How can I connect with my daughter-in-law?

Dear Gigi,
I can’t seem to connect with my new daughter-in-law.  She loves my son, which is the most important thing, and I am thankful for that, but I was really hoping for a relationship with her.  She is very close to her mother and doesn’t seem to need or want to be close to me.  Is there anything I can do to improve this situation?

As many I’m sure can testify, in-law relations can be difficult and complicated affairs.  Blending families with different experiences, different points of view, and sometimes even different values is a challenge. Sometimes there is an underlying issue, like a feeling of competition between the new wife and her mother-in-law for the affection of her son. A son can set his new wife up for hard feelings by comparing her to his mother. But today, for those who have been struggling longer, I’m putting the hard truth out there front and center: sometimes, unmet expectations lead to disappointment, and sometimes that desired relationship may never come to be. I’m sorry that your heart is aching.  I know it hurts.

That said, there are several pitfalls to avoid that will, without fail, kill good in-law relations:

  1. Hovering. Asking too many questions, having an over-active need to be in the loop, and needing all the details can be real bridge burners.
  2. Criticizing. No matter what you are thinking, bite your tongue off before being critical of your son’s wife, whether in front of her or him.
  3. Suggesting. Don’t give advice to your daughter-in-law unless she asks for it.
  4. Stepping in. And never, ever take your grandchild for a hair cut or clothes shopping or give medication without confirming parameters with her.

How can I improve in-law relations?

  1. Don’t force it.  Be patient and don’t try to make it happen. Little kindnesses (word and deed) may make a difference over time. 
  2. Guard your heart. Keep your expectations reasonable and don’t set yourself up for further disappointment.
  3. Be an encourager. Find ways to appreciate and express gratitude for your daughter-in-law – especially to your son.

Any other thoughts?

  1. Pray for wisdom, charity, and understanding.
  2. Choose to let it roll off your back.  Don’t take thoughtless words personally, just let them go.
  3. Don’t return unkindness for unkindness, but be gracious.
  4. Take the long haul view.  Be thankful for baby steps, and stay the course.

At the end of the day, you can only control you.  You can’t make your daughter-in-law want to have a relationship with you.  Just love her the best you can, and pray for her regularly.


A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. -– Genesis 2:24 (NLT)