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What to Say to Your Mother-in-Law

A Letter to My Future Mother-in-Law

Dear Future Mother-in-Law,

I have seen many mother- and daughter-in-law relationships in my life. I have seen the type where the two go out to lunch and talk on the phone every day. And, unfortunately, I've seen the type where they b*tch about each other to anyone who will listen, including their son/husband. There are many reasons why the latter happens, but in my experience, the reason these relationships become so negative is over something so positive — grandchildren!

I know you did an amazing job raising your own children. After all, I'm choosing to spend the rest of my life with your son, which means he's most likely supportive, sweet, and smart (and, if I can be frank, very handsome). But now it's time for you to take a backseat and let me bring up my children how I see fit. You should take some comfort in the fact that I work for a parenting site and know a thing or two about car seats, sleep training, healthy snacks, and so much more. In fact, I'm probably starting off with more knowledge than you did when you were in my shoes . . . no offense. I also had amazing role models in the form of my own mother, aunts, and grandmothers. So while I may not have your years of experience, I do have some idea of what it takes to be a good mom. There will be plenty of times when you want to criticize me by offering a suggestion or just telling me I'm wrong. Don't. I'm happy to listen to your advice if I ask for it, but if that's not the case, then I ask you to remember what we tell children: if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Another favor I must ask is that you please respect my parenting rules. I get that one of the benefits of being a grandparent is getting to do the fun things that parents won't do with their kids. I know you'll occasionally take them to ice cream before dinner or slip them $5 each time you see them. I'm OK with that. But there's a fine line between spoiling them and stepping on Mommy's toes. I'll turn a blind eye and let you break those little rules, but when it comes to big-picture things, like religious practices, holiday celebrations, and discipline, it's my way or the highway (another sign I'll be a good mom — I use lots of mom clichés).

I hope you don't take this letter as a threat or mean message. Rather, I want to use it as a guideline for building a better relationship between us. Because the one thing I would hate is for our relationship to affect our loved ones.

I love your son and grandkids. Sometimes I worry my heart might explode from how much space they occupy. They are my motivation for being the best version of myself. I have had some struggles in my life, but each one was worth it if it means having them with me now. Yes, there are days when they drive me crazy, but that's what being a wife and mom is all about. I love your son and grandchildren more than words can express, and I know you feel the same way. I really hope at the end of the day, our love for them is enough to make us love each other too. Or, at the very least, respect one another.

Your Future Daughter-in-Law

Source: Flickr user Wim Mulder

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