Cherry Blossom in Spring

Father’s Day weekend offered a preview of the next season of my life: children growing up, marrying, and starting families of their own. I’m trying to wrap my head around it—I’m too young for this, right?—but it’s coming.

We spread the births of our eight children over nineteen years, so we’ve got ‘em out of school and engaged; in college; high school; middle school; and elementary. It’s been a crazy ride and some of our kids are growing up, but our nest won’t empty for at least ten years. I’ll be surprised if we aren’t holding grandbabies by then.

Saturday we witnessed the marriage of a sweet girl we’ve known for all of her twenty-four years to the young man who stole her heart. I’ve cried at plenty of weddings, but smiled through this sweet, sweet service. Although I didn’t know the groom and his family, the mother/son dance at the reception killed me.

I could hear his mother’s thoughts as clearly as if she spoke them aloud: I love you; I’m proud of you; I’m so happy you found the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with; I’ll always be here for you. It’s time to let you go.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. – Genesis 2:24

20140624_DawnCamp_cherryblossoms

The bond between a mother and son is a wild and powerful thing. I was one of two girls and so was my mother; I assumed my first child would be a daughter. What a surprise when the ultrasound said otherwise.

A son! What would I do with him? Thankfully he was too young to realize I didn’t have the answers, and together we figured it out along the way. Our first three children were boys and it took ten years as parents until I delivered a girl, the first of four.

Now our first son is engaged and next spring I’ll be the mother-of-the-groom; dance that mother/son dance; and hopefully smile up into my son’s eyes without tears, rejoicing in his new family and his future.

On Father’s Day we celebrated with all of our children—a rare treat!—plus a fiancee, two girlfriends, my mother-in-law, and a family friend. Our large family will continue to grow in the coming years as our roles and boundaries expand.

Those of you who’ve traveled this road: what advice can you give to us moms who are approaching a child’s marriage and transitioning into the role of mother-in-law? Got mother-of-the-groom tips for the wedding? All help is appreciated!

by Dawn Camp, My Home Sweet Home

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  1. 1

    Dawn,
    First, my hat is off to you for raising eight children. I sometimes felt undone by raising two. My oldest, a girl, is 25 and so I will be interested to read the advice you get from the “mature” readers :) . I don’t know what your son getting married is like, but I know that my son, in general, does not keep the lines of communication open as well as my daughter does. It’s just not in their DNA. I think I would reach out to his bride to establish a good communication network – not to be nosy, but to build trust. I want my son and his bride to know that I am there for them. I would also imagine that less is better when giving advice (in other words, give when asked). I had a very overbearing mother-in-law and it was not a good thing. From what I have read and gather about your personality, I think you will be a wonderful and supportive mother-in-law.
    Congratulations and blessings to you,
    Bev

  2. 3

    Wow. What a privilege to raise 8 children. I can’t say I have any words of advice for you. My oldest is a boy who just turned 12. So we’re weaving through the years as he tests his boundaries.
    I’ve always felt it difficult to relate to my boys because their thinking is so beyond what I think is normal.
    I’m so thankful that God gives me fresh grace and fresh insight as I commit each day to him.
    Prayers for the future as you continue to enjoy each stage of parenting.
    Blessings!

    • 4

      This cracked me up: “I’ve always felt it difficult to relate to my boys because their thinking is so beyond what I think is normal.” Amen! I’ve been reminded again this week that my boys don’t think like I do. Apparently this is a hard one to learn.

  3. 5

    This is beautiful! My oldest son is only four, but I had him with me at a wedding recently. The minister was the groom’s father, and when he was sharing a little about the bride and groom, he talked about how he sang the old Wayne Watson song, “Somewhere in the World,” at his son’s baby dedication about praying for the little girl who would grow up to be his wife. And I started crying, because I realized that the years between now and handing my son off to another woman will pass too quickly. So I’m praying for his future wife for now!

    • 6

      Amy, I love the idea of praying for our children’s spouses now. I think it’s important for them—especially during the teen and young adult years—to think about their future spouses as real people that they should wait (and pray) for.

