Saturday, February 24, 2007

The In-Laws

We are very lucky to have two families instead of only one. It is not easy, after being part of one family your whole life, to adapt to a whole new family when you get married. Our family, the one that God gave us, where we have been born, is the perfect one for us. The second one, the in-laws, comes as a present with your beloved husband or wife. This second one is definitely chosen by us. Nobody forces us to become part of this other family.

When we raise kids, we should guide them on this matter and talk about their eventual relationships with their future in-laws, because the decisions they make will affect us all for the rest of our lifes. Often most problems are due to an "excess of love": your mom and dad LOVE you and miss you, as we today love our own children with all our hearts and will miss them; your in-laws love their son or daughter with all their hearts; you love your husband or wife with all your heart. The problem comes when we think that we want them only for ourselves, we don't want to share this extraordinary person with anybody else and in the end this hurts everybody. I wish that when it is our turn to become in-laws we can remember to be more detached from our children, to understand that our job of raising them is almost complete and that now is the time to see them flourish, hopefully as hard working, caring, loving, family oriented, promoters of harmony and problem solvers.

If the decision has already been made and our children are married and they already have in-laws, it is not the time to be hard on anybody, our job is to promote unity and friendship. Maybe we do not agree with their style, but we can work as ambassadors, promoting our child in the other family, helping our kid adjust to his or her new family, talking about the good things they offer, being happy because they love your child, being happy in their success. Above everything, we should avoid selfishness and stop promoting envy, competition (to see who is the best uncle or grandparent), forcing your children and grandchildren to choose sides. This is a terrible situation and if we are victims of it we can be walking a path to failure.

We must teach our children before marrriage and discreetly try to guide them in their marriage to be generous, so if we can, we will want to transmit the following message when the time is right: "if you see or feel that your sister or brother in-law has a preferential treatment, be glad for them, don't feel sorry for yourself. You will keep feeling bad and things will not change. It is too late to change your mind about your marriage. Focus on keeping a healthy relationship with everybody in your new family; don't talk badly about your own family, not even to your own husband or wife. Don't ever point out your spouses' or in-laws' faults to your children: respect and admiration is what we want to receive, so offer the same to them. Support your partner's work and his or her ways, and talk to God about your differences, asking Him to help you out. Research the issue, but keep the flame of love growing with details filled with love and tenderness. If you see that your husband or wife is going through a hard time with his or her own family, cheer him or her up, bring out the good things you see in their family, you are working as a mediator of peace."

I will feel very sad if I see one of my children go through a divorce. I will feel terrible if I, as his or her mom, had something to do with that divorce because of my lack of generosity. It will be a double failure if I raise them poorly to deal with their new family, their in-laws, and then also through my selfishness, I end up contributing to their failed marriage.

The consequences of my negative attitude towards my child's in-laws and of my poor performance regarding how he or she is raised to relate to them, could cause me to lose my grandchildren!!!

Be smart, start today, talk to your middle school children about how their eventual relationship with their in-laws should be; how this relationship can affect their marriage and if it can't be as they imagined, give them tools to manage the personal relationship daily problems, use real everyday situations as practical cases. Think way ahead: think of how you want to enjoy your grandchildren until the day you die. Good luck!