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The Benefits of a Strong Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law Relationship

Updated on June 30, 2017
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Grandparent, added to MsDora's profile of teacher and counselor after she became a senior citizen, gives her a new interest to explore.

Since the mother-in-law is the more mature of the two women, she may have more of the responsibility to steer the relationship with her daughter-in-law into the haven of love. The responsibility begins with her determination to love no matter what or with the same unconditional acceptance that a mother demonstrates toward her newborn. Even if the daughter-in-law enters the relationship with an attitude of defiance or indifference, the wise mother-in-law can find ways to love the young woman into a friendly, supportive relationship.

Illustration of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law by Jim Padgett
Illustration of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law by Jim Padgett | Source

Tips for developing a good relationship are listed by Barbara Graham who writes for the American Grandparents Association site. Some may be difficult, but not impossible.

Here we want to discuss five important benefits for the mother-in-law who invests in a loving relationship with her daughter-in-law. The aim is not just to be civil, but to really love—like a mother-daughter relationship. It happens! (Check out the how-to video at the end).

Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

— Robert A. Heinlein

5 Benefits of a Strong Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law Relationship

1) Her Daughter-in-Law Keeps on Loving Her Son

When a son chooses a wife, wisdom dictates that his mother respects his choice, decides to love her, and commits to supporting their marriage. What woman doesn’t want her son to be loved by the woman he loves? So she makes it easy for his wife to love him. She affirms the wife, makes her feel accepted and significant; because the wife who feels loved is empowered to give love.

The mother who rivals her daughter-in-law for her son’s attention or approval creates problems for her son. She may get some evil thrill from making her daughter-in-law miserable, but if she raised her son to be a real man he may stand up for his wife at the cost of upsetting his mother. Some wives have left their marriages when the husband's mother creates too hot a hell for the couple, or when the son buckles under the dominance of his mother.

On the other hand, the woman who loves her daughter-in-law gives her one more reason to love the man who brought her an angel for a mother-in-law.

Illustration by Jim Padgett
Illustration by Jim Padgett | Source

2) Her Daughter-in-Law Trusts Her With the Grandchildren

Distrust of the grandparent (the mother-in-law) causes the mother (daughter-in-law) anxiety concerning whether the grandmother should or should not spend time with the grandchildren. She wonders:

  • “How can she really love my children unless she loves me?”
  • “What will she do to sabotage my parenting?”
  • “Will she even try to keep them safe?”

None of these negative concerns surfaces in the mind of a mother (daughter-in-law) who knows that the grandmother (her mother-in-law) loves her and always wants the best for her and her family.

The two women may not always agree on parenting issues, but the grandmother gives her daughter-in-law the right to make the laws that govern her children’s lives. She facilitates her trust by respecting those rules in the interest of the children. The little ones will learn more positive lessons from watching a loving relationship between mother and grandmother than from forced adherence to a habit that creates strife.

Illustration by Jim Padgett
Illustration by Jim Padgett | Source

3) The Mother-in-Law Gets the Chance to Be a Mentor

There are women who set out from day one to underscore their daughter-in-law’s incompetence and set themselves up as experts on supplying their son’s needs. They are crazy and will spread craziness among those who let them.

How will life for them be different if the mother-in-law offers to help when the daughter-in-law requests it, rather than criticize her efforts to make her husband happy? Chances are that when the younger woman tries and fails, and is convinced that her skills are limited, she will feel comfortable enough to seek help from his mother if:

  • His mother has proven her ability to coach without being critical and judgmental;
  • She does not barge in uninvited to take over, but waits for an invitation to help;
  • She admits to her own failures before successes, in personal stories that encourage her daughter-in-law.

This is the beginning of a mentor-mentee relationship that can last as long as necessary.

4) Both Women Enjoy a Supportive Friendship

The two women do not have to share intimate details of their entire lives in order to share support for the part of their lives that they have in common.

In the interest of her son and his family, the mother-in-law can stay socially close, offer assistance and advice when asked, look for opportunities to compliment and appreciate her daughter-in-law without meddling into her private affairs. The daughter-in-law can show similar respect and appreciation for a mother-in-law who contributes to her family’s happiness. They can enjoy spending time together with the children or working by themselves on other common interests. What is important is that they consider each other to be an emotional, social and even spiritual asset. Mutual love will eventually blossom.

