Tag Archive | respect

Acceptance – Let Grace Abound!

How do I do this MIL thing well?  What are the “tips”?  What is the secret to being a great MIL?

After a bit of searching online, I did find some advice about MILs and DILs that is worth repeating. Here it is: from http://www.grandparents.com:

“Let go of your expectations about how things should be

and work with the way things are.

This means accepting the complete cast of characters

who make up your whole crazy extended family ….”


Acceptance. Yeah. That’s a major component of a great MIL/DIL relationship.


“5 Things a Daughter-in-Law Should Never Do”

20131202_56Just found this thought-provoking article written by Danielle Sullivan on Yahoo Shine in Sept 2011.  Worth the read.


Perhaps you’ve gotten “caught up in the flow” of some of these behaviors and cannot yet see how destructive they can be to your relationship with your husband and children as well as your in-laws.  Take heart!  Count it as water over the dam and decide to begin anew.

Are there any of these principles that you might need to begin practicing … today?





Only Go In ….

Only go in as far as you are invited.

In the MIL/DIL relationship, this sounds like a very healthy approach.

When you visit someone’s home, do you barge in or do you ring the doorfront doorbell and wait for someone to open the door?  Do you march into their kitchen and open their fridge or do you wait to be invited to sit down and be offered a cup of tea and biscuits?   When they offer to give you the 25 cent tour, do you insist on viewing the bedrooms or do you follow their lead as they point out things that they’d like you to notice?

Is your MIL/DIL a hugger?  Or not?  Be sensitive to this.  Is it a cultural thing or a personal preference?  Does your MIL/DIL want help when cooking a meal?  Or is the kitchen her domain?  pregnant-woman-choosing-name-her-baby-20047832Or advice on parenting or investing or how to throw a great party?  Does she mind when you text her at work?  Is your phone call every Sunday welcome?  When it comes to where to buy a home, a name for the baby, how to land that great job, whether she should home school the kids …

… only go in as far as you are invited.

If you push your way in – on any issue or in any situation – it’s likely you’ll be met with resistance … in the form of coldness, withdrawal, sarcasm, criticism, correction, or worse – outright rejection, verbal attack.  Who among us likes pushy people?  Or busybodies who are regularly interjecting themselves in other people’s business?

Paopen front doortience.  Wait until she is ready for the next step toward sharing.  Wait until she sees more of who you really are instead of who she thinks you are.  Wait until respect comes into play … until familiarity and trust have their way.  And acceptance.  Maturity.  It takes time.  Only vegetables and fruits germinate, flower, ripen and re-seed in the same year.  Few relationships mature that quickly.

Don’t kick against the goads.  Recognize that you both have a lot to offer one another.  And neither of you needs to be in a hurry to be liked, appreciated, understood and ….. loved.

That’s what I’m learning.  🙂

Over a Bowl of Fruit at Sammy J’s (part 1)

“This whole issue of expectations seems to cause a good deal of conflict between  MILs and DILs.”

I offered this as an opening to my conversation with Bonnie as we sat together on a warm summer day in a very busy diner.  We hadn’t known each other very long, but were both involved in a weekly Friday morning  group.  I was curious to hear her story as she had written about her MIL/DIL relationship  that “We have come a looong way in  32+ yrs.”  bowl of fruitShe was enthusiastic to share.  I followed her lead and ordered a bowl of fruit and iced tea.

“I’m all for full disclosure” she stated.  “Get it all out on the table.”  The waitress placed our food and drinks in front of us.

Even though Bonnie and I hadn’t spent much time together, I wasn’t surprised by this.  She is a “straight-shooter”, one who rarely minces words.

“I want to know what your expectations are and I want to respect them.  Tell me.  There’s no right or wrong.  I wish my MIL had done that with me.”

Isn’t that a great attitude?  She wants to respect her MIL.  But, what about this:  Is it true – that there are no “right” or “wrong” expectations?  Expectations are  … conjecture.  We suppose that something or someone will be a certain way.  Let’s check out the definition:  expectation – a strong belief that something will happen or be the case. 

“So” I ventured, “do you remember what your expectations were when you married?”

“I think the term ‘mother’ has enough connotations in itself for one to expect … umm… love.  Not mushy, gushy love, but love and respect.  And because Matthew chose badly, she was kind of ‘standoffish.'”

I was confused.  “She felt that your husband chose badly when he chose you?”

“Yeah” she replied.  “Below him.”

