes other negative personal remarks? Of course not. Neither will your child’s spouse if you do it to them.

The bottom line is this: to be a good mother-in-law you need to show respect for your child’s spouse. If you show that respect, you will most probably get respect back. Don’t forget that if you lose a friend, it’s sad but it may not affect the rest of your life. If you alienate your child’s spouse, it will not only strain your relationship with your own child, but it may make for difficult times at holidays and family outings for the rest of your life!

What do you think? Any advice for a New MIL?

Sharp Seniors - Editorial Staff

This guide was originally published on Sharp Seniors. Grandfolk acquired SharpSeniors.com in 2017 and restored it's content for readers.