As a mother-in-law who is working hard to earn the trust of my daughter-in-law I found these steps go a long way to building a good relationship and they all involve one word:
1. Respect your daughter-in-law's parenting style — even if you don't agree with it. The key is to remember, you're the grandparent now and you're not in charge. Earn your daughter-in-law's trust by playing by her rules when you're with the kids.
2. Respect her relationship with her mom — and don't try to compete. You'll lose.
3. Respect her relationship with your son — and don't talk to him negatively about her to him. You'll lose that battle, too.
4. Remember, we all learned to be good parents while we were on the job— and she's doing the best she can. Give her the benefit of the doubt, and never forget how sensitive you were as a young parent trying to do your best. Remember how important it was to hear encouragement instead of criticism as a young mom especially from your parents and in-laws
1. Respect your husband's relationship with his mother — whatever your opinion of her. You may get him on your side of your conflict with her, but your entire family, especially your children, will suffer as a result.
2. Remember that all grandparents — unless they are abusive or their behavior is in some way harmful to the kids — deserve to know their grandchildren, and vice-versa. If possible, let all the grandparents spend time alone with the kids. That is the only way they can establish lasting bonds.
3. Cut the grandparents some slack — within reason. Be a little flexible with some of the rules, remember the reason they do what they do is not to disrespect you but because they love their grandchildren so very much.
4. If you happen to be the mother of sons, beware. Someday, you may be a mother-in-law with grandchildren, too. Behave accordingly because things we do have a way of coming back on us later.
For Both Mothers-in-law and Daughters-in-law
1. Boundaries is a very good word to remember — healthy boundaries are what help us create and maintain friendly relations. Set boundaries for yourself, and respect your in-law's boundaries.
2. Let go of your expectations about how things should be or the way it was for you and work with the way things are. This means accepting the whole extended family and all they bring into the picture as well as other nonnegotiable circumstances.
3. Always think of the kids. Model the values you want the children to learn. Do you want to train them in criticism and disrespect, or trust and compassion? This is probably the most important point of all and it goes for both sides.
4. Remember, there is enough love to go around for everyone. Every person brings something good and different into your children's and grandchildren's lives, learn to embrace those differences not reject them as your children will be more balanced and well-rounded if you do.
I borrowed some of this information from an article in Grandparents.com, a great resource for grandparents.
Many of these steps could easily be used for any relationship in your life that you are struggling with. If you can apply these principles to your relationships it really will simplify your life.
Children's children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children. Proverbs 17:6