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To be terrified about becoming a MiL

(52 Posts)
needafootmassage Sun 12-Dec-10 07:44:58

I will be meeting my son's fiancee soon - they live overseas and this will be the first meet, although we have had warm email and phone exchanges.

Since joining MN, I have realised what a minefield MiL-ing is, and am now utterly terrified I will cause upset or offence inadvertedly. She sounds like a lovely young woman (I can't imagine my son proposing to someone who was not lovely) who will probably be as nervous as me. I fully intend to be as accommodating and friendly as possible, especially as she is away from her own family this Christmas.

Any other tips gratefully received!

onimolap Sun 12-Dec-10 07:58:43

Tell her very early on how you wish to be addressed.

I was very grateful that my PiLs did this almost first thing.

seeker Sun 12-Dec-10 08:00:06

Sorry - there's nothing you can do. You will, on the night of the wedding, suffer a strange near death experience, and emerge from it a different species - no longer a fallible but well intentioned human woman who tries to do her best but a MOTHER IN LAW! Your sole function in life will henceforward be to undermine, annoy and generally hack off your daughter in law. Your only hope is rescue by Dr Who, who will be able to restore you to your original form.

You may as well give in to the inevitable. You could start by welcoming her to your family. This will be interpreted as meaning that her family is horrid and she is lucky to be allowed to joining yours. Then you could tell her how pretty she is. This means that you think she is an air head who isn't good enough for your ds................

Lonnie Sun 12-Dec-10 08:00:42

be yoruself and you cant steer wrong.

My MIL is fantastic I would rather have her around than my mother I have bene on holiday with her and we have suggested we get a house with a granny flat for herr (she is 84 now) in the 17 years Ive known her we have had 2 disagreements I dont think that is bad.

When it comes to me being a MIL if I just get 1/2 of what mine managed I know I will do fine.

Yes there are horror stories out there but there are also stories like mine of a wonderful woman whom have enriched my life and that of my children I love her to pieces wouldnt be without her in my life.

So just be yourself be friendly and bear in mind she is nervous too .. and then well you are likely off for a great relationship

FreddoBaggyMac Sun 12-Dec-10 08:02:37

You sound lovely! my tip would be to tell her how you're feeling (not straight away when you meet her but when you get the chance to have a little chat). Explain to her how nervous you are about your new role as MIL and how you want to make her as welcome as you can. I think it will help if she glimpses things from your perspective.

TyraG Sun 12-Dec-10 08:07:25

Don't worry about it, I'm sure everything will be fine. Personally I love my MIL to bits, she is the most amazing woman, how could I not love her when I love her son and she did such an amazing job raising him.

She will love you, as Lonnie said, just be yourself and it will be fine. And she will definitely be nervous, I know I was

spidookly Sun 12-Dec-10 08:08:46

Carry on as you are

While she is a guest make sure she has opportunities to withdraw from the rest of you if she needs to be alone, and don't be offended if she does.

Being around another family 24 hours a day can be wearing, even when you know and love them - all families are bonkers in their own ways your son is used to his family and will be thrilled to be back and slot into his role.

Maybe keep an eye on that and offer her opportunities to go out for a walk (with you?) or do things away from the main heave of family interactions.

In the longer term I think my Granny is a good MIL. She has a very old-fashioned approach - her rule is that every woman's home is her sphere. So a MIL must not comment on how things are arranged\done in her son's house, respect the DIL's decisions, and ge as helpful as possible without intruding.

She was always super-housewife, my mother (to say thd least) was not. She drives her own efficient housewife daughters demented (not sure why rule doesn't apply to them ) but happily sits in my parents'
pigsty house and doesn't say a word.

Same goes for childrearing, natch.

I am very fond of my MIL, she is an amazing woman. But it can be tricky at times having a mother-style relationship with someone who is not your own mother. It's a relationship that happens officially very suddenly, but in reality develops over many years. Give it time.

Maybe when you're 92 this woman will be the one that brings you to the hairdresser, because she loves you

jumpyjack Sun 12-Dec-10 08:09:16

In my experience, if you're both reasonable, kind and emotionally mature women, chances are you'll be fine. Especially if you have a mature and warm relationship with your son. The trouble seems to come once children arrive AND one of you is not emotionally up to negotiating the relationship. If that's you, you've got some time to move to establishing a good relationship with them as adults. If it's her, ummmm, good luck!

needafootmassage Sun 12-Dec-10 08:11:03

seeker Hehehe!

Good advice all, thanks.

Freddo, I wondered whether to do something like that or keep it a bit lighter the first time (I'll see her again around their wedding in the spring).

glovesoflove Sun 12-Dec-10 08:14:52

She's just as scared about meeting you!

If it helps, out of five long term relationships I have liked ALL the mothers/stepmothers and I think they all liked me

needafootmassage Sun 12-Dec-10 08:16:04

RE: taking me to the hairdresser - lovely image - she would have along journey as they are going to settle in the other side of the world...

But even that is fine really, I don't blame them at all for wanting to live in her home country, it's beautiful and an excuse for some travel for me sometimes (but a little worried that visits will be so full on in a way they wouldn't if they were round the corner...)

I know they want to get on and have DC very soon - can't wait to be a granny if we're all lucky enough and it happens! I shall hold my tongue on that one though, I promise.

nomoreheels Sun 12-Dec-10 09:16:16

My MIL is a fantastic woman. She's supportive, funny, lots of fun to hang out with & treats me like one of her daughters. (My mum is in another country, so she's kind of my adoptive mum)

She's never put pressure on us and gives us lots of space to lead our lives. She's now absolutely delighted that I am P but never did the "when am I getting a grandchild?" thing.

I agree that if you are kind, friendly & just want to get to know each other then it's a good start. You sound like a nice lady PS!

There are probably just as many nightmare DILs as there are MILs, I'm sure!

WriterofDreams Sun 12-Dec-10 10:38:01

Another small piece of advice - remember that she is not your daughter and approach the relationship in the same way as you would approach any friendly relationship with another woman. Some women love to be "mothered" by the MILs but IMO the vast majority of problems in the MIL/DIL relationship happen when MIL oversteps the mark and starts to boss DIL around or to make comments on her life/home/children. Of course there are horrible DILs out there too, so it's not always the MILs fault!

My MIL is a really lovely person but she is quite overbearing. I do not like being mothered, even by my own mother, so when she asks constantly if I'm ok, if I want a jumper, if I want a drink etc I find it incredibly annoying. Last Christmas we were staying with the PILs and I decided to take a walk into town on my own. I really needed to get out of the house and have some time to myself but I knew it would be a struggle to get out the door. I tried to just escape and said to MIL "I'm off out, will be back soon" but no, clearly I may look 27 but actually I'm 4 and a half and need to be accompanied everywhere. Her immediate response was "Oh but I'm busy I can't go out now..." (which of course is why I chose that moment to go out!) to which I replied "No bother, I'm just going for a quick walk into the town to buy a couple of things." Cue a huge to-do about how I should wait for her to be finished, and did I know the way into town? (approx five minutes away) and not to get lost and wouldn't DH go with me? In the end I had to say "Look I really want to go on my own and I'm going so bye." Even then she chased after me with scarves and gloves etc. It's very smothering and quite disrespectful in the sense that I feel she doesn't see me as a competent adult. It puts me off visiting her which is a shame because I would like to spend more time with DH's family and what with our first DC on the way that's going to become even more important.

Wow, that turned into a bit of an essay, but what I'm trying to say is being an MIL is weird I'm sure because you're thrown into a relationship with a person you haven't chosen. Best to play the whole thing by ear, treat her with respect and kindness, don't mother her and see how it goes. It could all be fine, or she could be a nasty witch (I really hope not!) Either way you'll know you've done your best.

ledkrsbellyislikesantas Sun 12-Dec-10 10:50:48

I ma a mil-became one at 41 and have a gs too.I have a lovely relationship with dil and i think this is due to the fact i have given them space and not "muscled in" on their lives.I offer no advice unless they ask and maintained reasonabl boundaries when baby was born eg.Of course she wanted her Mum to picked them up from the hospital and attend her ante natal appointments when my ds was working.I am his Mum not hers and respect that fact.I also have slightly nightmarish pil myself so did have that as a kind of anti role model haha

onimolap Sun 12-Dec-10 10:59:40

Is she also an ex-pat, or a local to where your DS now lives? Where are her parents? I'm asking because it might make a difference if you'll be her only "family" in UK (assuming you're in UK) and whether you have any cultural issues to deal with.

CrazyChristmasLady Sun 12-Dec-10 12:05:43

I'm dreading this too (even though I have many many years to go yet) as I don't want to seem awful to any DILs and keep thinking that DS won't want me around as much etc etc.

However I keep thinking about my siblings that are in relationships and I am really hoping they marry them. I really like the partners they have chosen and I know they are nice people who would make great husbands/wives and parents (as they are fantastic with DS and he adores them). I would be more than happy to have them in my family and I am hoping that one day my DCs will choose as wisely.

Thats all anyone can hope for.

I second Writers advice, and if she gets pregnant, don't maul her belly on several occasions when you are specifically told not to, it is very annoying, wink (a personal issue I have with my MIL) and also don't completely ignore/disregard anything you are told/asked by your DS. If he has politely asked you several times not to keep buying fridge magnets when you going away, listen, it means they don't want them, not carry on and do exactly as you like whenever you are asked not to do something.

Listening and respecting child and DIL/SIL wishes will go a long way.

PsecretSantead Sun 12-Dec-10 12:08:32

Oh, I love my MIL. Just be nice, kind, etc and welcoming.

PsecretSantead Sun 12-Dec-10 12:08:58

And hehe @ seeker

ragged Sun 12-Dec-10 12:11:51

I think this is definitely one of those issues where you have to tune out what MN says (avoid all MIL threads in future!) and just be yourself. Most MILs and DILs get along reasonably well, as well as any relationship-by marriage situation.

Adversecamber Sun 12-Dec-10 12:49:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RockinRobinBird Sun 12-Dec-10 13:02:47

I have a fab relationship with my MIL but it wasnt always like that. The problems definitely stemmed from her failing to realise that her family wasnt my family. So just because they did something a certain way, didn't mean it was the only way. She expected me to jump when she called and placed a lot of demands on me to be certain places at certain times etc.

We ended up having a major row, nearly a punch up, not long after we married. I wouldn't advise it obviously but a lot was said and the air was cleared. Now we have a really good, close relationship, but it took work.

Careybliss Sun 12-Dec-10 13:11:31

I shall offer my golden rules for successful MILship:

1. Do not surprise your son and DIL by joining them on their first overseas holiday together, and especially do not join them in the jacuzzi.

2. Do not do reconnaisance missions when they are staying at a hotel and get on a first name basis with the hotel manager and leave post-it notes with messages everywhere inside their hotel room before they've arrived. This will not be appreciated.

3. 9 weeks is not an acceptable period of time to stay with your son and DIL. And if you do stay then at least go out once and a while.

4. If you must eavesdrop then don't get caught. Try and be discreet.

5. Don't adulate your son all the time. He is a human being you know.

That's about it really. I'm sure you'll be fine.

RevoltingPeasant Sun 12-Dec-10 13:19:44

I am not married, but I'd say, try and spend some time alone with her. My 'MIL' (well, DP's mum) is absolutely lovely, but different from me in many ways. I was afraid I'd accidentally offend her in lots of small ways (and I wonder if she thought the same about me?). Anyhow recently we ended up spending a whole evening together alone; at first I dreaded it as I thought it might be awkward, but actually it was very nice just to relax and talk to her and develop some common ground. I'll always differ from her but we can chat, too -- always the essence of any woman-woman relationship! grin

becaroodolf Sun 12-Dec-10 13:25:50

MIL is an anagram of "woman hitler"

grin

You'll be fine.

Just dont start any land wars in europe, ok?

grin

pranma Sun 12-Dec-10 13:38:12

I am a mother-in-law to 3 lovely young women and two [one lovely one ok]young men.I am very lucky in that I have a great relationship with them all.I have a Turkish d-i-l and was very nervous about forming a relationship with her as in turkey a m-i-l is venerated to her face and often loathed in private!
The important things are;
1]you both love your son and want him to be happy
2]from now on she is no1 woman in his life and that is how it should be;his first loyalty must always be to his wife
3]offer no unsolicited advice but if you are asked then think how your answers will sound
4]make her feel wanted-not just a welcome guest but a wanted part of the family-let her help you when appropriate,maybe ask her to make the odd cuppa and see that she knows where everything is-tell her to make food/drinks when she wants.
5]offer a door key if they go out
6]offer a hug when you meet
7]you sound lovely so just be yourself
good luck

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