  4. 7

    I was recently married to my husband who is one of five boys. And three of those boys got married within one year, so this is a big change for my new mother-in-law. Within a short period of time, her nest went from a bustling hub for young men dashing to college classes and sport practices to a new, unusual quiet. She cries, sometimes when we are over for a visit. It’s ok to give yourself time to adapt to change. My husband is ever so grateful for the love and nurturing his mother gave him growing up and takes that strong foundation with him into our marriage. And as we encourage my new mother-in-law, she can watch on with thanksgiving the work God is continuing to do in her son, which all started with the steadfast love of a mother’s heart.

  5. 9

    Well, it happens fast, doesn’t it? They come into our lives, steal our hearts, and run away with them! :-) But you know, that’s a good thing. It’s what we spend 18 or 20 years or so raising them to do – to go and live the biggest lives they can!

    I’ve been a mother-in-law for four years. I adore my son-in-love! But since they married while they were both stationed in Germany, I didn’t really get to know him until they transitioned back to the States. Overall, it’s been pretty smooth but we’ve had our moments! :-)

    The best encouragement I can give you is to help them leave and cleave. When first married, my daughter’s response to anything was to call and ask me for advice. Somehow God impressed upon me to always ask her, “What does your husband think?” If she hadn’t talked to him, I always told her I was happy to listen and happy to weigh in if she wanted, but only after she had talked to him first. It was several months before I could see it really taking root in her but now, even though we talk on the phone every day, I’m not her first call. Her husband is and that’s as it should be. And it’s far healthier for all of us than if I was the loudest voice in their marriage!

    Congratulations and enjoy every minute of it! There’s nothing like having adult children who you can still love and cherish, but also be friends with. And then of course, there’s those grandbabies…that’s really the best part! :-)

    • 10
      Sarah S says:

      This is great advice! I actually do this with my younger newly married cousins and friends. I don’t have any children, but for some reason people always feel comfortable telling me their struggles. While I’m happy to listen and share from my own personal experiences what worked for me…and what didn’t…I think it’s really important to direct these young ladies back to their husband. Thanks for sharing.

    • 11

      Holly, this is so good. I was guilty of calling my daddy first instead of my husband on those big early-marriage decisions. You’re a wise lady!

  6. 12

    I raised 3 boys and 2 of them are now married. One married 4 years and now pregnant (YAY!) and the other married 1. God gifted us with 2 sweet DsIL. They are VERY different and my prayer from the beginning has been “God help me to love each of them in the way they can receive it!” HE is answering that prayer and it gives me great joy to see their faces light up when I have ‘loved’ them well.

    I am also super mindful to guard my words. I try to never give advice and only offer words of encouragement. They each have their “own” moms that they seek out for counsel. I want to be positioned as the cheerleader!

    I am learning to ask “”What would YOU like?”; “How can I help YOU in the kitchen?”; “How would YOU like me to cut that fruit for the salad?”……

    About the wedding….even though you might be helping to pay for aspects of it, the best thing we did was remember that it was THEIR day. (There just really is nothing worth ‘fighting’ over.) We gave them our budget and then went with their ideas!

    Wanna just have coffee? Cause I have several more things I would love to share! :-)

    • 13

      Karen,
      You said this perfectly….I gave birth to 2 sons and a daughter. Our family grew by a son-in-love and a daughter-in-love one in the same year! What a blessing each one is in their own way!

      DILs are different than SILs, but I love how you pray for them
      “God help me to love each of them in the way they can receive it!”

      Encouragement, unconditional love, and a listening ear are wonderful attributes of a great MIL!

      I’ll have coffee with you anytime…it’s great to be able to share these experiences with each other!

    • 14

      I’d love to have coffee and listen, haha :-) I am the mother of 2 twenty something boys and at the moment, neither have steady girlfriends, so I’m not in wedding mode. However, I’ve had a wonderful relationship with my MIL and want the same with my some day DsIL. You’ve given my some great advice that I’ll stash away for when the time comes.

      Blessings to you!

    • 15

      Karen, this is so good. I’m thankful l wrote about what was on my heart this month and asked for advice from the community. Being a cheerleader—I like that!

    • 16

      Oh! And I’d love to sit down for that cup of coffee (make mine tea)!

