Thursday, February 5, 2015

Mother-in-Law! And other in-laws, too

(written December 2014)

A blog post which inspired a blog post:

Let me start by saying my post is not directed at any individual, but thoughts inspired after reading this lighthearted post by Ree Drummond, AKA The Pioneer Woman. 

I'm sharing this because I appreciate her holding her mother-in-law in a positive light.  I had a good one who lived to be 91 years old and I'm trying very hard not to be the type mother-in-law who causes constant grief to her children and their spouses.  No one is perfect and I'm sure I'll err, have erred-- I'm very new at this--but most mothers-in-law aren't completely evil as they are often stereotyped.

I have welcomed my daughter-in-love and future daughter-in-love to tell me if and when I step over the line.  Long before my sons were even old enough to consider marriage, I puzzled over the vitriol automatically assigned mothers-in-law.  That person, in most cases, is the one who had the most influence in shaping the man/woman a person fell in love with and wants to spend the rest of their lives with, and for that she deserves respect.  

I would say to young married men and women to look ahead and plant good seed for the future.  One day, odds are, you will be a parent-in-law and most people realize the truth of reaping and sowing, some call it karma.  Treat your in-laws the way you will want to be treated.  

To mothers-in-law, including myself, honor your children's "grownness" and their boundaries.  Respect is deserved, but it is also earned.  Trust how you raised them and unless they are breaking the law or need a substance abuse intervention, butt out of their personal business.  We figured out how to conduct ourselves in our own relationships; give them the same breathing room.  It is not our role or place to be involved with every detail and decision in their lives.

If you/I slip, accept their "no."  Biblically, our grown children are to respect us, but they are no longer obligated to obey us.  If we are trying to make our grown children obey us or worse yet, trying to meddle in or run their lives, then face it, we're being manipulative and the Bible regards manipulation in the same realm as witchcraft.  Don't act like a witch!  It won't get you stoned to death as in Old Testament times, but it carries a potentially strong and unbearable penalty, emotional distance from your grown children and their families.    

Their primary relationship is with their spouse and must be respected as such.  Remember, especially with the holidays upon us, we must now share them with their other families, and it's still humanly impossible to be in two places at the same time.