This is the 2nd part of the article published last week. It addresses the issues of conflicts between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Last week we addressed certain behavioral interventions that a daughter-in-law could make in order to restore balance in the relationship. This week let us look at what changes the mother-in-law could make in order to have a better relationship.
What the mother-in-law can do:
The first thing that you need to understand is that no one and nothing can take your son away from you. You should stop resenting your daughter-in-law for taking your son away from you as this is far from the truth. You should not feel threatened that this new woman in your son’s life can understand him as well as you do. You also need to understand that your daughter-in-law is bound to do things differently than you. Sometimes you might need to adjust your wavelength to hers so that both of you can agree on the same thing. She would be fed up with the constant nagging, complaining and snide remarks. Life has to go on and you have to live under the same roof. It is useless to fight battles right from morning to night. You might feel that you have got a rebellious daughter-in-law, one who refuses to adjust, adapt or even listen to reason. Perhaps if you sat down with her and tried to find out what is troubling her all the time, she could be helped to get over her rebellion. It will give her the feeling that she belongs to this house, that she is a part of the family and not an outsider. Most people say this; it is the expected, obvious thing to say but to act as though takes a lot of patience. You might not be able to feel the spontaneous love for your daughter-in-love as you might feel for your son or your daughter, but at least you can give her the same time and importance that you give to your friends. Any situation, however hopeless it is, has scope for improvement. You need to have the patience to forgive her mistakes till she is trying to make adjustments and coping with the new house. Comparisons are offensive. Try not to make her feel small and inadequate by comparing her with other better-placed members of the family. You will be shaking the foundation of your son’s marriage by doing this. If others hear you comparing your daughter in a poor light, they will lose all respect for her. This can corrode the family future. The best thing to do is to praise your daughter-in-law in front of others and whatever you differences you may have should be solved in the confines of your home and between the two of you. It will help her maintain her respect in the society and not feel abandoned. There will be many instances where you will feel that what your daughter-in-law is doing is absolutely terrible or wrong. You might feel disheartened or disturbed by her attire, work, or choice. An honest opinion can sometimes create problems. You might need to blunt the sharp cutting edge of truth with diplomacy and tact. When honesty is tempered with compassion, it shows that you care. Try and give her time. A good daughter-in-law is like an iceberg: 90 % of her capabilities are hidden. Do not judge her from her surface. Many mothers-in-law expect their daughters-in-law to be a never-tiring work-machine. They keep on piling them with work one after the other. As a result the poor thing is so tired at the end of the day that she would have no energy to enjoy her life and her marriage. You could try to give your daughter-in-law some time off from her responsibilities. This would make her feel free from a never-ending job. She would appreciate your kindness. One of the most common tiffs occurs in the matter of raising your grandchildren. You could have a tendency to act as an all-knowing maternal and child-rearing expert while your daughter-in-law is reduced to the role of a bystander. Often it happens that the times when the child is playing are your privilege while the times when the child has to be nurtured or cared for are for your daughter-in-law. This may foster in your daughter-in-law resentment towards keeping the child in a good state in order to get back at you. The discussion of this issue would be really incomplete without the topic of restraint. You might expect your daughter-in-law to exercise a tremendous amount of self-control and restraint in all her activities. It might be difficult for her to express any amount of affection for her husband, i.e. your son or her son i.e. your grandchild in front of you. Very few daughters-in-law can actually have a conversation with their husbands in front of their in-laws. This can be harmful to the marriage and later on to the family also as she will always feel a little different than the other members of the family. Encourage her to feel free in expressing her views and most importantly her emotions towards all the family members.
At the end of the day, it might happen that the personality of both you and your daughter-in-law may be such that it would be impossible to live together without grinding your teeth at every instance. You should not be afraid to call it a day and accept that both of you can live happily when there is distance between the two of you. It is much better to be on good terms while living separately then to be constantly bickering and being at each other’s throats all the time. You can probably save both your son’s marriage and your own dignity by this decision. It is better to cut the umbilical cord and separate the child than to bring suffocation to the whole family.
All said and done just remember: By a sweet tongue and kindness you can drag an elephant with a hair.