  7. 17
    ro elliott says:

    I have a big age spread also… my oldest 32 …my youngest 18. I will say there are unique challenges having adult children… marrying and having children while you are still pouring into the younger children. most of my friends are just grandma’s now… but for some years I was “torn” between to worlds…but I am thankful for those kids that came later in life:)
    My third child, second son, is marrying in Oct. Having a close relationship with my kids is a blessing and a gift… but for me… it presented more of a challenge to fully embrace their leaving and cleaving(especially my daughter). But it is so important to watch them walk out that door…and close the door behind them… and wait for them to open a new door for you to walk through. My daughter and I talked a lot before she got married… I told her in the beginning I wanted to her take the lead ( I would have loved to talk to her daily) … that I would not call first for a while. I needed to set that boundary for me… now we talked freely with good healthy boundaries. And as a MIL to new daughters… oh…I prayed and prayed!!!… my prayer was and still is… that I would love them well… that they never feel in competition with me… that I am for them 100%… to be their biggest cheerleaders…and I keep my opinions to myself. I am so very thankful for the relationships I do have with them.
    And the best part…is those grand loves!!!! oh my… pure joy!!!

  8. 19

    I’m at a campground in Alabama with my kids this week and cell service is practically non-existent, but I wanted to add that another of my sons got engaged over the weekend!

  9. 22

    Dawn i just completed this path last July as my oldest got married then. My mom gave me 2 pieces of advice for the mother of the groom.
    1) Pick your dress AFTER the mother of the bride chooses hers
    2) When asked about wedding plans you say “That’s lovely” :)
    It all worked out very well even with her parents living miles away (thankfully they got married where we live!) It was a beautiful ceremony. I taught dance for years and my son loves to dance too and we considered one of those funny, fun mother/son dances but when it came down to it we just wanted something simple. I told him to surprise me with the song he wanted to dance to. It ended up being Michael Buble’s “Home”. I did ok until it got to the part when he sang
    Let me go home
    I’m just too far from where you are
    I wanna come home
    Well……floodgates opened. Happy tears though. She’s a wonderful girl. God truly blessed us all with her presence.
    Good Luck and Happy Wedding Planning!

    • 23

      Susan, I cannot even read your description of the dance without crying. I just hope to not be a basket case and embarrass my boys. And good advice about the dress! There are so many details to this, aren’t there?

  10. 24

    oh hey Dawn ~ congrats on the other engagement and enjoy your time camping with the kids!

  11. 25
    Brenda S says:

    First…….congrats on the impending marriage. I have been mother of the groom once and it was my only time to get it right. I agree with the above advice……..pick your dress after the mother of the bride and just agree with whatever. If asked to participate in the arrangements, do so with a smile. I was not asked to help make table flowers or anything but it was fine. As for their marriage……..stay out of it. My son had to deal with his in laws being in the middle of every detail of their lives…..his wife was very close to them at the time. We had some hefty disagreements because we didn’t seem to “care” as much as her parents. I told my son that we had never had our in-laws interfere with our marriage and we respected them enough as a couple to let them figure out what was best for them and their daughters (after they were born) and he didn’t need another set of parents to have to appease. It was tough at times being the “odd man out” parents but in the long run they have realized that our way was the better way and have thanked us for not being in the center of their lives.

    Enjoy this new season of life. God has blessed us mightily with our son and two daughters and they have blessed us with their spouses and 7 granddaughters!

    God Bless
    Brenda S

    • 26

      This is tricky stuff, isn’t it? This is the second tip to pick my dress second, so that sounds like a good piece of advice. It sounds like there’s a delicate balance between being helpful and being too helpful.

  12. 27
    Carol D says:

    Dawn,
    Isn’t raising boys an incredible thing? I’m like you, one of 4 daughters, who had 2 boys. Boys??!? Whattyado with BOYS? I learned. And I never had so much fun. Years and years and years ago, I heard Joyce Landorf say that she started praying over her children’s spouses when they were 4. And I thought – hey – I can do that. What benefits it reaped! My boys didn’t marry until 34 and 30, married within months of each other, and I have two amazing, Godly daughters. What a God we serve! One of the funniest books I’ve ever read is one entitled “How to be the Perfect Grandma” by Brynon Paston. Mother of a son and a daughter, she approaches the challenges of being the MIL to a daughter….which can be a minefield for mamas of sons. It’s got some very down-to-earth ideas for the mom of a boy who has a wife, tucked between the silliness. I will always adore my sons! and yes, it is harder than hard to truly stop being MOM. Harder still to step out of all of the life decisions and focus on being a support and clearly and tangibly loving my ‘daughters’ as much and as wholly as I love my sons. But if you are confident that your DIL’s are truly an answer to prayer, it is SO easy to love them as Gifts from God to your whole family.

