Until I started doing the research for this blog I didn’t realize how extremely lucky I must have been. While I know they are the butt of unkind jokes and, if you are my age, you may remember a sit-com about them, I had no idea that mothers-in-law were such a problem.
Mothers-in-law – the mother of your spouse, grandmother to your children and according to not one but SEVERAL studies a thorn in the side to more than 60% of married women and 15 % of men.
That being said- I had two wonderful mothers-in-law, women I was and am blessed to have in my life. My first I considered a second mother and a close friend while married and after. The second was a super kind ,sweet woman who lived in our home the last year of her life and made that time a bonus year for our whole family. After reading the articles about mothers-in-law and what the wives and husbands of their sons and daughters think of them I wanted to give more thought as to why my experiences had been different.
Apparently the #1 conflict is about child-rearing and housekeeping. According to the studies there is quite a generational gap in philosophies and standards. This leads to hurt feelings and discord on both sides of the fence. The mother-in-law feels unappreciated for her “advice” and the daughter-in-law feels put down and disregarded.
Mothers-in – law feel left out and unnecessary after spending years of their lives dedicated to the boy the daughter-in-law is now “monopolizing. The daughter-in-law feels his mother takes up too much of his time.
Come on, Ladies – Get a grip !!!
Who among us can’t use some free advice – especially if it’s offered in a spirit of wanting to be helpful and a part of your life. And what you can’t use? Accept it with a smile and forget it.
While my mother-in-law would have been the first to tell you housekeeping was pretty far down on her list of priorities I still learned a lot of” tricks of the trade” as a young wife from this wise woman – things my own mother had probably at some point tried to teach me but I was too busy having fun to learn. She had more knowledge about more things in her little finger than I had in my whole brain. At 87 she still keeps learning and sharing what she learns with me. I have a prize.
My children’s grandmother was an integral part of their life after we moved back to Ohio. I don’t know if we saw eye to eye on all our child rearing practices or not but she had raised two sons to successful adulthood so she must have done something right. She was always willing to babysit – an enormous help when I had to work and my husband was out of town. When the kids were with her we played by her rules and it worked. I’m sure she probably offered advice as well. I took what I thought was useful. What I didn’t I let go and wasn’t offended by her suggestions. They weren’t meant to offend. Here is where I offer the caveat for Mothers-In-Law reading this blog : OFFER advice as a kindness NOT a CRITICISM. How it’s offered makes a difference in how it is accepted.
When I think of those two wonderful ladies the other thing I realize probably made an enormous difference in our relationships is the fact they both had separate lives from ours. They were both active with many interests and community involvement . They were too busy to feel left out and had long since (and very successfully) passed the empty nest portion of their lives. We saw them frequently because we made it happen.
My second mother-in-law (and father-in-law) were older and needed more help from my husband, maintaining their home. Rather than resent the time my husband spent helping out I adopted the attitude of “we’re family and this is what families do for each other”. I hope to someday have a son or daughter-in-law who will be willing to help if we need it.
It’s all about attitude and kindness from everyone.
Mothers-in-law – Get a life. Enjoy your time now you are past the child rearing years. Times change, ways of doing things change, some for the better, some maybe not. Your way of doing things might not be the best for this generation of parents, wives, mothers. Find new interests, new friends and new things to be involved with. Offer advice if necessary but do it with a kind heart and don’t be offended if it’s not taken. Daughters-in-law and sons-in-law will make their own mistakes just as you did. Don’t take it personally.
Daughters-in-law and sons-in-law as well as daughters and sons. – Be grateful to the parents who raised you. Keep them involved. Take the advice with a generous spirit. Don’t see criticism where it’s not intended and don’t take it personally.
For more great reading on how to be a better mother-in-law or daughter-in-law go to the website www.grandparents.com. Can’t we all just get along?
Think about it.