The Best Mother-in-Law

We’ve all heard them, the mother-in-law stories! Husbands who don’t want the mother-in-law to come over. Tales of rude conversations between in-laws. Sarcastic comments and evil references. Our society seems to accept that type of strained relationship among in-laws.

Here’s a story that goes against that negativity.

When I married, I had in my mind an antagonistic in-law attitude. I felt that was how life worked, at least that was what the culture had taught me. Those first couple of years I did not want to accept my mother-in-law’s help. I guess I felt I had to prove myself worthy of her son. I over-analyzed her comments, was touchy around her, and doubted myself frequently. Fortunately, I am a generally amiable person, so I was never rude or ugly towards her, but my inner dialog was a battlefield in my mind.

After those first few months and years I finally realized that my “other mother” was on my side. She loved me and rooted for me simply because her son had chosen me. Her love for her son spilled over on me!

As I began to change the frame of reference in my mind I settled down. I grew in love for her and our relationship became strong and important in my life. She was a godly woman worth learning from and listening to.

What did she do, or not do? She never judged me. She was a humble servant to our whole family and everyone who knew her. She was honest and forthright without drama, I knew where I stood with her and we were able to work through difficulties without turmoil. She loved my/our kids and spoiled them in a healthy affirming way. She sewed for us, babysat for us, cooked for us, took me to women’s events with her at church, vacationed with us, and never complained, even when you knew her arthritis had her feeling bad.

One of the most important things my mother-in-law did was, she let me be me. I wasn’t skilled and talented in the same ways she was, but she always appreciated my gifts and never tried to get me to conform to her standards. I was more blessed than I realized at the time. She was an example to me of how to be a mother-in-law, and I believe I am a relatively good (though not perfect of course!) “mother-in-love” to my new children who have married into our family.

So why do I write this today? To challenge all of you who have in-laws.

Think about the cultural biases and expectations you have towards your mother-in-law. Are they realistic and just? What if a person had these biases and expectations of you? Would they seem fair then? Make a conscious decision to have a wonderful, close relationship with her. Decide to become one of her closest friends – as much as it depends on you. Find ways to serve, love, and give to this wonderful woman God has placed in your life. Appreciate her for raising your husband to be the man you fell in love with. When you do these things you will learn from her, grow in grace and wisdom, and have a calmer life.

Consider making this a goal for 2022! Let this verse be your theme:

 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:18

When it comes to in-laws “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” is a good motto!

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