Mother-in-law : LUSENET : Country Families : One Thread

It looks as if we may be having some weddings in the family. I dread becoming the mother-in-law. I have had such bad experiences with mine. She has passed away and yet the scars are there. My mother was even worse. I would like some advice on how to do this right. The one girl is hard to get close to. Her mother died when she was 12. With all the heart ache she has experienced she does not whine or complain. I can see why my son loves her. So many girls go into relationship with the attitude of what are you going to do for me. She came to me while we were fixing Christmas dinner and she said,"I can't believe you guys aren't using a cookbook or cooking out of a box." I didn't know how to include her. I was not raised in a very nuturing family. What means the most to you guys when it comes to what your mother-in-law does or does not do for you? THe other one will be a son-in-law. He is a new Christian and reading his Bible all the time,etc. He is joining our church. I don't seem to have trouble getting along with him. So help. Thanks for your help.

-- Cindy Herbek (, January 21, 2002


I'm a new MIL, too, and share your concerns. I have found that just talking and including her in everything works the best. And tell her you are worried about being a MIL. That helps!

-- Rose (, January 21, 2002.

I treat my SIL just like I treat my daughter. I listen a lot, laugh a lot with them and only give advice when it looks like they are headed into a brick wall. And I try to make the advice sound like it isn't. I write when they write to me, and try to call them every other week. Otherwise my D. calls me evey week and I don't want her to feel burdened with that. I am a firm believer that for at least the first year (maybe two!) the newly weds should be left alone, and we only respond to their advances. Let them make their mistakes and grow to depend on one another. She'll figure out how to make meals with out a recipe-- we all did! What I appreciated most about my MIL was that __she lived in FL!! (we lived in MD!)

-- Lynelle (, January 21, 2002.

What I appreciate about my MIL is that we have no contact with her. I told my SIL(her precious daughter) off and my MIL disowned me, my DH and my children. It is her loss. I'm a MIL too. I've never been able to get close to my DIL somehow. Perhaps it is because we are very different people. I think that my son-in-law and I are good friends. In fact, I introduced my daughter to him.

-- Ardie /WI (, January 21, 2002.

I live across the street from my MIL, and most people think that's funny, and roll their eyes. If she were home all the time, she might actually drive me nuts, I hope I never find out!

She and I don't always get along. I'm stubborn, and she (oldest of six and only girl) is used to getting her way. I tend to listen to what others have to say and do what I want to anyway! I know she thinks her way is right, and I know she has a good heart; I just avoid her and bite my tongue when I have to!!

I would say the fact that you want to be a good mother in law puts you halfway through the war! Just be sure to include her in what you are doing, and if she expresses an interest in something (like cooking without a box), maybe ask how her family celebrated, ate, cooked, etc. She may want to talk, or she may not, just let her know you are there and you love her too!

-- Christine in OK (, January 21, 2002.

I was blessed to have the greatest MIL, but the key was the fact that she was actually the stepmom who married my FIL after my husband and I married. She was not judgemental of how I treated my DH or how I raised the kids, because she didn't have the heart connection to them. She was free to just be my friend and confidant, and enjoyed the grandkids as if they were her own. As a mother-in-law myself, I know I have to bite my tongue sometimes, and always remember that the person my child married was raised in a different environment and in some cases with a different value system. Bottom line, if you want to have a good relationship with this girl, just love her for what she is, ignore what she isn't, and for Heavens' sake, don't tell her how to do something unless she asks. Then make it a short answer!

-- melina b. (, January 21, 2002.

After listening to my aunt critize her inlaw children constantly my mother made the decision to never say anything (I'm sure she said things to my dad) critical of her childrens spouses. As a matter of fact, when any of us comnplained about our spouse for one thing or another it was her own children that were spoiled and acting like brats. Her children in law were perfect and it sure helped settle our tempers when she didn't and wouldn't add fuel to the fire.

All 3 of us (2 brothers and myself) do have good spouses and have been married 35, 38 and 40 years. I think my parents being there with help IF we really needed it but backing off on the minor crisis' really helped.

