Mother-in-laws: Keeping the Peace

By now you’ve probably heard about (or even read) the shocking email Heidi Withers received from her mother-in-law-to-be, harping over her lack of taste, manners, and humor.  When Miss Withers had finished reading it she immediately did what many of us would have done: forwarded it to some of her close friends and family to share in the outrage. How dare she, indeed?!

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Unfortunately, instead of keeping it private, one zealous friend spread it all over the internet where it became a public sensation. Needless to say, this has not improved relations between Heidi and her mother-in-law. It has erupted into a major feud, and taste, manners, and humor seems to be lacking on everyone’s account.

No doubt the original email was harsh, but don’t you think it would have been more prudent to keep in under wraps? Share it with your best friend, by all means, but don’t get your parents involved (especially as the email is attacking them as well). I don’t think anything productive is gained by fostering anger between people in the same wedding party.

Instead, Heidi could have ignored it, or sent back a cold but polite email, asking that her mother-in-law refrain from criticizing her in such a way in the future. Decent people can manage to swallow constructive criticism if it is coming from a place of caring, but this was obviously not the case. With a mother-in-law like this, the best case scenario is to keep your distance and adopt the attitude that “it’s not about me.”

Here is some wise advice from Aish.com regarding abusive mother-in-laws: “Instead of seeing in your mother-in-law a person who is maliciously trying to hurt you, you might see a very threatened and insecure individual. It might be an insecurity resulting from aging, ill health, lack of fulfillment or a myriad of other factors and causes.”

Bottom line is that words can hurt, but only if you let them. You are in charge of your thoughts and you know when someone’s criticism of you is baseless.  Brush it off and get on with your life. As Eleanor Roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

And if you are the mother-in-law, searching to keep the peace, here is some great advice for you too (also from Aish.com). The choice is yours whether to love and accept your daughter-in-law as she is. Try thinking along these lines: “This is my child’s choice so I’m going to blindly like them. I’m not going to look for flaws or weaknesses. I’m going to only notice their strengths. I’m going to ignore the petty and the trivial and focus on what really counts. I’m going to like them and give to them and in doing so I will them come to love them.”

More good advice: In-Law Protection