How to be a Good Mother-in-Law

Edited by the Bodleian Library

How to be a Good Mother-in-Law

Edited by the Bodleian Library

Distributed for Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

96 pages | 9 halftones | 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 | © 2013
Cloth $11.00 ISBN: 9781851240821 Published November 2013 For sale in North America only
“Do not march into the drawing-room and, having inspected it, say, “What a nice room, but —” “Do not look at your son steadfastly and then turn to his wife and tell her he is getting thin.” “When you wax eloquently on the way to keep soup hot, you are merely asking him to shout on the house tops that he prefers cold soup to mothers-in-law.” These are just a few of the words of wisdom on offer in How to be a Good Mother-in-Law, the latest in a series of delightful advice books that also includes How to be a Good Husband and How to be a Good Wife. While the station of mother-in-law is not one celebrated for its sympathy and is the subject of no shortage of off-color jokes, this slim guide shows that it is possible to achieve accord—even friendship—with the man or woman your son or daughter has chosen to marry.
Originally published in the 1930s, How to be a Good Mother-in-Law offers advice that ranges from the amusingly old-fashioned to the surprisingly still relevant today. Among the topics discussed are how not to behave on your son or daughter’s wedding day, how to visit the couple in their new home, how to interact with the grandchildren, and what degree of independence should be granted to married sons. For mothers-in-law considering living with the married couple, a chapter presents suggestions for how to negotiate this famously fraught situation. In another chapter called “Are They as Bad as They are Painted?,” the book reproduces a selection of tabloid tragedies, including the story of a mother-in-law that surprised a hapless couple by accompanying them on their honeymoon.

Whether you’re a new mother-in-law, a veteran to this much-maligned role, or a long-suffering spouse whose partner’s parent seems impossible to please—the pithy advice on-hand in How to be a Good Mother-in-Law will be warmly welcomed.


I            A Searchlight on Mothers-In-Law

II           The Early Days

III          How Mothers-In-Law Can Make Things Difficult

IV          Wait!

V           Causing Trouble

VI          A Question of Dignity

VII        Visiting a Married Daughter

VIII       About Married Sons

IX          The Grandchildren

X           Living with your Mother-In-Law

XI          Food for Thought

XII         The Wedding Plans

XIII        The Right Sort of Mother-In-Law

XIV        To The Reader

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