6 things a mother-in-law should never do

Posted May 18

Are you guilty of any of these mother-in-law don'ts? If so, it might be time to change how you do things. (Deseret Photo)

When your child is engaged or seriously dating someone, it is a mother’s duty to ask questions, probe, observe and give advice. But once they are married, it is time to support and embrace that new member into your family. Your days of helping them to decide if this is the one for them are over. They have chosen. Short of them being in a dangerous situation that they may need help getting out of, it’s time to switch from advising them, to supporting them.

To fully support their choice, you definitely don’t want to be doing any of the following 6 things:

1. Make critiques

Whether your child has been married 1 month or 20 years, critiquing their spouse should really be avoided. If the food is burnt, the house a mess, or your grandchild is questionably dressed, leave it alone. It only causes hurt feelings, makes them feel like they are not good enough and will not live up to your standards.

2. Expect your relationship with your child to be the same

When your child gets married, it is a huge change for everyone. They are adjusting to a new spouse, a new way of living, and they are focused on this new type of relationship. It may seem they distance themselves from you for a while as they get used to being married. This is natural. Your relationship with them will not be the same as it was before. Try to embrace the new member of your family and enjoy seeing their relationship grow and develop.

3. Take sides

One thing you should try not to do is take sides. When your child is arguing with their spouse, stay out of it. You can be a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, and perhaps give advice (if asked) but never say who is right and who is wrong. Never chose sides even if your child asks you to. It may come back to haunt you. You may say something you cannot take back in the heat of the moment. It is easier for your child to forgive and move on than it is for their spouse.

4. Overstep your bounds

Sometimes your married children really need you. Just because they are married does not change that they are your child, but there are certain lines that you should not cross.

If you are concerned about something you see happening, ask yourself if it is really important enough to address. Does it really matter? Is it a big enough deal that you’re willing to put your relationship with your child and their spouse at risk? Just think about it first.

Does the way she fold the towels really matter that much? Does the meal he cooked you really need more flavor? If you cross that line, there is no going back. Some people have a great relationship with their in-laws and feel comfortable enough to say exactly what is on their mind, but others don’t. Tread carefully.

5. Expect to spend every holiday together

When your child gets married, they now have 2 sets of parents to spend their time with. They also have their own little family. If you get upset that they choose the other in-laws over you, or even choose to celebrate a holiday with just their own kids and each other, it can cause problems. Try to understand that they are not trying to hurt you. You may have to learn to take turns, or work out a time you can celebrate with them on another day than the actual holiday.

6. Talk bad about them to your child

If your child is talking bad about their spouse to you, it does not mean you can talk bad about them as well. If their spouse finds out what you said, it can ruin your relationship. Your child may also take offense at someone else talking bad about their spouse and hold a grudge or get upset and cause you to drift apart.

Having a good relationship with your daughter/son-in-law is vital to how the relationship with your child will be in the future. You may not be their best friend, but it is important they know you support them, you love them, and you are happy they are in your family.

Megan Shauri graduated with a bachelors in Anthropology and a masters in Psychology. She lives in Orange County, CA and is a mother of twins. Contact her at


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