Being a mother-in-law is no joke

“Mother-in-law” – The most maligned role in our society.

Does any little girl ever dream of becoming a mother-in-law?

When you were pregnant with your baby (who is now your adult offspring who is married), were you eagerly anticipating becoming a mother-in-law?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to either of these questions I’d love to know how it turned out.

I believe one’s mindset has a lot to do with what happens next. 

I had a mother-in-law. I was married to her only son.  We had our moments.  My children were her only grandchildren so I felt I owed her the family connection.

I grew up in a close-knit family where a brother-in-law at times described himself and everyone else who married into our clan, as ‘the out-laws’.

I have two adult sons. Between them they’ve provided me with three daughters-in-law.  I keep learning from them. I trust they learn something from me too.

I’m surrounded by women who have hair-raising, hilarious, deep and moving, and unexpected stories to tell about their mother-in-law experiences.

Add a grandchild or two into the mix and things get a whole lot more complicated.

I’ve worked with many families that were struggling with difficult issues, where the “in-law” factor almost always featured, and almost always as something deeply problematic. 

We’ve had some great successes in breaking the paradigm of ‘Bad Bad Mom-in-Law… the baddest gal in the whole damned town…’ and shifting the family dynamics into the realm of constructive, co-operative and respectful relationships. 

This is my request and invitation:

I am developing a series of resources for women who struggle with long term family tensions and unresolved issues, which includes this matter of mother-in-lawhood.  I would love to hear from you – from the women who have “mother-in-law” as one of their many roles; from adult sons and daughters who have a view on how mom’s doing in that role and what could be done differently (by ALL of you) to make this a meaningful and respected role in your family and in our society; and of course from the sons/daughters-in-law.

Picture one of those do’s and don’ts lists

  • what should we not be doing (and explain why);
  • what should we be doing more of (and why); and
  • what should we start doing (and, yes, please do tell, why that would be a good thing).

Please add your thoughts in the comments section below, or email me privately at with the subject heading “MOM”.

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