Changing the Stereotype: Why I Appreciate My Mother-In-Law

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Changing the Stereotype: Why I Appreciate My Mother-In-Law

When my husband and I got married, we moved into the house beside his parents. We were excited and anxious to begin our lives, and little by little, as we moved furniture and painted walls, it all started to sink in: I’m living next door to my in-laws.

I don’t know why I was nervous. Maybe it was the countless times people commented, “Oh wow, good luck with that! I could never live next to mine!” Or perhaps it was the sitcoms on popular television shows that get their comedic relief from unstable and ridiculous mother-in-law relationships.
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I understand that some in-laws are crazy and seemingly impossible to build a relationship with, but I still hate the stereotype. I don’t like how society groups all of these women into a category. I’m sure we can all think of some annoying stereotypes that don’t apply to us: The nagging wife. The lazy husband. The clueless father.

The reality is that those stereotypes are perpetuated throughout our culture. They come through our TV screens and creep into our child’s DVD collection. At some point, they probably even come out of our own mouths. Could it be that we have a pre-conceived idea of what our mother-in-law will be like before we ever have one?

My mother-in-law and I have very different personalities but we show each other mutual respect and love. She’s made several impressions on my life that I’ll never forget:

She took me shopping to buy me things for our new house a few weeks before I married her son.

She took care of our daughter every single day while I worked. She followed our nap and feeding schedule without question.

She took me shopping and told me I looked beautiful when I was crying in the dressing room over my post-partum body. She helped me buy clothes that made me feel better.

Most importantly, she gave me something invaluable: She raised my husband to be an involved parent, a faithful husband, and a hard worker.

I’m sure I’ll be someone’s mother-in-law someday. Will my daughter or son-in-law already have ideas about me before I meet them? Will they be defensive from the beginning? Will they think I’m old-school, rude, and nosy? I hope that as a society, we can break free from these stereotypes and that we can all try a little harder to be the exception. Those of you with truly toxic family members, my heart breaks for you. I know it isn’t easy to go through those struggles. I hope you strive to break the cycle and become an exceptional and inspiring mother-in-law to the spouse of your sons and daughters someday.

What is your relationship like with your mother-in-law? Which family stereotypes bug you? Comment below!

27 COMMENTS

  1. My son and daughter-in-law live across the street from us and we couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t love my wonderful daughter-in-law more. I am aware of the meddling M-I-L stereotype, so I am careful to give them their space…. but am always pleased when they call me over to look at their garden or just to have a cup of coffee. I will admit that there are times when I catch myself starting to give advice and then stop and wait to see if advice is requested. If not, I try not to give it. I will ask my D-I-L for her advice on gardening and even cooking, as she is very creative and knowledgeable about nutrition – and i have no problem admitting to her that she knows more about such things than I do!
    I was fortunate myself, to have had not just one – but TWO great mothers-in-law. I still visit with my M-I-L from my first marriage and have always maintained a good relationship with her – even when her son and I were going through a divorce. My M-I-L from my current marriage is also a sweetheart. My own daughter speaks highly of her M-I-L, as well. I guess we’ve all been so lucky!

  2. My mother-in-law was a beautiful God loving woman who had a sweet, loving heart. She was a wonderful baker and always shared with her family….think about her often & miss spending time ith her. I ill see her again God willing.

  3. I don’t have a mother-in-law, I have a monster in-law!! I hope one day when my boys get married that I can be the mother-in-law I always dreamed to have!! You ladies have very lucky to have such a wonderful MIL!

  4. I was so happy to read this! My MIL is wonderful to me (and our boys). The stereotype is hard to let go of, but if you can, a great relationship can come from it!

  5. I learned to love my MIL. It took time and an open heart and mind, but I loved what she brought to the family-mix. I could magnify her weaknesses, differences, and personality, but what did mine look like to her as the woman her son chose as his wife. This hit me and made me realize I really could treat her with love because she loved her son like I did. WE HAD SOMETHING ON COMMON!! And that’s when everything changed for the good.

  6. I am very blessed with my in laws. My family and my husband’s all get along. My parents don’t live where we do (yet) but when they visit my in laws always plan big get togethers so my parents can be part of what we fo when they arnt here. Heck, my parents and in laws call and talk just because. I’m so grateful and blessed that we all get along so well.

  7. I truly see my MIL as a second mother! She has done SO MUCH for me and my husband that it would take pages to explain, and we are forever grateful. What’s even more perfect about my situation is we live in the same town as both sets of parents, and they have all become wonderful friends over the years! It’s amazing!

  8. I am the ML. I love my daughter in law. I try to be the best because I know of the stereotype. But no matter what I do she holds me at arms length. She loves her mom and everything revolves around making her mother happy. I’m very sad and was hoping for a relationship with her when my son married her 5 years ago.

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