In-law relationships can be complicated. Good relationships can implode in a matter of seconds if the wrong thing is said or done. So before you lock horns with your daughter-in-law, take a moment to consider whether or not you are over-stepping your boundaries.
To help you out, here are a few things to remember:
1. Respect the baby feeding choice, whichever that may be.
Bottle-fed or breastfed, as long as the baby is fed it doesn’t matter. This is very personal choice, and it should be respected no matter what. Keep your thoughts on the matter to yourself as no one wants to hear what “good mothers” did back in your day.
2. Don’t show up unannounced or uninvited.
Yes, your son and his wife have sex like all normal couples, so please tell them when you are planning to stop by and ask if it is a convenient time. Be prepared when told to reschedule because (gasp!) they may have other plans.
3. Don’t take offense when you are told to keep your pills away from the kids.
The kitchen counter, dining room table, bathroom, etc. are not appropriate places for you to keep your prescription medication when you come visit. Particularly those cute colorful pill dispensers that are so easy to open. No, I’m not accusing you of trying to kill children; it is just that accidental ingestion of prescription medication is real, and all of us mothers of young children are just trying to keep them alive.
4. If my kids can’t play with it, then thanks but no thanks.
Yes, back in the day it was cool to have collections and gather as many things as possible (baseball cards, stamps, figurines etc.), but these days families gravitate towards activities rather than things. We have zero room for magazines that the children can’t read, collectible vehicles that must be kept in display boxes, or teddies that must remain with the tags attached. I’m very grateful, but no thanks.
5. Comparisons are obnoxious.
Please don’t compare your grandchild to other grandchildren or any child for that matter. This can hurt people’s feelings and burn bridges forever. It doesn’t matter who walked first or how many more teeth one baby has compared to the another one. It is not a competition, and every child is different.
6. Don’t insist that “your children never did that.”
Yeah, right. That was over 30 years ago, chances are you don’t even remember.
Please stop warning about sinkholes, sharks, tornadoes, flesh-eating bacteria, plane crashes, the zombie apocalypse, and el chupacabra. We only have two weeks of vacation a year and would like to enjoy it.
8. Save your treasured dishes for the cabinet.
It is impossible to enjoy a meal when given a long list of warnings and care instructions to eat out of your cherished family heirlooms. It’s extremely stressful and we lost our appetite already. No one will enjoy the meal you so lovingly prepared when you tell your guest (repeatedly) that the china is irreplaceable. Between the fact that the gold rim may melt, they are non-microwaveable and not dishwasher safe, we cannot cut on it, and we would be disowned if we break one, they are rendered unsuitable to use. So for the benefit of all of us, put them away and, yes, we are happy to early out of plastic plates.
9. Yes, I buy your Mother’s Day gift.
And your birthday gift, and your Christmas gift too. Your son is a busy person. He works hard to feed our family and has no time to buy gifts for you or anyone else for that matter. So let’s pretend that he bought it and that you like it. PS: The gift receipt is attached.
10. You are not perfect and neither is your daughter-in-law.
Before you start telling your daughter-in-law about your impeccable parenting skills and how you raised the perfect children while pointing out everything that they can do “better,” allow me to inform you that husbands tell their wives all about what they were served for dinner, how they roamed unattended in the street for hours, and the type of discipline that was used in your home.
So before you give into the temptation of lecturing, remember that your son’s wife knows more than you think.