Ten Rules for Mother-in- Laws by Elisabeth Elliot

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Ten Rules for Mother-in- Laws by Elisabeth Elliot


Many couples have marital problems with their Mother-in-Law. When reading this, it is equally acceptable to substitute son-in-law for daughter-in-law. May this list help you to be more like Christ in your “MIL-ing,” or in dealing with your MIL. If you aren’t a MIL yet, pray for God’s grace to be godly future MIL one day. 

1. Thank God for this person. It is a privilege to be a MIL. Thank God for this acquired daughter or son. Pray for a godly husband for your daughter and/or a godly wife for your son. Pray for the spouse even if you have little ones. 

Pray that person will be prepared for your son or daughter in God’s way and in God’s time.

2. Remember this man or woman is an adult with adult responsibility. The fact that he or she is your daughter or son’s peer sometime makes us forget he or she is not a child. Unconsciously, we treat this person as a child, because we treat our child as a child. 

This man or this woman given to your son or daughter is an adult with adult responsibility. 

He or she is capable of making her/his own decisions. Allow that person to do that.

MIL23. Remember that your daughter or son now belongs to your son or daughter-in-law. The son-in-law has a special claim on his wife (your daughter) such as you will never have; and vice versa for the daughter-in-law to your son. They each relinquish their hearts to each other, and consequently belong to someone else, not to you.  

Scripture says a man is to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. Leaving and cleaving are not always easily accomplished. MILs can stand as a very big obstacle to his leaving you and cleaving to his wife if you continue to claim him. Your son-in-law or daughter-in-law has a special claim on that person. 

4. When you give something, you’ve got to let go of it. Let go of your daughter and your son-in-law and your daughter/son. 

5. Expect your son-in-law/daughter-in-law to be different. They come from a different family. They have different ways of doing things. They’ll be very different. Don’t be surprised! Expect it! We get so shocked to find out simple things can be done in a different way.

6. Let your daughter/son do things their way. When you visit them in their home and you see things are not the way you did them in your home… Let them be.

7. Do not dish out advice. Keep your mouth shut. It’s different if your son or daughter-in-law asks for advice. 

It’s so easy to intrude. It’s so easy to say: Why do you do this? Why do you do it that way? Be careful. Likewise sons/daughters-in-law should be gracious when unsolicited advise is given.

8. Pray for your son or daughter-in-law. There will be things you will be critical about. 

There’s an old song: You can talk about me just as much as you please. I’ll talk about you down on my knees. Undoubtedly your son-in-law or daughter-in-law will talk about their mother-in-law and father-in-law. Rather than criticize her to other people, do your praying first. Be sure to pray for that in-law.

9. Never criticize your daughter-in-law or son-in-law to your son/daughter. He knows her weaknesses better than you do, and strengths you’ve never noticed. Keep your mouth shut when it comes to criticizing your son-in-law or daughter-in-law to your daughter or son.

10. Be an encourager in every way you can think of. Ask God to show you ways to encourage them that you haven’t though of. 
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One example Elisabeth Elliot did was: She copied out bits of spiritual wisdom on 3 x 5 cards with title and subject at the top so he can retrieve them to encourage him. She asked her son-in-law if they were useful or if she was bothering him by sending him the cards. He said they were useful and by all means, send them.

She tried to encourage him in his father role. He is a wonderful father to her grandchildren (8!) and she tries to tell him so. 

Be an encourager to your daughter/ daughter-in-law in every way you can think of. Is she doing a good job as a wife? Tell her so NOW. Your son/ son-in-law doing a good job as a husband? Tell him so. But do it in such a way as they don’t feel you are scrutinizing them.

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*Article adapted from Juana Mikels post on the same topic
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