When we first moved from California to Iowa and I was just getting accquainted with my inlaws my mother in law told me, "we've all been raised differently and led completely different lifestyles, me a city girl them dairy farmers. We can try to get along and overlook each others "imperfections" or we can knit pick at each and never learn to get along. In the end it's Galen (my husband, her son) that will suffer the most. I've never forgotten it!!!

I'm not a mother in law yet (like you, the idea makes me nervous) but I do wish you the best!

-- Anna in Iowa (, January 21, 2002.

I became a MIL this passed July 27. We are in Mo and my folks are in Calif. My folks came out and stayed with us for 3 weeks and my dad married them, he is a decon. What fun that all was. I adore my new daughter in law. I love my mother in law and my husband has a close relationship with my folks to. I never thought it would be so great. The kids bought a house 3 houses down from me and are fixing it up. My mom is the smothering type. She wants to be in everypart of your life so I live half way across the state LOL I love her very much it is just hard to feel grown up around her even at 43. When they were visiting I was making dinner she came in and looked over my sholder and said what are you doing and i told her and she just says oh that is not the way I do it LOL. I said you know I have been cooking for my family 20 years and havn't poissons anyone yet! She just gave me a funny look and did not complain about the way I did thing again in her visit. Vern's mom just is layed back and only gives advice if you ask her for it. We go see her every year. Several times when I thought I need out of this marrage she is the one I went to for advice. My husband is great but sometime I feel like the hired help LOL and that gets to you after awhile. She would always tell me well that is the wifes roll kind of, you know if you think about it they are the hired help to they just do there work out of the home. It is like a business and somtimes business gets slow but don't worry it will pick up. LOL I think that was her hint about my sex life. LOL she is such a hoot. Yep the baby (my son) got married and moved out, no kids at home and she was right Business Has Picked Up LOL. Anyway my daughter in law is a sweetie. Her folks are split and she was raised by her grandparents. They were out of the state during all the wedding planing and so she looked to her mother for help (No Help) Two months before the wedding her mom came to her and said I am sorry I just can't buy your dress and her father did not have the money. She had been over here seeing my son and looked like she had been crying a few times but I did not ask. Anyway I finly got her aside and ask if somthing was wrong and she broke down and told me. Well I told her to wipe her eyes and give me a minute and I would be right back. I went and told my husband who wrote me out a check and we went down and picked up the dress.It was only 300.oo and her mother said that was rediculis. I thought it was real cheep for a wedding dress!! my sisters back in the 1970's cost 1,500. I took her and had it altered.She was so beautiful in it!!!! She had one 3 aunts from out of state who all came. One did the cake, one did the flowers and one sewed a copy of the wedding dress for the flower girl who was her daughter.They were so funny and tryed to out do each other so things got way out of hand!haha. I got the church and her aunts and I fixed it all up. Her mohter was not even envited till 3 days before the wedding and then gave her greef. Anyway my daughter in law was good friends with my daughter years ago (my daughter passed away 3 years ago)in high school. On the day of the wedding she sent for me to come into the brides room and when I got there she said I don't want to upset you but I need to show you somthing before the wedding. Her wedding was all in blue and purple and she picked up her flowers and on the back ( the part that would be against her for the wedding) she had one yellow rose put in!! My daughters fav flower. She said I know you have her on your mind today and so do I and I thought this was a way to make her part of the wedding!! She is such a sweetie! I just gave her the biggest hug. I ask her if she had somthing old ( old, new, borrowed, blue) she said she thought her mom would bring somthing but didn't. But she had the new,borrowed and blue. Well before I left the house I took a small crocheted piece of lace my son's great,great, grandmother had made and gave it to her and said I think this is old enough and she laughed and said it sure is. She pined it to the inside of her dress and said she would keep it and pass it on to the next generation. I was passed down a sampler book of my great grandmothers crochet lace. She would let family go through it and pick out a pattern they liked then make them doilys. All the samples are only about 2 inch squares. I am really lucky to have this girl in the family. My mother is already pushing for great grandkids but she did it so much over the passed few months I finly got mad and told her to leave them alone or I would stop calling her!! And she has droped the idea. The kids are only 19 but have been together 4 years. They both work hard and have bought a 2 bd house. They want to get Amy through coledge before they even think about kids. She said she wasn't going to start a family till she was ready to raise them herself. Not send them to grandma's like she was. Her folks had her when they were 16. He dad showed up at there house after the wedding and said I know you didn't think I was going to get you anything for the wedding but I was waiting till you were ready to redo your floors. when my son riped out the old carpet his father in law put them in new hard wood floors. They are so beautiful. At christmas My husband and I went out to our DIL's grandparents house for dinner and gift exchange. He dad and aunts and uncles were there and we had a ball. Good Luck with your new daughter in laws. I sure was blessed with the one I got.

