How to Be a "True Christian" Mother-in-Law

How to Be a “True Christian” Mother-in-Law

Over time, a family with four sons develops a unique tone, a guy-culture with a certain decibel level and a distinct way of doing life. As a mother of some now-married sons, it has been a joy to welcome other women into this circle, women who love my sons well and have also opened their hearts to me.

Of course, the messy flip side of this blessing is the requirement that I acknowledge and appreciate another woman’s way of doing things—important things like parenting my grandchildren, feeding a family, and managing a home. Just as I have prayed for twenty-five years for grace to be a good mother, I am now trusting for grace to be a good mother-in-law. Wisdom for this challenge flows in abundance from one of Paul’s lists in the book of Romans.  Some translators have labeled Romans 12:9-21 “Marks of the True Christian.” I can’t think of any better advice for women striving to be good Christian mothers-in-law.

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)

In the same spirit as Paul’s command to “let love be genuine,” Amy Carmichael prayed:

“Love through me, Love of God.
Make me like Thy clear air
Through which, unhindered, colors pass
As though it were not there.


I’m teaming up with Desiring God today to share more of Paul’s admonitions from Romans 12 and how they have applied to my life as a mother-in-law-in-training. I hope you’ll join me there to continue reading!

Rejoicing in hope,

Michele Morin

Photo by Khongor Ganbold on Unsplash

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

66 thoughts on “How to Be a “True Christian” Mother-in-Law”

  1. Hey, Michele! I’ll bet adding girls to the mix has shaken up your world! But, I am sure you are an amazing mother in law!
    Found your post today on Moments of Hope.
    I’m linking for my friend Pam Blosser at journeytohim.com.
    Hope you have a wonderful day~
    Melanie

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  2. I knew I needed to read this post as soon as I saw the title. Like you, I have only sons. All of them are now married, so I have 3 very dear daughters-in-law, each with her own style of housekeeping, parenting, relaxing, and cooking. I pray that I can be there to support them in everything they do, and not be the stereotypical overbearing MIL. I do have to say, I think I have many more conversations with my DILs than I do my own sons! 🙂

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    1. We don’t even begin to realize what “queen bees” we have become until there is another worker in the hive. 🙂 Interesting about the conversation ratio. I’ll have to pay attention and see if that’s true here.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We have three sons, and just one daughter-in-law so far. Much of what you said resonated with me, especially one of the last things. One thing I wrestle with in dealing with adult children (or children at any age, really) is knowing when to “rescue” and when to wait and let them figure things out on their own. What you said about freeing our kids to “to establish the habit of looking first to God, and then to each other, for all that they need” reminds me of that guiding principle. I think I knew and desired it on some level, but I never heard it put quite like that. Thank you!

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    1. That has been one of my biggest challenges as well, Barbara. We so want life to “go well” for them, and it’s tempting to become what Oswald Chambers calls an “Amateur Providence” for them, rushing in to rescue them at every turn!

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  4. I like to think that I am a good mother in law, but as my daughter in law lives so far away we don’t see much of one another #thatfridaylinky@_karendennis

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  5. Wonderful article, Michele! I am MIL to both a DIL & a SIL and they are distinctly different in my opinion. I am ever so grateful the Lord is constantly helping me with both relationships as I love them both dearly!

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  6. Michele, I am not a mother-in-law, nor do I expect to be any time soon. But this piece is SO good! The part about coveting God’s sovereignty and entrusting our family to His plans is applicable to any season of parenting, I think … and also applies to our relationships with parents and siblings. I hope and pray that if/when my girls marry, I’m able to follow your gracious and loving example as I interact with their husbands.

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    1. I hadn’t thought of the point applying to sibling relationships, but it’s definitely true. When we act as if your opinions of their decisions should carry significant weight, we risk driving a wedge and losing the relationship all together.

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  7. I enjoyed this post. Such wise counsel. I love your tips for not taking things to personally when your advice is not sought or utilized. I know my husband and I made a conscious decision when our daughter married to realize that she and her husband were now there own unit. Sometimes my tongue gets bit so I don’t say things when not asked. But so many times they have given us wise counsel when we asked their opinion. It is so fun to see it going both ways. We help them, and they help us with advice. The other thing that helped me was I looked at all the things I didn’t like in my relationship with my mother-in-law and mother, and tried to learn from them about what not to do.

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  8. Ah, #2 can be a true challenge … even 15 – 20 years after I’ve welcomed my sons into our family. This piece is spot on and packed with truth. I’m sharing it with my gang over at LinkedIn, Michele.

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  9. Wise words, Michele! I am a MIL to a SIL so I do think my job is easier, but I still have to remember that I am not God’s Official Midwest Representative, either! (You cracked me up with that one!)

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  10. I have daughters, so I have son in laws…& I have been a mum in law for nearing 20 years now! Goodness I didn’t realise it was that long!
    It can be challenging when there are different parenting styles compared to how we parented our children (even our own adult children may differ in their parenting from us & their siblings)!

    The greatest advice I was given is that;
    Our grandchildren are NOT our children but our GRANDchildren with their own parents with their own parenting styles. We need to constantly respect this & bite our tongues at times! They are trying to do their best for their children, just as we did!
    If something concerns us then take it to the Lord in prayer & get His wisdom first & foremost! And yes, it can break a Granny’s heart when your grandie is disciplined in front of you! Even though you know it was warranted for disobedience :-/
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

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  11. I pray that I am a good mother-in-law to my my daughter’s husband. I think we think about what we could give to our adult children, a peaceful and harmonious home life would be at the top of the list. We have the ability to give that to them by being gracious and good mother-in-laws. I think you must be a very nice mother-in-law.

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  12. Michele, this is such good advice. Many of those I’ve tried to put into practice myself. And when I fail, God always forgives. My sons-in-law are like my own sons and we usually get along quite well. Blessings to you! xo

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  13. Oh how I love everything about this post. I love that verse and I love how you put a spotlight on it for your prayers. What a wonderful sentiment.

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  14. This is all so good Michele! When I first became a MIL, my own Mom died suddenly a week later, and one of the things that I missed was getting advice from her on being a MIL! But God’s Word really is the best advice, as I’ve found out through the years also. And of course, when you add Amy Carmichael’s words, then I know the tears will flow too. Thank you so much for sharing your precious words here, and over at the Desiring God site too.

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  15. I see so many MIL and wife clashes it’s crazy. Although I’m not a practicing Christian anything that allows the ladies in our lives to live harmoniously is good by me. It must be difficult to ‘pass the baton’ so to speak.

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  16. This is a very inspiring post, Michele and you’re a loving MIL. I’m grateful to have a considerate son-in-law, a wonderful husband to my daughter, and a loving father to my granddaughter. He is a devoted Christian and great helper in the community. 🙂

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      1. Yes, it’s a true blessing to have all the children and children-in-laws are easy to love and be a loving family. I have so many dedicated Christian friends who have so much heartache!

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    1. I think God has given adolescence as a gift to mothers. If our kids left home as sweet and pliable and enjoyable as they are when they are eight or ten, we’d be destroyed. By the time they reach 18, they are still delightful, but they are also infuriating with their need for independence and inability still to find their own socks. Once they marry and move into a happy relationship under another roof, you don’t know whether they can find their socks or not, and that is a very good thing.

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  17. Thanks for sharing your inspiring post on the #LMMLInkup this past week. Being a mother-in-law is an opportunity to show the love of God in an authentic way.

    Like

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