Cultural differences can further complicate the MIL/DIL relationship. Coming from different ethnicities, different religions, and different parts even of the same country is hard enough. But even if you're raised on the same street, in the same town, going to the same church, the culture inside a person's home is different! Not to mention conflicting personalities and temperament styles. Some people move quickly and others more slowly. That can be a source of annoyance, too. There is no end to the difference, but the quest is to find the similarities and to respect one another regardless. My Mother-in-Law and I discussed this at length and here is our advice and guide to having a great MIL/DIL relationship:
How to be a terrific mother-in-law:
- Remember that your son is an adult who is married and on his own now. If you want to maintain a good relationship with your son, make friends with your DIL.
- Observe boundaries – they are a unit – you are not a part of that unit.
- Now that he's married, he now makes all decisions with and in consideration of his wife – and you should, too!
- Respect your son and his wife even if they don't do things the way you would.
- Offer opinions only when asked first.
- Give the younger couple lots of space to grow and figure things out on their own – even if you think they're making mistakes!
- Be positive! Don't assume the negative first.
- Be patient and be honest with each other in a respectful and compassionate way.
- Make sure you think before you speak.
- Be accessible, but not demanding.
- When they have children, do not over-grandmother! Don’t be so good that you're invasive and overstepping the boundaries. Don’t try too hard!
- Observe how your children treat their children and try to do the same when you're spending time with them. It's not your place to agree or disagree with their rules; they're not your children.
- Make sure that the amount of time that you spend together is comfortable for them, too. You don't want to make your visits too often, or not often enough. Check in with them on this one.
- Be there for them if they need you, but don't live for them alone. Make sure that you have a life of your own so that you're not invading your children's lives. You'll also be interesting to visit with when you have things to share from your own life.
Let's keep in mind that the challenges in the MIL/DIL relationship are not always the fault of the MIL. We mustn't forget that relationships are two-way streets. Here are Terry's and my thoughts on being a terrific DIL:
How to be a terrific daughter-in-law: