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  1. #1
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    Default How to be a good MIL?

    The problematic MIL threads seem to be a very common theme on parenting forums on both sides of the equator.
    I have a wonderful mother in law, can't fault her at all, and I will learn from her how to respect boundaries and manage expectations of my own children and their respective partners when they are older.
    Basically it's ok to have them expectations, hopes and your way of doing things but keeping your mouth shut works best for all.

    Anyway, for a long time and after reading a lot of threads over the years, I can't help think, surely some of these MILs were hopeful like me at one point?
    Wouldn't they have envisioned the son's future wife and saw nothing but harmony, not friction?
    What changes? Is it hormonal? The change?
    I'm honestly afraid of becoming one of these creatures.
    Or do you think it's a mindset from the start? That you own your children and they owe you their devotion in old age verses the mindset that you're raising your child to be a completely independent human being and if they find love and create a family along the way then that's a bonus.

    Of course some are just bonkers and nothing you do will be good enough.
    I've broken up with guys with difficult mothers and although they weren't the cause of the break up, they made it so much sweeter knowing I'd never have to deal with THAT again.

    We're really lucky that we have this online community (worldwide) to pull from.
    Look at how much we've learned from sharing knowledge. It creates a much more understanding and respectfulness if others.
    Hopefully the next generation on MILs will be a better one.

    I'm hoping that just being aware of what not to do keeps me from being a monster in law. For me now at 41 yrs of age and if I ever become a MIL, I envision a future where I will have my own life to live (finally). Stuff I'd love to be doing now but simply don't have the time. I would do anything and stop everything to help out my kids but I wouldn't feel entitled to be involved in their decisions or the way they live their day to day lives. I'll be there if needed.
    Sure you know yourself from visiting friend's and family's houses that the dynamic in each is so different and unique to them. How could anyone impose their way of doing things on to a whole family? Bonkers.

    Anyway, that's coming from this side of sixty.
    Maybe that changes as the yrs dwindle and all you see is an impending death bed and these 'crazy' MILS are just confusing the way they express how they feel. As in, I don't have much time left here, please give me time with my family but the request comes out as expectations, demands, criticism etc, etc.
    That's a bit heartbreaking actually.
    I know my MIL feels this way but she never, ever says a thing about it.
    And the poor dear lives on the other side of the globe, missing out on her three grandkids here.
    I hate it and I would love nothing more to have her close by.
    So much so that I'm considering a huge move back home in a few years.

    OK, sorry for the (long) ramble. This has been on my mind for a while but in light of the recent thread I thought I'd get it out there.
    I know I'm not very articulate so if you've waded through all that and have an opinion, throw it at me.
    how do you see yourself as a MIL? What are your in-laws like and will you strive to be like them or do the exact opposite?

    I've two sons and a daughter.
    One of them is bound to make me a MIL before I croak it.
    I'd love to be like my MIL but I fear I'll end up like my own mother who's a bit baths!t crazy at times and totally confuses her emotions and creates more problems for herself.

    I read something once, can't remember where but it said
    'A criticism is really just a way of making a request, so why not just make the request?'

    A good thing to keep for us MILs to be I think.

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    MissMuppet  (09-07-2015)

  3. #2
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    Default How to be a good MIL?

    I believe a lot of it is a difficulty in accepting that their child isn't a child anymore. They want to help them like they once did and they want to be there for them but there comes a point where we all move on and need to start standing on our own two feet, make our own mistakes and raise our own families.

    I believe a good MIL knows this and knows when to take a step back and let the couple decide how they want to run their lives and their household. It's one thing to be there and support their child and their child's spouse but it's another thing to intervene and meddle in the decisions they need to make as a couple.

    I think it also becomes complicated when there are siblings involved. Sometimes it means that daughters and DILs or sons and son ILs will be compared and when this is the case loyalties usually err on the side of their own child. It seems to be a common theme amongst my friends who don't get along with their MIL.

    A good mil is supportive of the couple and accepting of the new person in their life. She is open minded and has the ability to look at things from more then her own perspective.

    Eta, Of course a good mil also needs a good DIL who is also accepting of her role and realises that she was the second women to be loved by the MILs child. They have a long standing relationship (which has changed over time) and her presence shouldn't interfere with that.
    Last edited by Once Upon a Time; 09-07-2015 at 08:18.

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  5. #3
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    My MIL is truly a good person. She loves her family and will do anything for them. Her
    MIL wasnt the best so she is determined to be better. But with 2 boys she also knows she is on the outside as both of us DILs go to our mum/family first before asking her AND that hurts her. My kids are still her grandkids and she adores them.

    The biggest issue MIL and I have is cultural differences. She is from country Victoria and I'm from metropolitan India. Our perspectives on raising kids, family values and even language usage is so different. Without meaning to we frequently offend each other. There is no intent to ever upset each other but we still manage to unconsciously. And as she hates confrontation she won't tell me I've upset her so I continue on merrily and when I get upset, I cannot tell her as she gets super upset. Now we both get really defensive for no reason other than we feel we are getting attacked when in honestly it's just a cultural difference. IE - MIL thinks bed sharing is not appropriate. But for me it's normal and DH is happy as long as we have sleep. It's taken MIL 5 yrs to still say "oh the kids still need you to sleep?".

    Both my mum and MIL want DH and I to parent like they did 30-35yrs ago. But whilst I can tell my mum to stop and I know she will always love me, I feel awkward telling Dh's mum that.

    I think we need to cut our MILs a break. I know I need to cut mine a break as her menopausal journey has not been easy, she was recently made redundant and her self worth is low in her eyes.

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    Phony  (09-07-2015)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Once Upon a Time View Post

    I believe a good MIL knows this and knows when to take a step back and let the couple decide how they want to run their lives and their household. It's one thing to be there and support their child and their child's spouse but it's another thing to intervene and meddle in the decisions they need to make as a couple.

    I think it also becomes complicated when there are siblings involved. Sometimes it means that daughters and DILs or sons and son ILs will be compared and when this is the case loyalties usually err on the side of their own child. It seems to be a common theme amongst my friends who don't get along with their MIL.
    I agree completely - DH and BIL are perfect examples.

    DH marries me - army guy who has served OS on multiple tours meets city slicker Indian with a penchant for travelling, spicy foods and multiple degrees.

    BIL marries SIL - both have always lived and worked in the country right near MIL. SIL is a kindy teacher aide and is very handy with a tractor and moving sheep. Both are nice people with their lives based around their farming lives.


    SIL and I parent on completely opp sides of the spectrum. Her parenting and family values are more of MILs as they have the same cultural mindset. Whereas I'm on the other side looking like a raging hippy.

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    My MIL used to be incredibly difficult. Now she's a pretty good MIL. What changed is that she got a life outside of her children. In the difficult stage she saw (by her own admission) her children as belonging to her and as having a duty to look after her and dote on her forever more. And her daughters in law were obviously an obstacle and controlled her sons every move.

    Then she got married, made new friends, became wealthy and everything changed. Her life no longer revolved around her adult children, she was happy in her own life and so she was happy for her sons to be independent and have their own lives and be happy too.

    The lesson I've learned from that is to have a life of my own and not rely upon my children to grow up and make me happy. Its not their job to look after me, and be my entertainment, and my everything. That's too much pressure and responsibility for anyone. So whether I become a MIL or not, I plan on trying to be content in my own life, and have interests, friends, and work outside of my immediate family. I fully expect it will be hard to let go, but I truly think its harder to not let go and live continually frustrated and disappointed.

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  11. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Once Upon a Time View Post
    Of course a good mil also needs a good DIL
    Oh yes!
    I feel I could be a fairly stable MIL but I'm not so sure if my DIL to be is a piece of work.
    Oh god, more to think about.
    My brother married a spherical b!tch.
    I gave her the benefit of the doubt for many years but she was only using me against my family.
    Caught her out on the last issue and called her on it, she reacted like a child and cut me off too. That was the of communication between the pair of us.
    How would I hold my tongue of that was a DIL?
    Not good.
    I suppose I will have to hope my children are good judges of character to begin with.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rose&Aurelia View Post
    My MIL is truly a good person. She loves her family and will do anything for them. Her
    MIL wasnt the best so she is determined to be better. But with 2 boys she also knows she is on the outside as both of us DILs go to our mum/family first before asking her AND that hurts her. My kids are still her grandkids and she adores them.
    From observation, I am absolutely expecting my sons to find a wife and for that to be their new focus. I'm sure it will hurt to some degree though so I hope I cope with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rose&Aurelia View Post
    The biggest issue MIL and I have is cultural differences. She is from country Victoria and I'm from metropolitan India. Our perspectives on raising kids, family values and even language usage is so different. Without meaning to we frequently offend each other. There is no intent to ever upset each other but we still manage to unconsciously.
    I think you're both doing really well then.
    And I'm sure, even with the misunderstanding, the feelings are more good than bad between you.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rose&Aurelia View Post
    I think we need to cut our MILs a break. I know I need to cut mine a break as her menopausal journey has not been easy, she was recently made redundant and her self worth is low in her eyes.
    Absolutely.
    Seeing it in my own mother, I understand her a lot more now.
    But my younger siblings still get so fried up when mam takes a wobbly, it means I'm mediator more often than not.

    Quote Originally Posted by MissMuppet View Post
    Then she got married, made new friends, became wealthy and everything changed. Her life no longer revolved around her adult children, she was happy in her own life and so she was happy for her sons to be independent and have their own lives and be happy too.

    The lesson I've learned from that is to have a life of my own and not rely upon my children to grow up and make me happy. Its not their job to look after me, and be my entertainment, and my everything. That's too much pressure and responsibility for anyone. So whether I become a MIL or not, I plan on trying to be content in my own life, and have interests, friends, and work outside of my immediate family. I fully expect it will be hard to let go, but I truly think its harder to not let go and live continually frustrated and disappointed.
    Yep!
    This is what I hope I'll be doing in my twilight years

  12. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rose&Aurelia View Post
    raging hippy.


    There's always one.

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    We lost our second child last year (my living DS was 2 at the time) and we went to counselling to help with the grieving process. I have always been very attached to my DS - I genuinely enjoy his company and like to be around him. He makes me happy. When we were in the depths of grief, just a cuddle from him would brighten my day. In order to concentrate on our counselling sessions, we left DS with our ILs and drove an hour away to get to our counsellor. I was distraught at leaving him - it wasn't because I thought he would come to any harm, it was because I missed him so so much and felt like there was a very good chance that I might fall apart from grief. Anyway, I was talking about it with my counsellor and she point blank told me that I was setting myself up to be the mother in law from hell. I think she was out of line given our circumstances but her comment has stuck in my mind.

    So with that added to things, I think a good mil recognises the change in life stages and level of dependency. Right now I have a toddler so it's my duty to take full care of him. When he's an adult, we will have done our best to teach him life skills and then of course he'll make his own mistakes and learn his own lessons in the big bad world. When he finds a partner, I hope to be nothing but supportive of them. It doesn't mean that his partner is taking him away from me, it's that he's into the next stage of life. I think a lot of mils struggle with that - their baby is always their baby. My mil still calls her 37yo son her baby.

    For things like Christmas and family traditions, I feel that these should centre around the children. If my kids want us to come to their place or they'd like to visit us on Christmas, great. If not, great. Whatever suits their little family best. Right now it's our time to enjoy our little traditions with our kids. It's not something we have to do come hell or high water every year until we die.

    Essentially, I hope I'm good at evolving with the relationship dynamics and life stages. I think that's what it boils down to. Of the utmost importance is respect: respect for my adult children and their choices in life

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    I'm so saddened for your loss.
    I never know what to say in these circumstances so I I'll just send virtual hugs X

    This
    Quote Originally Posted by MaximumStarlight View Post
    Anyway, I was talking about it with my counsellor and she point blank told me that I was setting myself up to be the mother in law from hell.
    is utter madness and to be coming from some one who makes a living from dishing out advice is just nuts!
    Has she got evidence of this I wonder? Or spouting a personal opinion at a time when you really didn't need it.

    I remember being the exact same with my DS.
    He was that kind of child.
    Still is actually.
    Just easy going, can bring him absolutely anywhere and never, ever gave me a days trouble.
    Whenever we get time alone with each other, it's the same all over again and I forget how easy it is with him until I find myself just thoroughly enjoying his company.
    In no way would that ever mean I want to keep him locked up forever, just for me or that I would resent his future wife to the point of becoming a MIL from hell.
    Please take no heed of that woman in respect to that comment.

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    I get along well with my MIL. I think it helps that my husband is the oldest of 3 kids, he moved out of home years before we met and got married - so it wasn't like he was leaving her home for mine. But she (and FIL) have always treated me with respect and included me as part of the family.

    We don't always see eye to eye on parenting issues - especially as there are cultural differences between my family and theirs, but she is respectful if the parenting choices that my husband and I make (probably moreso than my own mother).

    Her love for her grandchildren has no bounds - my kids are her only grandkids so far. It has taken her a while to find the line between wanting to spoil the kids and let them do whatever they want, yet be mindful of the rules and expectations that we have for their behaviour - but she has been receptive to the requests from my husband about this.

    I think there is a bit of give and take in fostering a good MIL/DIL relationship.especially when children/grandchildren become involved. As a DIL, I have to remind myself a lot that my kids are her grandchildren, as much as they are my own mother's grandchildren. And I know that my MIL appreciates being asked to babysit, or when we bring the kids to their place for the day - she sees these opportunities more as a privilege than a right.

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