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Are You In Danger of Being a “Monster-in-Law”?

(Editor’s Note: Our friends at grandparents.com have some great advice for mothers-in-law on how we can stay in the good graces of our sons and daughters-in-law. See the Top 5 Mistakes Mothers-in-Law make below. Please share yourgood ideas to keep peace in the family with us at info@grandmagazine.com)

Here are the top 5 mistakes made by mothers-in-law with their daughters-in-law, that result in making them less welcome at their son’s home.  Sure, daughters-in-law may have their own annoying traits, but this helps us recognize, and own, our part in problem-making, a part we can fix.

#1: Stopping By Unannounced

You may not like this when done to you; you may enjoy those who just drop by.  If the former is true for you then you can understand; if the latter is true, remember this isn’t about what you want or like. It is the most typical daughter-in-law complaint according to Dr. Terry Orbuch, who has followed hundreds of couples for more than 26 years as the lead researcher on a National Institutes of Health study of marriage and divorce.  “Daughters-in-law need autonomy, they need independence, and when you come by unannounced, you undermine that,” she says.

 Add to that it shows “a lack of regard for the younger woman’s power and control of the family space” according to Terry Apter, author of What Do You Want From Me? Learning to Get Along With In-Laws and you have a one-two punch of intrusiveness and presumption.

#2: Insisting She Call You Mom


 Many of us want to think of a daughter-in-law as a daughter and in reverse want her to think of us as another mother.  But for some women that is very hard.  Again, Dr. Orbuch: “I have heard this from many women who say, ‘What am I supposed to do? I already have a mom.’”  “It sets up this unrealistic situation where you are asking your daughter-in-law to be as close to you as she is to her own mother.”


#3: Giving Advice She Didn’t Request

Most of us don’t like unsolicited advice, and our son’s wives are no different. To her, just like when it happens to us, it seems like criticism.  According to Terry Apter: “It’s heard this way: ‘I’m the one who knows. You need my input. You’ll be better off doing things my way.’” A: that’s not always (or even often) true, and B: Let her figure out for herself just how wise you are.



#4: Criticizing Her Kids


We all love our grandchildren very much, and therefore expect anything we say about them will be taken in that spirit. It isn’t.  Instead, “you’re daughter-in-law will hear it as a criticism of her parenting,” says Apter.  “You can get annoyed at your own kid, but you don’t want someone else to find fault with her.”


#5: Talking to Your Son About Her


Complaining to your son about his wife puts him in a very difficult position, Apter says. And although your son needs to put a stop to this right away, unfortunately, many don’t for fear perhaps of upsetting you.  Or worse yet, they pass your criticisms onto their wives which will only come back to haunt you, making your daughter-in-law justifiably angry or resentful.  If you don’t have a close enough relationship with your daughter-in-law to have a heart-to-heart about issues you’re having with her, then start building one, and settle those issues woman-to-woman.

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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