Illustration by Jim Padgett
Illustration by Jim Padgett | Source

5) The Joy in Her Son's Family Contributes to Her Joy

Despite what the Mother’s Day card says about the world’s best mom, most mothers will admit to falling short in some area of their parenting. They want to succeed in loving their grandchildren in ways that they failed to love their own.

A visit with the grandchildren gives them that opportunity. The long distance to get there seems nothing but a passing breeze. Arthritis pains, medical bills and insurance premiums cease to matter. It is sheer joy to celebrate single-digit birthdays, listen to show-and-tell stories, watch the grandchildren rip the gift paper from around the new gifts, and get lost in the embrace of a second-generation offspring.

Who wants to miss out on happy moments like these? A wise mother-in-law will learn to appreciate the daughter-in-law who invites her to participate. Love seems like the most appropriate response from a mother-in-law toward the woman who causes such boundless joy to her son, her grandchildren and to her.

Four Very Helpful Tips in Six Short Minutes

© 2017 Dora Weithers

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    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Susan, thanks for reading, and I appreciate you for sharing from your experience. Congratulations to your husband for affirming you despite his mother's effort to belittle you; and congratulations to you for loving your daughter-in-law in the same way you wanted to be loved by your mother-in-law. Best to you and all family, going forward!

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      Susan Ream 2 months ago from Michigan

      Dora, Loved reading this! A mother-in-law has an opportunity to win her daughter-in-law over and to love her as a daughter. I have a very loving daughter-in-law and I take every opportunity to build her up and speak words of appreciation. My son loves her so much and I am grateful. I had great difficulty with my mother-in-law and it brought much pain to my life. She had two sons and as wives, we could never measure up to her standards .. never good enough for her boys. Thankfully my husband took a firm stand and would not allow her to demean me. So, having a daughter-in-law to love is very important to me. I am blessed. I hope your words hit the heart of mother-in-laws everywhere. Thanks for sharing these words of wisdom.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Paula, congratulations on being a four-time mother-in-law and being successful at it four times. You started out right by letting the coupes know that you support a forever-marriage. Best to you, your sons and your daughters in law.

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      Dora Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Shauna, I think that deep down we [women] think that women are stronger in pain; that could be one reason that we are more protective of our sons. However, we need to let them fly. Trust them and give them permission to be the men we trained them to be. I feel confident that you'd be a great mother-in-law. Thanks for your input.

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      Paula 2 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Dora, I must thank you for writing this lovely piece of wisdom. With 4 sons, obviously I have 4 daughters-in law. My sons chose very wisely and this makes me so happy for them. I couldn't love these sweet ladies any more than I do. They too, feel particularly close to me and we've managed to avoid any & all possible relationship issues. I feel blessed for this, although as you point out, it requires everyone be respectful and considerate of each other.

      Apparently, the close-knit bond my sons and I have is a big part of it all. I simply trust these younger couples to be smart enough and mature enough to handle their own lives, therefore, I wouldn't dream of interfering. (nor would my sons stand for it, if I was foolish enough to be a "meddling mother-in-law.")

      I believe it is true that mothers tend to be fiercely protective & defensive with their sons.....but here again, my sons know better than to ever complain about the "wife" to me! All they would get is a lecture about being a good husband and sent on their way!

      Here's the key, Dora....when each of my sons married, I clearly and specifically told their new wives, "You chose him and he's YOURS now....no returns, no refunds!" LOL....

      Have a wonderful week-end! Peace, Paula

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      Shauna L Bowling 2 months ago from Central Florida

      Dora, I'll remember these words when I become a mother-in-law. Too often, I see dissension and competition between the mom and wife. Mothers seem to be very protective of their boys - more so than of their daughters. I don't know if we moms subconsciously think boys can't make it on their own without a woman's guidance or what, but I see it all the time. I'm guilty of it myself from time to time. My only child is male. I'll have to be sure to not coddle him (or meddle) when he finally decides to tie the knot!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      So happy for you, Lori. Thanks for affirming the possibility of a positive MIL-DIL relationship. Best to both of you, and the entire family going forward.

