From Dr. Jane's Notebook
On my way! Becoming the Mother of the Bride
When asked what they want to be when they grow-up, very few
children describe the goal of someday becoming an in-law. But as Betsy Seale,
Editor-in-chief of the Hamburger Square Post can attest, many of her
friends, herself included, have become in-laws in recent years. Some of us are
only slowly approaching this new stage of life, while others are knee-deep in
the hooplah of planning weddings or becoming grandparents. While my husband and
I are no experts, we have made a few observations during these months prior to
the wedding itself. Here are a few thoughts on the matter.
- How do you feel about new family? When I was in
elementary school, the end of each school-year meant giving up my comfort zone
(or discomfort zone) and preparing for a new classroom full of people next
year. Sometimes it was difficult to accept a new teacher, new rules, new kids
and new schedules; I came to expect a little bit of protest from myself each
fall. Eventually however, new friendships and alliances were formed and soon I
would feel comfortable in these new relationships.
- The announcement of engagements, weddings and commitment
ceremonies are also a sign that relationships are about to change. For the
sake of the new couple, both families are being asked to open up their borders
and let new folks in. While it is normal to be a bit skeptical and even shy
initially, it is up to us parents to welcome each other as new relatives. To
increase your chances of success, this is an excellent time to practice being
less critical, judgmental and demanding of yourself and those around you.
- If youíre not a bride or groom, this isnít your wedding.
The first official act as Bride and Groom is to introduce themselves as a
married couple to the community. Since the wedding is supposedly a reflection
of their combined taste and social-economic values, it really should be the
result of their combined decision-making. Later on and perhaps throughout
their lives, the couple will look back on this event either with love and
pride, or they may feel anger and resentment if their wishes were overlooked.
All too often, well-intentioned parents who are footing the bill consider the
wedding as if it were their own wedding. When attempting to get your own way,
it is easy to unintentionally step on the toes of others. Remember simply that
the goal is to make the bride and groom happy without anyone going bankrupt.
- Donít veto someone elseís plans in motion. There
are many tasks involved in the planning and execution of a wedding. No one can
do the whole job alone so a certain amount of delegation is necessary. This is
where things can get tricky. If you assign a task, try to establish guidelines
in the beginning (the budget, color scheme, etc.), then be respectful of the
result. Donít tell someone to design an invitation, then redesign it. Donít
tell someone else to order napkins, then criticize their choice... especially
if that someone else is a bride, groom, or member of your new family. If in
spite of your best intentions, someoneís feelings get hurt accidentally, be
sure to apologize quickly for any misunderstanding. This is no time to start a
- Keep your eye on the prize. Ideally, the acquisition of
new relatives will go more like seamless surgery than a botched butcher job.
Ideally, your new son-in-law or daughter-in-law will feel close to you, and
your family will expand and grow in a healthy direction. But achieving this
ideal demands that you open your heart and your home to your new children with
unselfish love. If parents compete for the attention and affection of the new
couple, they may place their children under intolerable stress and strain. If
your goal is to be close with your children and hopefully your grandchildren,
you must become more flexible and less demanding to prevent pushing them away
As I said at the beginning of
this article, I am certainly not an expert but I am trying to learn a few things
as I approach both the wedding and my new role as a mother-in-law. When all else
fails, I will remember a few simple guidelines that I learned as a kid. When
6-year old children sit down to play a game, they are usually well-aware that
playing a game with another child can go well or it can be a disaster. To avoid
fights and promote a more peaceful, fun time together, most kids like to start
their play by first agreeing: what are the rules and who is supposed
to do what. Otherwise, even if we do what we think weíre supposed to do in
order to win this wedding marathon, we still run the risk that someone will go
home crying. So far, I am certain that every wedding is too expensive for that!
©Copyright, 2008, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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