Monday, December 12, 2011

Help This Woman: How To Be A Kick Ass Mother in Law

Do you all remember my Aunt Mary? Well, she's awesome. If you're not familiar with her, please go read this. Go on. We'll wait.

So the deal is my cousin David just got engaged. He's truly a great guy and is going to be an awesome husband. Obviously due to all the tremendous parenting he got. And so Aunt Mary is about to become a mother-in-law and is acutely aware of what a tough job that is.

So she's asking you, Mommyland for advice. Please leave a comment for Aunt Mary, advising her on how to be the best mother in law ever. Keep in mind, this is an opportunity for all of us to learn a little something. So be specific and be nice.

Let 'er rip!

xo, Lydia (& Kate)

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011


  1. DO NOT tell your DIL how sad you are if they want to do holidays with someone else once in a while. She will not feel guilty, she will just resent you.

  2. Say she's a...... teacher. Then she doesn't care about the worst teacher your kids ever had. Or maybe she's a grocery store checker. She won't care about the rude checker at the grocery store the other day. Keep it positive! Tell her about the wonderful teachers your children had, or the polite and speedy checkers.

  3. I don't think anyone as awesome as Aunt Mary has anything to worry about. She sounds like someone who intuitively knows exactly what someone needs and can make it happen without breaking a sweat. Her future daughter in law is a very lucky woman.

    That said, I get along fabulously with my own MIL, mainly because she's there when we need her and not when we don't (and vice versa). She's super supportive, not the least bit overwhelming, a wonderful grandma to my son, and generally fun to be around. I'm pretty lucky, myself.

  4. I love my MIL. One of her best traits? She NEVER gives her opinion or criticizes. I practically have to pull teeth to get her to state her preference on a favorite color. It means that I can go to her for support and never worry about her saying something to belittle me (intentional or otherwise). Even when she may disagree, she stays quiet. This is not the same thing as being a push-over, it's just an overwhelming amount of acceptance. It's difficult not to take everything an in-law says as a back-handed remark or a negative judgment.

  5. Don't tell her how to cook, unless she asks... When babies come, don't tell her how to be a mother, unless she asks... You son will always be your son, but he's someone else's husband now, you're no longer the #1 woman in his life...

  6. Don't judge her for the way she does things, if she doesn't cook her husband every meal, wait on him hand and foot, just because she doesn't do it the way you do doesn't mean she's not a wonderful wife to your husband. Of course I doubt you need this advice, for you seem like such a kick butt lady I am sure you wiill be an amazing mil.
    I didn't comment earlier so wanted to thank you awesome hookers for your super Christmas hookers thing

  7. When your lovely new DIA (daughter-in-law) is cooking something, don't hover, saying that that's not how YOU do it. If somebody is cooking for you, you need to shut the hell up and appreciate the food being made & served to you or Get the hell out of the kitchen. Probably both. Even when we serve it buffet style on the kitchen counter instead of family style on the table how you are used to. It makes us DIAs want to reach for the T box again. And again.

  8. When your lovely new DIL (daughter-in-law) is cooking something, don't hover, saying that that's not how YOU do it. If somebody is cooking for you, you need to Hush Up and appreciate the food being cooked in your honor or get the hell out of the kitchen. Probably both. Even when we serve it buffet style on the kitchen counter instead of family style on the table how you are used to. It makes us DILs want to reach for the T box. Again. And again.

  9. Say insulting things in an honest and sincere manner as if you don't know they're insulting. My favorite from my MIL is "so - what have you been doing? Just relaxing?!" when she stayed to help with my 2 week old.

    Or don't!

  10. Remember what it says in the Bible? "For this reason, a man will leave his parents and cleave to his wife".

    Let your son go. He is not your son anymore, he is her husband. They need room to find their own traditions, and their own life together.

  11. Don't wear the same colored dress as the bridesmaids at the wedding.

    Don't call and demand to talk to, "My Son" - at least say Hi to your daughter in law first.

    If you ever give money as a gift - don't tell them how to spend it. It's a gift and shouldn't have "rules" attached to it.

    When you have grandkids and your daughter in law gives you a list of things to buy the grandkids for Christmas, do not deviate from the list and buy the things your son and daughter in law are going to buy. Don't steal their thunder - the grand kids are their children, not yours. If you do so, be prepared to hear from a 3 year old, "You're not suppose to buy that for me, I'm suppose to get that from Santa, so I don't want yours." Yes, my 3 year old said that one year to my MIL and my MIL still didn't learn - she stole my thunder again this year three years later.

    From the sounds of it, you would never do this, but don't wait for your son and daughter in law to come over for Thanksgiving, with two kids in tow, and not have anything but the turkey cooking. For two years in a row, that was all that was prepared before we got there. I was then told where everything was to make the rest of the dinner. After the second year, we now go to my family's side. Seriously, I wish I was making this crap up about my MIL.

  12. Ruthie Queen Of All Things ProcrastinationDecember 12, 2011 at 7:05 AM

    As my fab MIL used to say, "The mother of the groom’s role is to wear blue and keep her mouth shut."

  13. She told me "he's yours now & it pissed me off a bit, but I didn't raise him to keep him forever. Be good to him & I will love you forever." This was said in the reception line after our nuptials and even though I only had my husband a few short years before he passed away unexpectedly, his mom is Nana to my kids with my second husband. She was supportive, but always gave us space. Helped us pick up the pieces if we goofed something up, but never judged or said "I told you so..." I lost her son early but gained so much his mom. Love my first MIL. Such a blessing even to this day.

  14. Avoid the righteous sniff of disapproval. Or even the righteous *look* of disapproval. :)

  15. OMG...I could give you a list a mile long of don'ts but it might be better just to let you spend a day with mine...haha

    Seriously, the most offensive things she does are to criticize my cooking (or on the flip side act shocked when things taste good) - we've been married for 14 years. At this point if you think I can't cook, take us out for dinner.

    Don't act shocked and offended when I answer the phone. I live here and pay my half of the bills....

    If you love her, then love her. If you don't like her, for your son's sake don't make him choose between you two. Keep your opinions to yourself unless they are asked for. (Which ironically is a good idea in life in general)

  16. I'm getting ahead of myself, and I'm sure this will come naturally to Aunt Mary, but be awesome to the grandkids. I've had 2 MILs. The first one insisted that we come over for Christmas, but refused to put away any of her expensive vases that she kept teetering on skinny display tables, and she had what I call a "walk in fireplace" with no hearth or screen; the kids spent every holiday getting told tersely to stay away from everything. My now-MIL lets the kids run all over the place, teaches them jokes, and insists that they spread all their toys out on her floor. If you treat the kids right you're golden (as long as you don't give a bunch of "helpful" parenting advice on the side).

  17. Figure out what traits your daughter in law prides herself on, then show her that you admire her for the same things.

  18. All the "how to get along with your MIL books" say find something she does well and ask her advice about it. I would LOVE it if my MIL would do that to me - find something I am talented at and seek to learn more about it.

    Also, if you are a professional (insert trade/skill here), don't apply that to your DIL's every day life - keep your skillz as a (nurse/real estate agent/divorce lawyer/teacher/stylist) separate from your skillz as a mother-in-law.

  19. Just love them and be yourself. And use common sense. They will both appreciate your honesty and genuine nature.

  20. Include, include, include. Inclusion is a major part of acceptance.

    I will explain:
    Don't treat your d-i-l like a guest. Treat her like you would your own child.
    If your children help wash the dishes after dinner, allow your d-i-l to, too (if she asks)

    Being too nice might end up making her feel like an outsider.

    I am sure Aunt Mary will be the best m-i-l ever. Hoping to hear stories about it all!

  21. Just be a good person. Treat your DIL like you wanted your MIL to treat you. It is easy. She will be fantastic.

  22. Never ever ever comment on her weight.

  23. don't suggest baby names when the time comes...even if you suggest the #1 name on your DIL's list, i can promise it will no longer be #1 after that...i can't complain too much about my MIL, i have been very lucky overall :) you will be great, aunt mary, just be yourself!

  24. Don't wear black to the wedding like your in mourning!! Also, when they are pregnant don't ask your son "are you sure this is what you want" Yes, it's what he wants or he wouldn't have done it in the first place!!!! Don't ask what your grandchildren want for Christmas only to go out and buy them something completely different. Listen to what your Daughter in law says when it comes to your grandchildren. After all you already raised yours and now it is her and your sons turn to raise their children. Yes, those things my MIL did/does. I still haven't forgotten it and my husband and I have been married 7 years.

  25. PS - I love the advice so far. Especially the ones about letting the son go. He has his own family now, and the best m-i-ls respect that.

    Looks like a lot of raw nerves that have been touched, are voicing themselves here :)

  26. The best advice I can give is to be there, to be supportive but be willing to share your son with his new family. Accept with grace that her family wants to spend time with your son. Especially once kids come. Good luck and congrats!!!!

  27. Let your DIL bring some of her traditions into yours.

    Do not be offended by alternating holidays. Don't pretend to forget whose year it is. It's passive aggressive.

    Don't expect DIL to treat you the way you treated your MIL and vice versa.

    If/when they have kids remember that is a very different time then when you were raising kids. Things will not be the same. Do not be offended if she doesn't ask you for advice or gives instructions if/when you watch your grandkids. It's not because she doesn't think you can handle them. It's because, despite your years of experience raising kids, these aren't your kids - they are hers. Every kid is different.

    Also, don't tell her over and over and over how much her kids look and act exactly like yours did. It's insulting.

  28. My MIL told me one day early on, "if i start acting to pushy or overbearing or otherwise seem like im trying to take over anything, just tell me to back off, i wont be offended, i just dont ever want to be MY mother in law". Tho ive rarely had to guts to tell her, and luckily ive never in 7 years had many reasons, the fact that she put herself out there to me like that gave me a whole new angle of respect for her position. :)

  29. Call before coming over. Its not your place to randomly pop over anytime you want. Otherwise you might see things that cant be unseen....

  30. Tell your future DIL, you can call me Mary, Mom, Mrs. whatever, it doesn't matter—whatever you are comfortable with. It is always awkward. Just be clear from the beginning. It makes the relationship much easier.

  31. Just remember, she's more scared of you than you are of her.

  32. Ok, Aunt Mary is one of the most AWESOME people in the history of EVER, so how could she not be a great MIL?

    My only piece of advice is to develop a great relationship with your future DIL. If you don't know her that well, offer to take her out for lunch or coffee. She picked your son to spend the rest of her life with, so you have at least that much in common.

  33. Aunt Mary, if everyone already loves you and thinks you're awesome, I bet you're daughter-in-law will too!

    Everybody can always use and extra person to love and mother them and make them part of their family, so I am sure your daughter-in-law is looking forward to having you as her second mother.


  34. I am sure that Aunt Mary will be an AWESOME mother-in-law, but just in case:

    I know it sounds simple, but stand by your son at all times, and even if you think he is wrong, tell HIM why in a reasonable and ethical way; don't involve others, including your daughter-in-law. I know that that statement is more about being a good mother, but now your behavior toward your son affects your daughter-in-law also.

    Remember that, if she is the good person you'd always hoped your son would marry, she is trying to make you a part of her family as well. It is very difficult for her to be thrown in the middle of a disagreement between you and your son. Do not expect her to NOT defend her husband, and respect her when she does. Do not communicate with your son exclusively through your daughter-in-law. She wants to be included as part of the family, not as a messenger. Oh, and don't EVER bring up his exes. Even if you still talk to them, which I am sure you don't...

    Above all, honor your son's choice of a partner and respect that she may not have been your first choice (though if you're lucky, she was) but she is his. You will get what you give.

