Sunday, 20 November 2011

Loving your Daughters-in-Law (before you've even met them)

I have 3 boys. No girls, just boys. My home is littered with plastic soldiers, drumkits, lego and dinosaurs. We have no Disney Princess dvd's but a plethora of Star Wars, X Men, Peter Pan and (my personal favourite) Inspector Gadget. Camo clothes cover my radiators and (the perfect phrase coined by the mother in Outnumbered) a wee tsunami covers my bathroom floor. We don't eat pretty pink cupcakes, but pies, meat and hearty stews are the fare in our family. We 'ooh' and 'aah' at the cars on Top Gear, but Strictly Come Dancing cannot be tolerated. Burps and worse are part of our mealtime conversations and armpit farts (and even knee, elbow and other body part farts) have to be limited to only a few minutes per day or nothing else would be accomplished.

But one day, my time will come and I will (hopefully) have some daughters-in-law. Ever one to imagine the future, I look forward to the day that I will not be the only girl in the house. Sometimes, desperately clawing onto my female identity, I feel like an honorary boy. I also look forward to presenting my boys to the world, ready for their lives without the supervision of a mother (no 'Young, Dumb and Living off Mum' in our family). Unfortunately they will not wake up suddenly willing and able to look after themselves and others. There is no point waiting for them to be ready - all they time they are being served by a loving Mother who will pick up their dirty pants from the floor, they will not be ready. No, they need training.

And this is where I have my daughers-in-law in mind. I married a man who could cook, clean and iron. (I can barely bring myself to admit that actually he is better than me at it). When I hear other women moaning about their husbands, I am extremely grateful to my mother-in-law for teaching him those basic skills. It has meant that we have shared the load and when I have had small babies, or been ill, he has been able to keep the house running smoothly.

To get myself off to a head start with the relationship with my daughters-in-law, I need to get training my boys. It occurred to me that if they can use all their new fangled electronic devices, then why can they not work the washing machine? If they can organise themselves at school (ok, not all of them can - some of them need training in that too, and I have one of those!), why can they not organise themselves at home? If they can follow a timetable, why can they not follow a recipe? If they love working as a team to accomplish a goal, why not train them to work as a family team to achieve a house than runs well?

Training them to cook, clean and do their washing teaches them so much more than just how to do the job. It teaches them about teamwork; it teaches them about discipline and getting on with the job even when you don't feel like it; it helps them to appreciate what others do for them; it gives them organisational skills and teaches them responsibility; it teaches them about consequences (yes, really, if Toby forgets to wash his school uniform, I will not be doing it for him).

The temptation is to do it all ourselves because it is just so much quicker, easier and avoids the inevitable battle. And oh, how I know that tempation - especially with one certain, eccentric, highly disorganised middle son. We must look ahead though. If we always give in to this temptation (and sometimes I certainly do!) we will produce sons who not only do not know how to do anything for themselves, but expect others to do it for them. Instead of offering to make a cup of tea, they will plonk themselves on the sofa and holler for you to make one for them. Dirty pants and socks will litter the floor because you have always picked them up and washed them. We will produce heart-warming meals that they will gulp down and rush off to their next important activity, leaving the table cluttered with dishes for us to clear. We will not be giving away our sons as men in marriage, ready to cherish, protect and love their wives, we will be passing on children for someone else to look after.

We need to love our future daughter-in-laws by training our boys. You never know, my training might work and one day my bathroom floor might be dry.


S Robinson said...

My mum started praying for my husband to be as soon as she became a Christian. I've taken that seriously and now pray for my sons future Wife. I pray for the situations she may go through before she even meets my boy, I pray for her to have a real sense of her identity in Christ before She meets him so when she becomes a wife she doesn't loose herself. It's so powerful to know that I am impacting on the life of someone I probably won't meet for another 15 plus years?!

Clair said...

I had a very memorable run in with a member of my husband's family on the pavement when we were recently engaged.. "I've been praying for Jon's wife for 20 years..." she said "it's good to finally meet you" Wow... bit scary, but very encouraging.