By the time your children are grown, I imagine that you feel pretty confident in most areas of life. After all, you survived the most time-intense season of parenting. With an empty nest, there is an opportunity for many to experience new freedoms and even a little raise once your kids are off the payroll!
Before you become too comfortable, however, you often get the opportunity to become a mother-in-law. When I was about 25, I started a document on things that I wanted to remember when it was my turn to be a MIL. Today, Kendall shares her last insights with us for this series. Take some notes – one day you’ll be glad you did.
Kendall’s takeaways from becoming a mother-in-law:
1. Purpose to win your child’s spouse.
I determined from day one that I wanted to win my child’s spouse because I want to have access to my grandchildren. Your child’s spouse can make this access easy or hard. Believe it!
2. Welcome in your new son- or daughter-in-law.
I wanted to develop a relationship with my child’s spouse so they would want to participate in our family as a whole. We are a close family and I want them to feel as if they fit. One way I do this is by being careful to always include the in-law in communications about family functions. When I send a text, it goes to each individual. I want them to have a voice in responding to invitations.
3. No second tier.
At Christmas, I treat in-laws as I do my own children when it comes to spending on gifts. I don’t want to give the feeling that they are not as important in our family as our own children.
4. Be a servant.
Service is one way I have found to love my child’s spouse. I look for ways I can help the person or the couple. I offer to help with the children. I take them extra food. I help them move into their first home by packing and unpacking. I will do whatever is helpful while being careful not to invade their space. I don’t assume I am needed. I offer and act when the offer is accepted.
5. “No pressure” policy.
When our first child got married, Pete and I decided that we would always invite our children to participate in whatever we were doing, but without any pressure to participate and with no strings attached. We are happy for the time we get to spend with them, but not resentful for what we don’t get. This will free the in-law and your child from much stress in their marriage. They are always wanted, but never required.
6. Give space.
We have learned to give lots of space on the front end. It really takes about 5 years to adjust to the pair as a couple, both for us and for them. Don’t make it hard for your child to establish his or her new family. Rather, encourage it and in the end your in-law will appreciate you for it.
7. Words of affirmation.
Think of all the good things you can say about your child’s spouse and say them out loud in front of them as a couple. This is a great way to encourage them and help them build their marriage. Because you are their parent, you still have great influence over your child’s opinions. Make sure you do not give them negative thoughts about their spouse or spouse’s family.
Life is about relationships. I am so grateful for Kendall’s willingness to share from her experience with us over the last month. I pray that this series has been an encouragement to you all. If it has, I’d love for you to comment and let Kendall know!