My mother and my mother-in-law. I love them both
It’s always a pleasure to share a post with like-minded friends and people. When asking my friend Donna Corwin to write a post for my blog, she accepted and I was so excited. I admire Donna as a person, a parent, and a friend. Donna writes on personal experiences and how she has navigated a healthy and lasting relationship between herself and her daughter. She has raised a healthy child into a wonderful and healthy adult. DONNA CORWIN is a parenting expert with a degree in psychology. She has written 8 parenting/psychology books, and hundreds of articles about children, teens, and parental relationships. She has also appeared as a parenting expert on dozens of national television and news shows.
In this post, Donna shares her insight on letting go when your child is entering into a real relationship and starting a family of their own. Having a new son or daughter in law can be amazing or can be a nightmare. Either way, there are ways to navigate and help make the experience enjoyable. I hope you read this and share Donna’s advice with your friends so we can all celebrate this stage of our lives harmoniously.
CUTTING THE CORD; “REDEFINING THE ADULT -CHILD RELATIONSHIP”
When did she grow up? How did this happen? That’s what I kept asking myself when my daughter called me from Greece to announce that she was engaged to be married. Wait! I wasn’t even there. I had always been there for every important and meaningful time in her life, but this was different. This was about her and her new fiancé. I suddenly realized that things were changing. So I had better readjust my thinking or I would get left behind in the discarded in-laws pile. When your child is no longer a child, it can be a shocking revelation. I began to get retorts like,” I’ll have to ask Larry. Larry and I will think about it. ” “This is what WE want to do.”
The role from a parent, to an in-law, to a grandparent, is uncharted territory. It doesn’t come naturally and if you want a healthy, loving relationship with your new family, you need to take a step backward and analyze your actions and reactions. Luckily, I have an incredible son-in-law who made my transition easy. Below are 7 of the most important life steps to keep in mind as you begin this new time in your collective lives.
1. Let go of the reigns. You have raised your child, so now it is time to let go. This was difficult because my daughter and I are joined at the hip. Even if your child calls you for advice, Always say, ” What do you finance, or husband or wife think?” Don’t usurp their place in the relationship.
2. Embrace the in-laws. You may be very different from the other in-laws, but they are now family and I strongly suggest you make time to see them periodically and form a relationship. This will be positive for your child and their spouse and will make your lives easier.
3. Make nice nice . If you are divorced, TRY to make nice nice with your Ex. Dissension is a disaster. You will be seeing your Ex at the wedding, showers, baby events and anniversaries. It will only make your child anxious and unhappy if you are fighting with one another. Set a good example.
4. Positive feedback. You did not choose your child’s partner. They did. So even if he or she is not your vision of perfect, embrace them, be loving and positive. This will create a much happier family. Do not put doubt in your child’s mind.
5. Set family traditions. There is nothing more meaningful than setting time aside weekly for a family dinner. Create traditions. This is especially important when you have grandchildren. The memories you make are the biggest gift to your children.
6. Set boundaries. This is a hard one for me. I always want to do and buy and babysit and help and make the parties. But, unknowingly, your children can run roughshod over you. Give and they will take —- and take and take. Don’t try to compete with the other in-laws and don’t put yourself in a position of starting to feel taken advantage of. Give what you feel comfortable with, and set your boundaries early on.
7. Talk. I cannot overemphasize the importance of communication. It is unhealthy to let issues fester. But how you approach your child, his or her partner and their family is the KEY to happiness. Approach your family with positive talk, ” I really like the way you did that, do you mind if I give you another suggestion?”, “I hear you and I will respect your wishes.” , “I think you need to work that out with your spouse. I prefer not to take sides.”
These are only a brief list, but a good one to get you thinking. May you always keep the lines of love and your heart wide open, and congratulations on your new family!