Watching your own children raise children of their own may be one of the greatest highlights of motherhood. And yet, sometimes the delicate relationship between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law can put a damper on the magic of becoming a grandma. But this relationship doesn’t have to mimic the decades old trope we see in the movies. In fact, it could grow into something really special. Believe me, your daughter-in-law wants a wonderful relationship with you. So mom to mom, I would like to share a few tips on achieving a relationship that will make you both want to drop the title “in-law” forever.
A compliment goes so much further than advice
You have quite a bit of parenting expertise. And clearly your daughter-in-law approves of your methods; she did marry your son, after all. So sharing your expertise may seem like helping, but when advice is given unwarranted, it can seem like disapproval. Your daughter-in-law respects you, so constant suggestions from you, a seasoned mother, may make her feel like she is doing it all wrong. Giving a compliment, a true genuine compliment, to your daughter-in-law will make her feel validated, and in turn, more likely to come to you for advice in the future.
Understand that parents face incredible pressures today
Parents are questioned over almost every parenting decision they make. Nursing vs. bottle feeding, crib vs. co/sleeping, baby-led weaning vs. store-bought purees, homeschool vs. preschool, how much sugar is allowed, screen time… the list goes on and on. Social media and the fact that we carry Google around in our pockets has only exacerbated the mom-guilt. I guarantee you, your daughter-in-law probably has a lot of self-doubt as a parent, even though she probably does a great job. Supporting and trusting her as a mother is all she needs from you.
She deserves the benefit of the doubt
And what I mean by that is, she tries the best she can. Presumably, she harbors the purest intentions and acts in the best interest of her children in all of her decisions. She probably spends more time agonizing over making the right choice for her kids than you think. So, if you do happen to disagree with your daughter-in-law’s parenting choices, consider giving her the benefit of the doubt before voicing any displeasure. She more than likely desires your approval, but she does not need it.
She wants her kids to have the best relationship with you
When she fantasized about having kids one day, she never considered that they would have nothing less than a perfect relationship with all of their grandparents. And now that she has kids, she feels incredibly grateful for their grandparents. But, it can add stress to an already stressed mom if grandparents choose not to respect the rules set by a parent. If she says no cookies before lunch, then no cookies before lunch. Her parenting choices may differ from your own, and that’s perfectly okay. The relationship with your grandkids is important, but placing your relationship with them over your daughter-in-law feels hurtful. You know that unconditional love you feel for your grandkids? Focusing some of that energy to your daughter-in-law can do wonders.
She may need space
If she didn’t want visitors at the hospital after delivery, or she likes an intimate Christmas morning with only immediate family, she might just prefer those moments to be private. Trying to impose could damage an already delicate relationship. Remember, her decisions are based on what is best for her family, and respecting that can only lead to a stronger relationship.
And lastly, remember, YOU are the BEST grandparent for your grandkids
There is no better grandparent for your grandkids, just like SHE is the best mom for her kids. Enjoy the role of not having to make the tough parenting decisions and relish this era. Enjoy the magic of watching your own children learn to parent, and take pride in your growing family. Those little moments make life worth living.