    Congratulations and enjoy the ride!

    Carol D.

  13. 28

    Oh, dear mothers, as a mother of 3 daughter’s and one son, pray always for them and their spouse. Give them unconditional love no matter what, and give them the time and space to create their life together as God leads them. They need you in their “cheering section” and they need you always to take them to His Throne Room of Grace. Let them see your faith lived out in real ways. Allow them to see a picture of Christ in the tapestry He is weaving of your life. That legacy will last for all of Eternity.

    • 29
      VHiggins says:

      Yes Shari! Being able to figure out our relationship with ourselves and every one else after the wedding without having any pressure is an amazing blessing!!

  14. 30
    Barbara says:

    My youngest son, 25, is getting married in September to a lovely young woman. I appreciate everyone’s comments and the timing is perfect. Although I am very happy for my son and his fiancé, I do have mixed emotions about this new season of my life. One moment I’m super excited and the next teary eyed – it’s a mom thing :) But it’s all good!

    I did wait for the mother of the bride to select her dress and color and went from there. I’ve also respected the various choices the bride has selected for the wedding. Based upon the above comments, I believe I’m on the right track.

    Thank you, dear ladies, for sharing and blessing me today!

  15. 31
    VHiggins says:

    Hey you wonderful ladies!
    I’m here just to give some encouragement from the other end of this.
    I’m a daughter-in-law and God has *seriously* blessed me with my mother-in-law!! From the very first time I met her 10 years ago (I had been dating her son for just over a month and flew into town to stay with them right before Christmas) her arms were wide open to me. We have an amazing relationship and she has truly become one of my closest friends and usually the first one I go to when my (wonderful) husband is driving me up a wall. ;-)
    All this to say, thank you! You can make a *huge* difference in your son’s marriage by being yourself, by loving God openly and wildly, and being a conduit of God’s love to this new daughter-in-love. This wonderful woman has opened her arms to all 3 of us daughters-in-love and this has not only grown beautiful relationships with her but also between all three of us. She is a mother of only boys and she has never shied away from telling each of us what a blessing we are and how she’s so thankful for the daughters that God has given her. I know she prays for our marriages, and more than anything, for our individual relationships with God and I have strongly felt that in my own walk. She always points me to God and reminds me of His care and love.
    God can do *AMAZING* things through mothers-in-law and thank you for seeking Him through this crazy time!!! You are a blessing, an encouragement, and a treasure!

  16. 32
    Kelly Evans says:

    My best advice to is to be kind to them- supportive and loving, even if the daughter-in-law’s personality is different from yours or not what you would have necessarily chosen for your son. Kindness goes so far.

  17. 34

    My oldest son, of six is getting married this Saturday… I am fighting the tears as I read this perfectly timed piece. I’ve been a single mom for the past 8 years, and it’s bonded me to my son’s even more. Thanks for this.

  18. 35

    We have two daughters and a son-in-law. Our children are grown and it’s just papa and mama bird in this nest now. Just as you said about raising your boys, we’ll never have all the answers and often we just “figure it out along the way”. Prayers, love and acceptance are the greatest gifts we can give as our families change and grow.

  19. 36
    Lisa Gaston says:

    Lovely timing- our oldest daughter got married June 14- in Mexico, where she lives with her husband and his family. I am grateful for all your thoughts and suggestions- especially, ‘what does your husband say?’ She and I are very close, and it has been hard having her so far away, living a new life, that I see I have perhaps tried too hard to keep our relationship ‘the same.’ But it is not, is it?! I am going to intentionally check myself in my texts that I am not offering advise or opinions! but rather supporting her in her marriage. I agree with the earlier comment that sometimes these unions aren’t the way we thought they would be, but as the old saying goes, we plan, God laughs. We also have a son, and I am tucking away everyone’s thoughts on that topic….which is different!

