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Be Nice to Your Mother-in-Law

Did you know that October 28 is Mother-in-Law’s Day?

Most of us cringe at the thought of mother-in-law anything, much less having a day dedicated to her.  So it makes you wonder what greeting card company or marketing “genius” thought this one up.

On the other hand, maybe mothers-in-law have gotten a bad rap that they don’t deserve.

Granted, not all mother in laws are nice.  But most of them are not evil, either.

So maybe the problem is not so much our mothers-in-law but the unrealistic expectations we place on them, especially in regards to the role they play in our lives. 

We daughters-in-law expect a lot from the mothers of our husbands.  In fact, we often expect things from them that even our own mothers don’t deliver.  We blame them when they are not attentive, generous or kind enough, to name a few.  But even more, we often blame them for our own husbands!

Think about it.

Your husband might be the greatest guy on this planet.  But as soon as you have a little tiff, who do you get mad at more than the devil himself?  His mother!

Why?  Because she’s the one responsible for raising him in such a manner. And she’s the one who didn’t teach him how to treat you right.  So whenever your husband doesn’t live up to your standards, his mother becomes an easy and convenient target.  

My Turn to Be the “Beast”?

As my son grows into a man, I cringe at the thought of one day becoming a mother-in-law.   

The thought that I might be blamed for all his character traits and imperfections doesn’t bother me.  What does give me cause for concern is how I might act towards any girl who ends up marrying my son.   

Any time I see an attractive young woman making eyes at my son, she automatically becomes the enemy.  After all, we’re talking about my son here.  This is my sweet little boy with the golden heart.  This is the innocent waif who is always kind, caring, sincere and thoughtful.  This is my darling cherub who has the word “no” missing from his vocabulary.  

The thought that some pretty young girl might win his heart and take him away from me is sometimes more than I can bear. That feeling alone, I suspect, is enough to harden the heart of any future daughter-in-law who is just waiting to snatch my son away.

Ironically, I adore the young man my daughter is dating, and think he is a real sweetheart. I don’t envision any problems being his mother-in-law, so why does it bother me so much with my son?  I guess it’s the old double standard, only now the roles are reversed.

After so many years of marriage I look at my own mother-in-law as a dear person, someone who raised a beautiful son with all of the great qualities that I appreciate in my husband on a daily basis.   

I respect her for always being there for us but never interfering in our lives; for always being willing to offer advice, but never demanding that we follow it.  I admire her for never issuing judgment calls, or telling me how to do things.  And I hope that when I “grow up,” my daughter-in-law will be able to say as much about me.

As we embark on our journey to the next part of our lives, let’s reconsider our relationships with our mothers-in-law, even if they didn’t live up to our expectations.  Let’s take the time to recognize them for who they are, and thank them for giving us what they were able to give.

After all, one day will be in their shoes.


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