Once in a while though, I will come upon an extraordinary family where the bride is very concerned about the thoughts and feelings of her new inlaws, and where both mothers are held in a very honored position. One of my favorite weddings had both mothers walking down the aisle together, holding hands, and supporting each other. I could just picture them years later, eating lunch together while watching their grandchildren play. I thought that they were so lucky to be related by marriage AND good friends.
At that same wedding, the bride seemed to work overtime to be sure that her groom's family was as honored and respected as her own parents.
In my own marriage, Mr. Pete and I tried to include both sides of the family as much as possible. Although my father-in-law died during our first year of marriage, we always continued to help my mother-in-law and to visit her whenever we had a chance and to send gifts and cards for mother's day and her birthday. I have wonderful pictures of her with my children when we visited her in the nursing home.
I'm so glad that we did this. For one, my children have some memory of their paternal grandmother. They know a little bit about her and they have nice memories of visiting her. But they also learned the importance of honoring the older WOMEN in the family and that especially our older grandmother's have much to share. Hopefully they also learned from my example, of a daughter-in-law showing love to her husband by trying to please her mother-in-law.
All of this has been on my mind lately because a couple of friends of mine, of my vintage and state of life, are starting to have problems with the women their sons have married. It's as if there is a competition between the young wife for her husband's attention from his own mother! And as a result, the young men have chosen, at least for now, to follow the lead of their wives and keep their own families at arms length. This has been truly heartbreaking for my friends, but it is even worse when there is a grandchild involved.
Since I have never experienced anything like this, my only advice to my friends has been to continue to try to be gracious and kind and that maybe with time and patience, their daughters-in-law will come to see them as friends and blessings and the entire family can be united and whole. Try to be Naomi to her Ruth and pray for her. In addition to that, I think it's important to maybe keep a little journal of sorts. Write down the gifts given to the little family and the grandchildren, maybe even write letters to the grandchildren and keep a copy, so that one day they will always know that their grandmother really did love and care for them.
I don't know any of the young women involved well enough to say anything, but I will say that in general - what goes around, comes around. Children see how the paternal grandmother is treated in their growing up experience, and they will model that in their own marriages. Hopefully the example given will be one of love and respect. But if it is one of bitterness and petty arguments, they can model that too - and that's bad news particularly for the mothers of BOYS! A generation passes quickly; in a little more than 20 years they may very well find themselves in the position of the pushed-aside mother-in-law.
For a father's blessing gives a family firm roots, but a mother's curse uproots the growing plant. Sirach 3:9