You’ve heard the mother-in-law jokes, as well as the horror stories about stressful relationships between mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws. But there actually are plenty of women who manage to build loving relationships with their son’s wives. They’re the best kind of mother-in-laws.

You can also enjoy a caring and supportive relationship with your daughter-in-law. Such a relationship will bless not just the two of you, but also the man you both love – your son and her husband.

Here’s how you can become the best kind of mother-in-law:

Hold your tongue. Resist the urge to offer your son and daughter-in-law unsolicited advice, no matter how much you think they could benefit from it. Give them a chance to find their own way in life, just as you did. If you’re patient enough to invest the time in gradually building a respectful relationship with your daughter-in-law, she’ll come to trust you and eventually ask you for advice whenever she wants some.

Even when you disagree with your daughter-in-law’s choices, don’t criticize them. She may make mistakes, just as you sometimes do, but when she does, let her make her own mistakes and learn from them. Remember that an important part of a married couple’s development is learning through mistakes. Make sure that your daughter-in-law feels comfortable enough to be herself around you and let down her defenses.

When considering whether or not to give your daughter-in-law advice about something, check your motives first to make sure you truly have her best interests at heart. Also, think about how she will perceive the significance of your advice in light of her circumstances, and ask yourself if your advice might hurt your daughter-in-law’s feelings. Learn as much as you can about how your daughter-in-law sees the issue or situation. Consider asking her probing questions, such as:

“What do you think is the right thing to do?”

“What do you see as the problem?”

“How do you think this will impact your life?”

“Have you thought about what you might do?”

“What is the worst thing you can imagine happening?”

“How does that make you feel?” and

“Why does that bother you?”

Listen respectfully to your daughter-in-law, especially in emotionally charged situations.

Embrace your daughter-in-law. Welcome your daughter-in-law fully into your family, but let her choose her own pace for building closer relationships with you and other family members. Keep in mind that when your son got married, you didn’t lose a son; you gained a daughter. Recognize your daughter-in-law’s important role in your son’s life and choose to be inclusive without overwhelming her. Accept your daughter-in-law for who she is and appreciate how she enriches your family. Let her know that you’re glad she married your son.

Agree on a name for her to call you that makes you both comfortable. Spend time one-on-one with her when you can. Ask her to share her opinions and let her participate in making decisions about family issues. Give your son and daughter-in-law space to enjoy holidays and vacations without pressure to follow your agenda for those times. Rather than trying to force yourself to love your daughter-in-law or trying to force her to love you, regularly remind yourself of how much your son loves her, and let that motivate you to treat her well.

Keep out. Respect your son and daughter-in-law’s boundaries. Show consideration for their busy schedules and need for privacy. Ask them to explain their house rules upfront so you can understand them and make considerate choices about how to best relate to them (such as not dropping by their home unannounced and not calling during busy times). Rather than just helping with something with which you think they need help (like dinner, housekeeping, or decorating) ask first to see if they actually want that help. Be flexible when making plans with your son and daughter-in-law, keeping in mind that they have their own lives. Let your love for them motivate you to respect the limits they set with you to maintain a healthy relationship.