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|Mothers And Daughters- In -law: A Generic Rivalry? by ichommy(m): 6:06pm On Dec 18, 2009|
Let’S face it the tension and rivalry between
mothers and their daughters-in-law will continue to rage forever. A story is told of a woman who travelled from the village to visit her son and his family who resided in Lagos.
The wife, delighted to see her mother-in-law, endeavoured to make her visit memorable. She prepared sumptuous meals during the time she visited and ensured she was made very comfortable.
But the woman saw the hospitality as waste and secretly concealed all meat bones, packets of dry foods, empty tins of milk, beverage and assorted packs in her luggage, intending to take them back to the village and show her friends what a “wasteful life” her son was living in Lagos. She naturally pointed the finger at her daughter-in-law as the architect of such waste.
But if this is believed to be a fable that has been told and retold and even been adapted either into a play or is the main theme in numerous indigenous movies, why are such feelings of tension, prejudice and suspicion replicated in the modern woman?
Most mothers are no longer the uneducated women from the village. They are proven experts and sound intellectuals in their respective professional endeavours. So why does the rivalry that has plagued many generations still transcend into the modern woman? Wives have been found to be extremely close and comfortable with their fathers-in-law, so what has continually caused the friction between them and their mothers by marriage?
While it is difficult to accept, the scriptural passage proves true that a man must at onetime leave his family and cling to his wife and the two would become one flesh. Therefore, no matter how close a son is to his mother, a time would come when he would have to transfer his attention to his wife and seek the confidence and understanding of his partner. When the son seeks too much comfort from his mother to the exclusion of his wife, the result is chaos.
Most matriarchs perceive their prospective daughters-in-law as intruders and are always suspicious, while the young woman sees her older counterpart as a menace and a threat to her marriage and in extreme but not uncommon cases, as possessed.
Women are often times very skeptical about their son’s choices that their immediate impression is to observe and point out the lapses or physical imperfections of their son’s choices. It could also be academic qualification, financial strength or exposure.
Some women even doubt the luck of perspective daughters-in-law through the way their feet is shaped, which some believe may bring “bad luck”, while other superstitiously perceive a woman with knocked-knees would cause a rift between the family.
The question is why is this so? While circumstances and occurances have shown that some daughters-in-law will go to any extent to rid their mothers-in-law of constant intervention into their family affairs, experiences have also shown especially in African culture that some mothers have made confessions as being the forces behind their son’s family problems, progress and even on fertility issues.
What many find difficult to believe is why a woman having borne a child and had gone through pains to nurture and train would now turn around to be the architect of her son’s misfortune. Could it be that mothers are unwilling to let go of their sons who they have lovingly nurtured or trained or could the wives be the ones that are selfish and over possessive?
Some marriage analysts say that, most African mothers have come to equate their sons, especially if he is the first, one or the last as their soul mates. Since a lot may have lost their spouses to death, sickness or the hands of another woman, they may have come to rely on their male children as their confidant and consequently, they always find it difficult to let go of him and allow another woman to capture his attention so easily.
Others equate it with poverty. Most mothers after struggling to train their children find it difficult when the man having begun to make headway goes ahead to bring a woman to share in the wealth when in fact they expect him to take care of them and the family first.
Another factor that makes most daughters-in-law and their husbands’ mothers arch rivals or competitors is a prejudicial or a preconceived opinion about each other. Oftentimes, the son is in a delicate position of trying not to offend his mother whilst trying to please his wife. This scale is often very difficult to balance.
Many young women are very prejudicial about their mothers’-in-law and feel they are bound to be wicked or would stifle their husbands. Mothers find it difficult on the other hand to let go of their sons into the care and nurturing of another woman on whom he would largely entrust his future.
It is therefore not strange for younger women nowadays to inquire about the status of their prospective mothers-in-law before consenting to marriage with their sons. They seek to know whether their sons’ mother is a witch, wicked or peace loving from herbalists, psychics, pastors and prophets. For the mother, she also naturally goes to seek the counsel of elders, spiritualists or conduct investigation on the history of the family where her son is going to choose a wife.
After getting married, the relationship is further strained between the two if the wife has delay in child bearing. In some families, the mother makes it a condition precedent that the prospective daughter-in-law should be pregnant before getting married to their son.Friction also rears its ugly head, if the wife’s tastes are too expensive or if her ways of life is generally in conflict with the way the woman trained her son. So what is the way out?
Acceptance: Since nobody has attained a level of perfection, mothers-in-law should stop placing unrealistic expectation on their prospective daughters-in-law. They must come to a point that they accept, (no matter painful) that they will not always play the pivotal or central role in their son’s life. You don’t have to cast her into a particular mold.
Never insist to your son that you prefer her having a particular type of stature or voice or a level of unrealistic achievement. Always remember that it’s your son’s choice. Even if it comes a bit too strong or strange for you, you must learn to pray over it and accept it. If your son loves a dark, full figured woman, don’t be hostile to her because you would have preferred a slim, cute, fair complexioned woman.
This would help reduce the strain and help you discover that you may have a treasure within your newest family member if you dig deep enough. The secret is to perceive her as a daughter, an addition to your house hold. This will greatly help to allow, accept and lovingly current her mistakes.
Respect: Daughters-in-laws must be realistic about their mothers-in-law. She represents a mother figure although she could never be your birth mother. She is a bit apprehensive because you are coming from a totally different background.
She needed to be assured and reassured that you will love his on through thick and thin and that he could commit his entire life and future into you as a loving partner. She is also0 afraid that you might have married his son because of his wealth or prospect so you have a prove to yourself that you are confident in yourself and that you are not afraid that you can be all that you can if you set your heart to it.
Therefore you have to be highly tolerating and very respectful and let your husband know that you care about his mother. Take time to call or visit your in-laws and try to find out about their welfare and send such meaningful gifts that they will really appreciate. Time changes and mellows even human beings. When she notices your respect and humility, she may learn to accept you.
Prayers: Prayer cannot be underestimated. Both women should learn to pray for tolerance and understand toward each other. A mother-in-law to daughter-in-law relationship can be as close as it can be even if it cannot always reach the mother to daughter benchmark, although in rare cases, it does. With understanding, these special relationship within your own family do not have to be strained or difficult.
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