  20. 37

    I don’t know if it’s bad or not… but I learned most before my son was engaged – from having plenty of examples of the MIL I DID NOT want to be! :( Now with 3 married kids of my own, my son being the last to marry, I’m still learning the delicate dance between being a MILly to my DILly…

    Don’t speak poorly about the girl… whether it’s still in the girlfriend stages or more serious… or after the marriage. If there’s a concern, speak clearly without making it personal (I don’t like the way she… is much more effective when it’s a concern, “I’m not sure I understand why you…” or “Do you understand what makes her…”). If it’s early on in their relationship that you have concerns, then pray with your spouse, and the 2 of you prayerfully speak to your son/daughter… it has to be their decision, that they come to their own opinion about.

    Don’t try to be her mom. Likely she has one already. I’m learning to be friends with her, and her mom, while still learning to be an empty nester.

    I try to encourage her in her love language, and give her/them PLENTY of room to make their own decisions. Her family has solid, multi-generational traditions for holidays. Although they try to alternate, I make it clear that we will never pitch a fit over where they choose to celebrate, and encourage them to start making their own traditions… in their own home. I want them to have the freedom to make those decisions without having someone be mad for the next several months…

    Prayers to you as you enter this season! Enjoy it!! :)

    • 38

      Holidays! Yes, I think being flexible in the holidays must be extremely important. If I get my feelings hurt my attitude will rub off on my younger kids, and I don’t want that.

  21. 39

    My son married six years ago and I still vividly remember our mother/son dance. I was so proud of him, so happy for him, and so not ready for him to leave the nest. However, I swallowed my sadness and put on my happy face. He and his wife are blessed and I am so thankful. My only advice is to pray for the couple, be available if/when needed, but be careful not to be too much involved in their lives. Finding the right balance is important.

  22. 40

    *frantically taking notes*
    Thanks for this one, Dawn:) I’m quite a few years off from this stage, but each new season gives me the opportunity to learn how to release them a little bit more.

  23. 41
    Kimmygirl says:

    Dear Dawn,
    I love this post because it brings back some sweet memories. I and the proud mom of 3 grown sons, the oldest married for 5 years to my sweet, wonderful, and brilliant daughter in law. (And, mommy to my granddaughter!)
    My thing was – If she loves my boy, then I’ll love her. It’s been a real blessing that they all 3 have chosen amazing women, but I know it could have gone either way. Life is difficult enough in everyday circumstances, that I purposely decided that I didn’t want to be the source of any strife.
    My 2 oldest sons served in the Army at the same time, (Army Mom for the last 9 years) so whenever they were stateside and home, it was a party! I didn’t care what day the holiday fell on, we celebrated whenever they were with us. I’ve kept that attitude so that they have 1 less person to please during stressful times…… (and try my best to not get my nose bent out of shape! Sharing a grandbaby is a whole different ballgame! :< )
    It really is a wonderful time- and I know you'll tuck away many precious memories with your son, while laying a great foundation for a close relationship with your new daughter in law! ((Hugs) )

    • 42

      You are so very, very wise! I love these thoughts especially:
      “My thing was – If she loves my boy, then I’ll love her.”
      “Life is difficult enough in everyday circumstances, that I purposely decided that I didn’t want to be the source of any strife.”
      Thank you for your perspective!