Around us customers came and went.  The blender whirred.  The dishes were cleared off the table next to us.  And I didn’t know what to say.  Does this kind of thing still happen?  Seriously? I took a sip of the cold tea aiced teand wondered “Why would she feel that way?” .

“Umm, I was rough around the edges.  Very independent.  I didn’t need anybody.  I don’t need you.  I’m a Christian and at that point I was three years in the Lord and God had done a lot of work in me before she met me.  She should know that!”

We both erupted in laughter.  Some of us just know that we have come a long way and still have a long way to go.

Bonnie continued.  “But I was …   She paused, thinking.  “They were upper middle class … and I wasn’t.  I was …. I can imagine his mom having sleepless nights thinking about Matthew marrying me.  She didn’t know me … all she knew was what she saw –  tomboy …. bold-speaking … aggressive … and it was hard for her.”

Hard for her?  Yes.  Because her expectations for her son were not being met.  Where did these expectations come from?  Did she even know she had them?  What were yours when you married or added a DIL to your family?

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Mutual Respect – Vital to a Great MIL/DIL Relationship

So, let’s consider again what makes for a great MIL/DIL relationship.

A key part of the answer, I’m told, is that it is characterized by mutual respect – that’s “mutual” and “respect“.

Here’s a working definition of respect

  • an act of giving particular attention, or consideration to
  • high or special regard;
  • esteem; a sense of the worth or excellence of a person;
  • deference to a right, privilege or privileged position;
  • proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment

Wow!    Esteem … Deference … Courtesy… Proper acceptance …  Special regard … a sense of the worth or excellence of a person.  When’s the last time you thought about those words when framing your words or interactions with your MIL or DIL?  Doesn’t that paint a picture of  just how we’d like to be treated?

You know what they say:  What goes around, comes around.


Let’s see what mutual respect might look like by considering …  How do we treat our friends?

What do I say?  What am I careful not to say?  Do I give advice?  Do I tell my friends what they “should” do?  Do I criticize their appearance or behavior?  What about their cooking or the manner in which they discipline their children?  If their homes are untidy or unclean, is it my place to point that out to them?

Do I expect my friends to adhere to MY practices concerning holidays?  Are they obligated to come to my house on Christmas Eve or Thanksgiving if I invite them?  Do I cut off the relationship if they don’t call as often as I would like?  When they are pregnant, do I recommend names for their babies?  And if their kid has big ears, do I remark about them and laugh?  Why would I assume my friend knows very little about _______________ (fill in the blank) and that I am the one to bring her up-to-speed on that?

And now … from the other side of the  fence ….

Do I ignore my friend if she lives hundreds or thousands of miles away?  Would I purposefully disregard her feelings?  How about when my friend calls on the phone – Do I regularly let it ring through to voice mail when I check caller ID?  Is it my practice to roll my eyes when my friend talks about something that I label “dull” or “stupid”?  If she drinks too much at a social gathering, what do I think?  What do I do?  Make sarcastic remarks to those around me?  Am I neglectful in thanking a friend who has given me a gift, whether I like the gift or not?  Am I dismissive of friends’ religious beliefs and political views?

And when a friend tells me what she’s realized, learned, experienced or read, do I summarily dismiss it simply because it came from her?  Do I regularly parade all her faults and weaknesses in front of anyone who’ll listen?  Shall I mock her in front of my children and spouse?   Or presume she will be our “on-call” babysitter for as often or as long as I’d like?  Have I made it a habit of considering her preferences?  How often do I compliment her on her accomplishments?

How do  I treat my friends?

Really?  So, then how do I want to treat my family?

MILS & DILS – meant to be Family, Friends and Allies

Dear Abby Column in Today’s Paper

Dear Abby: Dear Abby

I am no advice columnist, but may I offer a few wise words to future brides?

I have been married for 25 years and have never had an argument with my mother-in-law.  Never!  My mother gave me some valuable advice before my wedding that I’d like to pass along.  She said, “Always respect the woman who made the man you love.”

I never forgot it, and my MIL has always been welcome in my home for as long as she wishes.  If we had any differences, a respectful dialogue was opened right away — especially if it concerned our kids’ education.

We have enjoyed shopping, eating, cooking, parties, caring for newborns and family moments together for as long as I can remember. Sadly, she is now frail and can no longer travel as much as she once could.

The women who made our husbands deserve all the respect we can offer them because if we are happy as wives, it is thanks to all of them.

— Simone In San Francisco