Then one day, when he’s older, he’ll start becoming interested in girls. You think to yourself that these ‘girls’ are just a fling and the only one that will have his heart is you, so you’re not sweating it. You see your son slipping away from your arms but you are still in hands reach. These girls shall pass and you’ll be right there if they break his heart or he moves on to the next. You’re still his number one girl.
Fast forward ten to fifteen years later. Your son meets the woman of his dreams. She’s kind, thoughtful, hard working, and the most humorous person you’ve ever met. You can’t believe how this woman has your son wrapped around her finger…so tightly. Although it’s great that someone is making your son happy, however, the thought of another woman coming between you and your son scares you. You see your son slipping away from your hands and into the arms of another woman…a younger woman. Not only does she have his heart, your son announces to everyone that they got engaged.
Your world as a mother has scattered. “What would happen on holidays,” you question yourself. “Will I still get to see him every year as usual or will he go to her parent’s house?” “What happens if they have kids? Will I get to see the grand kids as often as I like?” “Can I come by as often as I like to see my son?” “What if my future daughter in law keeps my son away from me completely?” These thoughts of another woman ‘controlling’ your son scares you, too. How can you compete with a younger, prettier, outspoken woman like her? How can you win your son from this woman? Do you even try?
Some mothers would try to have a say or have control in their son’s life and compete for their son attention and affection when they get married. Maybe because the mother feels that they don’t have a place in their son’s life anymore and would try to make their presents known. The mother will try by changing the way the kitchens organized in her son’s home, or disobeying how the wife wants her kids raised by thinking she ‘knows’ better, or dropping by without notice despite the disapproval vocalized by their daughter in laws. The daughter in law voices her concern with her husband (your son) in how her mother in law (you) treats her. Your son loves you and his wife and don’t want to hurt you and feels loyalty to both. What can he do?
Let’s not get into the biblical sense of a man leaving his mother and father and cleaving to his wife and becoming one (Genesis 2:24). Even if you’re not religious, when parents interfere with the relationship between a husband and wife, it will cause problems in the marriage. What some mothers don’t realize when their son takes a wife and builds a family, it’s his responsibility, his duty, to be the leader of his family; not his mother. He has chosen a wife that he feels is capable of helping him lead in life and his family. Once the son chooses a wife, the mother’s duty to her son changes from being his main supporter to the supporting woman in his life since her main job of raising her son is done.
The problem with mother in law and daughter in law relationships is usually because the mother in law is overstepping her boundaries because she wants to feel important, in charge, in control, and to have an uninterrupted relationship with her son. What a lot of these mothers don’t encourage their sons to do once they get married is to consider the wife and his immediate family needs and wishes come first before her own. If mother’s taught their sons this, a lot of the friction between mothers, sons, and daughter in laws won’t exist. If mother encourage their sons to put their wife’s needs and wishes first this would avoid:
- The son feeling disloyal to his mother: Usually when the mother does or says something that the daughter in law doesn’t like, the son usually defends his mother’s actions because he feels that his mother didn’t mean any harm. In his mind, his mother is right, even when she’s wrong. If he chooses his wife and his mother’s feelings are hurt, he will feel disloyal to his mother because well, it’s his mother. If he know he needs to put his wife’s feels first without the guilt of not being loyal to his mother, he can see the situation objectively instead of having a bias emotion that his mother can do no wrong or be subject to emotional blackmail by his mother. This will also help the son know that he doesn’t have to feel a disloyalty to his mother if he choose to disagree with her for the betterment of his relationship with his wife.
- Disrespecting her son and daughter in law: When a son’s mother criticizes her son’s wife, he may be disgusted at how his mother sees his wife and feels she’s disrespecting his choice in a wife and how his family lives. If the mother realizes that his choice in a wife or family life has nothing to do with how’s he was raised, then she shouldn’t feel to overstep her boundaries by cleaning up after them, cooking for them, or rearrange things around the house. The mother will understand that she doesn’t want to disarray their lives because that’s not the way she would do it. Her son and daughter in law live their lives the way they see fit. She would want her son to be happy regardless of how she see her daughter in law and how their family lives.
- Mother and daughter in law tension: If the mother knows that her son would stand by his wife, there should be less tension between the mother and daughter in law. Since the mother knows she’s not the matriarch of her son’s family, there shouldn’t be any competition for that role. The mother realizes that her daughter in law is capable of raising her son’s family without interference unless asked by the daughter in law. It will be hard to follow after leading a family for years, but if the mother respects her son and daughter law, a better relationship can develop and can bring them closer together if she follows their lead.
This is not to say that the mother shouldn’t be apart of their son and his wife’s family. She should. It’s not to say that the mother in law should be a doormat to the daughter in law if she is not treated fairly or with respect. She shouldn’t allow it. It’s not to say that if his mother is ill or in dire need that the son doesn’t have an obligation to help, take care, and be there for his mother. He should be there for his mother when she really needs him. It’s to say that the mother doesn’t have the right or privilege to dictate, demand, impose, or force her views upon her son’s family when he has a wife that can run his family the way he see fit or force her son to choose between her and his wife.
It’s disheartening, some mother’s somehow sees the wife as competition instead of a helpmate to their sons. “She’s taking him away from me,” is how some mother’s think. Honestly, that’s what should happen. The son needs to live his own life without his mother. Do you remember what it was like to be the daughter in law when you enter your husband’s family? Do you remember first meeting your mother in law? Did you like every smart, passive aggressive remark she made about your cooking, cleaning, child rearing, and fashion sense? Don’t be her.
Us as mother’s of sons lived our lives, had our husbands, and raised our children. Let’s trust that we’ve raised our sons to picked a wife that can live their lives the way that’s works for them and makes him happy and let us be the supportive parent. Remember, we are still their mothers; that will never change. Our role in our sons lives is just different.