-- Teresa (, January 21, 2002.

I had one of those MIL's from you-know-where, she's now an "ex" along with her son. My own mother, while I love her, is a very difficult person to be around. Up until about 12 years ago, I didn't even like most women, I always found it easier to be friends with men. When I eventually met the man I am now married to, I was understandably apprehensive about meeting his mother. The first time I met her, she was warm and friendly without being nosy. She did not make any fuss over a meal, just invited me to sit down and share the leftovers she was setting on the table. She treated me just like an old friend.

Over the years, she never invaded our privacy or interfered in our relationship regardless of it's good or bad days. (This despite the fact that she lived next door to us and we shared at least one meal a day.) She was always willing to share her knowledge whenever I asked about something, yet never once that I can remember did she offer unsolicited advice. We started having tea together every morning after dh left for work, and we shared family memories, the good, the bad, and the hilarious. She told me tales of her first years as a new wife (along with some of her cooking disasters and such, LOL), the very close and loving relationship she had with her dh (including some of the fights and compromises that were involved in developing that close relationship), all about my dh when he was a boy, the trials of raising kids and running a farm, putting up with a horror of a MIL, her worries about becoming a MIL, and so on. Of course, these conversations didn't all happen overnight, we started out sharing some of the ordinary things and as we built on our relationship we eventually shared the more personal memories. She taught me what being a wife was all about, and for the first time in my life, I had someone to "mother" me.

She treated my daughters like they were her own grandkids, never played any favorites. She never infringed on my dh's time. In fact, she would need help with repairs and things and not tell him rather than bother him! I had to keep a close eye on her and make sure dh knew about any problems she was having. Although we often discussed things like decorating (she was an artist) she never once commented on my decorating, or the fact that I preferred spending time in the barn to being in the house. She was always supportive of me. When I wanted to have dairy goats again, my dh was against it. I had found a doe that I badly wanted to buy, but was not willing to go against my dh's wishes. My wonderful MIL bought her for me for a birthday present, and told dh if he wanted to get mad he could get mad at her!

She eventually had a stroke and then got cancer. I did her housework, her laundry, made her meals, checked on her numerous times a day, drove her to doctor's appointments, and toward the end, basically took care of all her needs. She never complained once, and always was grateful for every little thing I did. It broke my heart to lose her. My own mother had repeatedly told me to stick this woman in a nursing home, that she (my mother) would never stoop to waiting on someone like that. After my MIL passed away, my mother asked me how I managed to deal with such a difficult situation without even complaining about all the extra work. I told her I only gave back what I received from my MIL in the first place.

Sorry for the long post, but you brought back some very dear memories of a very grand old lady.

-- Lenette (, January 21, 2002.


What a wonderful story! I hope those of us that are or will become MIL will strive to do that well in our role.

-- Terry - NW Ohio (, January 21, 2002.

Lenette, you MIL sounds like my mother in law. She lives 2 hours away and is such an angel. She has always treated my kids the same as "our" kids (as has DH). She admits her faults, she spoils the kids (but not too much), she doesn't tell us what to do. I wish she weren't so stubborn though. She lives alone in the city and still works (she is in her 70s). Her bus ride to work takes over an hour and she has a long walk from the bus stop (in the dark, deserted back road) to her house. She refuses to move in with us (doesn't want to be a burden) and says she plans on dying in her sleep. The thought of her laying on the floor helpless and injured (no one would notice if something happened to her on the weekend) scares me. Hopefully when her time comes she will go in her sleep or she will come to her senses and move in with us. Amy

-- Amy Richards (, January 21, 2002.

