Refrain from dropping by announced. The home of your son and daughter-in-law is not your territory, it is theirs. Respect their independence and autonomy. Ask your son and daughter-in-law to let you know when would be the most convenient time for you to stop by for a visit.
Do not expect your daughter-in-law to call you “Mom.” Give her the opportunity to decide what she is comfortable calling you. Spend quality time getting to know each other. Your daughter-in-law may come to think of you as a mother figure. However, building a friendly, loving relationship with your daughter-in-law is much more important than the word she uses to address you.
Respect the decisions your son and daughter-in-law make together. You will agree with some of their decisions and not with others. They will make mistakes, just as you have made mistakes in your life. Mistakes help us learn and grow.
Never offer advice to your daughter-in-law unless she asks for it. Try to be more encouraging than questioning. Your best intended suggestions could come across as criticism. Think about how your comment would have sounded to you coming from your own mother-in-law.
Focus on the positives you see in your daughter-in-law. Make an effort to compliment her in an honest, loving way. Let her know you respect and appreciate her for being a good partner to your son and a good mother to your grandchildren, if you have them.
Do not complain about – or criticize – your daughter-in-law to your son. Your negative comments or observations will only put him in a very difficult position. Your daughter-in-law is the #1 woman in his life now, and he loves her. Remember, as hard as it might be to admit, your son is not perfect either.
Do not stress about being a “bad” mother-in-law. You don’t have to bend over backwards to be “super nice” to your daughter-in-law all the time. You are a family now. Families discuss real issues. They are honest with each other, and they sometimes disagree. Make sure your daughter-in-law feels comfortable disagreeing with you, and make sure you are not offended when she disagrees with you.
Accept that your relationship with your son has changed. He is married. He has chosen his partner for life. You are no longer the primary female influence in his life. Get in the back seat. Expect and encourage him to consult with his wife about his feelings, thoughts, and decisions.
Every mother of a married son wants to get along well with his wife. However, adult sons do not always choose to share their lives with the woman we would choose for them. The truth is, however, mothers do not always know best. It can be a delightful and welcome surprise to discover that your son has found his perfect match… all on his own…and that she is a wonderful addition to your family.
The best way for a mother-in-law to build a good relationship with her daughter-in-law is to put in the effort to build a foundation of respect, trust, honesty, friendship, and love. Of course, you can only control your side of the relationship and there's a chance things may not end up the way you hope. Just remember... no relationship is perfect, and being open, accepting, and hopeful certainly can’t hurt.
The following tips were compiled by genuine, real-life mother-in-laws: