Oct 9, 2010

10 ways to be a good mother-in-law! Advice from an experienced grandmother!

Dear (Abby) Grandma Barbara,I am a very outspoken woman...and as I age I find my mouth running when it should be shut. My son-in-law does not like it. Can you give me some advice?  How do I overcome this problem?
Sincerely,
June 
Dear June,

Trust me, you are not alone.  Dr. Phil and Dear Abby are giving out advice like candy at a Holiday Parade. I can only tell you what I know. I have learned a lot of things over the years. Here are some ideas that you might find helpful.
The In-Laws on the Wedding Day!  Smile while you can!!!!
  1. Don't claim a chair in their house as your own. Limit the time you spend with them.  Really...mother-in-laws and company stink after a few visits.
  2. Babies are durable!  In another letter a reader said, "I don't get to spend any time with my grandbaby because my daughter-in-law doesn't let me come. Why is that?" It was so obvious to me...many times Grandparents are full of too much advice. They take the complaint about no sleep or diaper rash as an invitation to share their experience. Remember, young parents don't want your advice. It makes them feel inadequate. If your grandchild is in danger, you need to tell them what you know but don't get offended when the children puff up like a horny toad.  Everyone will survive.
  3. Buy some Duck Tape.  Going for dinner or a short visit? Take a roll of duck tape with you and use it when needed...on your mouth...hypothetically at least. Shutting your mouth is a good idea. Visualizing duck tape over your mouth might help a lot.
  4. Be invisible if possible.  Clean, spend time with the children or your child when the spouse is out of town or at work. The mother-in-law is not necessarily welcome after a hard days work in the son/daughter-in-law's mind.  If you love spending time with the grandchildren, offer to baby sit for a few hours. This means the parents are gone and you get to be in charge for a short period. (Remember to limit the time because this can open a can of worms and you can end up being a full time nanny.)
  5. Keep the fire under control. Do not talk about your children-in-law with friends. You will find them reinforcing bad feelings about incidents. If they are mother-in-laws, they probably will add to the fire. You don't need that!
  6. Bite your tongue. You need to remember that you could be wrong-wrong-wrong!  A sense of humor and a loving spirit goes a long ways. A sincere apology might be welcome occasionally...you can do that and being right is not that important. Remember, your grandchildren can be taken out of your life if you are not careful.
  7. Keep your nose out of it.  It is not any of your business nor should you think it is. When your children married, you became someone else. You are not in charge, you do not pay the bills, you are not in charge!!!!!   
  8. Are you subtle as a sledge hammer?  Do you bring medications, home remedies, food recipes, ideas for projects when you visit. How about newspaper clippings!!! Don't do that!  While we think we are being subtle, our children are smart and subtle does not send a good message. I happen to know that a bottle of "Stump Water" is not a welcome gift. I actually received that as a young mother!
  9. Remember Marie? You need to be loving, supportive, benign! When you invite and give love you get it in return. A compliment begets peace.  Try watching Everybody Loves Raymond and ask yourself "Do I want to be like Marie?" I think the answer will always be NOOOOOOO!  Not ever.
  10. You need a life!!!  Let me say that again. You need a life of your own. I am so sorry about that but your child needs for you to support your own emotional life. A symbiotic relationship (a cooperative relationship ) is not a good thing when it is carried too far. In a perfect world, the spouse will fill that role in a marriage. You need a life of your own so your children can grow and have a life of their own.
So June, there a few suggestions. I hope you find these useful.  With age come experience and I know you have seen too much and are worried or over protective. But you survived and so will your children.  Take it from me...this is an ongoing issue. But being a good mother-in-law is very, very important! And it can be done!

Barbara (Abby)

Take a look at the list below...see I told you everyone had advice!

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful topic and suggestions. I thought it was very thoughtful, coming from you with experience it will mean more.

    ReplyDelete

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