7 Tips for Happy Holidays with Your Mother-In-Law
The holidays plus your mother-in-law can be a tricky combination. Advice on how to deal.
The holidays are chock-full of tradition. Whether it’s the special stuffing you’ve made ever since you can remember, a pumpkin pie-eating contest between the cousins, or a special Thanksgiving prayer your father says every year, most families have some kind of ritual associated with the holiday season. These rituals create intimacy and reinforce familial bonds, so it’s no surprise that when traditions change, people get upset.
Though family roles have shifted, in many homes mom is the Master of Ceremonies when it comes to big family occasions. Adding a new person to the family, especially a new daughter-in-law, can threaten her position as matriarch-in-chief. There won’t be friction in every situation, but we’ve heard enough complaints about getting along with mothers-in-law to know that many of you could use some help in this department. So in the interest of family harmony, here are seven tips for spending the holidays with your new mom.
1. Find out what’s important to her. Start by talking to your spouse, or directly to his or her mom. You may be able to mitigate any tension simply by finding out what she values and doing your best to keep those things intact.
“Ask your partner and mother-in-law for input on what traditions are important for her and her family. See how you can incorporate them into your holiday plans,” advises dating and relationship coach Lisa Steadman.
“Identify three ways your mother-in-law can shine without stepping on your turf. Speak early and often about the value of her contributions. Your sincere understanding that your partner is also important to her will soften any impulse to fight for time or territory,” says life coach Doris Helge.
“I would advise asking your partner or talking to your mother-in-law directly about what she really values about the holiday and see if you can compromise with her so you both get your needs met,” advises therapist Melanie Gorman. “It’s easiest to keep the peace when you have communicated with the source and know first-hand what she wants. From that place you can make a smart choice so you both get what you need.”
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