When it comes to mother and daughter-in-law relations, I am not the expert. I am the undergraduate. But this week I overheard a conversation in a childrenswear department that had me thinking perhaps I’ve learnt a thing or two after all.
A fifty-something woman appeared to be looking for an outfit for her granddaughter when she turned to her companion and loudly declared, “No, I am buying her something bright. Her mother dresses her in the most dark, drab clothes I can’t stand it!”
Now I’m not sure if it was the dismissive tones of “her mother” or the fact she had no idea about the drawer of shame – but I felt like quietly tapping her on the shoulder and saying, “You are doing it all wrong”.
When it comes to mother-in-law relations, I like to refer to this analogy:
- Daughter-in-law, husband and mother-in-law are travelling in the same vehicle.
- Daughter-in-law offers the front passenger seat to mother-in-law.
- Mother-in-law does not accept. Mother-in-law MUST NEVER ACCEPT.
What I get from that is – daughter-in-laws, be courteous to your partner’s mother and mother-in-laws, learn when to cut the apron strings. I am fortunate that my mother-in-law passed the above test but it’s not always so simple and some apron strings seem to be made with Teflon. In the interests of educating those who wear that apron a little too tightly, here’s something I prepared earlier.
- Do critique your son’s partner’s dress sense, body weight or bank balance.
- Do expect your son to relay these critiques to his partner.
- Do expect daughter-in-law to now regard you with either suspicion or horror.
NEVER call into question any of the following items:
- Fashion sense.
- How a woman chooses to furnish her own house.
- Breastmilk supply.
- Cooking ability.
- The naming of children.
- The rearing of children.
- Sob at their wedding.
- Ring every night or before 9am unless necessary.
- Confuse the extension of financial assistance with the destruction of all boundaries.
- Rearrange another woman’s cupboards unless you have a mutual rearrangement in place.
- Criticise or undermine your daughter-in-law privately with your son unless you want to cause arguments or the unhappiness of your own child.
These are as much a guide as they are a reminder to me to never to go down the teflon-string path. When I look at my three year old boy’s sweet sleeping face with the offer of a heart-thumping love, I know that one day someone else might be laying beside him and offering it too – and that’s one of the greatest gifts I can give him.
Have you got any in-law tips to share?