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.