10 things I want my son or daughter-in-law to know

I married the first time when I was very young. I was barely out of high school and still thought like a high school girl. I admit that my mother-in-law and I did not exactly "hit it off" and it actually took many years before we not only reached an understanding, but an actually deep and abiding love, respect and affection for each other. Even after I was no longer married to her son, I was still her daughter-in-law, and she was still my friend and grandmother to my children, even those born during my second marriage. I want my son or daughter-in-law to know a few things about being part of my family that I was fortunate enough to experience with my mother-in-law.

He's your husband but he is still my son (and your wife, my daughter). Sometimes I will want to talk to him and I will call his cell phone. We aren't talking about you. We aren't criticizing you. It's simply a way for this mom to stay in touch with her children. There is no ulterior motive and it is not because I don't like you or don't want to talk to you.

Make sure I spend time with my grandchildren when they come along, though there is no need to rush things. I know that they have your parents too, but it is important that children be loved and nurtured by all their grandparents. It's natural for you to want to spend more time with your parents than me, and I understand that. But just remember that I want to see them too. If we live far apart let's try to use whatever means possible to stay in touch.

Please don't get mad at me when I don't do everything just the way you would do it. My parents didn't always do what I wanted with my children and so it goes for generations. I'll be a grandmother, that's what we do. It's one of the joys of it and now that I'm older I actually understand why grandparents let my daughter have an ice cream cone before dinner. If you "cut me some slack" I promise you that I will cut you some too.

If you want me in the delivery room when you have my grandchildren just say so. But I'll try not to ask and put you in a position where you agree to something you don't want just to spare my feelings. I found that having my mother-in-law present was a real blessing, just as having my own mother was. But I don't need to be there for the grand event to form a bond with you or my grandchildren, after the messy business is over and you and baby are beautiful is just fine too.

Be honest with me. Be respectful, compassionate, kind and courteous, not judging or jumping to conclusions. Call me just to talk to me, just as I hope to be able to call you just to talk to you. Please don't expect me to read your mind and then get upset, hurt or angry when I don't or when I don't get it right.

I know that my son or daughter-in-law will quite possibly never be the same sort of relationship that I have with my child or that they have with their parents. In many ways I'm hoping that being my daughter or son-in-law could be even better. All I really want is for all of us to think of it as our family, not his or her families.

Read more by this contributor

Asking a girl out for homecoming: Advice from her mother

Winning with a whiner

Habits that create happy families