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5 Tips for Getting Through a Visit From Your Mother-in-Law

Updated on April 4, 2015

If you look forward to your mother-in-law’s visit about as much as hurricane season, you’re not alone. More than 40 percent of women report an uneasy relationship with their mother-in-law. Like a gale-force wind, a mother-in-law’s unsolicited advice and unwanted criticism can easily stress a marriage to its breaking point. From snide remarks to unwanted parenting advice, mother-in-laws have a way of finding hot buttons that can send you through the roof.

Finding a way to manage the storm with your sanity intact is a matter of patience, planning, and common courtesy. Before you board up your windows and head for high ground, consider using the following 5 tips to help you get through this year’s visit.

1) Be a good host. While your mother-in-law will probably be happy to babysit or help with dinner, don’t expect her to be your personal servant. When she arrives, make sure you’ve prepared something to welcome her. If she’s spending a few days in your home, make sure she has a pleasant place to stay. A welcome dinner and a freshly made bed go along toward making her feel like a treasured member of the family rather than an unwanted guest.

2) Show respect. As with any guest in your home, your mother-in-law deserves your respect. While you don’t have to agree with everything she says, you should listen to her opinion without interrupting. It’s not uncommon for a mother-in-law to feel protective of her son and grandchildren. Your willingness to acknowledge her concerns will go a long way toward building a relationship. At the end of the day, you can choose to accept or reject her way of doing things once she has headed for home.

3) Don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is full of minor irritations. When you were first married, no doubt your husband did something you found annoying or just plain wrong. From putting the cups upside down in the cabinet to letting the dog eat from the baby’s bowl, simple everyday actions can get under your skin. When you find yourself stressing over a temporary inconvenience, take a deep breath and remember you’ll soon have dominion over your own home again.

4) Accept the grandparent privilege. As a grandma, your mother-in-law will give things to your child that you aren’t wild about. From a chocolate Easter bunny before bedtime to questionable advice in dealing with bullies, some incursions into your family life will just have to be endured. Unless your child is diabetic, a little chocolate won’t do serious harm. Neither will a little bad advice. Remember that your child faces the outside world on a daily basis. If you have done your job well, your child will be able to evaluate grandma’s advice, using the values of have instilled, to make the right choice.

5) Set boundaries. Sometimes enough is enough. If your mother-in-law crosses over the line from annoying to rude, talk to your husband to set things right. A simple but direct conversation early in the relationship can set the tone for the long run. Remember that a mother-in-law’s first concern is the welfare of her child. Don’t complain about your husband or dwell on you children’s problems. While you mother-in-law could be helpful in resolving family issues, it will likely come at a heavy cost.

Once you’ve weathered the storm of your mother-in-law’s visit, take stock of what you’ve learned. While your mother-in-law’s advice may have seemed like an intrusion, recognize that she may have had some valid points. Choosing to accept outside criticism is a sign of strength, not weakness. If nothing else, your children will benefit from what you learned when you become a mother-in-law.


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    • SolveMyMaze profile image


      3 years ago

      Great hub! I was originally expecting this to be a comedy Hub when I read the title, but this has a lot of great advice.

      I'm very much of the opinion that you can kill people with kindness, and by going out your way to be kind to her even if she's intolerable, it'll show the other half how well you can adapt to have a controlling mother in law around.

      Failing that, feign sickness when she's around and spend the weekend in bed with a good boxset!

    • Jack Burden profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Burden 

      3 years ago from Columbus, OH

      Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law's passing. I'm glad you remember your relationship with her fondly. I'm sure this has left your children with an indelible memory of a loving grandmother. I still learn this about myself and my relationships from my mother-in-law, even though we do not speak the same language.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      This is great advice! Now that my mother-in-law has passed away, I can look back on her life with fondness at the good times we had together. I can also remember many instances where I felt that my toes had been stepped on or that I had received unwanted advice. I also know firsthand how much she loves her children and grand-children. Since our oldest was born just two years after her youngest, our children were her children. At first this offended me deeply, but as they got older and I saw how her influence was a great help to them in their lives, I was able to accept it for what it was.


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