  35. Seriously, the most offensive things she does are to criticize my cooking (or on the flip side act shocked when things taste good) - we've been married for 14 years. At this point if you think I can't cook, take us out for dinner.

    Don't act shocked and offended when I answer the phone. I live here and pay my half of the bills....

    If you love her, then love her. If you don't like her, for your son's sake don't make him choose between you two. Keep your opinions to yourself unless they are asked for. (Which ironically is a good idea in life in general)

    I need to repeat this since this is so important!

  36. WOW!!! I wish I had an Aunt Mary! I do have an "Aunt Mary", but she's not like that...Anyway, I have a son who is getting married in March, so I REALLY wanted to read this. And although I already LOVE my future daughter-in-law, AND I will NEVER treat her like my M-I-L does, you can always use pointers. Thanks Guys!!!

  37. Be a good listener and DO NOT give your opinion on anything she/they decide unless you are specifically asked (from wedding to house to grandchildren raising). And even if you are asked for your opinion, be thoughtful in your reply. Be supportive. Find the positive in whatever decisions they make and illuminate those positive things and keep anything negative to yourself. Respect their privacy and their home, ie. don't call several times a day or stop by unannounced. Do not judge them. Let them find their way and make their own "mistakes" if you see them. Gracefully step aside as the woman in your son's life and honor her place there as you become a steady rock of support and love, always there to listen and help when asked. Support their marriage and do not take sides when they are in disagreement. Be fun. Be a friend to them. Become the person they both want to be around and not the one they want to avoid.

  38. Oh, and this: when she is really getting on your last nerve, remember that she will probably choose your nursing home.

  39. All good advice so far. I have a fabulous mother-in-law. She loves and accepts me the way I am. She knows her son is not her baby boy anymore, but a man of his own. She gives advice only if asked, and otherwise never questions the way we do things. She is a wonderful grandma to my boys. For holidays, her policy is "drop by if you can, if not, I'll see you some other time." She is a funny, easygoing woman who loves Jesus and beer.

  40. No problems with MIL here! My MIL lives in Costa Rica!! :) When the in laws come for a visit, they are God-sent since they keep the 2 yr old entirely occupied and I can walk through my house with the use of both of my legs... no toddlers attached. :) My husband and I can go out on dates and enjoy each others company. I can cook and bake without tripping over pots and pans on the floor, or dump trucks, or a random snowboot. I can enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning without finding a zebra in it.

    I will say the only time I got annoyed is when our son was first born and my MIL came to visit for 3 weeks. I was new to the whole mom thing and even though I know she wanted to hold and take care of him SO BAD,... so did I. Although it sounds wonderful that she wanted to get up in the middle of the night and rock him, so did I. Then when she knew she couldn't help there, she offered to do some cleaning. Well that offended me too because I didn't want my MIL to think I couldn't handle it all (even though I was totally overwhelmed). I was just a hormonal idiot. She knew and understood. Now I beg them to come!! :)

  41. Be supportive even if you don't like her. My MIL is not what I hoped for or ever close. She has threated to sue us for the kids and never listens when it come to the kids. like if we say stop trimming the kids nail because your doing then to short or don't cut the boys hair.

    Remember she still needs to learn her own way and thru her mistakes and to just let her until she asks for help. Bit i have a feeling Aunt Mary is going to be an awsome MIL im kinda jealous already.

  42. I adored my MIL. She has been gone for over 8 years now (RIP Nene), and I still miss her. My advice: Be firm, kind and patient. Be generous -in time especially-and we willing to adapt to change. --for things such as holiday dinners and celebrations.

  43. Aunt Mary,
    Just be your wonderfully fabulous self. And know that at some point, your new daughter-in-law is going to do something you completely disagree with. As long as it's not illegal, acceptance is the name of the game. And support. She is one lucky lady!!

  44. The mother/daughter-in-law relationship is one of the most complex relationships ever. At least in my experience. Here are just a couple of things that I would suggest:
    Be available but not overbearing. Be willing but not pushy. Be complimentary not criticizing. Be loving not smothering. Go the extra mile but don't go overboard.

  45. 1. Love her unconditionally as you do your own child. That means you accept the good and the bad just as you would if she had been born to you.

    2. Your son isn't perfect. Never was and never will be. Neither is she. But they are perfect for each other (even if you don't think so they do). They will both mess up and if you are privileged enough they may ask for your advice on how to navigate this thing called marriage. If they do, keep it loving and neutral.

  46. I seriously have no complaints about my MIL. She's a great grandma to my 2 kids from a previous relationship and a great one to the baby we have together. She compliments my mothering, she offers help when it's needed but never in a judgemental way. She stands up for me when her son is in the wrong and she commiserates with me when I need to bitch about him, which I think is pure awesomeness! I couldn't ask for more and I am so grateful for her.

  47. Do not come into her house and take over. Do not move in uninvited after a baby comes, then call the new mom a "glorified pacifier". Do not frighten your grandchildren to the point where they hide in a closet to get away from you. Do not yell at your son on the phone because he did something you don't agree with- he's a big boy now and can do things like hang up! Do not feed your grandchildren things that they are allergic to, especially if it results in a barf-fest on Christmas morning!

    Be respectful and awesome and give your DIL a MIL to brag about to her friends.

  48. If they have difficulty getting pregnant and then miscarry a miracle pregnancy, don't tell them that this is "God's plan" and they'll "be happier in the long run."

    And if something happens to another member of the family (say, his brother gets a divorce), don't treat this girl like she's going to do the exact same thing.

    Oh, and don't pull your son over the side and share "secrets" with him about the DIL. There won't be any secrets between them so if you can't say it in front of her, don't say it.

    Remember she's his wife now, and while this may hurt, she's his most immediate relative. Respect that position and you'll never have any problems getting her to respect yours.

  49. Don't use backhanded compliments.

  50. 1. Don't give unsolicited advice.
    2. Let your son and his wife start their own traditions.
    3. Offer help once. If you try to force help on them, it is no long help.
    4. Just keep being awesome and enjoy life.

  51. My MIL is wonderful. Now that I take a moment to reflect on why, this advice is based on things she has always done (for the last 20 years):

    Tell her you love her (if you do). Ask her for advice sometimes and thank her. When Grandkids come offer to stay for a weekend while they go away. Laugh with her. Thank her for making your son happy. Call her just to say hello. Ask about her parents and family.

    It's the small stuff that has always made me feel loved. Oh -- but one big thing -- one year for xmas she made us a quilt (and has made them for all of our children) I can't think of a gift that is more dear to us.


  52. Don't comment on her style. My mil has opinions on what i wear, the furniture in the house, and how i dress the kids. Why does that really matter? Is it profoundly affecting her? I think not. Also, don't comment on the cleanliness of her house/car. It isn' going to inspire her to clean it, it is just going to make her resent you... I think this could easily turn into a "domestic enemies of the scorned dil" post

  53. Treat her the way you wish your mother-in-law had treated you.

    Be kind and empathetic.

    Offer advice only when asked and even then, tone it down to middle-of-the-road advice which could in no way come back to haunt you three years from now!

    When grandchildren arrive, offer TIME, not things -- a couple of hours when the babies are new, a sleepover when they're older.

    Remember that your son is a man, a husband, a dad and a son. He may find it difficult to wear all those hats at once, so be patient with him. If you have a great relationship with your son, you'll have a great one with your daughter-in-law.

    And, here's a quote from Sir Winston Churchill which I try to apply to my own relationship with my mother-in-law: "Be brief, be sincere, and sit down."

    Best of luck, Aunt Mary!

  54. I have no great advice. I just wanted to say that I'm so happy (in a way) to know I'm not alone in dealing with thing with my own MIL.

    It's strangely comforting.

  55. Ooh and I fogot, let's say one day you get another dil, don't badmouth one to the other or gossip about them with eachother. Guess what, our husbands are brothers, which kinda makes us friends, which kinda means we talk and compare notes. And if I ever told my sil half of the nasty things my mil has said to me about her... No. I wouldn't. Plus, it kinda makes me wonder if she says those things to me about her, what does she say to her about me?

  56. Ooh and I fogot, let's say one day you get another dil, don't badmouth one to the other or gossip about them with eachother. Guess what, our husbands are brothers, which kinda makes us friends, which kinda means we talk and compare notes. And if I ever told my sil half of the nasty things my mil has said to me about her... No. I wouldn't. Plus, it kinda makes me wonder if she says those things to me about her, what does she say to her about me?

  57. Ooh and I fogot, let's say one day you get another dil, don't badmouth one to the other or gossip about them with eachother. Guess what, our husbands are brothers, which kinda makes us friends, which kinda means we talk and compare notes. And if I ever told my sil half of the nasty things my mil has said to me about her... No. I wouldn't. Plus, it kinda makes me wonder if she says those things to me about her, what does she say to her about me?

  58. Don't give her anti-aging skin care products for Christmas.

  59. My MIL truly took me in as a Daughter. We established early on that even if she and my Husband were not getting along that it would not effect our relationship or her relationship with my kids. We also learned to say "I'm sorry" because it's hard to blend a family and your bound to hurt someone's feelings at some point. She and I both kind of "dated" each other after Husband and I got married made a point to have lunch catch a film etc. Sometimes she calls just to talk to me and visa-versa. Great mother-in-law relationships are possible and fun!

  60. Hug her every time you see her.

    If she calls to complain about your son and to try to get you to side with her, gently tell her that you have every confidence that THEY can handle this themselves (or with a counselor). And that you won't take sides, no matter what.

    And NEVER get pulled in when somebody starts bad-talking your son or your DIL. You don't want your own words to get around to bite you. Best answer ever? "Oh, honey. You know, that's none of my business."

  61. These may be things specific to my *own* MIL, but a few tips:
    --Always speak English around your non-Vietnamese speaking DIL.
    --Please do not criticize your DIL about things she can't control-- like the bad feng-shui of her house. She can't help that a road runs into the property.
    --Please do not call your DIL, or son for that matter, FAT and repeatedly give tips like, "Just drink more water!"

    Oh, wait, you're not a crazy old Vietnamese lady?? Well, then here are some tips for YOU!
    --Keep being your awesome self, and she will love you. :-D

  62. Never EVER do the "pop-in" and always call before you stop by or you might not like what you find when you get there.

    DON'T tell your son that your DIL is a " poor housekeeper"

    DON'T call your DIL an "evil person"

    DON'T say to your DIL "you shouldn't breast feed bc it doesn't make a difference to the health of your child" if in fact breast feeding is what your DIL has decided to do.

    DON'T be a martyr

    GO to every holiday, birthday etc with a smile on your face, even if that is the last place you want to be ( and especially if there are grandchildren at said events)

    **all of these things may or may not have happened to me**

  63. This may or may not apply, but if you are the mother of all sons and have been anxiously waiting for one of them to bring home a daughter...take it slow. That relationship takes a long time to develop and if she has a good relationship with her own Mom, she won't necessarily be looking for that level of intimacy. Let it happen naturally.

    ALWAYS remember that she is trying to do her best for your son and your grandchildren. Give her the benefit of the doubt even if you would do it differently.

  64. Wow - my husband lost his Mom when he was 11 and his dad never re-married so I don't have a mother-in-law. But I do know that having a big list of things that you shouldn't do would be discouraging. Be yourself! Remember that your son and his wife should be themselves too. Let them learn and grow and be an ear to listen when needed.

  65. Don't tell your exclusively Breastfeeding DIL that you expect her to pump so you can feed the baby.

    Don't tell your DIL that you expect the baby's bassinette to be in her room when she visits, so the baby can sleep in her room. The baby is breastfed and I am not dragging myself out of bed to get her when she is normally at my bedside.

    When my son is throwing a fit, do not give a righteous sniff and say how in YOUR day, children were spanked. Then do NOT go an complain to my husband/your son when the child is disciplined that I am being "mean" to him. Holding a squirrelly 2 yo in the corner for a time out is mean? Whuck?

