Quick question before I move on with this post…Do you call your parents-in-law "mom" and "dad"? My parents call their in-law parents mom and dad. I just recently started calling my in-laws mom and dad after 20 or so years, but none of my siblings spouses call them mom and dad, so I don't do it a lot. I don't think there's a right or wrong answer to this question. Everyone should do what they feel is right for them.
THERE'S NO "DREADED" IN MY IN-LAWS
From day one they have accepted me as their daughter. They have supported Mark and I in our journey together as husband and wife. They love and spoil our kids and have a way of making each of them feel as though they are the number one grandchild in the world. They are truly the best.
What is it that they have done that makes them (and my own parents) good in-laws? What can I do to prepare myself to be a good in-law? As I pondered my relationship with my in-laws, thought about my own parents as in-laws, and studied for my Marriage class this week, I have come up with 5 tips for being not only good in-laws, but fantastic in-laws.
5 TIPS FOR BEING GOOD IN-LAWS
Recognize early on that as in-laws, you must help define and protect the budding relationship of your child and his/her spouse. "Parents must give the newly married couple time to adjust and allow them to be independent" (Harper, 2005, 328). New couples must set up a boundary of sorts around their relationship and parents can help them best by respecting this boundary.
Recognize that it is important for "couples to develop their own traditions and have time together on special occasions (Harper 329).
As tempting as it is, try to make sure that you don't pressure your grown children to be at every family gathering. This was one of the hardest times in my own marriage, this blending of two families and creating our own traditions. Many argument was had between Mark and I as we tried to figure out how to balance time between our two families. Neither of us wanted to give up the traditions we had established growing up with our families. I don't know that we felt a ton of pressure from either side, but we definitely felt that either side would be disappointed if we weren't there. I love this advice for parents: "Understanding that expectations for family relationships have to change helps new parents-in-law help their children. Parents will do better to listen and not impose their opinions or feelings" (Harper 329).
Understand that you can still be close with your child and secure in your relationship with him or her without always having to be present (Harper 329). You don't want to be enmeshed with your child. "Enmeshment describes a process in which parents and children feel they always have to be together" (Harper 329). Seriously, you don't want to be THAT in-law. Please, my friends. Don't be enmeshed with your children. Love them, be close to them, but let them and their spouse do their thing.
Try to create a climate of safety in which your children and their spouses can express their feelings about how involved they want you to be. "When married children are treated with respect and love in this matter, they are more likely to want to spend more time with parents and extended family" (Harper 329-30). Keep the lines of communication open and be an ACTIVE LISTENER. Just listen and offer advice when they ask for advice.
Accept that your child's spouse may have differences and not follow your "family rules" and that's okay. Include them in your life. Ask for their opinions. Allow them to share their ideas and give them the opportunity to implement those ideas in some of your family activities.
"It is important for parents-in-law to find ways to personally build relationships with their children-in-law as individuals" (Harper 331).
I AM SO EXCITED TO BE AN IN-LAW
I cannot wait to be an in-law. I know it won't be easy to allow my children to leave the nest and start building their own with someone else. I know there will be bumps in the road, hurt feelings, and maybe even some arguments. But overall, I just hope that I can truly help my children-in-law to know that I love them, I accept them, and I am so thrilled that they are part of my family. I want to be there to celebrate with them when they have exciting family moments, to mourn with them in their sorrows, and support them through the hard times because that's what families should do for each other.
I pray for my future children-in-law all the time. I pray that they are healthy, that they are having experiences that will help them be the kind of spouse that each of my children need, and that they are developing a relationship with their Savior. I can't wait to meet each of them, wrap my arms around them (only if they like hugs though), and say, "Welcome to the family. We've been waiting for you."
CBS Sunday Morning. (2019, October 13). Jim Gaffigan on His In-Laws. Retrieved December 14, 2019, from https://youtu.be/MNpDl8gcOWg.
Harper, J. M. & Olsen, S. F. (2005). "Creating Healthy Ties With In-Laws and Extended Families." In C. H. Hart, L.D. Newell, E. Walton, & D.C. Dollahite (Eds.), Helping and healing our families: Principles and practices inspired by "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" (pp. 327-334). Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company.
WHY ETERNAL FAMILIES?
This page is dedicated to sharing information regarding God's plan for families, how we can strengthen our family relationships, and how the Savior can heal even the most broken of hearts.