Straight Talk: What Your Mother in Law Says and What She Really Means

Mothers in law and daughters in law don’t always speak the same language.
But, there are ways to prevent miscommunication and avoid

Therapist, Julie Hanks, explains what those mixed messages really mean.

“My kids NEVER did that!”

TRANSLATION: needs acknowledgement that she did a good job as a
Mother in Law TIP: notice and comment on positive parenting moments.

“When are you going to give me a grandchild?”

TRANSLATION: wants you to know that she’s excited to be a grandma.
MIL TIP: Convey trust in Daughter in law & son to make those important

“I always clean/cook/organize this way.”

TRANSLATION: wants acknowledgement for her homemaking experiences.
MIL TIP: Wait until you’re asked before giving any advice.

“He was mine first.”

TRANSLATION: wants you to know how much she loves her son and she’s
scared to lose him.
MIL TIP: Be direct about relationship wishes but not demanding (i.e. I’d love
to see you guys more often. Are you free for dinner Sunday?)

“Have you put on weight?”

TRANSLATION: wants you to know that she cares about her appearance.
MIL TIP: Don’t say anything.

Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW is a therapist, self & relationship expert,
media contributor and director of Wasatch Family Therapy. Visit
for individual, couple, family, & group
counseling services designed to strengthen you and your family. We treat
mental health and relationship problems in children, adolescents, and
adults. Now open in Provo! For additional emotional health & relationship
resources connect with Julie at

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