    If you don't like her, please don't give your DIL anything as gifts. Give gifts to the kids at holidays, or give a family gift of food or a game. But please, do not give a castoff from your basement box of garage sale rejects to your DIL as a gift at Christmas. Such as a dusty floral wreath, with the .50 tag still on.
    One might argue that it's the thought that counts, but in this case it is obvious that the thought was "I do not like my DIL."

    Don't butt in. To anything, really. Not the wedding plans, unless invited in to the plans. This is not "your" wedding. To the childbearing, childnaming, or childrearing. If your DIL wants to give birth naturally in a birth center, with a midwife and a doula, and name the child Smorgasbord McSillypants, and she wants to do the thing where the baby goes potty in a bucket and homeschool, and you think all of these choices are just not how things are done, guess what? You need to smile, hug and cuddle little Smorgie, and offer to buy a spare bucket. Moms get enough crap from everyone else on the planet about every choice tehy make, and unless DIL is letting little Smorgie play with matches or some other potentially dangerous thing, her parenting choices are not to be trifled with.

  66. How to stay out of & avoid any future arguments that your child and their spouse may have in front of you: If your son is arguing with his wife in your presence, then ALWAYS take your daughter-in-laws side.

    My Mom does this to me. If we have a spat in front of her she explains that she will never take my side. Even if I am right. Therefore, I have learned to never argue in front of her. She just gives ammo to my husband. And I always lose. It is brilliant.

  67. Be supportive of whatever lifestyle your son & DIL choose to live. (And if you can't find it in yourself to be supportive, at least don't be critical.) When my husband and I made the (stupid and short-lived) decision to try communal living, my MIL's only comment afterwards was "Well, you never know if you don't try!" I love that woman! She hugs me, she never pops in unannounced, and we spend hours scouring thrift stores together. I call her "Mom". <3

  68. "DO NOT tell your DIL how sad you are if they want to do holidays with someone else once in a while. She will not feel guilty, she will just resent you."

    Yesser!!!! I love my MIL dearly, but she has “issues” letting go of the holidays. Case in point #1 -- last year we hosted Christmas Day since it was kiddo #2's first Christmas. Annnnd, MIL hosted Christmas Eve. I had a baziliion-and-one things to do and trekked to their home Christmas Eve so as not to upset MIL. Case in point #2 -- this year BIL/SIL are hosting Christmas Day. Annnnnnnnnd, MIL is hosting Christmas Eve. So, this year we choose between the two. (Fortunately, BIL/SIL live close to my ILs’ and will be there also for Christmas Eve. But it still makes me feel guilty that we have to “choose” at all.) :-|

    "Never ever ever comment on her weight."

    How about “never comment *negatively* on her weight”? I’ve lost 40 lbs over this past calendar year (yay me!!!). My ILs are *always* commenting on how good I look – much more so than my own father (Mom goes with me to WW, so she knows my progress week-to-week).

    Congrats to cousin David, his fiancée, and Aunt Mary (and the rest of the fam)!!

  69. SMILE!! My MIL never smiles! Get up to greet them and be excited when they come to visit you! Be friendly just how you would be with anyone else.

    Don't expect too much too fast. You only need to be friendly at first. Believe it or not, she probably already has a mom and it can feel kind of disloyal to do mom-daughter stuff with another woman. She might even never want to have a mom-daughter bond with you. She'll probably always like her own mom better. When she has a baby she will most likely want her mom's help over yours. She will miss holidays with her family when she's at holidays with yours. Try to put yourself in her shoes!!

    If you witness a disagreement between the happy couple or see your DIL at a moment when she's maybe not being her best self (aka bossing your son around, having a PMS hissy fit, etc), give her the benefit of the doubt! Don't hold these things against her. Remember that your son is an adult and he CHOSE to partner with this person and he does not need any concerned mommy phone calls worrying about his well-being with this new woman! We all have our moments!! She is human and your son is too, he is not always a glorious angel deserving of all worship and praise either!! :)

    Grandchildren are a wonderful gift, but that doesn't mean that your DIL was placed on earth to give them to you. They will come when they're ready and when they arrive they will bless your life even if you don't get to see them everyday, or experience their first trip to the zoo or if you don't get to babysit till they're 14!! No matter what they are her kids and if you want a baby all your own then you should get your own!

    Your son will always take her side. It's no use complaining to him about her, it will just cause problems between them, and as a caring mom, you know you want him to be happy.

    Realize that it's not about you. In fact, it probably hasn't been since he was about 15, but him getting engaged kind of makes it official.

    Be kind! Be genuine! Be your cool self! The fact that a person asks how to be a good MIL proves that she'll be a good MIL!!

  70. I think Aunt Mary will be a great MIL. My only advice - if your son and his new wife live out of town and come to visit, and she wants to run an errand, let her go alone unless she asks for company. It doesn't have to be a girls' outing. That is probably my biggest MIL pet peeve. 20 minutes by myself is sometimes all I need to take another 2 days of living in the guest room with hubster and 2 kids.

  71. If life gets busy, and your son doesn't call for a week, don't let the first thing out of your mouth be "Wow, she finally let you call me?" It gets on your son's nerves, and causes problems with his marriage, especially when you say things like that in person in front of everyone.

    When your DIL is a new mom, at least call her in the hospital or the day she gets home. Don't wait ten days to call and tell her (not ask) you're on your way over, then when your son tells you (as he has been during the ENTIRE pregnancy) that you cannot hold the newborn while reeking of smoke, don't scream at your DIL that she's being "an uptight B-word" and storm out of the house, slamming the door.

    When they have kids, and the toddler doesn't want to come near you, don't look at your DIL and sneer "If you would bring him over to my house, he'd know who I am." Or if the toddler coughs due to the smoke residue that clings to you, don't tell your DIL she's "raising a wimp."

    And definitely don't just pop in. Especially if you are going to nitpick every little thing. For weeks. In detail. To your son. And then wonder why he doesn't want to call and talk. Then again, it's probably your DIL's fault... ;)

    *Sorry, I must be projecting...*

  72. mine drives me nuts because she 'doesn't understand what Amy meant by that,' and it's usually a real clear and to the point thing, like, I DON'T LIKE SPINACH. I LIKE YOUR SHIRT. apparently dh overemphasized how sarcastic i can be (only for funny, i'm not mean with it usually) so now she has NO idea what i mean when i say anything. also, she NEVER let me help prepare anything for a holiday meal. EVER. i'm from the midwest and that's insulting to me. she may have thought she was trying to help but it just took all my family filled holidays and threw back that the wives they didn't like got thrown out of the kitchen with wine and kids. ugh. the kids, not the wine, lol.

    so basically, get to know her personality and let her bring her traditions in when they're spending a holiday with you, she misses her parents and the way they do things too. good luck aunt mary. i don't think you need the advice, but if i could have programmed my MIL, that's what i would have put in.

  73. Don't show her your crotchless lace unitard on her first visit to your house. Things will only go downhill after that.

  74. Not to be like her MIL.
    My MIL has a horrid relationship with her MIL, and she strives to not be like that with me. She is such a wonderful woman, and I love the relationship we have.

  75. Never allow the words "I know exactly how you feel!" pass your lips. No, you don't.

  76. It would be hard for Aunt Mary to not be the best MIL ever! Really, drop the "in-law" part, Treat her as a daughter. I heard, and love, the term daughter-in-love!! Spend time with her, get to know her. Once you develop a good relationship then you will know what she needs, wants and expects. But she will know those things about you too! ;)

  77. I didn't hit it off right away with my MIL because I'm very outgoing and come from an outspoken, tight-knit family and my MIL is more reserved and does not show a lot of emotion. But specifically since my kids were born, and even more specifically since my DH and I moved in with my parents temporarily (which is going on a year and a half now...oye), I have really begun to appreciate and love my MIL whole-heartedly. I love how she always wants and is willing to watch my kids, no matter what the reason. If I need to grocery shop by myself - sure, bring 'em over. If DH and I want to go to dinner just the two of us - of course it's ok, I miss them! She just loves the heck out of my kids and I really appreciate that. Plus she listens to me, buys my kids tons of clothes (which is great because it's one less expense I have to worry about), laughs with me over my DHs silly quirks, and always remembers my birthday. I have come to love her positive traits so much that I find it easier to let her more irritating traits slide (giving my 2 year old pop, only telling DH and not me when she somehow did not receive a Christmas card from us and of course DH forgot to tell me, not always enforcing nap time when she's watching the kids during the day). Those types of things used to seriously annoy me but I honestly don't even care anymore. They ruffle my feathers for a brief second and then I let it go.

  78. Things not to say:

    "Oh, I remember when Joe was dating Susie..."
    "This is really big on me, so it should fit you just fine."
    "Mommy's just mad at you because she's tired." Grrrr.
    "I know Joe told me no, but if you could just get him to change his mind..."

    Most of all, know when to go home. They'll be much more likely to invite you over if they know every visit won't be a 5 hour event.

  79. Make your home a safe haven - comfortable and inviting and clean (and in future years, child proof) for your DIL. This will pay dividends - you'll see your son (and grandchildren) more often, in general, and get dibs on coveted holiday time.

  80. Remember any decisions they make are what they think is best for them. You do not get a vote and only get an opinion if they directly ask you.
    Don't keep score over anything. If new DIL sees her mom weekly and you monthly complaining it isn't faaaaair won't change things or make you popular.
    Keep your life busy & full, don't rely on them to invite you out or fill your time.

  81. Do not give UNSOLICITED advice, especially on parenting matters.

  82. Aunt Mary - I'm sure you will be a fabulous MIL. Can't offer advice on what you can do since I've never been a MIL but I can't tell you what works for us.

    I have a great relationship with my MIL, even call her mom. I think the reason we get along so well is that we both feel it is important for us to have our own relationship and we both feel it is important to repect others feelings. My MIL has her flaws that sometimes drive me nuts (I'm sure I have mine, too). But unless they are potentially hazardous, I let them be and accept that her eccentricies are part of who she is.

    With the kids we allow grandma to have different rules at her house than we have at home. She often asks if things are ok (like giving the kids candy) but for the most part when she and Grandpa are with the kids, they make the rules. It is more fun for them if they don't have to spend the whole time worrying about what we're going to think.

    I'll tell you what I always tell my friends who have minor problems with their MILs. Accept her for who she is and don't be upset because she isn't who you'd like her to be. YOU have to learn how to accept this member of your family into your life. That could mean learning to step back and allow someone to do something completely the wrong way or learning to let rude comments roll off your back.

  83. Defer to your DIL when in her house, it's just polite, and that includes cooking. And remember that DIL is the main woman in son's life now. NEVER comment on their child raising, unless it is a compliment. DIL doesn't care how things were done in 1980.

  84. Don't tell her about the kind of girl you dreamed he would marry. I realize my inlaws dreamed of my husband marrying a good Pentecostal girl, I also realize I am the exact polar oposite of a good Pentecostal girl. I didn't need it pointed out.
    If they have children offer to babysit. I hate asking, I always feel like I'm imposing but I wish my children got to spend more time with their grandparents. But on the same note don't try to change all the things you don't like about the way the children are being raised while they are with you, just enjoy them (you can't make them Pentecostal in an afternoon!).
    Visit them. I also hate that we only visit our parents but they never visit us. We live within a 30min drive of both of them and it would be so much easier for them to come to us than us to pack up three kids. My MIL works in the town we live in and goes to church here and my parents often are here for dinner or shopping (they are both retired) but they never visit we have to go to them. I don't understand this.

