We are over the moon thrilled that our son and his beautiful girlfriend announced their engagement. If you are a parent and have had this experience, you must know how special it is.
While we savor this exquisite moment in our lives, I have already started to ponder my new role as mother-in-law.
Of course I want to be the best mother-in-law possible, a Mother-in-Law Extraordinaire. But how? Being brand new to this long awaited-for role, I need advice. So I asked some of the midlife women from Midlife Boulevard for tips.
How does one become an awesome mother-in-law?
"Respect your son's choice. Love them both. Dance like a fool at the wedding," commented Elaine Ambrose.
"Don't give advice that's not asked for," cautioned Suzanne Fluhr of Boomeresque.
"Be their mother-in-law, not their mother," chimed in Shelley Zurek of Still Blond After All These Years.
"Include her in traditions and when they get married ask if she would like to be in charge of arranging said tradition in the future," noted Shelley Buffitt of Just Shelley. "Families can make or break a marriage....treat her as you would any of your adult children...with grace and respect."
Patricia Patton of Boomer Wizdom advised, "Keep your mouth closed, especially if you and your son were close-close." Patricia refers to her daughter-in-law as her "daughter-in-love, because I do want the best for them. I think it appropriately covers what we hope and pray for our sons -- someone who will love them as much as we shamelessly do."
Jacqueline Tierney DeMuro, who blogs at Ambling & Rambling, offered, "My mother-in-law -- who I loved dearly -- was very generous with her recipes! It was a great way to bond with her."
Warned Barbara Shallue of Long Hollow, a mother-in-law of one year, "Stay out of the way!"
Sage advice from Connie Ott of miscfinds4u: "Never say anything to your daughter-in-law that you wouldn't appreciate your mother-in-law saying to you."
Another wise suggestion from Estelle Sobel Erasmus of Musings on Motherhood & Midlife: "My advice is to try to understand and accept your child's choice."
Miriam Hendeles of Bubby Joys and Oys (oh do I love that name!) quoted Sarah C. Radcliffe, M.Ed C. Psych of Toronto, who maintains that the "ratio of positive feedback to negative needs to be 105:5 (as opposed to mother to young child per day is 80:20)." Miriam added, "May the mean mother- in-law stereotype be gone forever as we learn new ways to interact with our couples."
Amen to that!
Lynne Cobb of Mid-Life Random Ramblings agreed. "I swore I would not be the stereotypical mother-in-law," she declared. "That promise was as much for my children as it was for me."
What about giving advice? Elaine Plummer from ElaineR.N. said, "Don't give advice unless specifically asked and always watch the kids when asked."
I hope that my relationship with my new daughter-in-law will be as loving as that of Cathy Chester and her mother-in-law. Cathy, who blogs at An Empowered Spirit, said, "My mother-in-law is a friend and a mentor. She never judges or discourages me, and is always supportive of everything I've done. She's a good listener, and calls me whenever something is up. I think that's why I'm crazy about her. I miss her -- it's been a year since we've seen them in Florida. P.S. She's also an excellent grandmother!"
Commented Kim Jorgensen Gane of Gane Insight, "The bottom lines are respect, trust, and, above all, love. We have to be adults, set aside our own egos, and trust, respect, and love our grown children in their choices." She added, "Trust our children to make good choices, and if they don't, trust that they will handle it the way that is best for them/their children. We should always use our powers for good."
Enthusiastic mother-in-law Joan Bickley Stommen of Gramcracker Crumbs said, "I love my daughter-in-law! We got on really well from the get go. We love to chat over coffee or wine. She has brought so much joy to all of us. I always call her my daughter."
Show gratitude, urged Lucia Paul of Dysfunctional Scrapbooking. "Be vocal about how lucky he/she is to marry your child AND also be very vocal about how lucky your child is to be marrying him/her."
What advice would you give me about being an awesome mother-in-law?