Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Daughter-in-Law Rules

(click image to enlarge)

I've been e-chatting with Sally Shields, author of The Daughter-in-Law Rules, about her new book and her advice for bride about their new mother-in-laws. As Mother-in-Law Day is coming up on October 26, Sally has a special offer. Twenty-five free copies of her e-book to celebrate! " The first twenty-five people to email me a "hello" at mbumstead(at)smitteninvitations(dot)com will receive a free e-copy of Sally's The Daughter-in-Law Rules.

Q: What is the philosophy behind the Daughter-in-Law Rules?

A: The Daughter-in-Law Rules are many things, but basically, it is a management strategy. The book gives simple techniques that anyone can use and get immediate results. It validates the Daughter in Law’s feelings while making her Mother in Law feel great. As you start to apply “calculatingly affable defenses,” you will no longer be looking for her approval. You will begin to co-exist peacefully with her by following a simple proactive philosophy and will begin to experience smooth sailing with both your husband and his mother!

For example, the top 7 Things to Do To Create a Happy Relationship with Your Mother in Law include:

1. Don't expect her to share your interests (in movies, music, books, TV shows, etc.) 

2. Keep all gifts for at least 4 seasons

3. Try not to get defensive with your MIL (put that stubborn nature aside!) 

4. Never criticize her son 

5. Allow her to take an active role as Grandma
6. Supply her with lots of pics of the grandkids

7. Steer clear of religion and politics at the dinner table

Q: Some people might not agree with these rules, because it seems like it focuses on a daughter-in-law just kissing butt. How do you respond to that?

A: Yes, the philosophy does outline a principal of accommodation and agreeability, but you are following these rules in a very deliberate way. It is about avoiding those repeat D.I.L.Z. (Daughter-in-Law Zings), feeling good about yourself, allowing your Mother-in-law to feel good about herself, and allowing you husband to be happy as well. It is a win/win/win situation!

It is always important to remember one of the greatest spiritual laws of success: the quickest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want. Be a loving, kind, generous, openhearted sensitive person and the world will reflect that back to you. Your Mother-in-law may just surprise you and turn out to be an ally and a friend!

Q: So does this mean that, when you are staying with your Mother-in-law, you should be polite and do stereotypically female tasks like offer to wash the dishes, even when your husband normally does that sort of thing for you at home?

A: Yes! You should be polite and do everything you can to help her out, such as clearing the table, loading the dishwasher, making the bed, and offering to launder the sheets when you leave. It is also a nice touch to strip the pillowcases and fold the blankets neatly upon the bed upon departure. You should also empty the facility in the guest bathroom, and store all of your toiletries in your suitcase or under the vanity while you are staying there. These are things that you are doing in a willing and proactive manner, not only because it is the polite thing to do, but it is also self-preservation! You want to give your Mother In Law as little ammunition possible for complaining about you -- now and in the future.

Q: How can you gently get a Mother-in-law to stop offering advice about how to raise your kids?

A: You cant! That is why I have developed the surefire strategy to preemptively asking her for her advice! Fire off a lot of questions about how she thinks you should do this or that, but keep your matters on the simple and inconsequential side, such as what kind of pajama material is the best for your little sapling to sleep in. Follow through so she'll be proud that you took her advice.

Q: How do you respond to a Mother-in-law who keeps telling you how to "mother" your husband?

A: The best way to respond to the Mother-in-law who keeps telling you how to mother your husband is to completely agree with her. Thank her profusely for her advice and say how you've been working on it day and night. Then, tell her what a great job she did as a mother! This is a duel strategy that will both make her feel great and also shed a mirror on the fact that she was the one who raised him (and shaped him into the man she is now complaining about).

Q: What are the three best ways to make a good impression on a Mother-in-law?

1. Call her once a week--preferably when your husband isn't home. If you're super busy, try aiming for her machine (i.e. like when you know she’s at Bingo). Leave her a quick message if only to ask how she has been feeling!

2. Compliment her often. Mother-in-laws can be just as self-conscious as we are, so take the time to notice how pretty, thin, healthy and young she looks, occasionally asking if you can borrow an item of clothing or an accessory such as a scarf or a purse.

3. Send her cards and flowers on her 3 special days—birthday, anniversary (if she has one), and Mother’s day. But, here's the trick: make sure that your MIL doesn't receive a note solely with your handwriting on it, or she may mistakenly get the impression that her son has forgotten her special day ... Rather, become a great ghostwriter, and have your husband pen it from the both of you!

Please visit Sally “The Mother-in-Law Manager” Shields, speaker and author of, The Daughter-in-Law Rules on the web at for contest giveaways, free bonus gifts, The DIL Rules newsletter, 44 Top Tips Cheat Sheet, free music … and more!

Photos courtesy of
Studio TLC,
Our Labor of Love, and BabaSteve.


Anonymous said...

Im going to with the old "if you dont have anything nice to say dont say anything at all" line. These really seems like we have gone back a good 50-60 yrs.

Im suprised, Ive never disagreed with anything youve ever posted before but this seems like a little much. I love my FMIL but I can respect her and her opinions and vice versa without having to give her "lip service". I mean we are all adults here. No?

Melissa said...

I appreciate your thoughts- and I too adore my MIL. I'm extremely fortunate to have such a great relationship with her. Though the article is straight from the words of Sally Shields, I published it because I do know friends with very tough MILs. I think by using some of Sally's tips it can help take down the line of defense and then hopefully a more balanced relationship can flourish. Some of Sally's tips are great for all of us, some of her tips are for disarming- but email me and I'll send you her entire e-book and you can let me know what you think.
Thanks again,