Raising Healthy Sons-in-Law

Raising Healthy Sons-in-Law, And Other Relationships Challenges

My son-in-law Charley, has been telling me that my wife and I need to write a book about how to create healthy in-law relationships.  He thinks we have done a good job in this area, at least, so far.  I think that’s because he really likes my wife, Barbara’s kindness, but I’ll take the compliment.   He went so far as to send me some starter ideas.  As I looked them over, I realized some of them were good for creating healthy friendships as well.   Let me share them with you.

  • How to be close without smothering
  • The money dilemma, giving gifts versus making loans
  • The different techniques for giving solicited and unsolicited advice
  • Establishing healthy boundaries
  • How to watch someone you care about make a mistake

My son in law is pretty smart, isn’t he?

Let’s take the first one.

How can you maintain a close relationship without smothering?

If you want to raise healthy sons-in-law, you must be concerned about how you can bless them, not how you can control them.  If you want to have healthy friendships, you must be as concerned with how much you contribute to your friend’s life, as you are with how many resources he brings to your life.

If you want to raise healthy sons-in-law and build strong friendships, then don’t work out your inner demons on them.  If you find yourself engaging in irrational responses toward minor annoyances, you’re probably fighting some wound from the past rather that actually dealing with the current problem.

When you are struggling in your relationships, take the time to examine your feelings about the relationship to see if they are healthy.

  • Are you focused on what makes you feel good or blessing the other person?
  • Are you allowing subconscious wounds from your past to color the relationship?
  • Are your emotions growing in maturity as you deepen the relationship?

I’ve been blessed with two fine sons-in-law.  They love my daughters and have provided my wife and I four, above average grandchildren that vastly enrich our lives.   I want to keep our relationships healthy, so I need to give them space to build their own families.  This is true even if they are making a decision that seems foolish to you.

I owe my father-in-law Gene Davis for teaching me this truth through efficient role modeling.  The first car I bought after Barbara and I were married was a banana yellow, Ford Fiesta.  Now, there is nothing wrong with that model of Ford, and for many people it would be a good choice, but not for me.  We lived in hot and humid Texas and this tiny little four-cylinder car didn’t  have air conditioning.  It had a manual transmission that Barbara did not know how to drive, and it was way too small for my 6’3’’ body.  I bought this car on monthly payments because I did not know how to tell a salesman no.   When I took this car to Gene’s house he displayed tremendous discipline and kindness. This knowledgeable mechanic, who knew cars like few other men, simply walked quietly round it several times listening to me explain its features.  Finally, with a slight grin, he said, “Well, that’s a car.”   Then he turned and walked into the house.  It was many years later that I realized how many words of ridicule he must have held back at my foolish purchase.   But, he was raising a healthy son-in-law, so he simply let me find out on my own about the hazardous of buying a car without careful thought.  We lost Gene to heaven nearly twenty years ago and I still miss that good and wise man.

If you want to build healthy friendships, then learn to cherish your friends, but allow them room to grow as human beings.  If you do have good sons-in-law or ever hope to have some, be slow to speak words of criticism and quick to support their decisions.  Even if they buy a banana yellow Ford Fiesta.



The Snowball Effect

I just finished serving on a jury for a criminal trial where the charge was the solicitation of a minor via the internet.  I won’t write anything about the details, but one of my “take-aways” from my two day immersion in the justice system is the sad snowball effect of parental selfishness.  I didn’t know the families involved, but it was easy to see from the testimonies given, that a young child had been made extremely vulnerable to the predators of this world by the emotional turmoil in her home.  As I listened to a confused teenage girl explain her dangerously unwise actions that had placed her in that courtroom, it was plain to see that she was desperately insecure and felt unloved.  My heart broke for her as she described her broken home, which included illegal drug use and promiscuity on the part of her parents.  Let me just take this moment to cry out for the children of our world whose voices are seldom heard.  Children need stability, they need security, and they need to know their parents cherish them just because they are their offspring.  Come on all you parents out there, let’s invest in our children.  Let’s deny ourselves in favor of the next generation.  Let’s put the hopes and dreams of our children above our passing hungers and dissatisfactions.

How can you make sure your children know they are deeply cherished?

  • One easy way is to write them a letter or card declaring your love.
  • Display discipline in your personal life by coming home every night, sober, and clear-headed.
  • Deepen their security by demonstrating faithful love for your wife or your husband.
  • Work wisely and with integrity to provide financial stability for your home.

You can help your children feel secure in this crazy world. Remember that secure children become well-adjusted adults.  There are too many teenagers who find themselves in the courtrooms of America.  Why not work hard to ensure your child won’t become one of them?  If you are going to have a snowball affecting your family let it be the accumulated success of one generation of dedicated parents after another positively impacting their children.