  24. 43

    After raising five sons, I have been the mother of the groom three times now. I love that all I was responsible for was the rehearsal dinner each time; there was always a moment during the dinner when I got center stage with the opportunity to welcome my new daughter to the family and then share a bit of loving advice for the couple. One thing I told all of them was that there were going to be days in the years ahead that you would wake up and find that you didn’t like that person lying beside you very much although you still loved them, but a successful marriage is all about perfecting the fine art of forgiving and forgetting! There are plenty of hilltops, but there are also lots of valleys during which your united struggle to get out of the valley will work to strengthen your bond with each other.
    I never worried about the dress I would wear except to make sure it was not the same color as the one that the future daughter-in-law ‘s mother was going to wear. Unfortunately, I learned how not to be a mother-in-law from my own mother-in-law since I have never in 44 years of marriage felt I was welcome in her home nor did I ever measure up to her expectations. The surest way to make someone feel like she is a part of the family is to get her involved in whatever you are doing. My daughters-in-law love to work in the kitchen with me as we bake goodies or prepare dinner. We sometimes shop together or watch TV together. Sometimes we just talk. They all call me Mom and know I am just a phone call away. My oldest daughter-in-law and I went for a girl’s weekend for six years in a row to the Women of Faith conference. I try not to criticize and only give advice if asked for the most part. I talk a lot by way of story so sometimes I can get in my take on something by relating a bit of family history and what we did in that situation. I encourage them to start their own traditions. I work hard to try to always find something positive to say or to do something special for them because I remember how uncertain I was of things at that point in my young married life.
    I guess you might say I treat them as if they were my own birth daughter. As I have said at every rehearsal dinner, God gave me sons so I could get daughters the easy way. Just think – I never had to deal with their terrible twos, the teenage angst, the drama; instead I get them as sweet loving young adults who I enjoy being around and who have made my sons happy. I don’t try to compete for my son’s affection. I know I have each of my son’s love and respect, but since they were on loan to me, I always knew that one day they would leave my nest to make their way and find a mate. It’s God’s plan- part of that beautiful tapestry called life! Enjoy!

    • 44

      This is so good! “The surest way to make someone feel like she is a part of the family is to get her involved in whatever you are doing.”

  25. 45

    As the mother of four in double digits, my oldest now 20, my time for letting go is upon me. And although I’m proud of all my kiddos and am excited for their futures as they follow God’s leading, I’m not certain I can dance a mother-son dance without tears in my eyes. I can’t even send them to college without weeping a bit. Thanks for your thoughts on this new season, Dawn.

  26. 46

    Congrats Dawn on the soon to be marriage. I totally agree wih Brenda S my situation was and still is like hers. I just stay out of it. Maybe one day here parents will stay out of thier marriage too. But GOD did bless me with two beautiful and outstanding children a girl and boy. My son who is 27 and daughter 36 along with 3 grandchildren andother on the way.

  27. 47
    Edwina Cowgill says:

    I have a daughter who is 35 and a son who is 30. Their weddings are 2 weeks apart – my daughter’s is September 20 and my son’s is October 4. Both of my children moved out a long time ago, but still, it’s different when they’re getting married. My best advice is to let your son and his fiance know that you’re available if they need you, but don’t interfere in any aspect of their marriage. Let them figure out the hard stuff – that way – they learn the lesson, and it makes the good stuff even better.

  28. 48

    I’ve been a mother-in-law since my daughter married 3 years ago. Our son just married 3 weeks ago. My son-in-law has no problem with me/us. We try to be very respectful of their time (we live in the same town). We invite them over to eat, or call and invite them when we go out. We just want them to know they are welcome., but they do not ever HAVE to come. My husband is very “handy” and can pretty much fix anything. My son-in-law is NOT handy. My husband has had to step back and wait until he is asked for help with things and not just rushing in to do it. We don’t want our daughter calling her dad for everything. We have made it clear that her husband is her family now.

    Being the mother-of-the-groom (MOG) is completely different. And it probably depends on each individual person how things work. My daughter-in-law is AWESOME, but I am VERY careful with her. She already has a Mom, and I know she will never feel that way about me. And, as much as I love my son, he is HER husband and she is his priority. I constantly ask her what SHE would like, and then I abide by that decision. I feel like my role is that of an encourager and cheerleader. She sent me pictures of how she had decorated their place, and I told her it was AWESOME! She tells me what she made for dinner and I tell her it sounds YUMMY! I brag on her and encourage her every chance I get.

