Life Stages Series: From “Mom” to “Mom-in-Law”

Cindy Eng

Children are gifts from God, and as parents, we are to love, protect and provide for them.

When my oldest son introduced his fiancée to others as “my future wife,” my first reaction was, “So cute!” But when the wedding date was approaching, all of a sudden I realized this was for real – my son was getting married! I had to sit down and think about how to live with my adult son and how to be a good “mother-in-law.”

I love my son very much, and deep down in my heart, I want to continue to do things for him and take care of him no matter how old he is, but…

I need to adjust my mind that my son is growing up and getting married. He is no longer a 14- year-old boy; I need to give him space to experience life instead of treating him like a highschooler and keeping him by my side.

The first lesson I learned after they had moved into their own place was respect. One day I was near their home, and I had a piece of important mail to deliver to them. So I dropped by without letting them know, but the door was unanswered. Afterwards, as I was reflecting upon this incident, I realised I have to respect their privacy, just as I would like them to respect mine. Even though I would welcome them to drop by my home any time, deep inside I would want them to call me first.

As for my daughter-in-law, when she comes to my home, she is my guest. Just as I would not expect my other guests to help out, I would not expect my daughter-in-law to help make dinner or do the dishes. This, too, is “respect.”

The relationship between a mother and a son is very close. How can a mother face her own son building an intimate relationship with another woman? In traditional Chinese families, parents always come first. But in the U.S., inheritance order is: spouse, children, then parents.  Understanding the importance of spousal relationships, as a mother, I know that I’ll need to step aside and encourage my son and daughter-in-law to make their own decisions. This will allow them to build a foundation of love and enlarge their family. Later, when they have children, their children should have priorities over me. If I insist on keeping a close relationship with my son and want to help out or be involved all the time, such “love” may become detrimental to our relationships.

I pray that God will help me become a happy and wise mother-in-law. I pray also for my son to grow and become a responsible husband. May he and my daughter-in-law find joy in their marriage!