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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What do you call your mother-in-law?

When you got married, you became part of your husband's family and he yours.  And right away you are faced with one of the most awkward decisions of your new life together...what do you call your new mother and father-in-law.

It doesn't seem like it should be such a big deal but for some reason, it is.  If your new in-laws have a definite preference, it may still be awkward but at least you know what to call them.  The problem arises when they are so sweet and say, "Whatever you want to call us is fine with us dear."  And you wonder, "Is this a trap?  Is this a test?  Is there a right or wrong answer?"  Most likely they are as kind and agreeable as they appear to be and are fine with whatever you call them (within reason, of course!).  But when you are young and new to the family, you want to make a good impression.

My own mother-in-law was one of the genuinely nice ones who said she didn't care what I called her.  Even so, I struggled.  Calling her Mom just didn't seem right.  I was close to my own mom and hadn't developed a relationship with my husband's mother yet so it almost felt disloyal to call someone else mother.  Calling her by her first name seemed too familiar.  After all, she was the matriarch of her home and mother of my husband.  A nickname seemed to...stupid... so I took the chicken's way out.  I didn't address her directly by name for a long, long, time.  I am ashamed now that I didn't just call her by her name.

I am now in the mother-in-law's shoes.  I have four sons-in-law and three daughters-in-law. My husband told each one, "Just call me Dan." and that was that.  I did what my own mother-in-law did and told them that I didn't care what they called me.  And it's true, I really don't have a preference.  My sons-in-law all call me Mom and have been comfortable from the start calling me that.  My daughters-in-law seem a little more conflicted.  One calls me Laura and the other two call me Mom.  I'm fine with either name.  I feel bad for them because I know it's hard to come up with a name for the mother-in-law.  After all, it might be a test!  :)


  1. I liked it how Tommy would call you "Bekah's Mom" for a while. It seemed like a nickname but did not feel disrespectful. :-)