  85. From what I've read about Aunt Mary, I don't think she'll have any problem being an awesome MIL. I don't have the best relationship with mine, I wouldn't even call what we have a relationship. So here's a couple of things that happened to me as suggestions of what not to do:
    If they have kids, and one of those gets sick enough to be hospitalized, don't call your DIL and have the following conversation: "How's little Timmy doing? Uh-huh, that's great (cutting me off in the process). Hey listen, I need you to do that thing we talked about, and I need it now." My husband had some minor health issues, which my MIL had decided to blow out of proportion to her bosses so she could get a transfer to our city so she could look for another job. My 1 month old son was in the hospital, while hubby had to still go to work, both of us were sleeping at the hospital with him, we didn't have time to worry about some made up excuse of hers.

    Also, if you live really close to your son and DIL and go over to visit (or use their computer and internet for "job hunting") if your DIL keeps making suggestions about you leaving because she needs to study for a big test she has coming up, don't say "Oh, I'll make sure to be quiet". She's trying to get you politely to leave.

    My MIL lived 2 miles from us at one point and didn't have a working computer or internet, so we had offered ours for short times during the week for her to job hunt. She would come over, do about 30-40 of job hunting, then play online games for 5 hours. One day, I got so sick of it I finally disconnected our wireless router and acted like there was an outage with our ISP. It was seriously the only way I could get her to leave. 6 hours a day, 3-4 times a week! GAHH! Sorry

    Aunt Mary, you'll be a kick-ass MIL, I'm sure!

  86. Treat your daughter-in-law as if she is one of your children. Don't treat her as an afterthought. Make her feel like she is truly a part of your family (although I don't know how YOU could do otherwise!)
    And remember above all, that there is a reason your son loves her and picked her. That right there should be enough reason for you to love her too.

  87. Aunt Mary is awesome and will probably kick ass at the whole MIL thing, but this one seems to blindside some of the best:

    At some point, your son and his family will make a big decision (or maybe a small or medium one) that you *really* don't agree with. You might even feel very hurt by that decision. Do your daughter-in-law the courtesy of not ASSUMING that it was HER decision. It may well have been your son's; she may even have been arguing your side at home.

  88. Honestly.
    Just the fact that she's asking means she's going to do just fine.

    Oh, and I second anyone up there that said something about guilt tripping and the holidays. My MIL, in particular, doesn't do this(THANK GOD), but other family members do. It hurts everyone's feelings. Especially when kiddos get thrown into the mix. Honor old traditions and embrace new ones.

  89. My advice would be, make your visits short. Whether you have a good relationship or not, no one wants a visitor in their home for more than a few days. When you are visiting, help out. Don't cross boundaries but be helpful with the kids and the house. But don't fold laundry, nothing I hate more than walking in to my MIL with a pair of my raggedy old undies in her hands.

  90. Support every parenting decision your DIL makes. Love her & your grandchildren unconditionally. Offer to babysit. Try not to laugh when you are handed a 2 page precis of how to take care of their baby the first time you babysit. Don't be mean.

  91. I think the important thing is to listen to her and decide how you should treat her based on what she says.

    Some people don't like advice, other people feel if you hold them at arms length it is bad. You need to find the sweet spot where you and she are comfortable. If you sense that you have offended or overstepped, apologize. Communication is key in a marriage, and in family relationships. So let her know you are trying your best and feeling your way and don't mean to step on her toes even if you do sometimes.

  92. Please for the love of all that's holy tell her only to give advice when asked. That's how my mother raised me. Unsolicited advice makes me feel criticized and judged. Ahem.

  93. Follow the "plan" (especially with kids). If you put your kids in charge of something, follow their plan (e.g. Christmas dinner etc.)

    I think Aunt Mary will do just fine - she sounds awesome!!

  94. WINE. Offer it, drink it with the DIL. Don't act like she's a lush when she needs a glass of wine. Instead, embrace it and drink with her! Our shared love of wine has made me and my MIL the best of friends. I love her so much and feel like she's totally non-judgemental. Because of the wine.

  95. Don't constantly correct their (future) children and then look at her as though she can't keep them in control. And don't treat her differently when the husband isn't around. And guilt trips? NOT a bonding mechanism.

    That being said, the fact that she's actually concerned about being an awesome MIL is proof enough that she WILL be. Go Aunt Mary. :)

  96. Okay Aunt Mary! You're going to ROCK being a MIL! I JUST KNOW IT! However, this advice may in fact help you. I know that you want to be helpful, but do not enter the bedroom of your new DIL and Son with out consent. Cleaning is apprciated but the bedroom is well, where the grandbabbies come from. Yes, the bed may need making and there may be some clothes to put away... BUT, if you open the night stand sock drawer you may find some adult entertainment and toys you otherwise didn't want to know about! LOL Yeah. It SO happened. My soon to be MIL is great mostly, just a few hick ups, but this one still makes me giggle! Worst it applies to staight out Mom's too, sigh, none of our lives is private! :)

  97. I am blessed to have a great MIL, and my husband thinks my mom is a great MIL, too. Here are a few gret things they do.

    *Be on the side of the marriage, not an individual.
    *Ask your child never to complain about his/her spouse to you so that you can steer clear of secondhand offenses. (This is especially important if your daughter is getting married. My mom told me up front that a Mommy's heart always wants to protect her kids, and she asked me not to speak negatively of my husband to her so that her defensive mommy didn't act up.)
    *Speak positive, complimentary things about your DIL, even when she isn't around. It will get back to her.
    *If she has a good relationship with her own family, ask your DIL about her family. Especially at the beginning, while you are seeking to establish common ground, this allows her to speak about something that she loves. Along the same lines, ask about her traditions, her interests, her memories. Seek to draw her out, to learn about her. This isn't the time to tell stories about yourself, unless she asks.
    *Be a good listener.
    *Pray for your children's marriage. Let them know you remember both how fun and how hard the early years of marriage are, that you are praying, that you love them both, and that you are positive they will have a fantastic marriage.
    *Be slow to anger and quick to forgive.
    *Basically, just love. Love your son enough to let him go. Love your new daughter enough to let her in.

  98. Aunt Mary wil be a great MIL! My favorite things about myown MIL (who is wonderful) are that
    1. She respects that our marriage relationship is now primary, and she never comes between us
    2. She only gives advice when asked, but gives encouragement unsolicited
    3. She sends me a Mother's Day card and a birthday card every year, telling me how great a wife and mom I am and how glad she is I'm her DIL
    4. She accepts it when our plans change and never complains
    5. She prays for us.
    COngratulations, Aunt Mary!

  99. Only give advice when she asks for it. And when she does ask for it, always give advice in a format of "This is what worked for me, and why it worked for me. It may or may not work for you."

  100. I know it's been said, but it's really important and has been a major problem in multiple generations of my family. Tell her you understand that she has a family too and that there is no pressure to attend every single holiday every single year with you. And then honor that, without any snide comments, passive aggressive guilt crap... or (what my Gma did to my mom) telling the young children horrible lies about their new side of the family and giving them nightmares. The less pressure a DIL feels about attending a holiday, the more likely she is to choose that one because it's less stressful!

    Same goes for the non-holiday season holidays (like Memorial Day and the like)... if you have an annual party that's great, but don't make their attendance mandatory. They have friends who have cookouts, too.

  101. Even though my MIL and I are VERY different, we have a great relationship. Part of it is her attitude, part is mine. I ask her for advice on cooking occasionally, I'm friendly, I always say "Thank You." On her part, she is never judgemental of me. She watches our kids and once even told me they were her favorite grandkids (great way to make points). That may no longer be the case, I don't know, but it did kind of make me feel good. One easy pointer--when DIL calls about something, sound happy to hear from her. It always gives me a lift when I call her when I hear in her voice that she's happy to talk to me.

  102. #1 piece of advice: Don't be an asshole.

    #2 piece of advice: Do not stop by their house on their anniversary. Even to drop off a gift. They are probably having sex and you'll be interrupting. (Yes, this happened to us)

  103. Establish early on that you are there if you need her, then give her the space to come to you. Especially if she has a wonderful relationship with her own mother.

    I have had two MIL's. The first was ... well, my ex didn't get along with her to begin with. When I got preggo with #2 there were comments made about our ability to support the kids. Granted, the marriage didn't make it to the end of the pregnancy but that had more to do with his philandering ways than any financial problem. Also, don't make comments that it's her fault you never see your son. It will make her resent you and drive a wedge between you and your son at the same time.

    My second MIL had her issues, but they weren't with me. Shortly after she met me, she made me very comfortable and proclaimed, "I'm adopting you, whether you and my son take your relationship further or not." Which warmed me because my own mother was gone - but if you want to use that line with your DIL then be mindful of her own relationship with her mother. That wonderful woman has now passed on, but while she was with us she was so wonderful to my DD with her son (my older two live with their father so she never met them). Even when my relationship with her son went south, she was supportive of me, and my relationship with my DD. She offered to babysit, but understood when I was a little worried due to her health at the time (she was in later stages of cancer and undergoing chemo, which wore her out) and she didn't make a fuss about the fact that I wanted her to have a second person nearby if she watched my DD. When Christmas rolled around she opened her home to me but left the timing to my discretion. Since DD was her first (and only) grand baby, I knew she'd want to spoil her, and I admit I let her 'have at it', but we also communicated on who got her what, and she never stole my thunder. Her sister and her mother carried on this same tradition once she had passed.

    I know that you will be a wonderful MIL, Aunt Mary. Just show her all your wonderful qualities, let them shine through, and she'll love you.

  104. All great advice so far. Since Aunt Mary is so smart to humble herself and actually ask for advice, I'm sure she will be a fab MIL. I wish she could be my MIL.

    I think the Golden Rule is the best for all relations: treat others as you would like to be treated. Everyone needs to feel loved and respected. Treat your DIL as if she were your daughter. If you’re not sure what she wants, just ask!!

    My hubby's mother died when he and his brother were young. His father remarried and then had 1 boy and 1 girl with the second wife. All four children grew up together. But the second wife has always treated her two children as first rate; the older boys are second rate. Now that all children are married, all 3 DIL’s are treated third-rate. (We DIL’s call MIL by her first name.) Worst, MIL plays favorites with the grandchildren. Her daughter’s children each get a pile of expensive gifts. The rest of the grandchildren each get one gift, and not always an age-appropriate one, but one that was one sale at the mega-retail store where MIL works. She spreads her affection the same way she spends her money.

    My parents treat hubby like a son. He calls them Mom and Dad. All grandchildren are loved equally.

  105. Don't ever buy your grandkids a gift after your DIL has already told them they can't have it. Showing up unannounced to give it to the grandchild with great hoopla right before Christmas, even worse.

    If your grandkids are diagnosed as special needs, please don't continue to dispute the diagnosis after the initial shock. No, he isn't just gifted or shy. He has Asperger's syndrome. No, she isn't just clumsy. She has fine and gross motor delay. No, your DIL isn't making this up. Yes, they need all that therapy.

  106. The thing I love about my amazing MIL is that she acts like my friend not my mother in law.

  107. Try and understand her family and her relationship with her mother. Knowing how these relationships work (or don't) will help you understand her expectations of your relationship.
    My MIL and I have had our challenges, but she tries so hard, and is so generous that I'd be snitchy if I complained. Our biggest barrier now is the differences in what we expect from family life. I don't have a mother who gives a damn, so I both need my MIL's approval and love, and don't know how to deal with it. It's problematic. Understanding her family can go a long way.

  108. Well if you got through the announcement of the engagement without looking at your son and saying "Are you sure?" followed by "I hope you learned something from Paul and Mary." (who recently cancelled their wedding 2 months before the big day). Then you're leaps and bounds ahead of my MIL. But now I live halfway across Canada from her and screen all her incoming calls. It's not like she wants to talk to me. Also weight comments are never appropriate or welcome. Common sense, non? I'm sure you'll rock being a MIL!

