In laws means appreciating the differences
Split Rock,South Island New Zealand

There is so much suspicion surrounding new people becoming part of the family. In the 50’s there was even suspicion about people of different religions. It’s scary for parents because they don’t participate in the choice. It’s sad that there is so little welcoming of new “blood” into a family.

New relationships with your children’s loves or partners is really an opportunity for exploring new possibilities. We’ve had the extraordinary opportunity to live with my daughter and her husband for seven months. While sharing personal space is not always my best thing, I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve come to enjoy knowing them as a couple. Our parents never really knew us as a couple. They never asked questions to discover who we were. They lectured and told us what we should do, as was typical in the 70’s. They didn’t recognize relationships have to go in two directions to grow and evolve.

Jehovah’s witnesses came to the door the other day and my son-in-law, who is so generous, kind and sweet natured went to the door. After some time went by, I interrupted them to “rescue” him because they are so relentless. My new son-in-law has an accent and one of the witnesses made a point of telling him the Bible is printed in many languages including his “mother tongue.” He is from New Zealand and he didn’t miss a beat joking that English was invented there, which they were very surprised to learn. This story is now part of our history that we’ve begun to build together.

Only if we are open over time, then we can have layers of experiences which adds depth.

I can enjoy my son in law for his sense of fun and forgive him for not reading books. Why aren’t we better at welcoming a refreshing new point of view into our families? Have some faith in your children’s choices. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Don’t let fear of differences drive your relationships.

Remember that the beginnings of relationships are always the hardest parts for everyone (This is what makes dating so hard). Beginnings are difficult because none of us are very happy about uncertainty. We lurch into the premature certainty that this is bad or wrong just to be certain, at what cost?

We say we want what’s best for our children. What’s best is to survive the beginnings and respect that whether or not it’s the “right” choice, it’s not our choice to make. Don’t clutter things up just because you’re afraid.

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About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

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