Monday, December 9, 2019

Help With Daughter-in-Law Relationship

Ask the Life Coach


Dear Coach,

Is it just me or are daughter-in-law relationships particularly difficult for mothers? It seems that once my son married, I lost him to another woman. His wife now controls not only his social and family agenda, but also the lives of my grandchildren. She is a nice-enough person, but she seems to approach me with a certain degree of hostility. Any ideas on how I can remedy this situation?

Signed, Sonless


Dear Sonless,

I believe this dilemma is not unique to you. I frequently hear mothers complain about their daughter-in-law relationships. If you want to have a good relationship with your son and his family, I recommend you take to heart the primary rule for a mother-in-law: Avoid criticism. This means don’t criticize your daughter-in-law to her face, be critical of her to your son, or even in the company of friends.

In addition, don’t send critical messages as in the following situations:

  • Don’t clean her house unless she asks you to. If she is ill or incapacitated, offer to help with household tasks and accept her response. When you walk into her home and start “tidying up,” the implication is, “You’re a bad housekeeper.”
  • Don’t give unsolicited advice. This is a good rule to follow with adult children. Generally speaking, those who want advice ask for it. Being older and, presumably, wiser doesn’t give a mother-in-law license to hand out advice. The implication is, “You don’t make good decisions.”
  • Don’t give gifts that send a negative message. For instance, self-help books or gym memberships. The implication is, “You’re not acceptable as you are.”

As his mother, you were once the most important woman in your son’s life. Now his wife is. That is as it should be. If you are widowed or divorced, you might have greater difficulty accepting this fact. Avoid making your son choose between you and his wife. It’s a battle that just can’t be won.

As a retired Certified Personal/Professional Coach, I’m delighted to bring my years of life coaching experience to Coastal Breeze News readers. I’m currently writing a self-help book, “Mom’s Gone, Now What?” and invite you to follow me at www.motherloss.blog. More than mother loss, the blog addresses how to live a healthy, joy-filled life.

Email questions, comments or concerns to: askcoachmershon@gmail.com. Your information will be kept strictly confidential. Your identifying information will not be used in the column or shared in any other way.

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