An Open Letter to My Mother-in-Law

As with many of us, my in-laws are coming to visit for the holidays.  Over the years, I had my fair share of clashes with my mother-in-law.  Now that both of my children have girlfriends, I am starting to appreciate the position of mother-in-law much more.  To that end, I decided to write an open letter to mine. It’s part apology, part thanks, part knowledge sharing.  I hope you can relate 🙂

The author with her husband and mother-in-law with the title An Open Letter to my Mother-in-Law

Dear Bobbie –

First I would like to apologize:

  • For all the times I acted like I knew everything about parenting or marriage – even though you had more than 20 years experience on me.
  • For not appreciating your generosity – in fact, for resenting it.  I saw your gifts to us as your attempt to control our family – and I see now that coercion is not part of your makeup.
  • For not being sympathetic to your frustrations with life, your family, and me.

I would also like to thank you:

  • For the previously mentioned generosity – generosity of time, of spirit, and of love, as well as money and material items.
  • For accepting me as part of your family from day one.
  • For always trying to understand – even when situations and people were outside of your comfort zone.

We didn’t choose each other – but we DO love each other.

the author with her husband and mother-in-law

And for the rest of you – some things I have learned from being a daughter-in-law for 20+years and a not quite mother-in-law for over a year (all of these suggestions work both ways):

  • Bite your tongue.  Seriously.  Unless she is doing something dangerous, don’t say anything.  She won’t be grateful for your advice.  She’ll resent you.  Let her come to you.  The flip side of this one is: It’s okay to ask her for advice.  She might be able to teach you something new or give you a fresh perspective on life.
  • When you’re in her house, try to abide by her rules.
  • When you talk to your son (or husband), don’t tell him the things you don’t like about her.  It will only drive a wedge between you.

Following these rules won’t guarantee you a good relationship with your in-laws, but it might give you some peace of mind.

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3 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Mother-in-Law

  1. You would think this would be common sense advice, wouldn’t you? But so many of us have trouble with common sense when emotion enters the picture!

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