An Open Letter to My Mother-in-Law

As with many of us, my in-laws are coming to visit for the holidays.  Over the years, I had my fair share of clashes with my mother-in-law.  Now that both of my children have girlfriends, I am starting to appreciate the position of mother-in-law much more.  To that end, I decided to write an open letter to mine. It’s part apology, part thanks, part knowledge sharing.  I hope you can relate 🙂

letter to my mother-in-law

Dear Bobbie –

First I would like to apologize:

  • For all the times I acted like I knew everything about parenting or marriage – even though you had more than 20 years experience on me.
  • For not appreciating your generosity – in fact, for resenting it.  I saw your gifts to us as your attempt to control our family – and I see now that coercion is not part of your makeup.
  • For not being sympathetic to your frustrations with life, your family, and me.

I would also like to thank you:

  • For the previously mentioned generosity – generosity of time, of spirit, and of love, as well as money and material items.
  • For accepting me as part of your family from day one.
  • For always trying to understand – even when situations and people were outside of your comfort zone.

We didn’t choose each other – but we DO love each other.

letter to my mother-in-law

And for the rest of you – some things I have learned from being a daughter-in-law for 20+years and a not quite mother-in-law for over a year (all of these suggestions work both ways):

  • Bite your tongue.  Seriously.  Unless she is doing something dangerous, don’t say anything.  She won’t be grateful for your advice.  She’ll resent you.  Let her come to you.  The flip side of this one is: It’s okay to ask her for advice.  She might be able to teach you something new or give you a fresh perspective on life.
  • When you’re in her house, try to abide by her rules.
  • When you talk to your son (or husband), don’t tell him the things you don’t like about her.  It will only drive a wedge between you.

Need a little more help? Recently, I wrote a book called How to Apologize to Your Mother-In-Law. It’s yours free if you sign up for my mailing list:

Following these rules won’t guarantee you a good relationship with your in-laws, but it might give you some peace of mind.

Enjoy your holiday!!

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Posted in Relationships | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Who Dat?

There’s a very old saying that originated in New Orleans back in the late 1800’s.  I don’t know how I first heard it, but I used to say it to my boys when they were little.  It goes something like this:

who dat“Who dat?”

“Who dat who say who dat?”

“Who dat who say who dat who say who dat? …

I thought of this little saying the other day when I was having some problems with discernment.  Sunday was not a great day.  I woke up not breathing very well, so decided not to go to church.  I did some chores, surfed the computer, did my devotions, wrote my blog, balanced the checkbook, and it all went downhill from there.  We were about out of money with 2 1/2 weeks until the next paycheck.  I was worried, but I didn’t want to worry anyone else, so I stuffed it down (always a bad idea).

Art & I went to the grocery store with the rest of a gift card his parents had given us.  The register rang up a loaf of bread for 20 cents more than the price I had been told online.  Art wanted to ask the cashier about it, but I begged him not to.  Is that the point we’re at now?  Arguing over 20 extra cents for a loaf of bread?  I’m pretty sure the cashier gave us the 20 cents back just so we would stop arguing with each other and leave.  I felt like I was going to cry, but I didn’t want to, so I stuffed it down (another bad idea).

Later that night we were making dinner and discussing the future.  Art and Boo are both starting at our local community college in January.  In September, Bud will be joining them.  How exciting to have all 3 of my men furthering their educations together!!  But that wasn’t on my mind Sunday night.  I asked Art if he was going to get a job while he was in school (you may recall that Art has been unemployed since June 2009, not for lack of trying).  I don’t even remember his reply – I’m sure it was something like, “Of course I’m going to do the best I can to find something.”  All I remember is I freaked out.  Let all the fear and sadness that had been building up inside me all day out in one spew of anger at someone who didn’t deserve it at all.  And he talked back a little, but mostly he took it.  And then we ate dinner and walked the dog and I went to bed.

Well, once I got to bed and had time to reflect on my day I realized what I had done and I felt absolutely horrible.  I started beating myself up, telling myself I was a bad wife, bad mother, etc.  I cried and cried.  Art came to bed and I couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t even mad at me.  He said we are all in a difficult situation and he understands that sometimes it’s just too much to handle.  I think I actually felt worse – that he could be so understanding.

Then I remembered something Renee Swope said in her book A Confident Heart:

“Condemnation sweeps across our thoughts with generalized statements (bad wife, bad mother). That is the accuser.  His tone is condemning, questioning and confusing.  His accusations lead to guilt and shame.

The Holy Spirit’s conviction will be specific.  He will reveal a sinful action or attitude and instruct us on what we need to do to right the wrong.”

So I took a deep breath and realized I was listening to the wrong voice in my head.  I switched my thinking from I’m a horrible person  to  what can I do differently next time?  If I had expressed some of my fear and sadness earlier in the day, allowed myself some grieving time, I wouldn’t have felt the need to lash out at Art.

Next time I screw up (and I know I will),  and the voices in my head start speaking, I’m going to ask them “Who dat?”

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  – Romans 8:1

Posted in Spiritual | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

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