You were the one to make your son chicken soup when he was home sick from school. You were the one to taxi him to soccer practice. And you were the one to take an embarrassing number of pictures of him and his date on prom night. After all, moms are known for this warm and fuzzy stuff, right?
He's all grown up now, and there have been infinite ways you've shown him you care throughout his life. That doesn't (and shouldn't) stop just because he's getting married soon.
Being the best mother of the groom (MOG) ever has a lot to do with boundaries -- on the wedding day and for the rest of your life as a family. It's important to be supportive of your son and daughter-in-law as well as respect your own boundaries and priorities as a family.
It also has to do with showing your love and support in ways that register with the recipient. If the bride-to-be keeps to herself and seems uncomfortable hugging, for example, maybe skip your usual bear hug and show your affection in other ways (at least until she warms up to you). You can do lots of things. Give presents. Do acts of service. Shower her with words of affirmation. Spend quality time together. People mostly feel (and give) affection in one of these five main ways according to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of best-seller "The Five Love Languages."
There are also some tried and true dos and don'ts to being a superb MOG. Check out these tips for a little diva of discretion guidance.
Be There for Your Son
Being a rockin' mother of the groom ultimately comes down to being supportive, starting with the groom, of course! The support you give him now -- as an adult who's getting married -- is simply an extension of all the love you've shown him over the years.
Here are some simple ways you can be there for your son:
Respect his choices, including who he chooses to marry. If you adore her, tell him (and her). If you have concerns about the woman he's chosen to wed, express them and let them go. You don't have to agree with his decisions, but you should accept them because he's his own person. Stay open-minded about what he shares in response, and focus on the qualities you do appreciate in her.
Offer your own marriage advice or encouragement. Sure, he'll be inspired if you say your marriage has been 30 years of bliss. But even the best marriage or partner is challenging at times. Be honest when your son asks questions about your relationship. It can be just as reassuring for him to hear the big lessons you learned during the tough times. Your openness can help him set high expectations for his own marriage that are also realistic and healthy.
Share your feelings. Express yourself verbally or in writing. Share that you're proud of him. You're gaga about his wife. Or, tell him what you look forward to experiencing as a family in the future.
Give him something special. Whether it's your time, a poem or a watch passed down through your family for generations, something just for him can be a sweet reminder that you love him and are always there for him.
To be the best MOG, you'll need to devote some energy to another special person. That's next.
Be There for Your Daughter-in-law
Supporting your soon-to-be daughter-in-law is a huge way to support your son. Not only is she the bride, she's also your son's first priority. You're not the main female in his life; nor should you be. This is a good thing because he has a companion to share his life with -- someone to make the good times even better and someone to share the load of hardships and burdens.
Maybe your daughter-in-law is the daughter you never had. Or, perhaps she's a mini you! If you don't have it so easy, you're not alone. MOGs and their daughters-in-law are notorious for not getting along. But this unique relationship doesn't have to be an uphill battle of the wills.
The key is to accept her for who she is, even if you'd have chosen a different woman for your son. We're all doing the best we can. She may not have all the tools in her tool belt, so to speak. For example, maybe she's a passive, poor communicator. Well, she obviously doesn't have that skill or tool. If she did, she'd use it! Cut her some slack, and assume she's giving her best. You're not perfect, either.
Acceptance is the foundation for any good relationship. Here are some ways you can support your son by strengthening your bond with his bride-to-be:
Get along with her.This is one of the best gifts a mother of the groom can give her son! Whether you tolerate her or embrace her wholeheartedly, keep things positive. This way, you avoid putting him in a position where he has to choose between you and his fiancé. (You won't win that fight.)
Be the authentic you, like always. Family dynamics can change when there's a new addition like a baby or daughter-in-law. Be your same self. If you're carefree and like joking around a lot, honor that. If you're fairly private and serious, stay aligned with the authentic you, regardless of whether your soon-to-be-daughter-in-law is more outgoing. A good rule of thumb: Whatever you do or say, be kind, flexible and forgiving.
Offer to help with wedding planning. This practical act of service can go especially far if she's extremely busy or overwhelmed with the planning process. Follow her lead (and tastes); otherwise, you're just taking over.
Keep your opinion secondary to hers. If you're fortunate enough to get invited to shop for a wedding gown with her, for example, approve of whatever she likes. It's her day, not yours. Give advice or feedback, but don't be critical.
Encourage and compliment her. Don't fake it, but focus on things to celebrate about her, such as all the work she's done on the wedding or the support she's given your son while he finished his graduate program. Maybe you admire her kindness or are proud of her accomplishments. Whatever it is, convey that you're excited for her to join your family.
Make the introductions.She'll be meeting a lot of new people, including your extended family and friends, so serve as her social chair! Set the stage for introductions by throwing her an engagement party or bridal shower.
Choose a keepsake. Give her something special to show you love her and to welcome her into your family.
There's one more person you shouldn't forget when approaching your duties as MOG. Can you guess who?
Honor Your Own Boundaries and Intentions as a MOG
Just because your family is shifting a bit, that doesn't mean you should get lost in the shuffle. You still count. After all, a wedding celebration is one day. You've got the whole rest of your lives as an extended family to navigate together. So, it's important to set things off in the right tone.
A big part of this is making sure your own boundaries as a mother and mother-in-law are clear early on in the marriage, even during the wedding planning process. For example, maybe your idea of retirement is golfing, traveling and spending holidays with family, not babysitting five days a week. Or, maybe you assume (and hope) your son and his family will continue living in the same town as you forever. Seek clarity and check in now and then. The responses you get today may not hold true next month or 10 or 20 years from now.
You can be explicit without being awkward or confrontational. A good way to do this is by asking questions or stating what you look forward to happening in the future. However you share your expectations of family or future plans, make sure your message is understood.
Being a friend or family member is a reciprocal relationship. It doesn't have to be 50/50 all the time, but both people -- in this case, you and your future daughter-in-law -- must be willing to communicate and compromise to form a relationship. Otherwise, you're not doing any relating.
You'll always be there for your son. But what this support looks like moving forward now that he's engaged may change because his needs and priorities have adjusted. As your family evolves, celebrate the changes rather than resisting them. The journey will be much sweeter.
- ABC News. "Mother of the Groom Feeling Underappreciated." March 9, 2011. (May 5, 2011).http://blogs.abcnews.com/gma_advice_guru/2011/03/bride-under-appreciates-future-mother-and-father-in-law-wedding-invitation-confusion.html
- Chapman, Gary. "The Five Love Languages." Moody Publishers. 2008.
- Our Wedding Day. "The Duties and Responsibilities of the Groom's Mother." 2011. (May 5, 2011).http://www.ourweddingday.com/advice/Traditions/the-mother-of-the-groom/64.aspx
- The Knot. "Mother of the Groom Attire Etiquette Q&A." 2011. (May 5, 2011). http://wedding.theknot.com/bridal-fashion/bridesmaid-dresses/articles/mother-of-the-groom-attire.aspx