I have to tell you a quick story. I hand-wrote 10 Rules for Mother-in-Laws from Elisabeth Elliot before the days of laptops over 15 years ago. I shared it with an older woman who shall remain nameless who was a mother-in-law already and desperately wanted it right from my hand. I gave her my original, asked her to please make a copy, and return it to me.
It didn't come back...time passed...it still didn't come back. Many months, maybe even over a year later I asked her if she was through with it, & she replied that she remembered no such document and was sure I had the wrong person. (I take it wasn't life transforming for her, in fact not even memorable or else I had somehow remembered the wrong person!)
Fast forward over 10 years later. Last year, I got a letter in the mail. It was my original sheet! She said she took a book off the shelf and it fell out of the book! It was like an old friend had suddenly showed up!
And here's your priceless copy! ☺
Ten Rules for Mother-in- Laws by Elisabeth Elliot
Many have marital problems with their Mother-in-Law. Below I have stated son-in-law at times, when you can substitute daughter-in-law. May this list help you to be more like Christ in your "MIL-ing," or as you join me in praying for God’s grace for us to be godly future MILs one day. Love, Juana
1. Thank God for this person. It is a privilege to be a MIL. Thank God for this acquired daughter or son. Elisabeth has the privilege of being MIL to Walt Shepard. Walt is a gift from God. Elisabeth prayed for a godly husband for her daughter. 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.
3. Remember that your daughter or son now belongs to your son or daughter-in-law. Walt has a special claim on Valerie (Elisabeth’s daughter) such as Elisabeth has never had. Val was lent to Elisabeth as a gift and in the wedding she gave her to Walt. She relinquished her in her heart to this man (Elisabeth’s brother Tom gave her away). She now belongs 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. You 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 to be different. He comes from a different family. They have different ways of doing things. He’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. Your son-in-law may be used to clean towels everyday, etc.
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. (Juana: I happen to know after Val had her 4th child in rapid succession, Elisabeth thought Val was overtired and too busy. Elisabeth bit her tongue on asking Walt to sleep in the back yard!) It’s different if your son or daughter-in-law ask for advice. She has a wonderful son-in-law who will ask for her for advice on this and that, and her daughter continually asks for advice.
But Elisabeth is sure she’s given free advice when not asked for and they’re both very kind and have never made her feel she’s intruded in their lives. It is so easy to do this! Why do you do this? Why do you do it that way? Be careful.
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 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.
Example: She copies out bits of spiritual wisdom (her SIL is a pastor) on 3 x 5 cards with title and subject at the top so he can retrieve them to encourage him (Juana: he doesn't file them, but I'm sure Elisabeth keeps her mouth shut on that even though "her way" would be to file them). She asked him if they are useful or if she is bothering him by sending him the cards. He says they are useful and by all means, send them.
She tries 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 in every way you can think of. Is she doing a good job as a wife? Tell her so NOW. Your son 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.
I was blessed to know and be mentored by Elisabeth Elliot. I bought a plastic file container to hold all the gold nuggets that I learned from her since 1992! I saved a beautiful ribboned box for my over thirty treasured personal letters from her. One of my reasons for writing is to pass on her words of wisdom regularly to the social media generation, and when I write and speak.
|Showing Elisabeth the 35 treasured letters she's written me since 1992 filled with wisdom.|
|Elisabeth with her daughter Val on the left, and me|
when they came for a visit in March, 2013.
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Walk by Faith,