    We have helped both of our married kids out in different ways, and I’m sure we will help our other kids out as we can and as they need. We don’t have any recommendations about what people should do…not saying our way is right or wrong, It’s just what WE have decided to do for our family, because it’s how my in-laws did for us. There has never been one day when I was not made to feel part of the family. My in-laws would drop everything to help us however they could. They invested in our lives with their TIME and PRESENCE, and they have also been generous with us financially (at times). Especially when we were young newlyweds finishing college. We offered to help our married daughter with her nursing school tuition and books. She didn’t ask us…we are happy we can do it. We, along with my son-in-law’s parents, helped them with a down-payment on a little house..just like my in-laws helped us buy OUR first home umpteen year ago. Two weeks ago, we helped our married son and daughter-in-law move into their apartment. Just last weekend, we gave them our old washer/dryer because they didn’t have one…just like my in-laws did for us when we didn’t have one.

    We help our kids by investing our TIME in their lives…and offering advice/suggestions only when asked. No hidden messages. We keep our mouths ZIPPED and our opinions to ourselves unless asked.

    My own mother-in-law has been the greatest example. We have seen things differently at times, but she has always deferred to my choices and opinions with decisions that affect my little family. She has never insisted that we spend time with them on holidays or that we “alternate years.” We have always lived close to them, and far away from my family, and she has always encouraged us to see my family as much as possible. She has told me she is proud of me as a wife and mother, and there’s not much of a greater compliment a daughter-in-law can get. And my mother-in-law has ALWAYS had my back. That’s how I want to be.

    IF you choose to help financially with the wedding, or the honeymoon, or with their schooling, or with a house, or car/health insurance or anything else you choose…you have to give it as a gift with no stipulations and let it go. Our kids aren’t always going to do things the way we think they should and issues with money can divide a family for sure.

    • 49

      Marty, this is wonderful advice. I want to be a MIL that has my DILs’ backs. That’s so smart about giving financial help without stipulation, too.

  29. 50
    Beth WIlliams says:

    Kuddos for raising 8 children in this day and age!! Blessings on the weddings!! I pray they go off without a hitch.

    My ideal mother-in-law is there for the children. She is willing to give advice when asked and tries to become good friends with the daughter-in-law.

    AMEN

  30. 51

    Dawn — love this! Thank you for being so real and open about this new season of your life.

    As a newlywed (Craig and I just celebrated our first anniversary,) one of the things I have struggled with most is being part of a new family, different than mine. Even though Craig and I were raised fairly similarly, the cultures of our homes were radically different. It would have been this way whether we lived across the country or across the street.

    My mother in law and I have disagreed on many things, and it has caused a lot of unrest between us. We sat down and had a conversation, and she said she felt like I became her daughter after Craig and I got married, and, essentially, that she was very hurt when I did not automatically adopt all of her ideals. I was hurt because I felt as though she was preemptively passing judgement that I was not a decent person with my own strong convictions, many of which actually did line up with hers.

    Of course, no two people agree on absolutely everything, and it doesn’t necessarily make either of them right or wrong. But welcoming someone new into your family requires that we make room for those disagreements, and handle them with grace. I knew this, intellectually, but when it came to living it out, I had to learn the hard way.

    I pray that as you transition into this new season, God will pour even more grace into you, because it is only in this that we can offer grace to each other!

    Only love and admiration,
    Erin

    • 52

      Erin, thank you for the perspective of a new daughter-in-law. You show a lot of wisdom here: “welcoming someone new into your family requires that we make room for those disagreements, and handle them with grace.”

  31. 53

    So much wisdom!! Thank you everyone very much. My daughters are 23 and 20. The older one got married last summer and my younger one moved in with her boyfriend at his parent’s house. I have felt a great deal of rejection over certain things, but I need to focus on their needs instead. And pray, pray and pray! I have taken lots of notes (literally) today, now off to try to practice some of this advice in our families.

  32. 54

    Love, love, LOVE this! :) Thank y’all for opening up. I am five months into my marriage and all this is so helpful from both perspectives!

  33. 55

    Having a few daughter in laws, one thing I have found is useful, in a mother in law as well as any friendship. Leaving our expectations at the door :) what’s the saying, expectations hurt relationship. It’s so easy to get an image of what you would expect from a new daughter in law. I think I pictured Ruth an Naomi, and so set my self up a bit. Which was entirely on me :) loving someone unconditionally, as Jesus did, leaves them free. Free to be genuine. Real. Themselves. instead of trying to match up to some ideal we have for them.
    Great article. :)

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