  109. Don't rearrange her kitchen, closets or any other part of her home. Respect the fact that she and your son have their own lives and want you in it, but aren't you, and need to build their own home and family. When they have kids, refrain from commenting that all their traits come from their father. Unless asked, leave the disciplining of their kids to them. Don't make yourself the center of milestone events. Their wedding shower, baby shower, kids birthday parties etc. are for them. Be a part of it, but don't Try to run the show.

  110. Aunt Mary, you don't need advice! You're going to be the best MIL ever. How could you not be... you're the nicest person in the history of ever!

    Overall my MIL is pretty awesome. But she has been known to manipulate my husband into doing things her way by crying, pouting, and/or being passive aggressive. She knows that my husband can't stand to see her upset, and he's very sensitive to that. Doesn't happen very often, but it bugs the crap out of me when it does because it puts my husband in an awkward position... pacify Mom, or piss off the wife. Don't make your son choose between the two of you!

  111. If your DIL and son move out of state, accept that this is a normal, adult situation that happens. Know that having a relationship with out-of-state adult children with kids of their own requires efforts on both sides-- we can't make all the phone calls, and we can't shoulder the burden of all the travel like we did before the kiddos. Sometimes, you need to come see us.

    Don't back out of coming down for a visit at Christmas a few weeks before because it's "too complicated" and then send pictures of yourselves doing fun things with your local grandkids and say "Wish x was here too!" It breeds bitterness in your DIL who is already feeling mother-bearish for her husband and children about said cancelling of trip.

  112. Aunt Mary, just remember that she is the number one lady in his life now and let him be as wonderful to her as he has been to you. You raised him to be a good man, and thus a good husband and father so let him be just that. Also, remember that no one is perfect and that your new DIL is adjusting to her new role as your son's wife. It's new so she is bound to make some mistakes. Don't hold them against her and when she messes up hugs and encouraging words are always good.

  113. I think the best thing that my mother in law has ever done (and she does A LOT of great things) is that every time she introduces me to someone she always compliments me. She'll say "isn't she so cute!" or "she is really such a blessing to our family." or "we are so grateful our son found her". Like, who is that nice??

    She speaks highly of my mom, teaches me how to make random foods, doesn't give her two cents on what me and my husband are doing in our lives, I could go on and on!

  114. I admit I won the "in-law" lottery - in fact I knew to go test with pregnancy #2 b/c she was annoying me and that had been a symptom of pregnancy #1. Why is she so amazing?
    1. She treats me like a friend/daughter/human being.
    2. She's only into my business as much as I want her to be.
    3. She's just not bothered by silly things, formalities, or screaming children (as in, they don't freak her out like my own mother).
    4. She respects our wishes when it comes to the kids. We certainly give her room to spoil them, but there are parameters and she is amazing about taking our wishes into consideration.

  115. Aunt Mary, you sound awesome!!! I am sure that if you treat your DIL the way you do Lydia that you will have no problems. But for any other woman out there who would like advice...
    Don't turn things with her mom into a competition. My MIL wants to be included in every activity I do with my mom because she sees me as HER daughter too. She only has boys and while I appreciate her wanting to have a relationship with me, I wish that she could understand that I have a good relationship with my mom. She and my mom can be friends and we two can be friends but that doesn't mean I can't keep my relationship with my mom separate sometimes.
    NEVER call her child "My Baby". You didn't go through 38 hours of labor only to have a c-section so it's not your baby! So when he starts crying, either Daddy or Mommy are there to love and comfort him. Please wait to be asked for help before trying to care for said baby. And if you offer and are turned down...don't ask 30 more times. You are not being helpful, you make it sound like we aren't doing it right and you want to show us how. This only causes resentment. Also,understand that there are many other people who deserve to spend time with the child at family functions so please don't walk out of the room with them just so you can have alone time. Come visit some other day!!

    I guess above all don't push your agenda, feelings, traditions or anything else on her. Be an ear to listen, wisdom when asked for advice, offer without expectation and understand that she and your son are now their own family. Respect that bond and commitment above all.

  116. Please don't compare your daughter and DIL. They are 2 completely different people with different life experiences. Please don't wine about how tough your daughter has it while your DIL is standing there with 3 children 5 and under and a husband in Iraq. It can really make for bitterness in the long run.

    Also, just because the third child was a surprise doesn't mean she isn't a great surprise. Quite frankly considering how challenged my husband is a buying me gifts, this child will always be the greatest gift he ever gave me! That child has kept me so busy for years now that I don't have time to worry about what his mother thinks! And yes, she is named Margaret because it's short for Margarita.

  117. Remember that she's a person too, respect is a two way street. When a man gets married he's building a new life with his wife, she becomes his immediate family and you are the extended family.

    Here's a few Gems my MIL tried, I wouldn't suggest copying them:
    1. Trying to hook him up with his ex girl friend (which happened until the ex finally got married, we had been married for 7 years and had 4 children when that happened).
    2. Playing favorites with your grandkids (Kids understand how differently they are treated, and it breaks their heart, and instills "momma bear syndrome" into their mother).
    3. If after 4 kids their house is messy, keep it to yourself, or KINDLY offer to help. Don't call your DIL a disgusting pig on the internet were ALL of your family (and her's) can see. Especially after said DIL has been dealing with 3 sick kids AND a sick husband.
    4. Even if you don't really like her, respect her as the wife of your son and the mother of your grandchildren.

  118. Give her gifts that she loves but would never splurge on for herself (you'll probably need your son's input to find out if that splurge is yoga, a Keurig, massage certificates, chocolate, etc).

    When you have grandkids, find out what books she's reading to prepare for them and read them for yourself. This will give you an idea of her parenting philosophy and what has changed in terms of advice since you were a parent, so you don't step on her toes and she doesn't have to explain to you why she's doing certain things.

    If she likes to cook, let her cook. If your son likes her cooking better (You may never know this, but you may occasionally hear of him eating something that he's never eaten for you before! Assume that it's her recipe, and not a change of taste!), ask if there are some meals she'd like to make while visiting or ask for a few recipes that you can cook while they're home. Likewise, share recipes that she asks for from you.

    Cards and handwritten notes are sweet.

  119. If you realize that your son is the head of the household, but she is the neck that turns that head, then you'll probably do fine. It is in everyone's best interest that the MIL and DIL get along. If they do, then the MIL gets to see the grandkids/son more and the DIL gets some down time and extra loving family support.

    Be good to the grandkids. Treat your kids like you would your daughter's kids. Keep back-handed compliments to yourself. Let her run her own house and husband (if he so chooses to let her). Keep guilt toward her or your son out of the equation. Realize that he and she are finding their place within a new marriage and extra stress and tension should never come from family. Show her you love and respect her.

  120. It's awesome that Aunt Mary is asking for advice, but this list seems a bit scary and intimidating. I really hope my MIL is not thinking about all these things and is just being herself. It's a two-way relationship so the DIL has responsibilities too. Perhaps there should be a list of how to be a great DIL. (Remember, her son got to choose you, she did not.) I can identify most with what MrsPatterson and Glimpses said. I loved what Glimpses said about being on the side of the marriage, not individuals. That alone could guide a lot of the things you say or decisions you make in regards to how you treat your son and his new wife. I have a great relationship with my MIL but it's not because either of us is perfect. There are some things that have majorly irritated me at times, but I don't dwell on them at all and instead focus on her good traits. She loves our family more than anything and I know her intentions are good overall. As I read this list, I realized my MIL does many of these "negative" things that people are describing, but I have to put myself in her shoes. Of course she would prefer we spend holidays with them and may express disappointmnt if we can't--that's an honest reaction; I want to be with MY kids at the holidays too! Just because her son is grown up doesn't mean he's not her kid anymore. We won't stop being mothers or loving our kids at age 18. In fact, we end up with even more to love with grandchildren and in-law children. My MIL treats me like her own daughter, which, like any relationship, means things are not always perfect and some things we have to let go because we love each other. It also means she does many of the positive things too, like sending me Mother's Day and birthday cards, telling me I'm a good mom/wife/person, shopping, and drinking wine together. Aunt Mary, you are going to be a WONDERFUL mother-in-law, and I hope you are blessed with a wonderful daughter-in-law as well.

  121. When they have kids, DO NOT question the DIL's every parenting decision with "Oh really? Well, when I was raising my boys, Dr Spock said we should do it this way." Just accept that every mother mothers differently.

  122. Don't assume she wants to call you "Mom". It may be fine, but it may not, and if it's not, it's SO hard for her to tell you it's not. Also, if it's not, it's none of your freaking business why not. It's just not, OK? OK. Good.

    NO REASON. Arg.

  123. #1 (and in my opinion, the most important) Understand that your son is a big boy, and is making his own life now. Most likely your DIL and son would like you to be part of it. So,you can chose to be a part of it or you can chose not to. If you don't make any effort to be a part of his growing family, you certainly can't complain. If you are rude and condescending to your DIL, your son will likely take her side (as he should.) This isn't because the DIL is controlling and manipulating your son, it's because he a family of his own, and he no longer answers to you.

  124. Ask her what you can do to help with the wedding and ONLY do that! Don't buy bubbles she doesn't want because you think they're cute. If your generation didn't use their shower gifts till after the wedding and instead put them on a table for people to look at, fine...but we don't do that, it's ridiculous! Don't talk to your DIL and when you get a answer you don't like, ask to talk to your son thinking you'll get a different answer. Don't offer advice unless it's asked for and whatever you do, don't use your spare key to come into their house while they're on vacation and paint their kitchen because you don't like the colour...I wish I didn't know that last one could ever happen...

  125. Because you want your son to be happy for THE REST OF HIS LIFE do not be the thing that drives a wedge between him and his wife. If you are the topic of a therapy session than you are not doing it right!!
    Do not send his wife in the mail articles on how to lose weight
    Do not pinch your grandchild's toes to " hear then talk" ( ie CRY) - yes that really happened
    Do not give them gifts that have stipulations/expectations attached.
    Do not show up at their house uninvited - everyone has cell phones!!
    Do offer to baby sit but do not get your feelings hurt if she says no when the child is small.
    Do offer to take her teenagers skiing - even if you dont want to!!!!! We are exhausted!
    Do not tell her that you had twice the amount of children and no help when she hasn't slept in 3 days and her 2 toddlers have had diarrhea. That conversation will not end well.
    Basically love her the way you want her Mother to love your son!!!!
    Good luck!

  126. Laugh together, and always bring wine (unless she's pregnant - then that's just mean)

  127. I am sure Aunt Mary will be an awesome MIL. I too am blessed with an incredible woman for my MIL. Probably the best thing is the total acceptance and lack of judgement. That is a theme among these answers. It's our #1 problem with my own parents, alas, but our in-laws are incredible on this front. Even when we want advice, we have to beg just a little tiny bit to get it. Perfect.

    Also, she takes care of our kids, even when they are sick.
    She is always happy to see us for holidays, but never demands attendance at her events.
    She's the best person to call when something good happens because she will celebrate the good things so very well (again, unlike my own parents).
    She will fold laundry or do dishes without being asked and always says that her mother did it for her, so she is just paying it forward.
    She's fit enough to bike and play tennis with her grandchildren!

    And yes, we have one of her gorgeous quilts, and so do each of our children.

  128. The fact that you are even asking makes me think that you will do just fine. Try to establisha relationship with your future DIL outside of your son and the rest of the family. That way you can form your own bond and frindship.

    Please also don't get upset if she wants her mom to stay with her when the grandkids are born. It's overwhelming and scary, and a girl just wants her mom, no matter how wonderful her MIL is.

