I love my daughters-in-law too!
Finding Our Way, Figuring it Out
September 26 is National Daughter-in-Law Day. I’m blessed with three wonderful DILs. I’ve also authored a book on relationships between Daughters-in-Law and Mothers-in-Law. Related By Chance, Family By Choice, releasing November 1. This article is written as a reminder to mother-in-laws to honor those sometimes considered “the other woman.”
“You know what I love about you?” asked my daughter-in-law Sarah as we sat in our favorite coffeehouse. “You don’t have an opinion about everything we do.”
I almost laughed out loud.
“Of course, I do,” I replied. “I’m just not entitled to give it unless you ask for it or God instructs me to share it.”
She seemed surprised—and that felt good. Those who know me are aware I always have an opinion. Her surprise was feedback that I’d done a fairly good job of keeping it to myself more often than not.
Unsolicited advice on topics like finances, childrearing, cooking, or housekeeping masked behind “I’m just trying to help”—are a recipe for conflict. To your son’s wife, it sends the message that what she’s doing isn’t acceptable—she may feel you’re attempting to control her and the home she’s making for her family. The need to control never comes from a position of love. It comes from a position of fear. Let it go.
Instead, set your heart to pray for your daughter-in-law, to encourage her, to learn what’s important to her. I’d never been interested in the sport of running until DIL Penny joined our family. I’m looking forward to attending a race that marks her return to competitive running after the birth of my grandson. She’s her regaining her strength and speed. It’s been fun to share in her success, and I’m so proud of her.
When you appreciate the young woman your son has chosen, the need to point out her shortcomings becomes less tempting. Once you see her as God made her to be, you stop seeing flaws and you value her in a new way.
I recently shared an important lesson with a young friend, raising two little boys. She can’t imagine a woman could ever be good enough for them.
“If you make your sons the center of your world,” I told her, “you will be devastated, because you will never be the center of theirs.” She nodded, her eyes brimming with tears, the truth of the words sinking into her heart.
“How can I get beyond this? What can I do to make sure I don’t become a monster-in-law who ends up alienating not only my future daughters-in-law, but my sons as well?”
Here are the tips I shared with her.• Accept the Word as the authority on family order. The Lord is clear on this. The covenant we make is with our husbands, not our sons. Scripture in both the Old and New Testament all carry nearly identical passages about leaving and cleaving. It’s critical we acknowledge and submit to this principle. If it’s God’s plan for the family, it should be our plan.
• Surrender your need to advise. This can be tough, but’s not optional. Wait till she asks, or until God prompts you. She may do things differently than you, but different is not wrong, it’s just different.
• Pray for your son’s spouse-to-be. Son still single? Pray! When our son proposed after a very brief courtship, friends questioned my calm. The answer was simple: I had prayed for her all of his life. My heart recognized her the moment I met her. I experienced peace, certain of his choice. Praying for your son and his future wife when they’re still children also helps to prepare your heart. So no matter his age, pray. Start now.
When you are willing to honor your son’s choice, you are honoring God and walking in obedience. I didn’t lose my sons; I gained three wonderful daughters. What a gift.
The boys did not necessarily want a girl “just like the girl that married dear old dad.” We are unique, different from one another, but we share a love for Jesus and the desire to live life together successfully as a family. I learned to think of the differences as a gift. Different isn’t wrong—it’s just different.
Amazing how much easier it was to suspend judgment when I stopped comparing my way to theirs. I’ve been surprised by how much they can teach me if I’m open to learning. We’ve grown closer as a result. I know these are smart girls—they think my boys are wonderful!
Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb focuses on topics related to the family and women. Kregel Publications will release her first book in November 2013 entitled, Related by Chance, Family by Choice, focused on relationships between women-in-law. She is co-founder of My Purpose Now, a website devoted to Christian women 50+. Read Deb at Family Matters/Deb DeArmond and My Purpose Now.