Have you ever considered . . . that being an awesome mother-in-law is key to being a loving (and well-loved) grandmother? I was just reflecting on this today as I hugged my 4-year-old grandson and 11-month-old granddaughter. I would never damage my relationship with them by being rigid, intolerant — or any of the nasty labels applied to mothers-in-law. I make my fair share of motherly blunders, that’s for sure — but I keep trying to be a better person.
When a mother-in-law grandmother respects her daughter-in-law or son-in-law, it makes for happier grandchildren. Strong relationships are enduring sources of emotional well being. Children are perceptive creatures.
My brother and I recall being the least favorite grandchildren — or at least we felt that way, growing up. My mother and her mother-in-law (my grandmother) had a strained relationship, and the angst definitely filtered down to us. Looking back, we now understand the dynamics, but it was tough to understand as children who received little affection from our grandmother. Our mother was actually the source of friction, and her negativity continued years later when she became a difficult mother-in-law and sadly, a disconnected grandmother.
This morning, my grandson ran down the stairs to welcome me. His little face beamed. “I knew you were here Grammy! I saw your shoes hiding in the living room!” If a 4-year-old can spot his Grammy’s sandals tucked away in an obscure corner, he is capable of observing much more — like how his grandmother and his mother interact.
Fortunately, I have a solid relationship with my understanding daughter-in-law. It’s a work in progress based on mutual respect and communication.
For those of us with dual roles as mothers-in-law and grandmothers, it’s important to consider how transparent we are to our perceptive, little ones. By valuing our daughters-in-law and sons-in-law, we also are cherishing our grandchildren. Don’t they deserve the very best from all of us?