This past week, Dave was in Albuquerque, NM going through files, drawers, and stuff helping his sister get the old family place ready to sell. He arrived home with two bags stuffed with 100 pounds of memories, pictures, and other mementos. Among them was a manuscript I had sent to Lillian years ago of my book, 52 Ways to be a Great Mother-in-Law, which I dedicated to her. With the manuscript was the following note, “Thanks for making my ‘mother-in-law’ experience so pleasant and positive. You are my hero.” And she was! And it is to the memory of this dear precious lady, that I dedicate this Mother’s Day blog and share with you some of the lessons she taught me.
1. Give Unconditional Love
I don’t know how hard it was for Lillian to love me. I only know that she did. I knew it was a mistake when I frosted my hair! It just didn’t go with my natural coloring. Other people wasted no time telling me how bad it looked, but not Lillian. Relationships can be wrecked over something as superficial as hairstyles or how one dresses. Lillian didn’t go there. She just smiled and loved me. I do know that the most stressful in-law relationship tends to be the mother-/daughter-in-law relationship. Whether you’re the daughter-in-law or mother-in-law this Mother’s Day, choose to love unconditionally.
2. Resist the Urge to Give Advice
I honestly can’t remember a time that Lillian gave me advice, yet I learned so much by watching her life. Following her example helped me be less critical of my own daughters-in-law. When I think about the positives—like the ways they compliment my sons and the wonderful unique gifts they bring to our extended family—I am less inclined to be critical and give advice. When tempted, I ask myself, “Is what I’m about to say going to build trust or tear down trust in this relationship?”
3. Give Encouragement
I love encouragement. When I sent manuscripts to Lillian, I could always count on compliments. My editor would critique it; Lillian would affirm it. She always looked for the positive. Everyone has some positive qualities. It’s your assignment to find them. No one is perfect. Daily, you can choose to concentrate on the positive or the negative. Look at your mother-/daughter-in-law as a hidden treasure. She has many positive attributes, and it’s up to you to discover them.
4. Be Thankful
As you celebrate Mother’s Day, be thankful for this person God has placed in your life and always remember what you both have in common – you love the same person! (Your husband or son!)
God places the lonely in families.
Thoughts to ponder:
How you can love unconditionally? Be a positive example? Give encouragement?
Express thanks to your special mother-/daughter-in-law on this Mother’s Day! This is one challenge you can surmount!
By Claudia Arp, MSW
Wife to David
Mom of 3
Grandparent of 10
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Co-Founder of Marriage Alive and 10 Great Dates