To become a mother in law is as traumatic as becoming a daughter in law (because once upon a time the mother in law was the daughter in law too). Young girls have nightmares of their potential MILs (mom in laws), appearing as dragons and witches. But mark my words that MILs have similar dreams of their DILs (daughter in laws). I do not boast of being anywhere near ‘the Best’ but after successfully graduating as MIL of three DILs and one SIL (son in law) I guess I am eligible to write a few tips that might help the to-be MILs. Bringing a young girl from a different family and then accepting her with all her good and maybe some bad points too is a big deal. No one is perfect in this world, after-all your household is also not the best in the world. You have your good and bad points too. When a new member comes to live in a family both, the incoming member and the family have to make an effort to adjust with each other. While the effort from the girl is apparently more, the other side that is the boy’s family also suffer nightmares and struggles to adjust. While SHE leaves her parental home and looks up to her new family to get acknowledged the family also makes room for her to share their social and personal lives. A marriage is a deal and a package that must be accepted as a whole. There are no two ways about it in fact, according to Stephen R Covey there are seven ways of going about this inevitable and precarious relationship. Let us see how the famous seven habits can be applied in the MIL-DIL situation.
1. Be proactive ( Taking the initiative and not waiting for others to act first and being responsible for what you do):
IF you plan to have an arranged marriage for your son then there are some very important aspects that you should not overlook: Meet the girl and her family a number of times, observe any point that could be a source of annoyance for you in future. If you see anything to which you cannot adjust or accept than prefer not pursuing the relation, it’s better to do it NOW rather than later. Surely the family under observation would also be doing the same. Observe the girl’s mother; almost all the girls resemble their mothers in behaviour and attitude. Do not go after looks and apparent beauty as this is only skin deep. Education, family background and mannerisms are more important. Do your homework first by finding out the details that you need to know, because crying and blaming fate later will not solve any problem. Once you decide upon the prospect you should, as the eldest member take the lead to make the relation-ship work.
2. Begin with the end in mind: (plan well, think things through, go by the carpenter’s rule ‘Measure twice, cut once’):
IF your son chooses his own life partner and your say in the alliance is not there, even then accept the DIL wholeheartedly. After-all she is your son’s choice. Remember that respect begets respect. You being the elder should take the lead. It is commonly believed that to see your son happy you need to make his wife happy. There is no short cut and no negative connotation to this belief; it simply means having a friendly and loving relationship with the son’s choice as you your son’s happiness is foremost. This is the habit of personal leadership. Here the MIL needs to act like a leader and lead her relationship towards her goal of creating a homogeneous and amiable environment in the house.
3. Put first things first (this is the habit of personal management):
Here the MIL acting as a leader organises and implement activities that are in line with and complement the basic aim of achieving her goal. She must make sincere efforts to understand her DIL. Make an effort to appreciate little things she may do to please her. Never degrade her in front of other family members. If the MIL needs to say something that might offend the DIL, she should say it in the privacy of four walls. All chances are that her DIL will appreciate her good-will and sense of respect. Always praise her cooking. I remember a friend of mine saying to her son ‘if my own daughter can’t cook like me, how can you expect your wife to cook like me?’ Appreciate her when she dresses for a party or an outing. While you are making efforts to build a relationship with your DIL, you should clarify your expectations too. Oversee that she is also progressing and trying to come up to your expectations.
4. Think win / win:
This habit is based on the assumption and I quote Stephen R Covey ‘that there is plenty for everyone and that success follows a co- operative approach more naturally than the confrontation of win or lose.’ The underlying theory in the In-Law’s relationship is to achieve maximum understanding through collective effort of both partners. It is not a competition to win or lose the son/husband. In fact it is a win/win game. Both the parties cannot afford to lose they both should have the same goal.
5. Seek first to understand and then to be understood:
Communication is the key to success. A gap in communication causes a major flaw in relationships. The simplest and most effective habit for developing and maintaining positive relationship is to have the doors of communication open at all times. Whether it is exchange of recipes, designing dresses, raising kids, politics, or even the weather anything that MIL and the DIL can talk about it should be done. Watching TV shows together or sharing jokes all add up in developing a beautiful relationship. Seek first to understand your DIL and you will be understood for sure.
Always see the potential in your DIL. Even the dumbest of individual is good at something. I am sure she too has her skills. If not cooking or stitching maybe interior decoration or perhaps writing, painting or drawing. Help her bring out the best in her skill, encourage and appreciate. Remember that whole is greater than a part. What two can do together, one alone cannot.
7. Sharpen the saw: (This is the mother of all habits)
It is the habit of ‘self-renewal.’ It encompasses all the previously discussed habits. The habits thus formed should be repeatedly done so that they grow over time. This will create a caring and loving atmosphere at home for sure.
PS: Despite all your good efforts IF there is a breach in relationship then take it as a blessing of GOD. She was not meant to be.