What Do You Call Your Mother-In-Law?

This may sound like an odd question, but what do you call your in-laws? I know some couples who call them the formal Mrs. Last Name, I know others that call them by the more familiar first name, still others who just drop the formality and call them Mom or Momma First Name. The reason I ask about what you call your in-laws, particularly your mother-in-law can seem to have a real effect on your parents and their reaction to your in-laws.

For Me Personally

I’ve known my husband’s mother for more than a decade and we’re very close. I’ve called her Mom for years, at first it was a slip here and there just because that’s what both my husband and his sister called her and then it just didn’t seem right to call her by her first name – it inserted a distance between us that didn’t exist.

To put it bluntly, my mother really doesn’t care for the fact that I call his mother mom. In fact, when she’s around, I have to be very careful not too call her mom because when I do, my mother gets very stiff and moody. Initially, I wasn’t certain if this is because my husband does not call her by her first name, in fact, he simply calls her by her given. They are not especially close and that’s in direct proportion to the fact that for years my mother and I were not close.

Yet, it’s due to my relationship with my mother-in-law and my husband that I’ve wanted to heal the rift between my mother and myself and develop a closer relationship. On the one hand, I get why she resents me calling my mother-in-law mom, but on the other – if not for that Mom, I wouldn’t have worked so hard to rebuild my relationship with my mom.

The Problem

I ask myself occasionally, how would I feel if my daughter called another woman mom – I admit to feeling a twinge or two. But not out of jealousy, but more out of the fact that I am her mom right now, her only one – if she’s lucky enough to get a great mother-in-law that she is comfortable calling mom someday, I am going to do my best to really like this person and to have a relationship with them because my daughter is that important to me.

Easier said than done, I realize that. But when the grandkids started coming along they elected to call my husband’s mother Nana – she wasn’t comfortable with that because her mother had been Nana for her kids and my grandmother was a Nana to myself – but I don’t feel that extending that bubble, the gift of that title to another person is wrong, I think it’s more about completing the circle and letting our children enjoy the benefits of their grandparents as we did the benefits of our own.

I know I’ve wandered a bit in a circle here, but there is a power and an intimacy in the name. What you call your mother-in-law, your father-in-law and even what your children call them, and can all have an effect on your relationships with your own parents and more. So what do you call your mother-in-law and does your own mother care for it?

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About Heather Long

Heather Long is 35 years old and currently lives in Wylie, Texas. She has been a freelance writer for six years. Her husband and she met while working together at America Online over ten years ago. They have a beautiful daughter who just turned five years old. She is learning to read and preparing for kindergarten in the fall. An author of more than 300 articles and 500+ web copy pieces, Heather has also written three books as a ghostwriter. Empty Canoe Publishing accepted a novel of her own. A former horse breeder, Heather used to get most of her exercise outside. In late 2004, early 2005 Heather started studying fitness full time in order to get herself back into shape. Heather worked with a personal trainer for six months and works out regularly. She enjoys shaking up her routine and checking out new exercises. Her current favorites are the treadmill (she walks up to 90 minutes daily) and doing yoga for stretching. She also performs strength training two to three times a week. Her goals include performing in a marathon such as the Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness or Team in Training for Lymphoma research. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience through the fitness and marriage blogs.