4 Moms Spill Their Secrets to a Better Bond With Their Mothers-in-Law

4 Moms Spill Their Secrets to a Better Bond With Their Mothers-in-Law

A little creative thinking, and some planning and understanding can go a long a way!

By Lorraine Allen

Family relationships are all complex. For better or worse, we are sort of stuck with one another, and sometimes, when we marry and take on in-laws, it can be really hard to reconcile the fact that your husband’s mom is a person you might not get along with at all. Someone who, like it or not, will be very involved in your family, your kids’ lives, and your own life, probably. But if your relationship with your mother-in-law is less than ideal, don’t worry, because many moms I know have found ways to work through awkwardness, tension, and even total disagreement. They’ve even managed to form much better bonds and relationships with their husband’s families by employing a little creative thinking, some planning, acceptance, and understanding. Here, how four of them improved their relationships with their MIL.

1. “Once I realized how involved she wanted to be in our lives, despite the fact that she and I don’t really see eye-to-eye on anything, I figured I could fight it and be miserable the rest of my married life, or I could try to just find ways that were bearable for me to deal with having her in my life. So, I tried to look at her strengths: Even though she does not listen to me well, she has a real ‘can-do’ attitude, tons of energy, and she’s smart. This makes her a perfect (free) babysitter, as long as I don’t set my own expectations of what she should do with my kids while I’m out. I’ve had to learn to trust her, but she did raise my husband well, so I gave in. She has watched our kids three days a week, and in that time, I’ve been able to get back in shape, enjoy some ‘me time,’ time with my husband, and even make money at a part-time job. I’m definitely glad I found a way to work with her, instead of against her. In the end, we’ve all gained a lot from it.” -- Sarah, mom of two, New York

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2. “My mother-in-law is the controlling type, and it was really upsetting and annoying to me for a long time. Then, I realized that if I just let her control some things, she gets so focused on those that she leaves us alone on other fronts. So I think ahead, and give her things to plan and control and focus on, like holiday meals or kid’s outfits for holidays. I think she wanted to feel included and important, and I get that. I’m a mom too now, and I’m sure I’ll feel that way when my kids are married.” -- Karen, mom of three, Connecticut

3. “My husband’s mom first came off as really nosy and intrusive, and it totally turned me off. I’m not the gossipy type at all. But then she seemed offended and gave us the cold shoulder, and he suggested maybe I could get along with her better if I just let her into my life a little. She always wanted a daughter, apparently… So I took her shopping for our kid’s graduation outfits with me, I let her in on little secrets like my husband’s surprise 40th I was planning, and stuff like that. She totally warmed up to me again. It’s actually nice, I now think, to have someone want to know you and be close to you like that. Most people in my own family don’t care what I do or think.” -- Didi, mom of four, Vermont

4. “I let her take the kids on vacation or for long-weekend sleepovers at her house. She’s always starved for attention and wants to be involved in their childhoods so much, so that’s the perfect way to allow them to bond and to make her feel more included. She’s annoying to me, but she’s great with them, so I just focus on that and try to ignore the passive-aggressive comments she throws my way when I see her. No one is perfect, right?” -- Whitney, mom of two, New York


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Have you found ways to improve your relationship or bond with your mother-in-law?

Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 6-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

Image ©iStock.com/AleksandarNakic

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My mother-in-law let it be known early on that neither me or my kids would be included in any family activities unless her son was also present. You would think living in the same neighborhood she would want to spend time with her grandkids. She never babysat m ore than twice a year for us, but was always available to her other son and duaghter's kid.

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