My toes are hurting something fierce! I just read in Annie Chapman’s book “The Mother-in-Law Dance” the dilemma that some daughters-in-law have about what to call their “in-laws.” Should it be “Mom,” “Dad,” their legal name, something else?  The “what name” question can become a challenge in an honest desire to cultivate an enjoyable relationship with each other. I can identify.

Honestly, I think  my dear sweet mother-in-law only once or twice, at the most, ever heard me call her Mom or Mother. My love and respect for her was so endearing that calling her Mrs. L just seemed irrational. Yet, I just couldn’t muster the courage to call her mom or mother. I had feelings of disloyalty to my own mother and even betrayal sharing that title with her.  I honored her but I never gave her a name! I would just appear in her presence or on a phone call and start with pleasantries. How silly of me.

As a mother-in-law of two dear daughters-in-law and two fantastic sons-in-law, the “what name” question probably was pondered.  If any of my in-laws had neglected to give me a name disappointment, alienation, or confusion could have derailed our relationship.

In the book the author gives some wise counsel for all parties, especially for the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.  Basically, without divulging too much from the book, everyone deserves a name. It is respectful and honoring. Also, I surmise that the issue is more about the relationship and comfort an agreed name represents.

There was never any discussion on what to call me… but the freedom I allowed made it easy for the in-laws to choose for themselves. Personally, I answer to both Mom and Karen; it is just fine with me. I only wish I was counseled years ago to name my now deceased mother-in-law.

What do you call your in-laws?