Mother-in-law and Mother Relationship Can be The Same and How to Thrive Being An In-Law Father, In-law Mother, and Importantly, In-law Grandparents

This post is dedicated to a dear friend who just entered into a new phase in her life, that of being a mother-in-law.  Yes, there is a difference between being a mother and being a mother-in-law.  All of this  post applies to the father-in-law and grandfather in this day and age, and one previous blog post listed below is specifically about a grandfather who needed grandma lessons.

There is so much written about relationships between the “in-laws,” especially between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law.  As the saying goes, we cannot pick our relatives and sometimes even blood relatives do not get along and have little to do with one another.  Expectations breed disappointment in the in-law relationship. With our own parents and immediate family, we already know the disappointments and have had years to accept them.  Not so with in-law relatives.

The saying goes: “a son is a son until he takes a wife, and a daughter is a daughter for life.”   However, a wonderful mother-in-law can turn the daughter-in-law relationship into a mother- daughter relationship.  My mother-in-law got it exactly right.  The advice in this previous blog post about her and this blog post come from my mother-in-law, and those who have followed it are joyful with the relationship they have with their daughters-in-law and thrive in the in-law relationship.  See blog post, “Honoring My Mother-In-Law Today and Forever.”

An in-law- daughter-in-law boundary is successful when there is open mutual respect and a closed mouth otherwise. It is very hard for a parent to keep quiet about parenting decisions made by the parents of our grandchildren, but keeping quiet is important.  Another saying: “if you cannot say anything nice, say nothing,” is an important mantra.

An in-law- daughter-in-law boundary is successful when there is open mutual respect and an open pocketbook otherwise.  Within reason, helping out when one can is appreciated –especially when giving when not being asked.  Being attentive to giving a desired item that is not otherwise affordable to a daughter-in-law shows that the in-law pays attention and cares.  An unexpected periodic token gift shows that the daughter-in-law is thought of with love.  If a new restaurant opens, a gift certificate shows the in-laws care. Yes, the gift may be for both the child and in-law, but it is the in-law that must be wooed.

When the first grandchild is born, the grandparents quickly realize that a close relationship with the grandchild depends on the gatekeepers–the parents of the grandchild.  And there is not a grandparent who does not want a loving relationship with a grandchild.  Grandparents may differ on the time to be spent with grandchildren or participating in their lives.  But, grandparents want a loving relationship with a grandchild – and access to the grandchild.

Never saying no applies to all grandparents.  Never saying no does not mean always saying yes, but may.  See these blog posts.

Never Say No–Number 1

Never Say No-Number 2

To be invited to visit the grandchild means that the parents of our grandchildren want us around.  Do you want someone around who is critical of you or your parenting?  Do you want someone around who expects to be served or someone who helps without being asked?  Do you want someone around who expects a vacation or someone who makes their visit feel like a vacation to the parents of our grandchildren?  See these blog posts: 

First, one of my favorites, which I reprint often on how to get along with married children and the in-law children, whether or not there are grandchildren yet:

To Have the Most Access to and the Best Relationship with Your Grandchildren, Always Go First to the Parent of Your Grandchildren Who is Your Child About Any Issue

Grandpa needs Grandma Lessons 

Appreciating What You Have May Include Making Lemonade Out of Lemons Handed To You By the Parents of Your Grandchildren

Grandma Gives Positive Solutions to Mother’s Day Disappointment and Family Discord 

Never criticizing parenting or giving unsolicited parenting advice applies to all grandparents.  Sharing experiences is okay but be careful that it is not misinterpreted as giving unwelcome advice or criticism. 

It’s safer to have a conversation with yourself that, for example, grandchildren will not still be wearing diapers when they walk down the aisle and say nothing to the parent about potty training.  Let’s just hope our grandchildren do marry someday.  After all, great grand parenting awaits!

In the meantime, we reap what we sow.  This Grandma seeks to reap grandchildren love AND  daughter-in-law love with



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