My MIL is wonderful. She lives in Ocala but wished she lived nearer. She apprciates me for the things I've done for her son and shows me by being very nice and sweet. My own mom treats all her inlaws the same as us. She includes them in cooking on holidays, even cutting cheese, slicing veggies etc makes them feel included. it may be a small task to you but to your dil/sil it will make them feel apart of the family.

-- Sandy(N.E.FL.) (, January 21, 2002.

I have an awesome MIL who lives 2 minutes away in the village bordering our farm.

Sometimes she drives DH and I a little crazy, but what I love about her is that she respects that we need to make our own decisions and doesn't interfere in our life. She tries to help with the kids as often as she can (when Abigayle was born a few months ago she took the boys - all three - a fair bit) and is always there for a chat.

She was raised in a very cold environment and her children were raised in a very affectionless environment as well which is the total opposite to me. I have tried very hard to include her in many aspects of our life and and vice versa.

One thing I can recommend is to find common ground with your DIL and try to become her friend instead of her mother.

I hope this helps.

-- Silvia Stoddart (, January 21, 2002.

I think mother-in-laws ahould give lots of compliments on what good things they see happening in the home or family. If you support the good freely, then children are more likely to acept advice when needed. But the greatest thing is to accept them for the people they are.

-- Melissa (, January 21, 2002.

Oh boy.

Let me start by saying that I sincerely love my MIL and FIL because they raised such a wonderful man. I am truly grateful.

On the other hand, I have no idea why he turned out as good as he did! They are NUTS!

I learned early on that my husband is EVERYTHING to them, and I am just a DIL. And he could have married anyone, his wife would still be just a DIL. I do believe that this is part of their polish heritage. They do not accept any change easily.

When they refer to our home or anything in it, it is Joe's home or Joe's furnishings. When they refer to our cars, they are Joe's cars. Even when she was helping me unpack things when we married and moved in-they were Joe's wedding gifts. No, I'm not ignored, but after correcting them several hundred times- I've just given up and my husband and I can joke about it now. I don't take it personally like I used to. My husband can now see clearly since he's out of their 'little box'.

Something that I did in the beginning of our relationship, and I'm glad for, is to talk to them about what they would like to be called. I call mine by their first names. I don't call them Mom & Dad, I was uncomfortable with that.

One day at a time, Charleen

-- Charleen in WNY (, January 21, 2002.

I am sorry to say I have the worst MIL she lies to everyone about everything my DH is not her favored child, she makes this clear to everyone. He will spend the rest to his life trying to be, and making excuses for her. Our children are growing up and going off to college (according to her they are all failures) they all are born again christians. The favored son can't seem to keep a job always the other persons falt mom and dad have bought houses and cars for he and his children. The favored grandchildren one is in prision grandma can't stop bragging about how well he is doing there (as if he had a choice) he has two children one just born in prison courtesy of his girlfriend the two year old in foster care born addicted to meth. the favored granddaughter is extremely inpressed with her ability to reproduce. two children born out of wedlock all on welfare she refuses to wear second hand cloths for herself and her children they all have to be the best courtesy of grandma. Favored second son is living an alternate lifestyle with signifacant other. they never call never go there unless they need something. We would never dream of asking for money wouldnt get it anyway. Our home is paid for we have two other peices of property both paid for our cars are paid for our children work and help pay for college. She lies to us about things she starts fights among the families she gripes constantly. I can't say enough bad about her because she always tops it. My children are taught to respect adults when it comes to grandma we just laugh its all you can do. p.s. her husband is a minister she refuses to go to church with him or support him. We are going to sing 'ding dong the witch is dead' at her funeral. Thanks it felt good to get this off my chest. Ronda Hazels awful daughter-in-law

-- ronda (, January 21, 2002.

