5 Ways to Be an Encouraging Mother-In-Law
If there is one thing us wives have in common, it’s that we desire to have a strong relationship with our mother-in-law, and we desire to be a great mother-in-law.
Being a mother-in-law myself, being blessed with an amazing mother-in-law, and learning from yet another amazing mother-in-law found in Scripture—Naomi—, us wives can gain greater wisdom on how we can cultivate a relationship with a daughter-in-law as a mother-in-law. Whether you’re already a mother-in-law or you hope to one day be, let’s all take a lesson from Naomi..
If you’re not familiar with this iconic biblical woman, allow me to catch you up to speed. Naomi and her family were living in Moab, when her husband and two sons died. This forced Naomi and her daughters-in-law into a life-altering choice.
Let’s examine Naomi’s story to learn from her example as a great mother-in-law.
5 Ways to be an Encouraging Mother-In-Law
- Naomi gave her daughters-in-law freedom to live their lives. The story picks up with Naomi deciding to return to her hometown of Bethlehem.
“Then Naomi said to her daughters-in-law, ‘Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me.’” Ruth 1:8
Rather than worrying about her own welfare, Naomi gave her daughters-in-law freedom so that they could pursue what was best for them. Naomi didn’t guilt or manipulate but instead allowed them to choose without feeling pressured.
My mother-in-law has not only given me, but also my husband freedom to make our own choices, even when those choices have cost her dearly.
How much freedom do you give your children and their spouses to make choices and even mistakes?
- Naomi showed affection to and was vulnerable with her daughters-in-law.
“Then she [Naomi] kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud.” Ruth 1:9b
Of course, this ended up not being a final goodbye to Ruth, since she decided to go wherever Naomi went. But Naomi still let her heart and love show.
My mother-in-law is so much better at this than I am. Even though I love to hug, I’m not much of a kisser, nor much of a crier. So you might not even know when I’m moved by something, while my mother-in-law wears her heart on her sleeve.
When we do this, we build trust in our relationship with our daughters-in-law.
How affectionate and vulnerable are you with your daughter or son-in-law?
- Naomi showed interest in Ruth’s life and affirmed her achievements.
As Naomi and Ruth settled into life in Bethlehem, Naomi made sure to show interest in Ruth.
“Her mother-in-law asked her, ‘Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!’” Ruth 2:19a
Naomi knew that if Boaz noticed Ruth, it could lead to marriage, which in turn would assure Ruth of provision not to mention love. Clearly, Naomi loved cheering her daughter-in-law on from the sidelines.
My mother-in-law has always taken great interest in my life, as well as warmly affirming me along the way.
How much do you show interest in or affirm your son or daughter-in-law?
- Naomi found a way to meet a pressing need in Ruth’s life.
“One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, ‘My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for.’” Ruth 3:1
Naomi pointed Ruth toward a key opportunity that ended up meeting a pressing need.
After my own mother died, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My mother-in-law stepped in to meet a pressing need in my life by showing me support and love like only a true mother could and can.
What pressing needs can you strive to meet in your daughter-in-law’s life?
- Naomi was an active grandmother to her grandson.
“Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him.” Ruth 4:16
Thankfully, Ruth ended up marrying Boaz and, in time, gave birth to a son. Naomi must have been thrilled to take on this new role as a grandmother when those dreams seemed so unlikely back in Moab.
This is one huge way my mother-in-law has blessed my family and me. Even though we live far apart, she always welcomed the chance to watch our boys when they were young. Now, I’m in a similar situation—far away from our grandson. But I too seize every chance I get to be with and care for him, hoping this blesses my daughter-in-law in return.
What grand-mothering opportunities do you need to make sure happen soon?
Wife Step: Choose one of the examples above to cultivate in your relationship with your son or daughter-in-law.
Beth Steffaniak is an author, marriage blogger, life-coach, pastor’s wife, empty nester and proud grandma. She resides with her husband in southern Illinois, where they enjoy leading marriage workshops together, as well as investing in helping people grow closer to Christ, each other and the disconnected. You can find more of her writing at www.messymarriage.com.