The Mother In Law Relationship Is Complicated

The conflicts between mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws is still going on it has raged throughout all of history. Nearly 2000 B.C. Rebekah complained to her husband, Isaac, that her daughters-in-law were making her life so miserable that she would rather not even be alive. Read Genesis 27:46).

Today, some 4,000 years later, women are still complaining to their husbands about these women! Mother-in-laws are still wondering why out of all the human relationships, the one between them and their daughter-in-laws is the most complicated? Second only to step relationships of course.

There is a built-in-conflict before the relationship even begins: two radically different views of the same man. The daughter in law will see him first as a man; while the mother in law will always see him first as her child.The mother in law comes into the relationship lugging a suitcase bulging with memories. From the sweetness of babyhood through the tyranny of the teen years into adulthood, these memories have indelibly imprinted her heart. She enters into this life phase acutely aware of a door closing in her life as a mother.

The daughter in law comes waltzing in with a suite case empty of everything but confidence and anticipation. She’s eager to swing open the new door and march in and there lies the basis for struggle. Both the mother in law and the daughter in law are naturally territorial when it comes to their family. Standing in the middle of  these two overlapping territories is a man who is the son of one and husband to the other. It’s in everyone’s interest for the son to step out of the overlapping territory and fully into his wife’s territory and the sooner he does this the better.

The parental relationship is secondary to the spousal relationship, yet the bond between a mother and her child is visceral. The phase “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” refers to husband and wife, yet there is little doubt a mother holding her child in her arms feels more “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” toward her child than she does toward her husband. Again, the basis for conflict between a man’s mother and his wife.

This motherly feeling of “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh” had been the source of much marital conflict: a mother consciously or unconsciously placing her child before her husband, magnifying her connection to their child. Even the court system typically give more value to the mother-child relationship.

The undeniable connection can easily cause a mother to overstep her territory and interfere with the process of her adult son transferring thus-far primary relationship, the one he has with her  to the one needs to form with his wife. If you are a mother of a son, you fully understand this tendency, because there is a powerful bond between mother and son. A man’s first significant relationship is with his mother. That bond, forged at birth, leaves a permanent imprint on both mother and son. Even if the relationship is broken, it continues to significantly impact both lives. This powerful attachment between mother and son needs to be and must be reassigned when the son introduces another woman into the picture.

Here is a scenario to consider “Suppose your son, yourself and your daughter in law were in a boat together. If the boat capsized and you and your daughter in law were both drowning, who should he save?  You might be saying to yourself, ” A man can always get another wife, but he has only one mother.”  or a daughter in law might be thinking to herself,” well his mother is old any way.” Now, now is that anyway to be thinking?

As a mother you should want your son to have a strong and healthy relationship with his wife. A mother who wants to maintain a close relationship with her son, who truly has his best interests in mind, must willingly step back and fully acknowledge and respect the relationship he is forming with his wife.

Whether she likes the woman or not. There is nothing to be gained, and much to be lost, by allowing competition to into the in law relationship. While the mother may not view her behavior as being competitive, the truth is that anything she does to maintain her status as the first woman,” whether consciously or unconsciously, will be viewed by the daughter in law as competition.

 Sometimes completely innocent behavior on the mother’s part will be wrongly interpreted this way. Knowing, this the wise mother will refuse to take offense and will carefully watch her behavior until he daughter-in-law is secure in her position. 

 Five years ago my friend Jane’s son  David married a terrific gal named Liz and on the day of their wedding Jane’s mother in law shared some advice with Jane. She said, that she chose to forget everything she had ever knew about her son and let her daughter in law discover him for herself. As any mother can image that is not easy to do. Is it? Jane and her mother in law are truly friends and enjoy each others company.

 Jane, decided  she wanted to have the same kind of relationship with her daughter in law so she decided to take her mother in laws advice and chose to forget everything she ever knew about her son David and let Liz discover him for herself.” It was a choice that has richly rewarded Jane over and over and over again. She said ,she loves how excited Liz gets when she learns something knew about David and Jane enjoys Liz’s excitement,friendship plus she completely understands why her son loves his wife as much as he does.

A successful relationship with your in-law does not necessarily mean you become best friends. It doesn’t necessarily mean enjoying lunch dates or shopping together like Jane and Liz do. Success is simply determining to live peaceably with her by any means. Success is getting up every morning and determining to leave the past in the past. Whatever your history is with your in-law find a way to make admins and move on.

Success is recognizing that at the center of your conflict is a man you both love, children you both love, and finding a way to make room for each of you to benefit from and express that shared love.
Success is consistently acting in love and letting go of the negative emotions you may have toward your in-law,start refusing to let those emotions color the quality of your life for one more minute.

Your love is like a garden, and unless you tend to it, you’ll never reap the full rewards that love can bring.


Tips For Guiltless Grandparenting

Guiltless grandparenting starts with self-acceptance that most grandparents are trying to instill in their grandchildren.

So if you really want them to value themselves, you have to show them how by valuing yourself.

Here are ten grandparenting tips

1.  Break the guilt habit and stop should-ing yourself. Replace thoughts of “this is who I should be” with thoughts of “this is who I am.” Take the grandparenting journey with less stress and more fun. You don’t expect your grandchildren to be perfect. Why should you have to be?

2.  Practice saying ” No” sometimes. Grandkids actually appreciate the extra TV time, special snacks, and new toys when grandparents are not so predictable and dole out a little less often. And grandparents see that they are still loved when they are not a push over. Plus it causes less conflict between parents and grandparents that is a plus.

3. Don’t try to keep the grandkids entertained every minute.  Downtime is an opportunity for imagination so  don’t feel guilty if you take them with you to run errands or just leave them alone for a while to read and relax.

4. Play with the grandkids, don’t just supervise. Grandkids will remember all the laundry you did for them while they sat in front of the TV but they’ll never forget the time you went down the slide with them and neither will you.

5. Expect the best from life. Remember anticipatory anxiety does not help grandparents to be prepared for the big and small problems that come with grandparenting. It can add stress even before anything negative happens. Remember to say, positive prophecies instead of negative ones because the words we speak are self-fulfilling!

6. Stop over scheduling your time. Grandparents tend to forget to budget their time and energy and they can wear themselves out. If an emergency or another essential task arises it’s okay to cross something off your-to-do list before you add the new item.

7.  Don’t wait for permission to take care of yourself. Grandparents don’t have to make themselves so exhausted with al their chores and responsibilities that your children have to beg you to rest. That sets a bad example. Show them that you value yourself  and your time putting your feet up or taking time off to read a book. And if you can’t give yourself permission, then your kids do!

8. Treat your family the way you would treat your friends. Grandparents know who their friends are and they know what they are like. They don’t expect them to change overnight and they don’t take everything they say or do personally. They ask them questions, listen to their answers, and give them the benefit of doubt. Do the same with your family and you’ll be a great role model for your grandkids.

9. Be your own best friend. Be on your own side. Listen to yourself. Pat yourself on the back when you do well. Forgive yourself when you don’t. Grandparents teach this to their kids and grandkids now is the time to apply it to themselves.

10. Put yourself on your list of loved ones. Grandparents need to make themselves number one on their lists, they need to take care of themselves at least as well as they take care of their grandkids and everyone else. Watch your sleep, nutrition, and exercise and make sure you’re having fun too!

Grandparents make mistakes but that doesn’t mean they have to punish themselves, or think that everyone else is grandparenting so much better. They’re usually not! Some moments are memorable, some are forgettable, but remember grandparents are all on this journey together. It’s time for grandparents to let go of the guilt.

At First Glance

 Jennifer never dreamed that she could fall in love with any other man but Joe until Jennifer went to New York and walked into The Plaza Hotel and there was a handsome young man standing in the lobby, their eyes met they couldn’t stop staring at each.

Before she knew it they were talking, he invited her to dinner. She said, I’m engaged he said, don’t engaged women eat? She said, “yes.” He said, dinner at eight.

They danced the night away until half past two, then they returned to the Plaza Hotel and sat outside by the pool and talked until sunrise. There was one embarrassing moment when Jennifer’s father came outside in his pajamas looking for her, and said.”Oh, you’re with him the man your going to marry. Okay then and he turned walked away. 

Jennifer blushed and apologized for her fathers out burst and James said, I agree with your dad I have just met the girl I’m going to marry. It seemed as if war-time had speeded everything up. A few months after Jennifer and James celebrated their thirtieth wedding anniversary James passed away unexpectedly. 

 Jennifer and Joe met in kindergarten and instantly became best friends. Their first official date was their prom. After graduation Joe joined the army and purposed to Jennifer she said, “yes”. Two weeks before the wedding  Jennifer met James.

Even though Joe had hurt feelings he was happy for Jennifer and they remained friends. Jennifer and Joe supported each other through their time of sorrow when they lost their spouses and as a result fell in love with each other again. They had a quite family wedding that included children and grandchildren from their previous marriages.

Joe surprised Jennifer by buying her childhood home and restoring it back to the way it was when they were children and Jennifer found the tree where they had carved their names and declared their friendship and had it moved to the back yard of their home.

Two defining moments changed every thing for Jennifer and Joe the first one was when Jennifer and James eyes met and when James died and Joe came back into Jennifer’s life. When Jennifer and Joe were asked if they had any regrets they immediately said, “No.”

Lost In The World Of Disney

Today’s children live in a world filled with adventure, mental stimulation, topical issues, and personal challenges. The values they learn now, between the ages of 5 and 8, will shape the rest of their lives.

 When I was about six years old, I had an adventure that shaped me for the rest of my life. I went to Disneyland with my cousins one week-end and had a wonderful day full of excitement.

Little did I know that the real excitement wasn’t to begin until that night while we watched the fireworks and I began to get an urge to go to the ice cream parlor, but I didn’t want to miss the show. Then I over heard my cousins talking to my aunt, and I got closer to them to hear what they were talking about. “Mom, we’re going to get an ice cream cone.

“Okay,” my aunt replied, “but stay together I don’t want any of you getting lost.” The second I saw my cousins leaving, I didn’t think twice before running off after them without telling my aunt. As I followed them through the huge crowd of people, I started to lose sight of them. I began to panic as I scanned the crowd for them crazy thoughts ran through my head like, what if I never see my family again?

I gave up trying to find my cousins and tried to get back to my family, but I was completely mixed up. After searching for what seemed like forever, I couldn’t hold back the tears, and I started crying like I had never cried before. “Mommy!” I cried out. But everyone around me was too caught up by the fireworks to pay attention to me.

I tried to stop the scary thoughts that were going through my head and started running as fast as I could… anywhere and everywhere. I was going crazy. I’m only six, and I’ve gotten lost. What have I done? How could I have been so dumb to run off  without telling anyone? I thought.

With my face wet from tears, I kept running, pulling at people’s pants and crying, “Mommy!” I was hoping and wishing, that one of those adults would be one of my parents. Luckily, I tugged at a lady who worked at Disneyland, and she asked me, “Are you lost?” “Yeeesss!” I cried.

She picked me up and carried me through the crowd as she kept asking me where my parents had been standing. As I began to feel safe in the Lady’s arms, I calmed down and thought for a few minutes I remembered we had leaned against a wooden fence. She carried me around the wooden fence, asking random people, “Is this your child?” “No. Sorry,” everyone kept saying. You’re sorry?  Look at me. I’m looking for my mommy. I thought.

Then I began to cry uncontrollably because it hit me that my parents didn’t live together any more and I wondered if they could stop loving each other could they stop loving me too? Did this mean I really wasn’t anybody’s child any more?

Finally, through the crowd of people, I recognized a face. I was so happy. “Daddy!” I shouted as I pointed toward him and the lady carried me to him. When the lady put me down, I ran to my daddy and gave him a huge hug. I couldn’t let go of him. I didn’t want to lose him again. As I cried in my daddy’s arms, my aunt and cousins thanked the nice lady for everything she had done for me.

For the rest of the evening and the entire next day I was more concerned with making sure that my daddy and the rest of his family were within my sight at all times, than I was with seeing the sights at Disneyland. My daddy called my mommy on the phone and they both told me how much they loved me. I asked them even if they didn’t love each other any more did they still love me? They said yes and I never doubted that they loved me again.

I look back on these memories and laugh at myself but to this day, I always make sure to tell someone where I am going before I run off to get ice cream especially at Disneyland.

Hip, Hip, Hooray It’s A Girl

Hip, Hip, Hooray! There’s a baby girl coming in May and she is my granddaughter.  There’s something about interacting with a baby that ignites something magical in all of us. isn’t there? 

They stare at us with inquisitive eyes and they are curious about everything that is happening in their world.