Ronda, was your MIL my mother? Truthfully, my mother has passed on but you described her antics very well. I never saw a more miserable person in my life. She wasn't happy unless she wasn hurting someones feelings. Long ago, I realized that I would not ever get her respect unless I didn't need it. And I didn't. She pretty much left me alone although she was awful to my children when she got the chance. She has been dead a year-and-a-half and I have yet to feel any saddness about it.

-- Ardie/WI (, January 21, 2002.

When my daughter married 10 years ago, I told both my son-in-law as well as my daughter that as a MIL, I will NEVER take sides against one or the other..I instructed them to not expect a response from me if they make a statement or ask me a question which is said in anger, criticism, or sarcasm against the other...I told them that although until their marriage, my daughter always came to ME first with her problems, that now she has a husband to fullfill that role and they need to always remember that, as will I. I have kept those promises faithfully over the years and all has been well...One of my sons introduced me last year to a young woman he was dating..I immediately did NOT like her..she was too quiet, too shy, etc..trying to have a conversation with her was like pulling teeth..she seemed to be backwards IMHO..(what a pompous you-know-what I was)! Anyway, a week later they popped over the house to announce that they had been married..WHOA! I immediately told them that as far as I was concerned, if my son had chosen THIS woman over all others to spend his entire life with, then she was very special indeed and it would be MY delight to get to know her. I made it my business to do just that and found that she is a lovely young woman who finds it difficult to be around a bunch of non-stop talkers such as myself and my husband..we overwhelm her. Point is that you raise your kiddos to be loving and caring have loyalty and character and all those wonderful intangible things..why wouldn't you get along with the person who ALSO loves your child passionately? The best in-laws are those who recognize that they are not an extention of their children and their kiddos are not an extention of themselves...I enjoy being a MIL very gives me more young folks to have around the table at the fairly insures that i will always be included in my grandchildren's lives, and my son-in-laws and daughter-in-law know they can come to me for advice and hugs about anything (besides their relationships)'s a great deal of fun...

-- lesley (, January 21, 2002.

The old gentleman relaxed on the bench before the country store. A tourist walked up and said,"I'm thinking of moving out here. What kind of people live here?" "What were they like where you are from?" asked the old man. "Oh,they are the worst liars and thieves you have ever seen. You cant believe how selfish them people are." The old man said,"Yeah,I know we've got the same kind here." A few moments later another stranger stopped to pass the time of day,"what are the people like here about," he said. "What are they like where you live?" quizzed the old man. "O' they are the greatest," said the man."You wouldn't believe how nice my town is." The old man paused for a moment then offered,"You know, that sounds just like the kind of people we have around here." As the tourist strolled away the shopkeeper who had been listening through the open door came out looking puzzled. "Which one of those guys did you fib to," he asked the old man. "Neither one," he said. "You get what ever kind of neighbor you are willing to be." I wouldn't be surprised if this was true with inlaws,also. At least mine were always great!

-- charlie (, January 21, 2002.

Hi Charlie, I usually agree with most of your posts, (BTW, this is one of my favorite stories) but I think the story doesn't necessarily apply here. I know folks who bend over backwards to get along with in-laws, to no avail. Some folks are just plain nasty no matter how hard you try to be nice. Besides, how would that figure in my situation? VBG The first time around my MIL was impossible to get along with, the second one was a gem of a lady. I don't know that I changed all that much inbetween. :)

-- Lenette (, January 21, 2002.

Charlie, I heard that one about 60 plus years ago.

-- mitch hearn (, January 21, 2002.

Mitch::Nothing under the sun is new. Just different people making the same mistakes. . .No one can upset us until we allow them to do so.

-- charlie (, January 21, 2002.

I like that story too. While the concept behind it may not apply to this specific situation, I do think that it might help in the way you react to the situation.

My mother-in-law has always been a rather fiery, hot-blooded type who did not hesitate to let you know exactly what she was mad about! Rather intimidating for a 15 year old who had rarely heard anyone yell! (silence was more the mode at our house)

However I consistently sought ways to reach out to her and understand her point of view. I usually never responded to any of her various tirades, but would always try to smooth things over, and keeping compassion in my heart for the many struggles she had over the years.

