It has got to be one of the most difficult things to transition from parenting a child to parenting an adult. I have often heard it said that you never stop being a parent, but somewhere along the way there is a transformation that occurs and role of the parent will change drastically. The Bible actually gives the moment of this transformation in the lives of many people. Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
According to this passage, at marriage a person is to leave his or her family behind and begin a new family with their new spouse. At this point, everything changes. These changes are not often handled with grace by many well meaning children and parents. For those who find themselves in these mirky waters of In-law relations I hope this post will be a help.
If you have an Interfering In-law – Gently Put Them In Their Place
There are several people who are prone to experience an interfering in-law. The Momma’s Boy will have a difficult time letting go. I have actually had conversations with adult men who have told me that they don’t make any major decisions without consulting their mother. Many of these same men will ignore the opinions of their wives whose opinions are relegated to the level of one of the children’s. They feel the honorable need to protect their mother often because they have watched their mother be hurt and ignored by other men throughout life. They have determined to be the one man in her life that will never leave, never forsake, and never hurt. This is a good thing but can often interfere with what God is doing in the husband / wife relationship.
Many times the wife will feel as if she is the third most important person in this unholy trinity. When arguments arise he will often take the side of his beloved mother and essentially distance himself from his wife. In this case the boy needs to grow up, assure his wife that she is his number one friend/consultant/friend. He will likely have to have an uncomfortable conversation with his beloved mother. The Loyal Child knows that family is the most important thing but is confused about where her loyalties should lie. They have been taught that family loyalty is essential, that it even comes before marriage. They have been taught that marriages end but family is forever. These dear confused people will often side with their brothers and sisters against their own spouse. When a family argument arises this woman or man will not defend the honor of the person they married and will even allow others to ridicule their spouse in their presence. This is unhealthy and wrong. The Loyal Child needs to take a stand and prove to her husband / his wife that it matters little what the family thinks. The family that really matters is the one these two people are creating.
If you are an Interfering In-law – Kindly Leave Them Alone
For a variety of reasons there are men and women who are so invested in their children they fell it nearly impossible to let them go. To watch them make mistakes and learn on their own is so very difficult because of the love these dedicated people have for their children. Some of these parents are even brazen enough to encourage their children to leave the person they have married. This is twisted and strange in so many ways. My dear friend, if you find yourself in this situation you must step back and LEAVE THEM ALONE! I know it will be difficult and I will have to face the same battle with Jonathan, Savannah and Scarlett. You will likely have to remind me of my own words! But for your sake and theirs, you must stand back and leave them be. In my family we have a funny story that my father and mother have shared several times in their speaking in family seminars. It illustrates the difficulty of transitioning from parenting a child and adolescent to parenting an adult. My brother Matthew and his wife Breanna had the very first grandchild in our family. We were all ecstatic! You must understand how close the Teis clan is. We are all up in each others lives. It can get a little weird.
We have laughed about this story so many times. Ashlynne, their daughter, was only a few weeks old when they received a urgent phone call at 3:00am. It was from my father and mother. “Hello, is everything alright?!?!” “Hello Matthew, No… everything is not alright.” “What’s wrong dad?” “Your mother and I are concerned for your daughter. We don’t think that she is eating enough. Are you feeding her?” You could here my mother in the background, “tell them to feed that baby.” My brother very kindly said, “goodnight dad. we are going to bed now” and hung up the phone. We all laugh about this now but at the time it wasn’t very funny. Embarrassing for mom and dad, irritating for matt and breanna, and just weird all the way around. But this story does illustrate how difficult that transition can be for loving parents who have dedicated themselves to raising good kids. If you are having a difficult time letting go, remember you are not alone… but they need to be.
Have you ever experienced something like this? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below: