Four grandchildren, three sons, and three daughters-in-law converged on our house several times over an 8-day visit. At times it was chaos. At other times it was pure bliss. My grandmother used to say, “I love when the whole family gets together.” I now understand what she meant and echo her sentiment.

I have three pretty amazing sons, and as a result, I have three pretty amazing daughters-in-law. I often tell people that it is easier to raise sons and accumulate daughters later, after someone else has gone to the trouble of raising them. I am so blessed with the daughters I have accumulated. They are all gems who treat me like the queen of the family, which I am.

They are not only great daughters, but great mothers, too. One is still a mother-to-be, but I can tell she’ll do a great job, especially when her two sisters-in-law are just a text away. Every time I’m with them, I think they are better moms than I was. They are so patient and calm. They have routines and boundaries, and they stick to them. We did a lot more flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants parenting. I love grandparenting. It is so much better than parenting. It’s like parenting without the pressure. I can love on them, sugar them up, and send them home. Grandparenting is great! But what about mother-in-lawing?

We’ve all heard in-law jokes, especially the beleaguered mother-in-law jokes. But I have found mother-in-lawing to be an unexpected blessing. I love these girls like they are my own. They aren’t just daughters, but friends. Heaven help my boys if they ever hurt one of them. So, how am I making mother-in-lawing a breeze? Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. I truly love them. I don’t just tolerate them because they are married to my sons. I sincerely love them, which means I seek their good, I pray for them, I consider them just as much my family as my sons.
  2. I understand and accept that they are my sons’ most important people. One of the hardest things for a mom to do is to give her child to someone else. But it is necessary in order to have a good and right relationship with both her son and daughter-in-law. This is where many moms fail. They want the #1 position with their son. But that position is meant for his wife. She really can love him more than I can.
  3. I should be an encourager, listener, and cheerleader for my daughters-in-law. It’s important not to take sides when I hear of my kids having disputes. If they ask my advice, that advice needs to be objective. Since I know my children (after all, they are a lot like me), I can provide insights to my daughters-in-law they might not see from their husbands’ point of view. Mostly, I can remind them regularly that they are wonderful wives, moms, and people. They can count on me for whatever they need.
  4. They don’t need to worry about hurting my feelings. I understand the stress of spending time with all their family members. They never have to worry that they didn’t call or spend time with me on a special occasion when they needed to be with other family. I will never make them feel guilty. They will always go to their own mom first with a need or to share something. That is not only OK with me, it is right. I get it. I had a mom and a mother-in-law too.

Mother-in-lawing done right is an act of worship, involving love and sacrifice, that pleases God. There is more I could say, but I’ll save that for another blog. For now, I am looking forward to grandchild #5, our fourth girl, in October. I also look forward to providing whatever my daughter-in-law needs as a new mom, taking a backseat to her own mom. I know my place. I’m the mother-in-law, and I love it!

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Epesians 5:1-2

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