Is Your MIL an Only Child?

Here’s a “look-see” into another factor that influences “Why people are the way they are” and “Why people do the things they do”.
Kiera and I had just sat down to a fabulous “I just threw a few things together” lunch on the back deck of her home on the river. We had recently become “paddle boarding buddies” – She had the equipment and I had the availability and desire. (Woot! Woot!) Today, however, we were considering a kayak excursion because of the cool, cloudy weather. Our conversation was peppered with comments about the spiciness of the salsa and who else from our group might join us that day. When we realized that it would be just the two of us, I jumped at the opportunity to talk with her about her relationship with her MIL.

th

Interesting discovery #1 – Kiera had expected her MIL to be the same as her own mother since her husband did the “scouting” thing and the “work with your hands” thing as her own mother had promoted.
Funny thing – she wasn’t! It took several years of visits to discover that it was her husband’s father – not mother – who had passed on these traits to Dan.
Here’s more of the “backstory”. When he became an adult, Dan had moved a couple of hours away from the family homestead as he wasn’t keen on the idea of every weekend being taken up with birthday parties and family gatherings of one kind or another. It turns out that Kiera’s MIL preferred that family gather around her, that she be surrounded by loved ones. She wasn’t one to venture out to be around others. Years went by before Kiera realized – and her MIL confirmed this in a conversation – that Millie only liked her own family, not people in general. She wasn’t interested in participating in community activities. She was perfectly happy to have her family dote on her.
Surprisingly, or perhaps not so, Dan is enthusiastic about – even craves – doing things for his community. Kiera had expected that to be a family trait. Not so. Dan’s experience growing up had been so insular that he now actively seeks out social involvement with people not related to him.
“What would cause someone to adopt that attitude? The attitude of “I only want my family around ….” I pondered aloud.

question-mark_21323680

“I have a theory” Kiera announced.
(Intriguing. Another analytical like myself.)

Okay, let’s hear it.
“The people that I know who are ‘only’ children want things to be about them. They need this. They demand it. And they’re not happy – ever – no matter how many times someone visits because it’s never enough.”
Kiera’s conjecture was that if one had lots of siblings, one learned that you have to share, you have to take turns – with toys, in playing games. They don’t expect much attention later on because they experience the reality that there’s only so much to go around.
But, if you don’t get much attention and affection when you’re young, do you want it even more as you get older, I asked myself?

Hmmm.
Kiera’s MIL was an only child. “She doesn’t understand that we have other things that we actually like … other than coming to visit her. … It became apparent to me that she wasn’t used to sharing and she didn’t have to share. She did not view herself as “selfish”. It’s just the way things were”
“It’s almost like a muscle that wasn’t developed on-time” I posited. That’s interesting. I mean, it fits!”
Kiera’s face widened into a big grin. “That’s my theory!”
***************************************
How much do we assume about our MILs because of what we see in our spouses? Sometimes, those speculations are “right on”. Other times, they miss the mark completely.
Who knows why people act the way they do. It may be a reaction to what they didn’t get or got too much of in earlier years. Some people turn out “just like Mom”. Others choose to go in the exact opposite direction.
What are my “take-aways” from this story?
1. Be mindful of my expectations and assumptions about people, especially my MIL/DILs.
2. People are much more complex than I expect them to be. I need to be reminded of this regularly.

equation

3. A lot of who we are now is because of who we were earlier in life. And we weren’t necessarily the ones who made those choices or set up those situations. We simply found ourselves smack dab in the middle of them.
Perhaps the most important thing for me to remember is that no judgement is needed here. Understanding and acceptance go a looong way toward a great MIL/DIL relationship.
And that’s what this Blog is all about!

 

 

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Is Your MIL an Only Child?

  1. hmmm–interesting—however, my MIL was the eldest of 4 siblings–and yet wanted her family around at least every Sunday—am thinking it may have been a cultural thing–old school Italian.
    Although a converse was true–she was very social, with many friends outside family!!!

    • Thanks for chiming in! I can understand why many mothers want their kids and grandkids around a LOT – you’ve poured so much of your love and time and energy into your children and you’ve grown to love them so that you want to continue to share life with them. Why is it any wonder that the invites keep coming! A DIL may not know or have much affection for her MIL, but so often the MIL has so much affection & love for her son … and hopefully for anyone he loves. And some MILs are simply extroverts!

  2. Woohoo!!!! So excited to see this post! So happy for you for getting it done! 🙂

    GREAT topic and insight. Sounded so much like MIL I had to ask Cheyne some specific questions about her birth order. She is the youngest of three girls, her sisters are 10 and 15 years older than her. Aha. I think you might be onto something. 😉

    Looking forward to seeing you Wednesday!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Thanks, Jayna, for the “welcome back”. Yes, it’s been quite a long hiatus and I’m glad to be back “online” again. I’ve got so many interviews to write up and so much of other people’s wisdom to share.

      interesting that there are so many commonalities among us, don’t you think? We often experience the same kinds of things that others have dealt with or are dealing with. Getting the conversation going & keeping it going can be such a helpful, encouraging thing. No, your MIL/DIL is not the only one who feels/acts that way. And there’s a reason she does so. And somehow when we get a glimpse of the “why”, it’s easier to practice acceptance and understanding. At least a little bit! 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s