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Win Over Your MIL

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Quick and easy ways to manage that other mother in your life.


For many Moms, Mother's Day means getting together with your mother-in-law. But even if your relationship is tense, this doesn't have to be hell. We asked Sally Shields, author of The Daughter-in-Law Rules: 101 Surefire Ways to Manage (and Make Friends with) Your Mother-in-Law, for ways to ease the pain.

• Shower her with compliments out of the gate. "Take the time to tell her how pretty, young, healthy, and thin she looks," Sally says. Even if you have to slightly (or not-so-slightly) stretch the truth, remember: Flattery will get you everywhere.

• Praise her parenting skills. "During your conversation, slip in what a great job she did raising her son," she suggests. She'll be so floored, she'll be putty in your hands.

• Focus on the positives. Even if you loathe this woman, there must be something about her that's tolerable. Like how she plays with your kids. Or makes a mean fruit salad. Something. Anything. Make a list of five nice things about her, and read it when you feel like you want to throttle her. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

• Drink wine. Lots and lots of wine. (OK, we made that one up.)

What are your secrets for dealing with your MIL?

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Deena L. May 10, 2008, 3:04 PM

For the past 11 years, i’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable around my MIL. Lately though, we seem to be able to carry on great conversations! The thing is, there’s usually a beer or three each involved! She lets herself loosen up, her cheeks get a cute rosey glow, and she becomes the mother in law i always wished for!! Beer is the answer ladies!!

Anonymous May 12, 2008, 11:29 AM

Deena L.—that’s too funny! My own MIL has to have a shot or two before she goes to HER MIL’s house!!

My MIL and I butt heads a LOT. Esp. after my kiddo was born. I’ve learned to just talk about things superficially or divert the conversation. I also try to keep my distance when we’re at odds (absence makes the heart grow fonder, you know!! Oh how true for ILs!).

Also, the “just smile and nod” technique works. You’re not committing yourself to agreeing to XX, but avoiding a confrontation regarding the topic.

sheena May 13, 2008, 8:35 PM

I wish my mother in law would drink! Then, we could both definitely relax a little. Unfortunately, she abstains. Darn. And, if I compliment her, she doesn’t say ‘thank you’ or actually say anything at all. She’s one of those silent, unresponsive types who talks only when she wants to say something inappropriate.

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