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      lori811 2 months ago

      Hey Dora Came across your wonderful article. I have a daughter in law and truly blessed with our relationship. You nailed it! Continued success and God bless!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Congratulations, Punyaa, on your upcoming marriage. I suggest that you enter with your relationship with your mother-in-law with the determination to make it a happy one. She is older, so respect her and prove to her that you mean well. If you object to anything she does, assure her that you love and respect her before you voice your opposition. Best to you, your wife and all the relationships that will result from your marriage.

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      Punyaa 3 months ago

      Respected Dora,

      Thank you so much for giving such a wonderful article,"MIL and DIL".

      I'm going to get married soon.

      This is much more useful for me to proceed further in my future life.

      I loved it. Thank you ma'am.

      Bless me!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Rachelle, congratulations on forging the relationship into a happy place. Hold your tongue a little bit longer; one day you'll be asked to speak. Be gentle. Best to you and the family going forward!

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      Rachelle Williams 4 months ago from Tempe, AZ

      Luckily, my daugther-in-law is a keeper, but at first I did have to be the mature one and steer the ship. I do still have to work at holding my tongue at times when it comes to child-rearing, but an atmosphere free of stress is worth the work. Great Article!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Congratulations, Chitrangada. I pray the happiness continues between you and your new daughter-in-law. You're in for a pleasurable experience with her and with the children when thy come along.

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      Chitrangada Sharan 4 months ago from New Delhi, India

      I really loved going through your article! I became mother in law just few months ago and by God's grace we have a beautiful relationship, I mean my daughter in law and myself. Touch wood!!

      May be I am following all the beautiful thoughts expressed in your article. I have always been very supportive of her and she loves to talk to me and share her happiness as well as concerns with me.

      It is important to keep our daughter in law Happy and comfortable for the happiness in the family.

      Thanks for sharing this wonderful hub!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks Linda. Happy to share whatever helps a relationship.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, it seems that men are not so childish about hanging on to their daughters as women are about hanging on to their sons. At least, they wouldn't be too eager to show it. I'm sure issues could develop however. Thanks for another topic to explore.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Louise, I'm happy for you. Thanks for affirming the joy of a strong relationship between MIL and DIL. Best to both of you going forward!

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      Linda Crampton 4 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      There is wisdom and great advice in this article, Dora. Thank you for sharing your ideas and suggestions.

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      William Kovacic 4 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      You can't go wrong following this list, Dora. Do you think it's the same for fathers-in-law and sons-in-law. Certainly, the men can create problems, too. Just wondering if you see them in the same light. As always, excellent stuff that should be applied.

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      Louise Powles 4 months ago from Norfolk, England

      It's lovely when a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law has a lovely relationship, Thankfully I had a wonderful relationship with mine.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Tamara, thanks for your very positive comment about your relationship with your mother-in-law. Sorry for your loss. Keep the happy memories alive!

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      Tamara Moore 4 months ago

      Such an enlightening post! Before she passed away, due to age, I loved my mother-in-law, dearly. I was so blessed to have her in my life, and still am blessed for the many things I still benefit from due to her instruction. Thank you!

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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Devika, I think you'd be a good mother-in-law. You've had lots of practice living among people with cultural habits that are different than yours, and you always seem to stay on top of things. Best to you whenever you assume the role!

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      DDE 4 months ago

      You said everything here. I didn't spend anytime with mine and was 21 at that time. I don't have a daughter-in-law as yet and hope one day I enjoy my with her. It is tricky and traditions do make a difference with two such women.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thank, Manatita. Truly, we give love because we have love and love comes from God. That's a very good take for mothers-in-law (probably daughters-in-law and everyone else too) who think that it is an individual's right to withhold love. Good food for thought.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 4 months ago from london

      An interesting one, Dee.

      So many of us are familiar with the dreaded 'mother-in-law concept, as we hear it from so many places! In your video at the end, they seemed to have heard it to.

