Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Border Control

Barbara Bensoussan

The secular media loves to portray mothers-in-law as harping, critical dragon ladies who are never satisfied with their underachieving sons-in-law (and who nevertheless always manage to overstay their welcome). However, with a little effort, sensitivity, and communication, there’s no reason a son-in-law and mother-in-law can’t enjoy a pleasant, if not positive, relationship.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My father z”l was once having dinner with friends when a joke was told about a perfect mother-in-law. One of the men laughed. “A perfect mother-in-law?” he scoffed. “There’s no such thing!”

To everyone’s surprise, my father — not given to discussing his feelings — replied simply, “Oh, I don’t know. I think I had one.”

What a woman wouldn’t give to hear her son-in-law make such a comment. But being —or having — a good mother-in-law isn’t just a matter of mazel. There’s much we can do to make it happen.


Fasten Seat Belts

Every family changes over the years, and the arrival or departure of each family member creates a tectonic shift in the terrain of family life. These shake-ups, both happy and sad, require learning to navigate untraveled paths.

Making the adjustment to a new son-in-law can range from adapting to not serving gebrochts on Pesach to getting used to his forty-five-minute Shabbos pilpul or his eccentric sense of humor.

While parents in the frum world will have typically approved a prospective son-in-law even before the couple meets, there’s always an element of the unknown for both the new couple and their families once the chasunah is over. What really lies beneath that beautifully presented chassan package? While you’ve had your daughter’s entire life to build a relationship with her, your relationship with your son-in-law is still in its infancy.

Rabbi Abraham Twerski and Leah Shifrin Averick, the authors of In-Laws: It’s All Relative (ArtScroll/Shaar Press), quip that “There is no way to microwave a relationship” — a mother and her son-in-law have to brew a relationship slowly, over time. But you definitely want that to happen in the most positive way possible, because, as Rebbetzin Baila Willig of Queens puts it, “Your relationship with your son-in-law will directly affect your children’s shalom bayis.” Will you be the mother-in-law who helps her daughter see her husband as a king, or the mother-in-law who riles her daughter against him?


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Out with the Girls
Yonoson Rosenblum Another progressive revolution that eats its own
And I Will Glorify Him
Eytan Kobre Herman Wouk “made G-d a bestseller”
What You've Learned
Alexandra Fleksher Allow me to let you in on what school is all about
Going Broke
Mishpacha Readers Reader feedback for “The Kids Are Going to Camp..."
Top 5 Ways Jews Try to Lose Weight
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Gaining weight and talking about losing weight
He Soaked Up Our Pain
Rabbi Yaakov Klein A tribute to Reb Shlomo Cheshin ztz”l
Leaving on a High Note
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman And then it happened. I knew it would
Family Matters
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP Not the answers they teach in medical school
Play the Night Away
Riki Goldstein May we all share simchahs, no strings attached!
Fast Thinking
Faigy Peritzman How we react when we're exempt from a mitzvah
Baalat Teshuvah
Rachel Karasenti Don’t ask, “So how did you become frum?”
Confessions of a PhD Graduate
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When it comes to parenting, we’re always learning
Dear Favorite Little Sis
Anonymous I ended up wanting to be like you
Who's Making My Phone Calls?
Sara Eisemann Should I be upfront that I’m calling for myself?