Loving Your Extended Family Members

A Home For Two

Today’s post will cover three days of articles on the subject of the empty nest years.  I try to take weekends off.  This one will cover, Saturday, Sunday and Monday for my challenge of Writing for 31 Days.  As you can see, I’ve been writing on, Making a Full House a Home For Two.

I want to talk about a maybe delicate subject for many and an easy one for some; loving and enjoying your extended family members. The best way to start is to tell my story.

I grew up in a broken home.  Having grandparents around and aunts, uncles, cousins were not that normal for me.  I wasn’t around one of my grandmother’s much and when I was in high school, she came to live with us.  It was a very unpleasant experience.  She was an angry person and very self centered.  Dotting on her granddaughter was not on her list of things to do.  I did spend much of my high school years taking care of her the best that I was able to do.  I shared a room with my mom and when my “Nanny “came to live with us, I slept on the couch in the living room until we found a place for her to live on her own.  Let’s just say, she didn’t make it pleasant in our tiny home of my two brothers and I and of course my mom.  My life with my Nanny were interesting to say the least.  I have a few good memories.  I did my best to honor her and love her as I should.

My other set of grandparents were very kind and sweet people.  I wasn’t around them much.  The handful of memories that I have of them are precious to me and I hang on to them dearly.  After my parents divorced when I was 12, I didn’t see them much. I really didn’t see them very much before the divorce either.  They did hold a special place in my heart, and they still do.

I was blessed to live close to an Aunt and Uncle who became mentors to me.  I learned a lot from them and I am very thankful for how they cared about us and made sure we were doing okay.  They were busy raising their own children, so it’s not like we expected to be a huge part of their family, but, they always included us on holidays and always made us feel welcome in their home.  I loved them dearly.

My experience with extended family isn’t anything to write home about.  So, I have had to learn some things the hard way.  I am still learning, too.

When I married my Jim, I had no idea of what it was like to have in-laws.  I took things for granted that I would be loved and accepted just because of who I was.  If you are still young and learning about life…..don’t do that.  I do hope this post will help you to learn a life long lesson that is so very important if family means the world to you.

When you marry into a family, you might want to look at it as making new friends.  When you meet someone that you want to be friends with, you go out of your way to get to know them, right?  Well, do that with your new in-laws….before the marriage takes place and after. I’m talking, parents, sisters and brothers; and even the grandparents!  Yes, I do know that some people will not accept you regardless, but the important thing is that you make the effort and do your best.  I’ve heard some crazy stories over the years of how family members treat one another and I’m sure you have, too.  You just be who you are supposed to be and if you are accepted and loved, that is wonderful, if not, don’t take it personal.  There may be some other issues going on that you have no control over.  You are only responsible for yourself.  Or, they could be like me and just plain don’t know how to act or be around people you don’t know and you are honestly naive enough to think they will love you just because.

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When your children are grown and they marry the love of their life, you now have the joy of a new daughter-in-law or son-in-law.  The same principle goes.  Treat them as a new friend that you are wanting to get to know.  Find whatever it is that you have in common and can build a relationship on.  Yes, again, I know it’s a two way street.  But, what is important, is how you choose to build on your relationship.  Remember, you are the older adult, right?  You teach by how you love and accept them regardless.

Don’t be threatened by someone new in the family.  Look at it as your family is growing and what an opportunity to have someone new to love.  If you have any feelings of jealousy, take care of it immediately.  Jealousy has no place in a family!

I didn’t have any teaching or training on how to be a new daughter in-law or sister-in-law and the ultimate, a mother-in-law.  I would so love to be good at each one of these.  I have a feeling, we all do.  If you are like me, you have blown it several times and wish you could go back and have a second chance.  The good news is, I have some family members that I know love me, warts and all, and like you, I’m sure, we have some that your first try was it, no more chances.

I do hope this post will be an encouragement to you to take your duties as an in-law serious.  If you have blown it and you are fortunate to have those in your life that love you anyway, you are blessed.  If you are one that has blown it and you get no more tries, that’s okay.  You hold your head up and learn from it and help others to not make the same mistakes.  Remember the post on, forgiveness?  You might want to re-read that one.  It might help.

Have you hurt someone in your family?  Have you been hurt by someone in your family?  Is there a way to make it right?  If so, then do so.  If not, move on and be sure that forgiveness is in your heart and just be ready when they are ready to make it right.  Grudges in family members is a tool that will destroy a legacy.  Begin a family legacy of love and acceptance.  Your children and grandchildren are watching.

The empty nest years are precious years and you don’t want to spend them having regrets and living petty issues.  Start today, and leave a legacy of loving your extended family members.

Be sure to click here to find the list of the other posts in this series of, Making a Full House A Home For Two.

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2 Comments

  1. What a thoughtful, beautiful post! I so agree with what you have written here….We honor God by honoring His commandment to love, even when some of the people in our “family” aren’t quite as lovable as they should be. 🙂

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