Last Updated on February 24, 2024

I just spent a fantastic weekend with our youngest son’s wife at a women’s conference. The conference itself was life-changing, but my time with my daughter-in-law was priceless. We laughed together, chatted away about girly things—clothes, favorite comfort foods and such. I splurged and ordered room service to pamper her a bit. It was a special time for her, being away from the family and job. She deserved to be queen for a while. What fun!

I never spent alone time away with my mother-in-law, but she unwittingly taught me a lot.

Soon after I married her only son and third child, it didn’t take me long to realize that a mother and son share a special bond. There were moments when only wisdom and discernment forced me to relate to her in a kind-hearted and civil manner. You know, those soft suggestions about what is good for your children, decorating tips that speak more about her style than your own, or wanting a longer stay during the holidays and joint vacations. It was tough not to know how to respond. I could go on and on.

Our relationship never experienced any real tension, but I was confused as to how to react with respect, honor, and love. It was prayer and the counsel of others that helped me embrace her as a vital part of our family, our life. I grew to love her. Years later I stood at her casket weeping for my loss of such a dear woman.

Today my role in the lives of my “other children” is not to take the place of their mother—I respect and admire that bond. My role is to love, honor, respect, and cherish them. I wish there was a pre-wedding ceremony for in-laws. In this ceremony we would vow, in the presence of everyone and God, to love, honor, respect, and cherish the couple. It could make life much easier for our own children as they forge this new relationship and family.

I had this in mind at the marriage of our first son. I made a vow to our soon-to-be “other daughter.” I wrote and publicly read a letter committing my vow to her, symbolically cut a pair of apron strings, placed them in a heart shaped silver box, and presented them to her. I was making a commitment of my intention: “God gave me a baby boy to raise, I give you a man to love.”

Both my sons deserve to know that I honor and respect the woman in each of  their lives as their choice of a life partner. As a mother-in-law I strive to love the women that married my sons, as well as truly honor the man that married my daughter. They are relationships like none other.

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  1. oh, thank you, this is beautiful. I have been looking for information on being a mother-in-law. I have 3 boys, none married yet. Don't feel I had a great example of a mother-in-law set before me. I love this article (except I'm headed to work and it made me cry, running makeup). Any advice from anyone about good books on this subject? thanks again!!!

  2. Melissa Hutsell says:

    Thanks Karen. I have six boys. I have no daughters. I don't know what the future of mother-in-lawhood looks like but I want to be a great one! I love all of your ideas! Thanks so much…Melissa.