Making friends with your daughter-in-law

There is an old saying, “Your daughter is your daughter for life but your son is your son until he gets married”, it is wise to keep this in mind when your son gets married. As the mother of two sons and a daughter this writer can attest to the accuracy of the saying and wouldn’t want it any other way.

The most important thing that any mother-in-law should remember, is that she also was a daughter-in-law at one point in her life and to remember how she felt about her own mother-in-law. Being a new bride can be a terrifying experience. You will be looking for all the moral support you can get. You mother can be your best ally but your mother-in-law should not be looked upon as the “other woman” in your husband’s life.

As a mother-in-law, you want to make your daughter-in-law feel welcome and part of her new family. This really should start before the marriage if at all possible. Invite her to lunch or for a shopping trip or if it is more your style, have a small family tea for her. Get to know her and realize that she is the woman your son has decided to spend his life with. You don’t have to love her, but it will be wonderful if you can find it in your heart to do that. Keep reminding yourself that she is going to be the mother of your grandchildren if that helps. Don’t think of it as losing a son, think of it as gaining a daughter.

If you love your son or sons you owe it to them to try to develop a relationship with the woman they have chosen. Think of your sons as on loan to you until they find the woman they marry, this will make it less of a power struggle for his affections.  It is well known that you can love more than one person. Accepting that your daughter-in-law is the number one love in your son’s life can be a hard pill to swallow for some mothers. Stop keeping score and start thinking in terms of the unlimited nature of love. Your daughter-in-law isn’t taking anything away from you, she is just adding a new dimension to your son’s love.

You are looking at a great opportunity to add a wonderful new friend into your life. You will have years of family times together. Here are a few tips that I have used with my two great daughters-in-law.

Never be critical. While a mother can get away with that, a mother-in-law can not. If you have nothing good to say, keep it zipped. There are times when your tongue may bleed, get used to it.

Don’t offer advise unless it is solicited. Even if you think she is doing everything all wrong, don’t tell her. Let her ask you questions. 

Make up a photo album of pictures of your son and give it to her as a gift. My daughters-in-law loved that. They probably didn’t know your son when he was a baby and they will be very grateful for this opportunity to be part of his whole life.

Never mention how much you loved his previous girlfriends (wife) etc.

Be available if they need help but don’t drop in without a call. Keep the lines of communication open.

Make up a little cookbook of old family favorite recipes. Chances are she may not have had a lot of cooking experience, you can offer to teach her a few of his favorites, this writer will always be grateful to my mother-in-law for this.

You may only have one chance to make a good first impression on your future daughter-in-law. Don’t blow it by letting your possessiveness get in the way. Welcome her with open arms and reap the rewards that will follow.