    My MIL will offer help, then say she can't do it, or do sucha terrible job that you can tell she was trapped because she didn't think I'd take her up on it. I stopped asking.

    My own mom will have 'temper fits' and create a bunch of drama in our house when she comes to visit. In fact, both mom and MIL had to cut their visits short because they started so much trouble.

    Please don't buy the kids stuff from garage sales--that stuff can sometimes be really, really dirty. I would be more than happy to give MIL suggestions so that she can be the birthday 'hero'. After many years of garage sale ickyness, she sends money and has me pick it out now, and 'grandma' always knocks it out of the park.

    Best of luck to you--you sound like a wonderful person and I wish you the best.

  129. Keep in mind that they are their OWN family and not just an addition to yours. That means you don't have a 24/7 open invite to their house, and if they say it's not a good time to have visitors- YOU ARE A VISITOR.

    Please don't forget around the holidays that not only does your DIL have family that she needs to visit with your son and grandkids, but they also want to start their own traditions and spend a couple of hours alone with their kids. Do not assume you are invited to their Christmas morning Santa-opening celebration.

    Your son will always be your son, but he is no longer yours to boss around. If you don't like his beard/haircut, his hobbies, or his job, don't try to get your DIL to change him. She just might like the very things that you want changed.

    Your grandchildren are not your children, but your GRANDchildren. It's not your job to raise these kids, but to love them and have open arms and hearts while their parents make the rules. Don't compete with your son and DIL to see who is a better "parent." You had your turn to be the parent and decision maker when you had your own kids; now it's time to pass the torch on and enjoy the fact that you have small children to love and play with, without all the responsibility. Every now and then, it might be nice for your DIL to hear that you appreciate something that she does for your grandkids.

    And last but not least, don't push once an offer of help has been rejected, no matter how nicely it was declined. Just because your DIL thanks you for offering does not mean that you heard a yes. If she doesn't want you cleaning her house, DON'T PUSH IT. If she doesn't need a babysitter, DON'T PUSH IT. If she's not into date night, DON'T PUSH IT. One last time....DON'T PUSH IT. It's not appreciated. No means no, right?

  130. I think this is a West Country saying (non-UK residents, try and imagine a pirate accent, it's close enough)
    "Yer son's yer son til he takes a wife. But yer daughter's yer daughter all her life".

    In other words, your son has grown up and chosen a new #1 woman. And your DIL, as much as you may love her (or not) probably doesn't need a second mother (unless her relationship with her own mother is less than stellar - and even then it's up to her to choose how much mothering she wants from you)

    My future MIL and I used to get on just fine, even during the turbulent five months when we were all living together under one tiny roof. Unfortunately, she's a bit Munchausen by proxy - not literally with illnesses, but with practically everything else. The turning point came about six months ago when I had a major freak-out following a large spider incident (I'm SERIOUSLY arachnophobic, to the point at which I was unable to stop crying for half an hour) and, rather than let me freak out and panic and EMOTE, she took my reactions as a personal attack on her, stormed out of the house, and telephoned her son an hour later to tell him that I was over-reacting, she'd had a spider fall on her arm and didn't scream as much as I had and she's "just as arachnophobic" as me.

    OK - had my little rant. To be fair, my MIL is a little psychologically damaged. I'm not being mean; it's a genuine (if only recent) diagnosis. Knowing this has helped the bridges be mended and, although we'll never be friends, we will be family.

    I don't think Aunt Mary is going to be a fantabulous MIL - if she behaves towards her MIL just a fraction of how she behaves towards Lydia (and Kate) she will do just fine.

  131. My mother in law is awful.

    My Mom still tells everyone ( and she and my Dad have been divorced nearly 30 years) that she had the best and most sainted mother in law ever. I would have to agree since my grandma was a total peach and never had an unkind thing to say about anyone.

    I think the bigger question is, what kind of girl is her son engaged to? One who likes a lot of involvement or one who does not? If she treats it like any friendship it should be fine. My own mother in law jumped the shark by being both intrusive and standoffish. Which sounds hard but she managed. AKA- demanded to be in the room when the baby came out, did not call me once while I was pregnant, even though I was on bedrest.

    She also was very rude to my stepmom. WHO IS AMAZING and cooked and cleaned for me while I was on bedrest and basically I would get in front of a train for her. Ignoring my awesome stepmom made me madder than anything she has ever done to me. Our baby would probably have been a preemie without my stepmom's help.

    My stepmom also never questions my parenting decisions, (my mother in law told me there is no such thing as SIDS and wanted to know why she could not keep our son overnight)does not offer unsolicited advice,( my mother in law told me I would be afraid to care for my own child) is always ALWAYS understanding and is very flexible. She is also extremely welcoming, and for holidays has had EVERYONE over- as in my mom, my step mom's ex-husband, her daughter in law's father etc etc etc. It makes it wonderful, especially since my mother in law is the "feud" type and refuses to go to family dinners not held at her house. She has even sent me cards signed"Scott's Mother". Nice. I am always tempted to send one back signed"Scott's WIFE".

    My mother in law and I are currently in a detente, but I started the third trimester today so I don't know how much longer she will be able to keep a lid on her crazy. Probably a month.

  132. No going over without calling first, if they say no accept it graciously.

    If she likes to cooking let your DIL bring something other than the veggie plate to Thanksgiving dinner. It's not about one upping each other.

    If you are about to give unsolicited advice shut yer trap it'll just piss her off.

  133. Both my MIL and my own mother can be wonderful in some ways and dreadful in others. The dreadful things seem to stem from the very same issue for both ladies. Expectations.

    I am the first in my family to go away to college, get married, start my own family and as a result I've done a lot of breaking my mother in as she experienced these things for the first time. In each instance my mother had a grand dream of what this experience would be like for both of us and every time she has been disappointed. Because I'm not her and I do things MY way instead of hers. I think that sometimes she forgets that it is MY life, MY family, MY decisions. And although she will always be my mother, she is not in charge anymore. So she can't decide how SHE thinks my life should look and then be disappointed when MY life doesn't fit into HER mold. Besides, I'm still learning as I go. Give me a break, will ya?

    My mother in law is far less vocal about her expectations. When we do something she disapproves of she just looks down, shakes her head and says "tsk, tsk" under her breath. Sometimes you don't even know what you've done, you just know that you did not live up to the MIL expectations and you've disappointed her. Again. And once again, it is not her place to decide what is right and wrong for her son's family.

    Bottom line is your son and new DIL are going to create their own life and family together and it may not be what you imagined or dreamed of. And that is ok. Just be thrilled to be a part of that life in whatever way they want to include you and hope that they are happy with the life they have chosen and the decisions they make for their family. Sounds to me like you won't need this advice at all seeing as you are so wonderful already, but remember to support their decisions as a couple and a family even if you don't agree with them and when possible, let them set the tone for how they want you to be a part of their new life together. Good luck!!

  134. Never walk into her house and say "Oh, it must be hard to clean when both of you work"

  135. Assume the best. Don't attribute bad motivations to your son or DIL. Most likely, whatever *it* is isn't about you. If they say they're not coming for Christmas this year, it probably is because they don't want to spend the $ traveling, they want to establish their own traditions, they want to visit other family...whatever. Most likely it isn't because they actively DON'T want to see you, or they are TRYING to hurt you. This applies in just about every situation. Your granddaughter isn't wearing the outfit you bought her? Most likely it ISN'T because your DIL hates the outfit or hates you. It's probably because the outfit is the wrong size, is in the laundry, or who knows...whatever it is, it isn't personal. Your son doesn't no longer calls you every week? It isn't because he no longer loves you. It's because he's busy! Fortunately, I'm blessed to have a lovely MIL and she pretty much gets this. But it's worth keeping in mind because it's only human nature to think it's all about us...and that's where the drama comes from, no?

  136. my MIL is an awesome opossum. she always tells her sons "don't ever complain to me about anything to do with your wife... i'll always take her side."
    she's the most encouraging woman in the world and always lets me know she thinks i'm awesome, even when it's clear to me that i'm not so much.

  137. I will never forget on my wedding day, shortly before the ceremony, my MIL shoo'ed all the bridesmaids out the room, came over to me, and took my face in both hands. Then she looked into my eyes and told me that being with me made her son a better man, and if she could have picked his wife out herself, she couldn't have picked a better one than me. I had known her for several years at that point and had always had a good relationship with her, but I knew at that moment that she wouldn't get in the way of us. In nearly 15 years and two kids, it's proved true. Yes, there have been times she's driven me crazy (like when she chipped my dishes while staying with us after the birth of baby 1) but 99% of the time, she's awesome. I know she respects me, she respects Us, and she loves our entire family. She has called me her daughter (not DIL) since the wedding, and she is really like having a second mom. I'm so lucky. I bet Aunt Mary's new DIL is a lucky one too. ;)

  138. Show up. Especially if they have kids.

  139. Cut the apron strings. Give them space to be their own family. Lower your expectations regarding your future involvement in their lives, especially when children come. Once your DIL becomes a mother, it's best to give her the respect she deserves. You must defer to your son and DIL in all things regarding your grandchildren. And the surest way to find yourself shut out by your DIL is to cause trouble in her marriage to your son.

  140. Acknowledge her birthday...on her birthday. I'm not saying you have to get a gift or even a card (it'd be nice, but certainly not required), but a simple phone call would be swell. Do NOT take it upon yourself to say 'Well since your birthday's so close to Christmas, we'll just celebrate it with so-and-so's in the spring'. Um, no. I am a unique individual, maybe not the person YOU would've picked for your sweet boy, but I am a good person.

    And when you call their home (notice the use of the word 'their'), don't immediately ask to speak to your son. I'm not the friggin' secretary! I am his wife. Ask me about me, my day. I ask about yours. And at least act like you care about the answer.

    Where's the wine?

  141. 1. DO NOT stalk your son & DIL on Facebook. Clicking "like" and commenting on every-mother-fecking-picture or status LESS than 10 seconds after it is posted is NOT COOL.
    2. Pick up the phone and call every once in a while to say Hi. Especially once you have grandkids. They are starting a new life together and their #1 prority is NOT going to be to call Mom and say hello.
    3. Respect the decisions they make as a couple/family and don't get all huffy about it, even if it doesn't make sense to you.
    4. Don't cry poor and say you couldn't afford a calling card to call long distance, but then post a FB status about your new cell phone and that you're heading out to buy a pack of smokes.
    5. Stay as neutral as possible. And if you get into an argument with your DIL, don't end the conversation with "Don't contact me again" because that hooker is the one that sends out christmas cards, school photos and the like and you will get NOTHING.

    Congrats on the engagement! :)

  142. Respect the parenting choices and style of your son and daughter-in-law. (Well, unless they are feeding the baby vodka or something. In that case, take a shot of the vodka since your family went crazy, and then call CPS.) Seriously, though, my MIL makes NO effort whatsoever to adhere to the rules of my house. Which, incidently, has caused me and my husband to say she can't have the children by herself overnight. If she'd just show some sort of movement in the general direction becoming a law-abiding grandma, I'd love her. Instead, I think of ways to avoid contact.

  143. My MIL is a wonderful lady. We don't see eye to eye on everything, but overall we've had a really good relationship over the years, so I consider myself blessed. I have a couple "do's" I'd suggest, though (and many of these are not related to my own experiences with my MIL):

    Treat your son like the grownup he is, and your DIL like the adult she is, and allow them both the dignity of making their own choices and mistakes TOGETHER.

    Offer advice freely and kindly when asked, and offer it gently and carefully when not asked. Even if you can see that it's really badly needed advice, your son and DIL need space to make their own decisions. Once they make their decision, no "I told you so" is necessary if they ignore your advice and mess up. Chances are they can see you were right anyhow.

