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It's just a name

Started by newmotherinlaw, December 27, 2012, 07:20:57 pm

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I am a fairly new MIL - son and DIL married 1 1/2 years.  Early on I mentioned to DIL to call me whatever she's comfortable with, i.e., my first name or mom.  She still calls me "Mrs. Smith" even though I sign all cards, etc to her with my first name.  Any suggestions how I can make her more comfortable addressing me?  Should I just be blunt and tell her to drop the "Mrs."? Thanks.


Welcome to the site, NewMIL. If you haven't already done so, please take a moment to read the pink-highlighted items under Open Me First on the home page. We ask this of all new members to make sure the site is a good fit.

If you have a fairly good level of communication with DIL, I suggest you casually mention that you'd be more comfortable being called by your first name and hope she can give it a try. I doubt she'll be amenable to making the leap from "Mrs. Smith" to "Mom." My DIL is from a culture that is big on respecting one's elders. It's been a few years and she now calls us by our first names.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Welcome - I moved your post into the category that seemed to fit best. The "Open Me First" category is a place for you to return to and, after you have read all three posts, for you to decide whether this Web-forum is a fit for you. That's what's next since all members need to adhere to the Forum Agreement.It's not a posting category.

My take is that you put the ball in your DIL's court to be kind. She's done what you asked and it isn't what you would like. I know, I sure wouldn't have thought to laugh at the time and say "But please don't call me Mrs. Smith and forever keep me at a distance, like a stranger. Ha-ha!" Now, it seems to me that all you can do is to tell her that after she feels more comfortable, she can drop the formal title and relax...and hope that it works.

Perhaps other WWU members will be able to offer more creative suggestions. I really feel for you.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Can you make a joke about it?  Next time she calls you Mrs Smith, say "Oh please call me Sue, whenever you say Mrs Smith, I start looking for MY Mother-In-Law!"

or "Oh, we're all adults here, please call me Sue."

or "You know what?  I'll know for sure when you really start feeling "at home" here, because you'll start calling me Sue, and I will fall off of my chair for sure!"


How about, "Nice to see you, too, Mrs.Smith."
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


You told her to call you what she was comfortable with.  I wouldn't repeat what she says she might think your mocking her.  I think being direct is best way.  But if she is not comfortable is it worth fighting over it?


Good point. As a last ditch stand, you could tell her the truth...that you meant it but you hadn't considered Mrs. Smith as even a remote possibility. Then, you could ask her if she would be willing to tell you why she wanted to stick to something so formal, letring her know that you are uncomfortable with it.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Hi New MIL, Best to be open and honest in a highly formal and polite manner.  To talk in her current language that is.  She may end up warming to you and yours but you never know so keep expectations at zero. Please set your boundaries too as you get to know your new role and her's.  You matter too but likely not are just not going to be the head of the family anymore and that is OK, just different?

Expect the same treatment as you would a friend or business associate and do not let too much slide if their behavior is hurtful to you. Open and honest is he best path.

I shut up and took my crumbs and still got discarded with the rest of my FOO.   My DIL never called me mom even if I called myself that in calls and letters.  We prob should have just kept it formal w/ the "Ms. Smith" salutation.

I should have taken it as a clue that she would never consider me family.  When I was active on FakeBook, she had all relatives listed but me.  Another clue before she finally unfriended me and I fired FB.

You are at a great place to help you in your new role.  I wish I was here back then!  I would have done things differently for sure!

So now when friends/family ask about DS and his family,  i simply say, "still in the witness protection program!"


When my oldest son got married to a girl from Japan, she asked what I wanted her to call me.  I told her to use whatever she was comfortable with - she would not call me by my first name as this is a no no in her society - is what she told me.  I then said for her to use a Japanese word as long as it was not a bad one!  Then I told her that my daughter intended for her children to call me Fafe (a family nickname).  So, I told her if that was good for her it was good for me.  So, I am Fafe to her, both of my grandchildren, etc.  When my daughter got married, her husband called me whatever!  Nothing disrespectful, but her had a couple of funny things he called me.  When they adopted their baby, he started calling me Fafe. 

I still call my MIL Mrs G, some of the time, but mostly GMG.  I know this is not helpful advice, just what happened in my case.


Welcome MIL.  I think since you left it up to her and that's what she is choosing to call you, I would just simply say something like, "I hope someday you will feel comfortable enough with me to call me (first name)" next time she addresses you as "Mrs. Smith" and then just let it be.  That way you are telling her that it's OK to drop the formality but yet leaving her an out if she's not comfortable dropping it yet.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


My DS's and his partner split up many years ago but they are still friends. I keep in touch with her too. she always calls me by by my christian name.
My youngest DD who hasn't spoken to me for 5 years was with her DH for 17 years. I see him occasionally he has always called me Mum and still does when he sees me.
Oldest DD has had a boyfriend, father of her DD, three husbands, and two serious boyfriends. They all called me by my christian name.
I suspect in your case your new DIL has been brought up to be formal and feels uncomfortable using Christian names. When babies come along, the problem will be solved, as you can be called Grandma.
Personally, I would let things be, but it is, of course, up to you.