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2009-10-18

Building a Lifelong Relationship with Your Daughter-in-Law

Mothers-in-law are most often seen as the monsters or villains who make married life miserable for daughters-in-law. I am a mother-in-law myself, so let me speak from experience. In my desire to help, I often interfere with everything my daughter-in-law does; from meals served, to cleaning feeding bottles, to how she should manage my son's personal concerns; thus encroaching on her turf and responsibilities.

My only genuine desire then, was to make sure everything would be as they should be, and I was not aware that I was creating enmity and bad blood between me and her.
Eventually, I noticed the bouts of uncomfortable silent moments that I often had with her, and this made me re-assess how and why our relationship went sour.



I remembered when I was a newlywed myself and the brief moment that my mother-in-law had stayed with us; how I had "hated" my mother-in-law when she interfered with my decisions and had always made some comments in everything that I did. I realized this must be what my daughter-in-law was feeling at that moment I did the same thing to her.

With that in mind, I began to iron the kinks that stymied what should have been a good relationship.

Below are pointers that I did myself to build a lifelong relationship with my daughter-in-law:

1. Allow her to make her own decisions.

When you want to interfere with her decisions, think back to the time that you were her age. The only way that you had learned was when you were left alone to make your own decisions. You can guide her by pointing out the pros and cons of both sides of the equation, but she should have the final decision. In keeping with that liberty, she should accept any consequences that her decision entails. You won't always be there to decide for her so let her learn now.

2. Be generous with your praise and slow with your criticism.

This is a motto that is always applicable for any given situation. Destructive criticisms are like red lights; they stop the progress of people. If you have to criticize – make it constructive - do it out of love. You can say something negative in a positive way.

Have some suggestion in mind when you do so. Do not just say: "These curtains are awful". You could rather say: ""These curtains would look more colorful if they were tied in a bough." Or: "These curtains are colorful but they should be adorned with something."

Be innovative and tactful when giving out suggestions. Remember, she is also a lady of the house who is entitled to her freedom of choice.

3. Be sincerely interested in her as a person

Spend some time with her and be interested in her hobbies. Do some activities together. You could also spend a quiet afternoon in the park just talking. Times like these would strengthen your bond because it shows you care for her as person.

4. Don't impose your old motherly rules with your son.

Your son is married now and imposing the same old rules when he had been a bachelor is no longer advisable. He should be taken cared of by his wife and not by you. So what if his shirt has not been starched? Your work on that area is done. Let the two of them work out things for themselves. This way, they could also learn.

5. Don't interfere when she disciplines her children.

This is a big NO. Allow her the liberty to institute discipline as she sees fit. As long as she does not physically and emotionally abuse the children, then let her do this tough job. Your work has been done disciplining his husband. Step in only, if she asks for help and when things get out of hand.

There are still various ways to build good, lifelong relationship with your daughter-in-law. You just have to remember the old cliché that you have "gained a daughter" and had not "lost a son;" so love her just like you would your own daughter and she would be a daughter-in-law who would truly love you back in return.

Do you have additional pointers to contribute? Feel free to leave them in the comment section.

Photo by russelljsmith

20 comments:

Noelle V. Dotillos said...

Hmmmm. This is something that I might be able to use SOMEDAY. Hahahaha! :)) And maybe I could also use this to understand that my future mother-in-law only wants the best for me. ;)

Jhong Medina said...

Hehehe, So far I'm doing good with my in-laws. But.... sometimes when you're with them they always have something to say in every thing we do, even though it not the right decisions. I guess its the rule of thumb, we have to hear everything. But still... we should make the our own decision.

Great Post Ms. Jena.

Jhong Medina

Jon said...

Hi Jena.
Mother-in-laws eh.
Well' I've yet to have any bother with mine, but there's some good advice here.

Heather Kephart said...

Excellent post, Jena! Unfortunately my husband's mother is deceased, but I have been in this situation before. Your advice is the best, I can't think of a thing to add. This relationship is so important, it really impacts the quality of your lives!

jan geronimo said...

My tip: Connect with her on Facebook. Not to monitor her FB updates [Is she gossiping about me or what!], but to play with her in Farm Ville or Mafia Wars. Ahahaha.

I have nothing to share obviously. This is not my strong suit at all.

But I like your tips. Solid advice.

Jena Isle said...

Hi Noelle,

He he he,that means you're planning to settle down soon. Good luck , I hope you could truly remember these in the future. All the best.

Jena Isle said...

Hi Jhong,

Yes, you should make your own decisions. Just the same show respect and I'm sure she'll understand. Cheers.

Jena Isle said...

Hi Jon,

Yes, I sure hope that would be so till the end. he he he...good luck.

Jena Isle said...

hi Heather,

It does. I'm lucky I have been the "favorite" of my mother-in-law....(winks). She's gone now. God bless her soul!

Jena Isle said...

Hi Jan,

He he he, that's something new. Perhaps, it will work...then you'll be talking through facebook and twitting each other...what a blast...he he he.

TrinaMb said...

Fabulous insights for me to bookmark for that time in my life yet to come. I will say I had the most wonderful Mom-in-law. She was warm and accepting. I never felt judged. Always felt welcome. A true role-model for me. What I will also take from you is the importance of making things right, should they go awry

reyjr said...

Really interesting Jena. My mom makes the same observations and intends to apply the same with her *ehem* future daughters in law. lol.

Jena Isle said...

Hi TrinaMB,

I'm sure you'll have a grand time. Good luck.

Jena Isle said...

Hello Rey,

I'm glad of that. Sons are always babies for the moms, but a mother should know not to overdo it. Good luck with your future plans.

Charles Bjørnsen Ravndal said...

Nice tips and I'll keep these in mind. I have a good relationship with my in-laws and I am lucky that they like me a lot as well.

Jena Isle said...

Hello Charles, that's good. You're a lucky guy. Cheers.

Rocky Garcia said...

Me too, I have no idea on this. But one thing I've notice; The more you support a child, the more confident she'll be in the future.

Jena Isle said...

Hi Rock,

That's right, we call that positive reinforcement. Cheers!

darbs said...

hi Jena. your post is very informative. But at the end of the day all I can say is that...

Culture thingy: Filipino culture

It is not a very good idea to live with the in-laws.

Jena Isle said...

hi Darbs,

I know what you mean. Thanks for the visit. Cheers.