    If you can see that your son is NOT treating his wife respectfully, please tell him so, but in private. Your DIL may feel compelled to defend his behavior in public, even if she's privately thinking you're absolutely right and he's way over the line. She may or may not tell you in private if they're having trouble in their marriage. She may appreciate a quiet, private conversation if they're having trouble, but let her be the one to decide to pursue it if you give her an opening.

    Encourage her as her own person (with her own interests, skills, job and personality). Enjoy her as a unique member of your growing family. Get to know her family traditions as they blend with yours and your son's. Don't be offended if they have to spend some holidays away from you, and don't keep score of how many visits each set of grandparents gets.

    Respect her position as your son's wife. She chose him, so she must see some good characteristics in him that you are at least partially responsible for. Take that as a compliment to you, not as competition for his affection. He can love both of you, but don't be upset that his first priority is now his wife and kids. That's the way it should be.

  144. Be respectful, loving and polite.

  145. Don't play favorites among the grandchildren. DIL can see it, and someday, the grandchildren will realize it, too.

    Don't make comments about how superior your own children were, such as "Oh, all of mine were completely potty trained before their second birthdays" (when DIL is struggling with a 4-year-old's poopy pants) or "I don't remember my five kids ever fighting with each other" (when DIL is pulling her hair out from all the bickering). By the way, neither of those assertions was even true, which makes it all the more obnoxious.

  146. Don't buy the same dress as the bride's mother, because you can't find anything cute to wear to the reception. Don't say, "Do you know what would taste good in this?" And then offer up ideas like salsa, honey, or 7up when you dil cooks something nice. Don't quiz the grand kids for dirt on their mother. Don't describe your grandmother by saying, "She was a bigger lady, like you.". Don't pay for everyone else's lunch except your dil's. Don't keep track of the hours/minutes that your dil spends with her mom and then demand equal time only to do allof the above! Too bad, I am too chicken to post as myself, but I swear I would get caught and then we would have to have a "talk".

  147. Don't try and decorate their house by buying them items you'd buy for your own house.

    Don't buy the creepy-ass Elf on the Shelf thing for your not even two year old grandson *JUST* because that's when you bought it for your son.

    And finally, for f's sake, don't comment negatively on whatever they choose to name their firstborn child.

  148. here's some great advice - expect your son to give you responses that mirror her own. My husband and I are in Los Angeles visiting my son and dil, and we have been planning on taking them to San Diego tomorrow, but no, they can't go because it's raining and there have been wrecks and they don't want to chance it with the baby. SERIOUSLY??

  149. My mother once said that her job as the MIL at a wedding was to "shut up and wear beige." Sadly, my MIL passed away before my husband and I married. I thought she was awesome in the time we had together, and I feel cheated that she isn't here. That said, my husband would probably have a few things to say. His biggest would probably be... "don't visit longer than a week." : )

  150. The best advice I can give is to never criticize your daughter in law. Even if you think she's nuts, keep it to yourself. Do your best to be supportive [in a REAL way]. Don't bash her, don't sabotage her, and don't do passive aggressive things behind her back to make her life hell. I am sure that Aunt Mary would NEVER do these things anyway, but that's the best advice I have to offer. :) [Oh, and just BE KIND - all the time!]

  151. I went to a wedding shower once, and the mother of the groom-to-be offered a toast to her future DIL in which she said, simply, "Welcome to the family." This was obviously a sincere sentiment on her part, and I've never forgotten it - she demonstrated acceptance and love with these few words.

  152. Don't ever show up at their house early or unannounced. Also, remember Ben Franklin's wonderful advice: fish and visitors stink after 3 days.

    Your job at the wedding is to give as many sincere compliments as you can, wear whatever color is suggested, and kindly offer to pitch in a few dollars to pay for some of your guests (if you can afford it).

    Never say a word about how messy the house is.

    Your DIL will probably parent children differently than you did, especially when they are babies. Don't take it personally. She knows your children came out "just fine", which is why she's marrying your son. She just has to find her own way.

  153. I wish I had a benign list of do's & dont's but the sad truth is my MIL is off the charts evil. Aunt Mary sounds like she's the polar opposite of mine so Rock the MIL status Aunt Mary and love your new DIL like she was your own. If I can give one insight, it's that I always wanted my in-laws to be my second family to double the love. Give her that.

  154. Don't use the fact that you spoke another language for 16 years as the reason you offend, and verbally attack people 54 years after you learned english.
    If you visit your son's side of the country for over a week try to see the grandkids you say are so important to you more than 4 hours in that time. (seeing them 6 times in 4 years, 2 of which was b/c someone was dying isn't "caring")
    Don't go to your doctor to sure your DIL is feeding the baby enough, also don't tell your doctor that your DIL is a drunk when she has 3 beers in 6 hours (at your husband's funeral) and is damaging the baby b/c she still breastfed it.
    When DIL has a 2 month old that hasn't slept more than 1 hour at a time (ever) and almost died in the aftermath of complications of pregnacy and has flown acros the country with the toddler and YOUR SON - don't wake them up after the first 45 minutes of sleep they've had in 24 hours by yelling from the door - "you gonna sleep all day"
    If you would like to be part of their lives make the effort to pick up the phone. it's not one way.

    I have to post as anonymous - too scary about what would happen if I didn't. crap I'm bitter. and there's OH so much MORE.

  155. When grandchildren arrive, do NOT, I repeat, do NOT give them their first haircut without permission while said child's mother is out at the store grocery shopping to cook for you while you're visiting, with pneumonia. Trust me. My MIL is lucky she's still alive.

  156. Let your son and new DIL start their own familiy traditions. The ones that were truly important to your son will continue on.

    The worst thing my MIL has done for me is created lots of trouble when she was trying to fix mine or my husband's problems. Her intentions were always pure, but those intentions always created more trouble. So, if you want to help, offer it first, don't just jump in.

    Good luck on your new title, it will take some time to get use to it, just as your new DIL will have the title wife and needs to get use to that too.

  157. Don't EVER suggest that you know your grandkids BETTER than their parents--for me, this tends to happen when talking about how much my kids eat. My mother-in-law always claims it's less than I say it is... and it makes me want to claw her eyes out, because I do, in fact, spend at least 5 hours a day preparing/attempting to feed them. They f-ing eat 2 boxes of mac-n-cheese because I SAID SO, and also because this argument costs $.83, and so WHO CARES??? Also, please buy your daughter-in-law a strapless, stick-on-bra (like one big pastie)for Christmas, and have her open it in the presence of her husband, her brother-in-law and her father-in-law...after she goes pee in her pants and has an asthma attack it will be the best story she EVER tells. For real.

  158. I don't really know what makes a *good* MiL, but I can tell you the top four things that really annoy me about my MiL:
    1- she almost ALWAYS leaves messages on our phone that start with "Hi Son" - no mention of the rest of us at all. If she's going to do this, then I'm not picking up the phone :P And there's no friendly sign off either (i.e., love to everyone) - makes me think she's forgotten we exist;
    2- don't ask *only* your DiL questions about child rearing - the child's your son's too!;
    3- if she offers to come to your house and cook so that the family can get together, maybe let her (sometimes)?; and
    4- listen to what she and your son say about their child rearing strategies - support them, don't try to subvert them (yeah, it's a grandparent's prerogative to spoil, but not to ruin).

    As for the more positive side:
    * if they have children, feel free to offer your services as a babysitter even just so she can sleep or read a book (not just because there's something important to do); and
    * try to find something about which she's passionate and learn about it, so you can have some conversations about something other than family life.

    Good luck.


  159. A lot of my inlaws family friends send out Christmas cards with pictures of themselves (grandma and grandpa) and the grand kids. The cards are signed 'from grandma, grandpa, little jack & little jill.' no mention of the actual parents. Note to all MIL's: this crosses a line. Don't do it!

  160. No matter how upset you are with your daughter in law, please do not end up drunk by midnight, thus deciding to message her via facebook telling her what a horrible daughter in law she is. Please do not blame her for the fact that there is winter and its dangerous to drive 2+ hours for a visit. If in the end, messaging her still sounds like a good idea, wait until she is NOT pregnant with your second grandchild.

    And when your son calls you out on your immature behavior, a personal phone call to her for your apology is demanded. A simple "I'm sorry" is NOT going to be good enough.

    Also, if your son and dil end up stranded less than 30 mins from your house, go get them. They were on their way to visit YOU.

  161. We are raising our child sans-religion. My inlaws are fundamentalist Christians. Every Christmas, they buy our daughter a book that looks very much like any other book my child might own but has a religious message. And every year, I take that book and dump it straight into the recycling bin. (I would never think to give a book about atheism to a child that is being raised with religion. Or a book about meat to a vegetarian family. Or a... You get the picture.) MILs, don't pull stunts like this, please.

  162. Gifts should not have catches. Once you give it to us (or our kids) it is our's to do with what we want. Do not be offended if we don't do with it what you wanted us to. If you give us a movie ticket gift card, don't be offended if your son and I decide to go see a movie alone instead of together so you can watch the grandkids. If you give us a garage sale toy box and we use it for the boys dress up trunk don't be upset that it's not their main toy box.

  163. My MIL and I had a great relationship until our first daughter was born. Babies change EVERYTHING!
    DON'T-be the first visitor in the delivery room. I felt like my soul was crushed when my own mom wasn't the first one through the door.
    DON'T-complain that you never get to see your grandchild b/c your son and DIL never drive the hour to have a car too! The road works both ways
    DON'T- make plans for your son's family via a discussion with your son that he has to then relate to his new wife. It will make her feel left out and she'll resent you for meddling.

  164. Here is a list of a few issues that I have with my crazy MIL
    1. Since I am a SAHM, everytime that I spend money, she makes snarky comments about how I spend my husbands money. If that is really how she feels, then I guess the kids are mine and I can decide who is not worthy to see them. Everything in the marriage is THEIRS...not his and hers.
    2. Once she hears me tell the kids something, she then tells them something else, trying to minimize my parenting. My son was full after a large supper but hadn't touched his veggies. I told him to eat 4 green beans and then she told him that he had to eat them all before he could get down from the table. I had to interject and say NO! Mommy is the boss, not Grandma. Let the parents be the parents and you be the awesome Grandma who sneaks 3 green beans off his plate when Mommy is not looking.
    3. When your grandchild just comes home from the NICU, don't try to force the parents to give formula/sugar water/anything other than what the Dr. recommends. Your DIL and son's nerves are worn because their child was so close to death, that they may just hurt you.
    4. DON'T EVER accuse your DIL of marrying your son because of money. (BTW, we are poor too) I tolerated these comments for 4 years before I turned the snarky comments back at her replying...Do you think that your son is so horrible that the only reason somebody could possible be with him is just because of his finances....that is a terrible thing to say about your own son...shame on you!
    5. Obviously your son thinks that she is great and wants to marry her. Even if you cannot see those qualities, trust your son. Him loving her and her loving him should be enough for you to love her too.
    6. If you don't love her, that is OK too. But you MUST respect her and pretend.
    7. Please don't expect your son & DIL to support you financially because YOU think they have money.
    8. Don't chew out your DIL for getting pregnant again after having a special needs child...the nerve of me right...glad I got myself pregnant and didn't consult my husband.
    9. NEVER EVER berate your DIL while pregnant causing her to miscarry...then have the nerve to send a sympathy card.
    10. DON'T ever talk down to your DIL and then pretend/deny that it ever happened. We all carry cell phones and we can record your condescending tones at the drop of a hat, so when you deny and call your DIL a liar, she has proof and you look like a lying B*^%#. Now your son is willing to believe everything she says about you...even if some of it is slight exagerations...
    11. Just remember first and foremost, that she is now the main lady in your son's life, and if forced to choose between you and her, he will choose your DIL and you will be shut out.

