“I don’t want to be her mother. She already has a mother. But I definitely want to be her friend” said Katya while we sat in a café with steaming cups of vanilla and chai latte. We were discussing the topic of what a good MIL/DIL relationship looks like and how to approach it. Katya has a good relationship with her DIL and had just returned from a weekend with husband, son & daughter-in-law.
It appears that one factor determining the closeness of a MIL/DIL relationship is whether or not the DIL’s mother is “in the picture”. If so, perhaps it is more likely that MIL/DIL interactions will be fewer, less often? It may well be that the emotional ties tend to be weaker if the immediate family is tight and operational. If there is no mother active or present in the DIL’s life, might there be more opportunity for a MIL/DIL friendship to flourish?
Yes, says Suzanne. Her DIL’s mother resides in another country. So, in some sense, it is natural for her DIL to gravitate toward her husband’s family to fill that need or desire for familial relationships. Her DIL’s mother is thankful that there is family to be for her daughter what she herself cannot be because of geographical distance.
Gale agrees. She related that one of her DILS is interested in a more interactive relationship because her mother is not involved in her life. They enjoy quite a few activities together as a mother and daughter might, possibly because she is the mother who’s available.
And what if you are the “third mother” like Donna whose step-son recently married? Can she hope to have any kind of a relationship with her “step –DIL”? Of course. It will take time – that most precious commodity. She hasn’t tried to take on the mother role. And it’s a good thing, too! Who needs three mothers?!
Is it likely that, in general, all of us have a space in our hearts that only family can fill? And if so, might there be room in the heart for two?
What has been your experience or observation?