Recently, I came across an article, albeit satirical, written by a mom of a young son. The author maps out a contract for her future daughter-in-law, basically claiming life long jurisdiction over her son. At one point, going so far as saying that her son is merely on loan to make grandbabies! Ummm, yikes!
While it’s true, the moment your son is born you begin counting down the days
til he leaves you, the same applies to your daughter (I know, I have one of each). With your little girl, you know as her mother that you are her first example of womanhood, what she will one day become. But, for your son you know (barring the exception that he might be gay), you’re the model of the woman he will likely, want to be with.
I realize the mother-in-law contract was meant to be tongue in cheek, but there’s plenty of genuine sentiment behind what this mom is saying. Without delving into the fact that women are already generally perceived as being catty, isn’t there enough stigma surrounding the in-law, specifically the Mother/Daughter-in -Law, relationship?
As a daughter-in-law, I am incredibly grateful that I did NOT end up with a mother-in-law like the one who wrote this contract (mine is quite the opposite, actually). It struck me, while reading some of her stipulations, the author hadn’t considered that maybe her future daughter-in-law wouldn’t have the benefit of coming from a traditional family background. For instance, both of my own parents are deceased. I am utterly dependent on a good relationship with my in-laws (THANKFULLY its fantastic!), otherwise I’d have no parents at all. Even more importantly, my kids’ relationship with their only surviving grandparents would undoubtedly suffer under different circumstances.
I shudder to think what my life would be like if I experienced, not only the loneliness of losing both my parents, but also had to contend with the judgement and cattiness, of a mother-in-law still coddling her grown son like a toddler. I feel for all the young women out there, who dread the inevitable meeting, and sizing-up by, their future mother-in-law, an apprehension I once shared. Because as women, we know that whatever our relationship with our man’s mama, it’s surely going to change once we become the potential vessel for bringing her grandbabies into the world. And of course, EVERY mom thinks the way she raised her kids was the RIGHT way, that is not a trait exclusive to mothers-in-law. So, it’s natural that there would be some nervousness, especially at the start of the relationship between mother and daughter-in-law. But to open said relationship, with your son’s future wife, decades before they’ve even met, with statements like “son-stealing…jezebel” comes off as petty and irresponsible, regardless of the underlying satire in the delivery.
As a future Mother-In-Law, I’m aware that there may be a high degree of apprehension for my future daughter-in-law, in regard to joining our family. So, in the interest of relieving some of that tension and putting it out there that, “Hey, not every boy’s mama is waiting for the cord to ‘rot and fall off’ before she lets go of the reins,” I’m writing, not a contract, but an open letter of invitation into our family:
Welcome to our family! We’re so excited to have you as a part of our lives and look forward to a warm future, full of joy and love.
Thank you for loving my son and wanting to share your life with him. I want you to know that if my son loves you and you love him, then you are loved by all that love him.
I will respect and not openly question or criticize the way that you raise your children. I only want to make it clear that should you desire, the knowledge gained from my decades of parenting experience, is at your disposal.
I understand that you may live far away from us, but I’d appreciate seeing the grandkids, on all the holidays. If you can’t make it, please at least have the grandkids send a card or call.
I hope you and my son share a long, healthy, loving life together.
But should the relationship end prematurely, I want you to know I won’t judge you or turn my back on you. (Provided you didn’t do anything scandalous, of course!)
I hope that we’re able to enjoy a life-long friendship with one another and can share in the love we have for OUR boy.
Watching our kids grow up and start families, means acknowledging our own mortality, and trusting that we’ve prepared our children well enough to thrive on their own, and then ultimately raise thriving offspring. By embracing our children-in-law we are really embracing our own child’s good judgement. What should make the experience so special is that we are being given a unique insight into, how the values we raise our children with, play out in their lives. If we’re confident that we’ve been a good example for our children, in actions, principles, and relationships, then the prospect of seeing who our child chooses for a future mate, should be an exciting one. Because ultimately, who our children end up marrying, really pays tribute to who raised them.