Controlling comes to many parents naturally and quite spontaneously, regardless of the age of the child. It is literally on ‘auto’ mode. And it is obviously meant to be in the best interest of the children.
When your children fall, you run to help them get up. When they don’t do well in exams, you step in to take over the reins. You dictate or influence their career choices. You pick the perfect spouse for them. And even after they are married and have had children of their own, you tell them they are inexperienced and immature, and you continue to make decisions for them.
However, the real problem occurs when your child’s spouse, who probably isn’t used to being dictated, experiences suffocation of independence. He/she becomes frustrated and in most cases vents out this anger on your child. This complicates relationships not only between your son/daughter and their better halves but also between you and them. Eventually, in most cases, a mandatory distance is assumed, either by moving out of joint family set-ups or, in some extreme cases, even travelling to a far away country.
Sadly, well-meaning parents often do not realize the actual reason behind the bitter turn of relationship between them and their married offspring, which could be avoided by a sensible role adjustment on their part. As parents, you can assume the role of a guide and mentor when your children have become adults, as compared to your initial role of a decision-maker when your kids are young and dependent. Here, I would like to share my positive experience with my mother-in-law.
Why do I love my mum-in-law?
Yes, I am sane to state that. No, we are not related. Yes, I have also lived with and without her in the same family unit. But still, after my own mum (which is only natural), I love and admire my mum-in-law the most. And I would like to share with you some remarkable traits she has demonstrated with her four married sons and two married daughters that I have witnessed in fourteen years.
- I’ll call you if you are busy/lazy
Being the youngest in my family, I was often careless about establishing family protocol. Hence, when my husband and I got married and started living in our dream home by ourselves, it was quite often very easy to completely forget the world outside this dream. My husband would obviously call up his mum daily and even go to meet her often. But with a full time job, I would wiggle out of the situation and stay at home after work. In all such incidents, my mum-in-law initiated to call me up, just to find out how I was doing, without ever complaining. That embarrassed me so much that gradually I tried to build time to call and meet her up, realizing that it was the only decent thing to do on my part.
- I’ll wait and watch if you need my advice
Whenever there was a rift among her offspring and their spouses, I noticed that my mum-in-law didn’t just land from the sky like a paratrooper with custom-made advice for them to follow. She silently waited and watched, allowing petty issues to be resolved by themselves. Only when things started to get out of control or the children sought her advice, did she step in to counsel each party gently without ever taking sides. This, in my sight, is one of the noblest qualities my mum-in-law possesses, for which she is appreciated by all.
- I’ll pro-actively care for you
She cared for each soul like no one else ever did. Who would let her daughter-in-law sleep in because she is pregnant and unwell? Who would cook her daughter-in-law’s favourite meals to cheer her up in her baby blues after the delivery? Well, she is an exception by all means.
- I’ll let the romance bloom
When I hear horror tales of malice and envy between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law, I am stumped. The only experience I had was to see my mum-in-law instructing her sons to take their tired wives for an outing after a hard day’s work. Or, cracking funny jokes with them as a couple, which lifted the mood in the house immediately. I could tell that she was a romantic at heart and loved to see it thrive between her married kids and their spouses.
- I’ll be heard because I have heard you
Only because she treated everyone so kindly, everyone wanted to hear her out when she spoke. The family members, old or young, had absolute trust in her. They realized that she would never exploit or betray. So when my mum-in-law lost her temper, no one dared to speak up. In fact, almost everyone agreed with her willingly each time. They didn’t find their independence being challenged. They knew that they had been given a fair chance to think and work as an adult. But the matter required a deeper insight, so mum-in-law was there to help resolve it.
- I’ll not tolerate any misgivings in the family
If there was one thing my mum-in-law had no patience for, it was backbiting. She simply hated it, when one of her daughters-in-law wanted to tell on another. She highly discouraged this habit.
- Decide for yourself
Whether it was deciding the menu for dinner, décor preferences, name of the very first child, which school to send the children, or planning a family vacation, my mum-in-law granted full freedom to her married children and their spouses to decide on their own. She never felt the least bit insecure, if she wasn’t consulted or simply informed of any decision made by one of her married child’s nuclear family.
Lastly, it’s not that her humble and loving nature always brought her happiness. In spite of being such an accommodating individual, sometimes she has had to face hardships at the hands of her kids. She is an exemplary human being and gives so much love and independence to her kids; hence, she receives a great share of it back. Every son and daughter-in-law welcomes her to come and stay with them. She is not a burden but a wonderful and pleasant company to be with. She is showered with respect and love by all. As a token of our love, we always happily buy generous presents for her.
May Allah (swt) help us appreciate her more, for she is truly the binding force of the family maintaining much peace and tranquility. May Allah (swt) also help us reap rewards by serving her well and earning Jannah eventually, Ameen. I know one day I would aspire to be a mum-in-law just like her – loving unconditionally.