Hello Dr. Laura,
I just became a mother-in-law this past summer. I'm totally in love with my new daughter and we have a great relationship. It really helps when your child chooses wisely. However, I give my own mother-in-law all the credit for teaching me how to be good at it. She is an amazing woman who raised four amazing adults.
From day one, before my husband and I were engaged, my mother-in-law made sure to include me in all family occasions. She introduced me to extended family, made sure there was an appropriate gift for me at Christmas, always being caring and sweet. She helped me when my children were young, but never over-stepped any boundaries. She did my dishes, folded my laundry, played with the kids and never once did she make me feel I wasn't doing a good job.
Now she is 86 years old and has dementia. I hear so many calls from people who can't deal with the stages of dementia. They seem to take everything personally when it has nothing to do with them. I take her to doctors' appointments, grocery shopping, lunches or just visit her often. On our last doctor visit, he had me feel a small lump on her breast and asked me to keep track of it in case it should change. These are things you do for people you love! And she knows she can trust me. Sure, she can get testy, repetitive, sings and hums all time, has great difficulty communicating. That can be challenging. But I know who she really is and I can't imagine how frightening it is to be in that state. My husband and daughter visit her every single Sunday morning for coffee and donuts. They've started bringing our little dog with them and she loves it! Seems she has forgotten she doesn't like dogs! I guess that is the up side of dementia.
I plan to be the best mother-in-law I can and to make my mother-in-law proud.