May 2019 Issue
by Bonnie Compton
Family dynamics are a funny thing. Often times it is better to sit back and reflect upon your own life experiences and interactions to grow and learn. Being an awesome mother-in-law is just that: Understanding what or where you come from can only embrace a better journey together for your own family, especially when a daughter-in-law is involved. Women are strong forces in the family dynamics, and for the most part, your own daughter-in-law will be calling the shots. Don’t get left out just because you are unwilling to understand this new woman in your life!
Looking back, perhaps you’ve had a wonderful relationship with your mother-in-law, or maybe not. If you’ve struggled with that relationship and want a better one with your daughter-in-law, here are a few things she’d like you to know:
• Love your daughter-in-law like one of your own, while giving her space to be the amazing individual she is. You may not always agree with her, but remember your son chose. Practice looking at your daughter-in-law through your son’s eyes!
• Although your son is still your son, he is not your little boy any longer. You may still love him, but it’s time to cut the cord! This may be hard to hear, but you’re not his No. 1 anymore; his wife is. That is how it needs to be in order for them to have a healthy marriage, and for you to have a healthy relationship with them.
• Respect your daughter-in-law’s time (and your son’s, too!). Although you may feel the urge to drop by, or constantly reach out to offer to help them, your son and daughter-in-law need the time and space to create their own life and family. Yes, your son has a new family now, and if you want to be included in their lives, give them space to create and live their life!
• What you appreciate…appreciates! You may already love your daughter-in-law and find it easy to appreciate her. However, if you are struggling in the relationship, make an effort to acknowledge your daughter-in-law for who she is, not for who you wish she would be.
• Your son was not perfect before he met his wife and will likely disappoint his wife from time to time. Allow your daughter-in-law the space to be frustrated with him, without feeling the need to jump in and protect your son. He is a big boy now (actually a grown man!) and will learn valuable life lessons as he navigates his relationship with his wife.
• Be mindful of your words before you speak. Ask yourself: Is it truthful, kind or necessary?
Bottom line: You can be an awesome mother-in-law, and your son and his wife will appreciate your efforts and love you even more!
Bonnie Compton has worked with families for more than 30 years as a child and adolescent therapist, parent coach, and pediatric nurse practitioner and is passionate about making a difference in the lives of children and families. In doing so, Bonnie helps parents and grandparents create healthy boundaries and relationships. She is a writer, speaker, workshop and retreat facilitator, and host of her own podcast radio program, Wholehearted Parenting Radio, available on iTunes, Web Talk Radio, Radioactive Broadcasting Network, and Stitcher Radio. Bonnie lives in Charleston, SC, with her husband. She is a mom of four adult children and “Gramma” to four granddaughters. She believes being a mother has been her most important job. Have a question or want to contact Bonnie? www.Bonniecompton.com. 6 Tips to Help You Be a Most Awesome Mother-in Law! is an exclusive feature originally published for grandparentslink.com. ©2019