      Right through your Hub I was looking for that singular thing, which am proud to say was the numero uno in the Video. As Vivekananda the great Seer put's it: 'Each man is God itself.'

      Each one is a very special flame of God. So we begin our relationship, not because of a son or daughter, but because we identify with, or wish to see the Light in this person -separate from the son. This comes later.

      Won't go on, she covered it well and your take was beautiful! Much Love.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Mary, you will be an awesome mother-in-law. Once you've experienced real love, you appreciate the value of sharing it. Thanks for your wonderful share and best you, mother-in-law to be.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Jill, thanks to you and your mom for showing us that the daughter-in-law can also initiate the love. You give what you have, no matter if you're the younger or older. I really appreciate your input.

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      Mary Wickison 4 months ago from Brazil

      This really hit home with me. I had a wonderful mother-in-law, in fact, all my in-laws were so supportive. I moved to the UK not knowing anyone except my in-laws who I had only briefly met.

      I hope when it is my turn to be a mother-in-law, I will be as caring.

      An excellent topic which you handled beautifully.

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      Jill Spencer 4 months ago from United States

      My mom always adopted the policy of treating both of my grandmothers alike. Whatever she did for her mother, she did for her mother-in-law. I've adopted this policy and, although I don't have a close relationship with my mother-in-law (we live too far apart for that) I have a very good one. Thanks for another great article, Ms. Dora.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Lori, you do have to take care of yourself. Trust our wise God to guide you. "I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress" (Psalm 32:8 TLB).

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Glenis. Glad you're enjoying the relationship with your daughter-in-law. I FaceTime too, though I'd rather be close, but as you mentioned, distance has its benefits. Best to you, going forward!

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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Jackie, thanks for your kind comment. Perhaps we women just cherish so many of the same relationships and things. Sorry for the loss of your daughter-in-law; glad you and your son benefited from her love, and she from yours.

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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      RTalloni, thanks for sharing your insights on this topic. You encourage me. I totally agree that "How the love works out greatly depends on the willingness of each party." How I wish that each woman in MIL and DIL relationships would really think about the extent of her influence on the life of the son/husband and his children. They are really the recipients of the women's love.

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      Lori Colbo 4 months ago from Pacific Northwest

      Thanks for the advice Dora. I do listen well, because I do care, and I think, I hope they know it, but sometimes it leads to expectations of me to intervene. It's hard to keep the balance. I also have to deal with my own emotions.

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      GlenR 4 months ago from UK

      Good advice. It's hard when a son marries and someone else takes priority in his life, but the best way forward is to take a step back. I think the way to avoid problems is by not being intrusive. I have a good, albeit long-distance, relationship with my daughter-in-law. The family is thousands of miles away at the moment but one of the benefits of technology is that we Facetime regularly.

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      Jackie Lynnley 4 months ago from The Beautiful South

      You write of so many things so close to my heart and so beautifully.

      I lost my only daughter-in-law when she was so young and I did love her so much. I hope she only knew how much and I think of her so often. She adored my son. I don't think he ever knew how much.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 months ago from the short journey

      So glad to see this topic being discussed from a mature perspective. It comes up fairly often because I know MILs who are treated very badly by their DILs (the FILs are also treated badly by these DILs). It is sad because these MILs would be their DILs very good friend if they would let them. Those DILs need to understand if they do not love their husband's parents they do not love him. MILs need to understand that if they do not love their DILs then they are not loving their sons.

      How the love works out greatly depends on the willingness of each party. There are bad MILs and there are bad DILs, but the majority of MILs and DILs that I know truly want to have good relationships. Sometimes they just need to know how. The key is in wanting the good relationship. If either party does not want it everyone around them is going to suffer for their selfish attitude.

      Because of the human tendency to selfishness, jealousies, pride, and more we should regularly examine ourselves to see if our attitudes line up with God's direction for relationships with other people. Thanks for posting your tips about the MIL/DIL relationship. The video is absolutely precious!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Lori. You might be referring to the images in the article because they are from the Bible story of Naomi (mother-in-law) and Ruth (daughter-in-law). Thanks for the lead to Free Bible Images.

