Advice wanted: How to be a good MIL

As some of you may know, I am getting my first daughter-in-law in a few months. Her name is Emily and I’ve been thinking about her quite a bit lately. I wasn’t too excited about Christmas until I thought about how fun it will be to shop for the perfect gift for her this year. Today I was wondering how the wedding plans were coming and if Emily had found a dress she liked yet. Tonight Luke and Emily dropped by and she filled me in a bit. She went to look at bridesmaid dresses and they talked her into looking at wedding dresses, too. She found one she likes but she doesn’t want to be done dress shopping before she even begins, so she didn’t buy it (or the perfect train that goes so perfectly with the perfect dress). I like that she knows what she wants. That is a wonderful trait.

Mostly I wonder how to be a good mother-in-law. Which is where you come in. I think you should please be for telling me in the comments at least one thing to never do and at least one or more things to always do.



11 thoughts on “Advice wanted: How to be a good MIL

  1. My first thought is to be her friend. Make her a part of the family. Don’t ever make her feel like she isn’t good enough for your son. (hopefully she is) Don’t ask her when they are going to start having children. Don’t even drop hints about wanting grandchildren. After listing these, I’m thinking that you’ve already got all of this down. I’m jealous of her fabulous new MIL.

  2. Don’t be upset if there isn’t a 50/50 balance in their time visiting each other’s family.

  3. Don’t say anything negative about your son to her. (I don’t think you’re like that, but my MIL is and it’s something I really loathe.)

    I want to write more, but it will come out sounding so negative and maybe reveal more of my underlying disdain for my MIL than I want to be made public. Ha! I don’t want to do that.

    Maybe one thing–really take time to get to know her and listen to her. Don’t get caught up in offering advice or that kind of stuff. I think being a genuine friend to her is really important.

    But you don’t need to hear that from me because you are you. And you are wonderful and loving, generous and kind, so I think you will be the perfect MIL to Emily. They make a lovely couple.

    (Also NEVER talk about sex with her. Seriously. ‘Cause…ew. I cringe every time my MIL says anything about that, which isn’t often, but still. And there I go again dogging on my MIL…told you I would.)

  4. Everyone’s offered perfect ideas. Lyle has the real winnner, though. . . I’ll be here to listen if/when you momentarily work your way through the grief cycle over that one.

    From what you’ve said about Emily, and the fact that she’s already found a warm place in your home – literally and figuratively – you’ll have no problem.

    You’re a natural, Dalene. Just be yourself. You could give the rest of us lessons.

  5. First off, I think you will be a great mother in law because you are awesome. Here are my list of things I want to learn from for the future…
    Don’t ever tell her she is not really part of the family because she is married in.
    Don’t expect her to adhere to every one of your family traditions without any input.
    Along with another comment that you shouldn’t criticize your son to her all the time, don’t talk about how perfect your son is all the time either. She sees the warts and will now know that she can never confide in you regarding her frustrations.
    Don’t guilt them into coming to things but don’t act like you don’t care whether they come or not. A good rule of thumb is saying something like, “We’ll miss you if you can’t make it and we’d love it if you are there, but we understand if you have other things going on and we won’t be upset if you can’t come.” Then let it go.
    Most of all, just try to love her. You don’t have the emotional bank account and relationship built up with her that you do with your own children. She will need more positivity from you then she would from her own mother because your relationship is less established.

    I think you will do a great job, loving people seems to come very naturally to you. Good luck!

  6. Also, when the grandkids do come (yippee!) ask her what she wants from you in the newborn/infant phase (does she want you to stay the night? Is she comfortable with you coming over to cook/clean/laundry?), my MIL wasn’t sure how to act during that phase and it was a little awkward at times. I’m her only daughter in law so they’ve had a bit of a baptism by fire in that dep’t bless her heart.

    The thing I love most about my mom as a grandma is that she is ALWAYS willing to help me out with my kids when I need it. I know if we have to head out of town, or be somewhere important, or if we just need a night away that she will be willing to arrange her schedule to be available if she can. With my in-laws that’s not the case. I don’t expect them to drop everything but it’s nice when they act excited about it rather than see it as an inconvenience. I never get nervous about asking my mom to watch my kids for a day or two and I feel trepidation about it when I ask my MIL.

  7. Also, my mom tells Paul all the time how much she loves him and how grateful she is for him. It means a lot to him and he has a great relationship with my parents because of it. At Thanksgiving when we went around the table to say what we were thankful for she made it a point to say how grateful she was for Paul and Ryan (my sister’s husband), it was really touching and it means a lot to Paul because words of affirmation is definitely his love language.

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