So, let’s consider again what makes for a great MIL/DIL relationship.
A key part of the answer, I’m told, is that it is characterized by mutual respect – that’s “mutual” and “respect“.
Here’s a working definition of respect –
- an act of giving particular attention, or consideration to;
- high or special regard;
- esteem; a sense of the worth or excellence of a person;
- deference to a right, privilege or privileged position;
- proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment
Wow! Esteem … Deference … Courtesy… Proper acceptance … Special regard … a sense of the worth or excellence of a person. When’s the last time you thought about those words when framing your words or interactions with your MIL or DIL? Doesn’t that paint a picture of just how we’d like to be treated?
You know what they say: What goes around, comes around.
Let’s see what mutual respect might look like by considering … How do we treat our friends?
What do I say? What am I careful not to say? Do I give advice? Do I tell my friends what they “should” do? Do I criticize their appearance or behavior? What about their cooking or the manner in which they discipline their children? If their homes are untidy or unclean, is it my place to point that out to them?
Do I expect my friends to adhere to MY practices concerning holidays? Are they obligated to come to my house on Christmas Eve or Thanksgiving if I invite them? Do I cut off the relationship if they don’t call as often as I would like? When they are pregnant, do I recommend names for their babies? And if their kid has big ears, do I remark about them and laugh? Why would I assume my friend knows very little about _______________ (fill in the blank) and that I am the one to bring her up-to-speed on that?
And now … from the other side of the fence ….
Do I ignore my friend if she lives hundreds or thousands of miles away? Would I purposefully disregard her feelings? How about when my friend calls on the phone – Do I regularly let it ring through to voice mail when I check caller ID? Is it my practice to roll my eyes when my friend talks about something that I label “dull” or “stupid”? If she drinks too much at a social gathering, what do I think? What do I do? Make sarcastic remarks to those around me? Am I neglectful in thanking a friend who has given me a gift, whether I like the gift or not? Am I dismissive of friends’ religious beliefs and political views?
And when a friend tells me what she’s realized, learned, experienced or read, do I summarily dismiss it simply because it came from her? Do I regularly parade all her faults and weaknesses in front of anyone who’ll listen? Shall I mock her in front of my children and spouse? Or presume she will be our “on-call” babysitter for as often or as long as I’d like? Have I made it a habit of considering her preferences? How often do I compliment her on her accomplishments?
How do I treat my friends?
Really? So, then how do I want to treat my family?
MILS & DILS – meant to be Family, Friends and Allies