We look into their eyes and we remember a time before, when we where sure we had seen everything meaningful in life. They are like their parents only in miniature size and when we look at their tiny features and their cubby little bodies and we can’t help but smile as we realize that interacting with a baby can be truly miraculous. Can’t it?

I started writing this baby announcement in October and up dated it in May and continued up until today. In two weeks or less my grand-daughter will arrive and I am over the moon excited. All I can say is Hip, Hip, Hooray its a Girl! I want to thank all my friends who have shared in my excitement and prayed for this little darling. She is differently a gift from heaven and there are two awesome little brothers who are looking forward to meeting her.

When I think about my grand-daughter I think about the color pink and all the girly things that the color pink represents and this hasn’t happened since my daughter was born. I can’t wait until they put her nursery together so I can see all her girly stuff. Once again thanks for all my friends for your prayers these last few months and I can’t wait to introduce her to you.

                                                                                                                                                                 Hi every one this is a photo of my grand-daughter Julie isn’t she a beauty? This photo was taken shortly after she was born and as you can see she’s a blessing from heaven isn’t she? 

When you think of a baby girl, the mind conjures up images of satin ribbons, pink frilly frocks, dainty shoes, and delicate tutus. But be warned! Girls can be full of surprises too. A baby girl can be sweeter (badder) oftener than anyone else in the world. She can jitter around, and stomp, and make funny noises that frazzle your nerves, yet just when you open your mouth she stands there demure with that special look in her eyes. A girl is innocence playing in the mud. Beauty standing on its head, and Motherhood dragging a doll by the foot.

I started writing this birth announcement in October of 2011 and today I up dated it after Julie was born. It is my way of thanking everyone for their prayers, love and support thanks a million you guys.

A Lot Of Otters

Every now and then a children’s book comes along that sparks our imaginations and puts a smile on our faces and A Lot Of Otters is one of those books.

The other day my sister called me to tell me how much she enjoys swimming with her grandson who has autism.

She went on to tell me how much he enjoys watching the Otters in the Aquarium of the Pacific (it’s in Long Beach, California our home town) and she wondered if when she is swimming with him in their family pool was he pretending they were otters swimming and playing freely in the water like Otters do? As she was talking to me I started to  image the two of them laughing and playing in their pool together like otters do.

Later that day while I was shopping in Books A Million I came across a book called A Lot Of Otters. After browsing through it I decided to buy it because it reminded me of the story that my sister told about of Milo liking otters. It turns out that Milo swims like a fish and swimming is one of his favorite things to do and we are hoping that one day he will be able to tell us all about swimming like an Otter.

It’s called A Lot of Otters isn’t that a great name? It’s written by author Barbara Helen Berger and in 1997 this book was selected as best children’s book by The School Library Journal. It was also selected for The Prestigious Exhibition The Original Art 1997, Celebrating the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustrations, sponged by Society of Illustrations, New York.

The Author’s Comments: When the toddler climbs into the cardboard box, the blue shadow under the box turns into water, and as he reads his book he sails away. From then on, everything takes place in this fantasy water, made with washes of blue to flow from page to page.

The sea otters are based on her careful observations (in two Aquariums, videos and books). So their activities show what sea otters actually do. The way they dive, the way they carry their food, the way they eat, groom, play. However they are playing with stars, and one otter is reading the toddler’s book from the moment he drops it (Oops) to the end.

She always likes to have some element in art which is never actually mentioned in the words. That is one of the things about a picture book that can be most magical and fun. In this case the toddler’s cardboard box and his book with its red cover are never mentioned, nor is the otter who keeps on reading the book whiles everything goes on around him.

 Take a look at the photo of the cover jacket for “A Lot of Otters.” After looking at it. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with otters? This photo sparks my imagination, and before I know it. I’m pretending that I’m reading a book, while sitting in a card box surrounded by friendly otters. Then I feel carefree like a child again. Honesty what could be more fun than children than pretending they are playing with Otters?  Stop reading this for a minute and pretend that you are swimming with a group of fun-loving otters like the ones in this book. Did you really stop?  Wasn’t that fun?

There is nothing more delightful than watching children while they are swimming except for swimming with them. I wonder if while children are frolicking in the water are they pretending to behave like otters too? They move so carefree the way Otters do? Don’t they?

This article is for Trish and Milo because they love to read and look at books about otters and swim together. It seems that Nana’s, Otters, and Swimming are a good combination for some children with autism at least it seems that way for Milo.

 Some children can tell their parents when they are pretending to be like otters while others can’t because they have autism regardless if a child can speak or not, books can be a powerful influence in a child’s life.

It feels good when our imaginations are sparked doesn’t it? Children and books about animals as their friends is magical regardless of what their challenges are. Just ask a grandparent and they’ll tell you all about their favorite childhood books that were full of friendly animal characters.

Children’s picture books date back to the seventeenth century, but they really came into their own in the nineteen-twenties. Children’s picture story books like “The Little Red Hen” and “Little Black Sambo ( which would not be considered politically correct today) but were popular in the good old days.

It’s Time To Celebrate Out Of The Box

What is more appropriate than birth for our beginning? A new child in the world offers a rich opportunity to honor the baby, the parents, the space where they will live, the already-existing siblings, the grandparents and extended family and friends.

 The actual birth process itself as well as preparation for it already creates special moments. As we grow to understand our role in adding more meaning  to our lives, this birth time is opportunity knocking with a loud beat. I can’t tell you how many unusual ways my girl friends and I created something out of the ordinary into a unordinary way to celebrate an impending childbirth celebration. We wanted to do something for each other, but not necessarily a traditional shower.

The gals and I grew up together, we married within weeks of each other and our  babies were born with in weeks of each other. As time went by they had two or three children with in weeks of each other. Then there was me the odd duck out I didn’t have my second baby until seven years later. Hey! It’s better late than never. Right!

This story is a bit unusual, as it talks about preparing the place where the baby will live. The gals and I designed the event, and this is what we did for our friends Linda and Dave. 

My friends Dave and Linda’s first baby was due near the holidays. I wanted to do something for them, but not necessarily a traditional shower. The birth time was getting close and we needed to move into action if anything was going to be done. I called Linda, saying that I wanted to offer to plan something for her and Dave. I asked her what would she like? Very quickly she said, she was dreaming of a time with close friends to prepare the living space for the baby.

She went on to explain to me that she didn’t mean a physical sense of painting and remodeling, but of welcoming the child into the world even before she arrived. I was thrilled with this idea and excited to be part of making it happen.

Linda and I started putting it together. Linda was very clear about who she and Dave wanted to attend–those folks who would understand and support the idea of a pre-birth housewarming. I called the guest on the phone, as it was short notice. This was before email and texting. It was in the 1970’s. The parents wanted the gathering place to take place in the location where the baby would be living.

The intention was to prepare a community nest for the baby. The nest would be made of stories, poetry, wisdom, favorite children’s books, lullabies and handmade items. The offering of the event would come from the heart of each guest. We trusted that each person knew what this new being needed to smooth the transition into the world, help her be comfortable and accepted before her actual arrival.

When the evening arrived, we gathered men and women in a circle n the living room of the home where the child would be living. A candle was lit in honor of the baby. We passed around a rattle to use as a talking piece.

A friend acted as host/facilitator. The offerings included prayers, live music presentations, the start of the child’s own library, special Christmas ornaments, wisdom for parenting, and stories from childhood. Best of all there was the overwhelming sense of how wanted and special this child was, even before she entered the world. Blessings  on this living home and caring parents were offered. Afterwards we ate, laughed and celebrated new life.

The actual birth came a few days later and turned out to be a little difficult for Linda, one of the things that helped her stay focused was remembering the support of those who had assisted in preparing the home for her child.

Because Linda had a clear vision, I was able to help make it happen. In this situation, I was less the creator and more an enabler. I didn’t need to agonized on what to do, as Linda knew what she wanted and I could act as the helper.

Linda designed her own evening. This celebration honored the parents and welcomed their first child into our lives. The circle of friends were ready to receive Linda and Dave’s new baby. As a thank you gift Linda and Dave gave each of us a photo frame with our names engraved randomly around the frame with a picture of their beautiful new baby girl. 

Celebrating beginnings helps us connect with family and friends in wonderful new ways. Even small beginnings, transitions can be explored and filled with wonder. The idea is not to have a “celebration in a box” solution, but spur your creative imagination. You’ll find inspiration to design an event unique to you will give meaning and love to all that participate. Celebrating out of the box is a way to connect with heart and meaning.