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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Flourish, your mother-in-law found you lovable. Happy that you also saw some beautiful parts of her character. Look what a beautiful mini-tribute you paid to her right here, and even by sharing her with your daughter. Stay blessed, and thank you for sharing.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Lori, it is wise not to invite yourself into your daughter-in-law's private situation, but listen you can, when they offer to talk because they trust you. Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law and the secret she kept. Some people make strange choices. Glad that you enjoyed her somewhat. Thank you for sharing.

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      FlourishAnyway 4 months ago from USA

      My mother-in-law died of a rare and aggressive female cancer when my daughter was less than two years old, although my husband and I had been married about 7 years at the time. She was a challenging lady in some ways (loud and excessive talker, heavy smoker who was not considerate about the impact of her habit on others). However, in other ways she was exceptionally heroic and kind. Even though my daughter has no memories of her, I ensure that she knows of my MIL through stories, photos, and treasured memorabilia. The woman supported a family of three children when her husband had a massive stroke at the age of 33. She was also a devoted volunteer in her church. A Catholic lady, she had a strong sense of right and wrong which she passed on to my husband. I particularly appreciated her restraint when my husband selected me, a non-Catholic. She instead welcomed and celebrated me just as you described in your beautiful article above.

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      Lori Colbo 4 months ago from Pacific Northwest

      BTW, you can find more of David Padfields work on Free Bible Images.org.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 4 months ago from Pacific Northwest

      Mother/daughter -in-law relationships can be tricky. My mother-in-law (who is now gone) and I had, on the surface, a friendly relationship. It was not intimate, but friendly. But she would say bad things about me to my then husband behind my back. But she did this for everyone in her family and most of her friends. She had terrible trauma when she was a girl which no one knew about until she died. At that time an Aunt (Mother in law's sister) told my ex and his sister that their grandmother (Mother in law's mother) told her to tell them this upon her death. I don't understand why she said wait until she is dead but both my ex and his sister said they wished they'd known because it would have made it easier to understand why their mother was so very difficult. It's a sad story. All that said, I am grateful that at least she and I got along well.

      I've had a few daughters-in-law and have loved all of them but not really close relationship. When they have brought up marital problems with complaints of my sons I tell them I will pray but I will not get involved in their marriage problems. I want to honor my sons by not telling them"Your wife is telling me you're doing A B C ." Right away I'm the enemy, buttinski, and I've created a bigger problem between them. They need to work it out just like everyone else in counseling or whatever. The only time I would step in is if there is abuse going on, or something very severe that might affect the children.

      Great article Dora.

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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks John. Yes I have one daughter-in-law and we love each other. The difficult daughter-in-law doesn't know how much joy she is missing. I'm glad that your wife is wise enough to try with her. Best to you and all the family going forward!

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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Nancy, what your mother-in-law may be missing is that your husband is her child too. It would be great to accept you as another daughter and your children the same as her daughter's children. Great that there is no hostility. Kudos to you! Stay sweet and kind going forward,

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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      KUDOS to Bev! To you too, Bill. You're both wise people who teach a lot by example. Thanks for sharing.

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      John Hansen 4 months ago from Queensland Australia

      A very wise article and written from experience it seems MsDora. We have three daughters-in-law and my wife gets on well with two. The third is a challenge but my wife keeps saying we have to love her as she makes our son happy. They recently moved further away so we don't see them so often. My wife goes out of her way to do things for this daughter-in-law to prove she cares but it is not always appreciated. She will persist however and at least we have been trusted to babysit more than once where her own mother isn't. This was helpful.

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      McKenna Meyers 4 months ago from Bend, OR

      I wish I had a better relationship with my mother-in-law. It's neither good nor bad; it's just meh. I think the problem is she has two daughters of her own who have kids the same ages as mine. Whenever I tell an anecdote about one of my kids, my mother-in-law feels the need to tell a similar story about her other grandkids. I'm used to it now but found it super frustrating as a new mom. Mother-in-law/daughter-in-law is definitely a tricky relationship and I thoroughly enjoyed your article, Dora.

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      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sounds like a perfect relationship to me. Bev is like that with our daughter-in-law and it is very pleasurable to see in action.