    I am sure that Aunt Mary would NEVER treat her DIL with anything but respect. Good luck and congratulations!

    P.S. If I seem a little bitter or hateful with my mother in law, that is because I am. Glad we got that straight!

  165. Don't offer opinions, or even offer to offer an opinion unless asked to. And even then do it humbly. Son't claim to understand your grandchildren better than your DIL because 'they are JUST like their dady' - a. they are not, they are individuals and b, that discounts all they got from their mom. If you come to help after a baby is born: help! do not wait to be told what to do (ie fold the laundry), don't criticize your DIL and you are thre to help not play w the baby.

  166. Only offer to help with something (watch the kids, run an errand)if you genuinely don't mind doing it. If it will be a an inconvenience, politely decline, unless you are able to bite your tongue and never say what you'd you rather be doing.

  167. I have the best mother-in-law in the world. We live very close, but she is very respectful of our space, and not interfering or demanding of. The kids LOVE going to Grandma and Grandpa's, and I know that I can trust Grandma. If I say the kids cannot play video games/candy, then she respects that. She does spoil the kids (as grandparents should), but she doesn't go too far. I am so thankful for my mother-in=law.

  168. I absolutely love my mother-in-law. One of the best things she does is she truly makes me feel like part of the family. She has a very strong personality and my husband and his sisters grew up with a lot of tough love- and I get all that tough love now too. She intimidated me at first, but now when we get together it's like I have always been around, not just for the last 3 years. When we're at her house for Christmas I have things to do to set up too, the first time I was at her house she asked me if I wanted something to drink and when I said I would like water she pointed me toward the glasses... she's always gone out of her way to make sure I know I'm not a guest in her home. And when she offers her advice on anything she always makes sure I know that it is just what she has done that has worked, not something I am obligated to do.

  169. Aunt Mary, you are way ahead of the pack by the mere fact that you have raised the question "how can I be a kickass MIL?" And the previous posters make a really good case for how tricky it is to be a kickass MIL. So much depends on personalities and situations.

    I think the comments that advocate for letting your son be the head of his own family are really good advice. Let your daughter-in-law be the head of her household, too. Follow her rules when you're at her house.

    I think you will need to be prepared for the fact that your DIL is going to change your son in unpredictable ways by virtue of the fact that they are starting their lives together, and figuring out what kind of life they want to lead, as a partnership. Regardless of whether or not you approve of the changes, being prepared for their inevitability will help you prepare an appropriate response.

    And I think it never hurts to be upfront when you're feeling unsure about how to treat your DIL. Families and family dynamics can be really different, and it's worth acknowledging that without judgement if things get awkward. Assure her that you want to make her feel comfortable and accepted, and then ask her what her mom would do. That way, she can either answer honestly, or feel "safe" telling you what she wants you to do.

  170. Well, Aunt Mary, if you've made it this far that shows commitment right there :>!

    I think you will be fine - a MIL to wish for. Because I don't know anything about your DIL, I can't guarantee that the relationship will be trouble-free. I'm sure that you will remember that she will compare herself to you. Since you are so accomplished in many ways, and since your son loves you, she may be a little intimidated. That may seem silly to you, but it will probably be true.

    So be sure to find something she is good at that you are NOT good at, and ask her about it. Ask her for help to learn/understand it. That way when she feels a bit at sea, and you can help, she is more likely to feel ready to ask for YOUR help.

    And, of course, keep the righteous sniff to yourself. You never know what is hard for other people, or why. For example...whenever I read about Aunt Mary, I can't help but remember the 'cars crave clean' incident.

    I don't know about Lydia, but my car is always a lot nastier than my house, because it gets loaded with stuff and people, then we go somewhere and add more stuff, and then when it comes time to unload...there is more stuff than hands, and the toddler is tired and needs to be carried, and...stuff accumulates in the car. Some of it is nasty, smelly stuff. And it falls off the radar, because unlike your house you don't have nap-time moments when the thing that needs cleaning is right in front of you.

    So please keep the righteous sniff/look/comment to yourself. You may not even remember it, but 20 years later, when your DIL is looking for your retirement home, she will remember it. And you may end up somewhere that they don't allow quilting because it's 'too messy'. Be warned :>

    Congratulations on the new daughter, Aunt Mary. I'm sure you guys are going to get along wonderfully.

  171. I could leave a laundry list of do's and don'ts for Aunt Mary.
    Seriously, I could meet or beat any post on here without even having to put down my Jagermeister. (We've gone WAY beyond wine.) However, the best advice might be for your cousin. To him I say, "Please, please continue to love your mother. We love the person you are, that includes the fact that you love your mother. That being said, DEFEND YOUR WIFE. SIDE WITH YOUR WIFE. ALWAYS, ALWAYS FOR THE LOVE OF MAUDE, STICK UP FOR YOUR WIFE. No matter what she does, says or thinks. No matter how wrong you think she is. Take it up with her, privately, later. In front of your MOTHER, chose your WIFE. Even if she suggests removing your testicles and putting them in her purse. SIDE WITH YOUR WIFE! Your mother may be able to make you unhappy. Remember, though, your wife can make your testicles completely unnecessary."

  172. Congratulations, Aunt Mary! Here are a couple more thoughts:

    1. Understand that your son and DIL have to go where the work is, and sometimes that may mean moving out of town, or even out of state. They are doing what's best for their family, so support them if it comes to that - don't lay on the guilt trip. They already feel bad enough as it is about having to live far away.

    2. Don't bug your DIL about when she's going to get pregnant. Her reproductive plans are none of your business. Besides, she's already hearing it from her mom, her friends, and her nosey work colleagues. She doesn't need it from you, too. (And don't wrap her birthday present in baby paper "by accident" - my own MIL pulled this passive-aggressive move. I saw right through it!)

    3. Don't offer to provide free daycare to your son and DIL who live out of state - if only they will move back home. Double-guilt-whammy on getting pregnant AND moving closer.

    4. When grandkids do come, please don't insist on everyone traveling to your house for holidays. Plane tickets for a family of four (or more) are WAY more expensive than plane tickets for you and grandpa. And even if you don't live far away from each other, it's still easier for you and grandpa to hop in the car than hauling the kids to your place.

    5. I want to trust you with my children, so please conform to our style of parenting - and leave discipline to only us. Please be cautious with special needs or food allergies. If the baby is allergic to eggs, it doesn't mean you can just feed him cake - CAKE HAS EGGS IN IT! I want to give you unfettered access to my children, so don't pull bonehead moves or undermine how I parent - it will only make me question your abilities and distrust you.

    I second the advice on reading the parenting books your DIL chooses when she gets pregnant - that's brilliant! And I also agree about if she's running an errand - let her go alone unless she asks for company. She may just need 20 minutes alone in a quiet car.

    I wish you all the best, Aunt Mary! I'm sure you will be fabulous at this MIL thing!

  173. Do's: Do take any children for a week, once in a while, no strings attached, to let your son and new daughter reconnect somewhere nice. Do, when visiting, make up your own agenda and be independant (I.e. don't sit on the couch for two weeks trying "not to be a bother".... get up, get out and do something.) Do ASK what they want for gifts and DO ASK for what you want for gifts... your DIL will want to give you gifts for birthdays and holidays... let her and don't return them because she "shouldn't have".

    DON'Ts: Don't paint, rearrange, clean, organize or decorate your son and DIL's new home. Just don't. Don't touch anything unless invited too. If you want to help DO ask if they need help and how you can help. Don't decide to rearrange the plasticware when they are on their honeymoon or clean the bathroom floor or decide on the bed linens for the marital bed. Help is only help if you take a task off hands that want you to take it.

    Don't make them come for holidays, at least the first year, or the first few years after children. If they want to, fine, but maybe they'll want to build their own traditions. Or maybe they will want to do anything else for their summer holidays than drag children in a vehicle 1500 km to visit during prime blackfly and mosquito and humidity season. Just sayin'

  174. I don't want to complain about my MIL, because she is my family now, and I'm sure she could complain about me...but she doesn't, at least not around me!
    But, in general, please let your DIL (if she's a loving, mature, capable woman, as I'm sure she is) lead the way for your relationship. She's now the woman of the house, just like you were. She has her traditions that've passed down, just like you did. She's not trying to be insensitive or undermining if her choices aren't what yours would be.
    That goes for childrearing, household duties, visits, planning for visits, all of it really, Please just tread lightly, take the hint, and remain respectful.
    Congratulations and best wishes!

  175. As in all relationships, you'll have a good relationship with her if you don't compete with her. I understand all the "let your son go" comments, but common people, he's still her son! It's not fair to ask her to "give him up"!
    Aunt Mary, you can still have a great relationship with your son, just don't be a competitor to your new daughter in law in the way that you interact with her or your son. You'll do great, I'm sure of it!

  176. sounds like you'll be an awesome mil.....
    - don't make comments about her weight or how your son looks too skinny and that she must not be taking care of him the way you would
    - if you loan or gift them money, please don't then assume you can rule over their lives until they pay you back and guilt trip them
    -when children come - remember that you are a GRANDparent...not the PARENT.... you also do not own that child.
    - when it comes to parenting those children, you may not agree with all their parenting skills, but at least respect them.

  177. I'm a bit late to the party, but I just want to impart this gem...for the love of PETE, don't tell your DIL's mother that her daughter is a slacker in any domestic department-cooking, cleaning, child-rearing. You get my drift. After my daughter was born, both my parents in my IL's came to visit. Needless to say, between taking care of a newborn, making sure my husband was fed and rested to go to work and trying to take care of myself, the housekeeping slid. My MIL took it upon herself to tell my mom that, and I quote, I had "skills lacking". Needless to say it got back to me, and things have been strained ever since.

  178. My MIL respects how my husband and I raise our kids and NEVER oversteps our parenting! I can't tell you how much I appreciate that. I love my Mother, but until I got kind of mean with her she was the 'Nana' that gave my kids treats-even if I said no; or let them get something-even if they misbehaved. It makes it REALLY hard to discipline around her, my MIL lets us parent how we chose. If we say 'no', and they ask Grandma, tough for them...we said no. Just be supportive, I'm sure you'll be great.

  179. Do not photocopy her wedding invitations so you can invite an additional 300 people to her wedding to your son.
    Do not come into her house and say "Well, I can see you did not have time to clean."
    Do not tell her (after a miscarriage) that you really wanted your daughter to have the first grandchild anyway.
    And for the love of pete, do not feed your grandchild anything he/she is allergic to just because you can.....
    And if you do and your DIL tells you politely more than 20 times to STOP FEEDING HER MILK PRODUCTS FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, do not call her a selfish, bitchy cow who is lying about her child being sick and tell her that you have raised 3 children and none of them have a milk allergy so you know what you are doing.
    Because she will *want* to punch you in the throat, but she will probably just tell you to fuck off... in front of the entire family including children.... probably.


  180. Yeah Susan! DIL (I am one) have responsibilities too! Don't rush off in a huff to be offended by the least little human reaction. Now that I have kids and my little brother got married (13 yrs younger) I have much more respect for how restrained my MIL is even when I, as a stupid, little know it all, at first complained to myself a lot about her. Feeling possesive of my brother really helped me see from the other side and realize I would probably not control myself so well.

    Not that some MIL's aren't absolute bitches from the devil, but there has to be intent behind their actions. Oh, anything that scares a grandchild or makes them feel less valued than another grandchild-I would get my mommy sword out and use it freely. Heads Will Roll.

  181. If you offer to come help your new daughter-in-law when they have their first baby, and she accepts...don't assume what you think is helpful will be what SHE thinks is helpful. ASK her what you can do to help. And then listen to her. And then do those things or go home.

    Good luck - what a great thing, asking for how to be a good m-i-l. So proud of you!




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