When Kristi asked me to write a guest post for her, I immediately knew what I wanted to cover.
Yep, that's right! While there are plenty of posts on how NOT to interact with your children-in-law, we haven't come across many that give a positive spin on things. While both my parents and my husband's parents are human (and not entirely perfect), we have been blessed to have a great relationship with the families. Hopefully, some of these suggestions will be helpful as your family grows through the generations.
1. Leave & Cleave
When your son/daughter weds, they are agreeing to form a new family, with new goals and authority structures. They aren't called to obey you as a young child would be, but instead, to respect you. A daughter must be allowed to take her guidance and care from a new man-her husband. She is allowed to follow HIS lead, and is called to honor and reverence him. In a similar manner, a son is now called to be the provider, protector and head of his new household.
Parents, as difficult as it must be, give your children the chance to both LEAVE and CLEAVE to their new spouse. Encourage them to form those new bonds with their spouse. Encourage them in their new marriage. Trust them to make things work, even when it's difficult. If this is not done, it leaves room for all sorts of issues, including mistrust, discontentment, anger and broken relationships. Your children can (and should) love you, but they are now "yoked" with their spouse. Celebrate the new chapter in life!
2. Encourage Them To Forge Their Own Way
This flows out of the first point-the couple must learn to fight, struggle, plan and manage in their own way.
If they come to you asking specifically for advice, then feel free to encourage them and help! However, if they don't ask...please don't insert yourself. Your unsolicited advice may very well end up causing more harm than good.
They will need to realize on their own that you have years of experience and wisdom to offer. When they do come to you, be gracious and treat them like peers. Our parents have walked with us through many situations, but they allowed us to initiate the help. They assumed we would do the work necessary, but always left the door open if we desired their opinion and support.
*Obviously if you see dangerous abuse or mistreatment going on, that is a different story and you should gently intervene*
3. Support Them As Parents
My husband and I grew up in deeply religious homes. As we grew older, our own personal convictions and beliefs were solidified. While our home life reflects many of the traditions, practices and attitudes we grew up around, there are some differences. That's ok. THAT IS OK.
You spent years teaching your babies. Trust that they want to do the same for their children.
I'm not saying that you need to go along every single decision they make-that would be ridiculous!
No need to change your convictions to match theirs.
Instead, find the common ground. Tell them when you think they are doing a good job! Remember all those times where you worried about how to do or teach something to your children?
They feel the same way. Parenting is hard!
Be their cheerleaders, instead of the opposing team. Respect them. Respect the chain of command when it comes to their kids. If they ask you not to feed the kids something, be mindful of that. If they ask you to avoid discussing Santa Clause, be mindful of that.
Life is full of so many rich moments!
Don't squander those for minor disagreements. Do enjoy them when they come along!