Over time I believe she has come to have a deep respect for me. While I may not always agree with her 100%, I always had a desire to understand why she did or said what she did. When she is here, she is effusive in her compliments for our kids, our home, my cooking, and our whole way of life. Which coming from her, really feels like a great compliment, as they have been very hard won over the last 19 years. The point is that sometimes it is not just how you treat the other person, but that you have patience and understanding, empathy, and compassion. While it may not change them, it will undoubtably change YOU!

-- Melissa (, January 22, 2002.

Mitch, while the story has been around for a while, many people may not have heard it ever, so it is nice that it was posted here!

Really how much of anything we say here is really "new"? The Bible says there is nothing new under the sun! We just try to say it over and over in hopes that it will reach out to people. Sometimes a person may not be ready to receive a nessage the first time they hear it, but later on, after hearing it time and time again, the person may be ready to hear the message and are more receptive.

-- Melissa (, January 22, 2002.

I am a MIL X4. I hope I am a good one. I don't give advise unless asked for. I don't interfere. I don't take sides. I go out of my way to make my daughters and sons in law feel loved. I purposely do more for them than my own. I try to see what my child sees in their spouse and am so thankful that they have found someone who makes them happy - that is with the exception of one daughter. But even with her, although I do not care for her lazy husband, I never say anything. It's her life and unless she asks me, I will not say anything.

-- Barb in Ky. (, January 22, 2002.

Cindy - I think it's great that you're even asking this question - it means you will be a special mother-in-law - that you care! I won't be a mother-in-law for many more years (just 31) and my mother-in-law is wonderful to me, so I don't have any complaints, but I'll tell you one thing that means the world to me - when she pays me a compliment.

-- hmm (, January 23, 2002.

My MIL is a delightful lady. Here are a few of her best qualities. 1) I was insecure, and she was kind. It helped. 2)What *LITTLE* advice she offered was in a casual way, and then she said something like "but I know you will figure out what works for you", and she NEVER complained that I didn't take her advice. That way, I didn't feel pressured. 3) Once the ice was broken and we got over that mutual awkward stage, if she was glad to see me she showed it. and last, but not least, did I mention that 4) she was kind? I didn't quite know what to do with that at first, if my mother wanted to show affection she did something nice for you but she was as sharp-tongued as ever. But you know, once I got used to her kindness, I really came to appreciate it. We are good friends now, and I wish she would let me do more for her now that she is old. I hope, that when my time comes, I am as good a MIL as her.

-- Terri (, January 24, 2002.

My Mother-in-law adopted my hubby as a baby & she was not a careing or loveing Mother in any way-----& even less as a Mother-in-law-!! They told/ my hubby they adopted him--for him to care for them----- which we did to their death! It taught us many things---but most of all/ what we never wanted to be like!! My Mother-in law had Alzheimers /at the end & I was her main caregiver for the last, LONG 6 years---I praise God /for the sense of humor/ He gave me--as that is what kept me going--to see the humor in things that were very hurtful!! I praise God /I have Jesus in my heart as that is the only way I was able to do the job-----as if it had been just me-- I would not have done all the things /that had to be done-24 hours a day ---for 6 years---from feeding her & changeing her diapers---etc/etc/etc/--- while she was extremely unpleasant!!! I have learned a lot of what/ I never want to be like!!!! I pray I'm a good Mother-in-law despite the jokes my son-in-law tells me!!! ha!! Cindy---I'm sure you will be a wonderful Mother-in-law---as you are careing---& want to do your best!!! That is what it takes--is my opinion!!

-- Sonda in Ks. (, January 24, 2002.

Hello Cindy,

I think that it's really great that you have your eyes open going into this new role. I hope to do the same when my time comes! I have started a website for Mother-in-law's Only. Feel free to apply for membership as it is a member's only site. I am a Daughter-in-law and the only one exception (since I made the site), A mother-in-law is my assistant manager.

It is very new and maybe you could contribute to it and also get some feedback from other MILs.

here's the link...

if you have any trouble with that link, please email me at

Any mother-in-law's here are more than welcome to join!

I hope this helps!

Bella Z

-- Bella Zee (, June 12, 2002.

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