The Top 3 Trickiest Topics to Traverse with Your Mother-in-Law and Just How to Handle Them

1) Advice

This is something that all parents give, regardless of in-law status or not. However, when our mother-in-law offers us advice (particularly of the unsolicited persuasion) there is a specific formula that we must adhere to in order to preserve our sanity. And that is to thank her profusely!

In fact, we can take it a step farther, and actually beat her to the punch and solicit her council, which accomplishes two things simultaneously: one – it will make her feel like her guidance is special, and two – makes it easy for us to be gracious and thankful. A word of warning however: make sure that you keep your subject matter on the simple and inconsequential side, and although it may seem contradictory, avoid all topic pertaining to professional advice or you will likely get D.I.LZ.ed (Daughter-In-Law Zinged)!

2) Interests

One of the biggest foibles we can make when we enter the role of daughter-in-law is to mistakenly expect to share interests with our new MIL. (LOUD BUZZER SOUND HERE!)

Take movies, for example. You may be sitting around watching a James Bond Marathon on TNT during the Christmas holidays (the one you look forward to each and every year – a full 7 days of Bond – hooray!) and your MIL comes by and says, “How can you watch those silly movies over and over again? You’ve seen one you’ve seen ‘em all!” Now, there is no chasm other than the Grand Canyon that separates your likes and dislikes from hers more than this example. So, rather than launching into a diatribe about how each film is like an epic masterpiece riddled with brilliantly casted star ensembles and jaw-dropping action scenes, not to mention how hot each and every Bond was all the way up from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, rather take the easy route and coincide with a quick, “You’re so right! I can’t tell the difference between Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore, and all the plots are exactly the same!” As Mom exits the room with the satisfaction of the Cheshire Cat, simply fluff up your pillow and hide the remote.

Or consider music! Your MIL may be watching an episode of “American Idol” and some poor wretched soul begins to howl like a cat in heat and she’ll shout out, “That girl can SURE sing! I guarantee you she will be in the top 10!” Or a really great professionally-bound vocalist will be impressing Simon Cowel and Mom may only comment about her lack of fashion: “Can’t they do something about her make-up? Her hair looks like a rat’s nest and she looks like she just stepped out of a homeless shelter!” Enthusiastically concur with each and every assessment, then go make yourself something to eat and try not to snicker while preparing your PB&J.

3) Gift Giving

Ahh, gift-giving. Now, listen up ladies. If your MIL calls to ask you what size you are, best to tell her you’ve been feeling really self-conscious about your weight recently and that she’d better get an X-Large just to be safe. Do not respond with “Medium” or heaven forbid, “Small” or be prepared to end up with an XXL at Christmas time. And make sure that you keep all MIL gifts for at least four seasons. There is nothing more humiliating than not being able to produce whatever it may be upon request, due to hasty re-gifting. As well, send a thank you note for each and every item, even if she protests and tells you it’s not necessary. (It is.)

And when it comes to buying gifts for your MIL, take this piece of advice from someone who suffered many long years of D.I.L.Z: Let your husband be the one to pick out all gifts for his mom. Otherwise, you will be wasting your time and money, and instead of feeling good (it’s the thought that counts, right? No!) you’ll end up feeling like something the dog dragged in. For example, you may have thought yourself to be very clever and picked out something that you are SURE anyone would love – a Star Magazine subscription! (Who wouldn’t, right? After all, every time she comes over you catch her reading yours!) But you come to find out that each and every weekly issue winds up down at the hair salon – unread!!! (How unimaginable is that!) So, even if the responsibility of holiday shopping generally rests on your shoulders, give your husband the assignment of just this one thing. It will be worth your while to make sure he follows through on this one!

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