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Traditions have changed

Being awarded for her public service. She continues to be passionate about youth and women empowerment, engaging with youth and women across Africa in public workshops focused on selfdevelopment and motivation. Benjamin has a growing social media presence

THE age-old topic of relationships between daughters-in-law and mothersin-law has evolved in many ways. Back in the day, when marriage took place, the daughter-in-law was expected to adapt to a new home, household and family and embrace the lifestyle, traditions and practices. Today, the scenario of being expected to live with one’s in-laws is not always the case but some matters remain the same.

The relationship between the mother and daughter-in-law is one that happens by default. Naturally, the relationship did not develop around mutual friendship or like-mindedness. Rather, it happened by default via a mutual link to the son, who then becomes a husband.

For the mother he will always remain her son, and for the daughter-in-law (who is now the wife), the mutual link is her husband. Here in itself, there are some identities that form a different yet similar role (that of mutual responsibility to both the women in the son’s life).

However, the expectation from both the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law may cause barriers to positive growth.

Today, we are faced with daughtersin-law who are career driven, having demanding jobs. The days are busy at work, being a mom, preparing lunch and running errands and then returning home to prepare a warm meal, which the family awaits. How sustainable is it?

Supper may not always be on time and husbands may need to pitch in with chores and household responsibilities. Whereas the mother-in-law may have all of these expectations from her daughter-in-law – to take care of her son just as he was at his family home – and this becomes a contentious point. Further, on the side of the daughterin-law, she may have an expectation for her mother-in-law to take care of the grandchildren and even manage some of the household duties while she is at work.

How can we work to build stronger relationships between mother and daughter-in-law? Respect: As in any relationship,

SAMEERA Reddy and her mother-in-law, Manjri Varde (aka Sassy Saasu), prove that in-laws can be best friends. They often post videos and photographs on social media. According to the website,, their relationship is proof that in-laws can not only coexist but also form an unbreakable bond. | Facebook

respect is important. When there is mutual respect then you will avoid personal attacks but rather look at the situation at hand. If there is respect for a daughter-in-law (as your own daughter) and for the mother-in-law (as your own mother), then there will be no issue. However, the respect has to be mutual.

Communication: Raising your voice, silent treatment, negative body language, and passing snide comments are all forms of communication. We may not often realise the impact of negative communication in a shared home. It easily falls into a daily pattern or routine and quickly becomes a norm. Children watch this and easily believe that relationships are meant to be this way,

especially watching their two trusted female figures in their lives portray this. Therefore, clear communication is important. Perhaps, take time to sit, even if there is a need to engage with a mutually trusted friend or relative, and talk about what is bugging you. Rather clear the air and express how you feel than make this a daily negative within your home.

Does the past always come back?

It is human tendency to hold onto past hurts. However, when we often bring this up and continue picking on this, we will never heal from it. Therefore, for a mother and daughter-in-law, unhealthy relationships become more bitter and resentful when the past is raised. Maybe it is time to heal from ◆ Open and respectful communication: Take the time to work on the root cause of the problem. Understand the real issue. Do not assume, do not predict and do not predecide. Create a forum for open and clear communication, with a third party present if you feel that is necessary. Work on solutions and do not dwell on the problem.

◆ Let go of expectations: Remember that although a mother and daughter-in-law relationship has stemmed through marriage, you cannot have an expectation from the other party. The mother-in-law cannot expect her daughter-in-law to visit every week (and fuss if she doesn’t). In the same breath, the daughter-in-law cannot have undue expectations from her mother-in-law. A previous generation of grandmothers openly and lovingly took care of grandchildren. Today, the world seems to have taken a different direction and, therefore, a daughter-in-law may be holding on to a past practice and have that expectation today. Letting the past?

Why not take a moment to reflect (for yourself) and tell yourself that you are now moving past this, and reach out to the other and express the same. Love often works wonders. Generational trauma: We carry with us what we are taught from our family home – often we are stuck in those ways. However, having an open mind and embracing change is needed to grow as mother and daughter-inlaw. By placing the mutual link (son/ husband) in the centre of the conflict creates further generational trauma. This impacts the current and future generation. Be mindful of this important aspect. It is our duty to break generational trauma that may exist. It is often said: “My mother-in-law did this and therefore I expect you to do the same.” Having this expectation is undue, especially in a modern world. We need to be practical and embrace change.

To nanny or not?

Again, expectations creep in and in today’s world not every mother-in-law may be willing to give up her time to look after her grandchild. Therefore, taking that for granted can cause problems. It is a sensitive point, especially go of expectations will help build a good relationship.

◆ Be real: Not every relationship goes smoothly. It takes work. Therefore both parties need to be committed to respect each other. You cannot expect just the daughter-in-law to be respectful because of the elder title (and push the narrative that “I am your senior”) the mother-in-law holds.

◆ Stop with the comparison: With this particular relationship, there are two ways in which to compare. The mother-inlaw compares her relationship with her mother-in-law and wishes for you to be the same with her, or the mother-in-law compares other daughters-inlaw to hers. In a modern era, we need to consider how times, traditions and daily life have changed. We cannot hold on to how things were done in the past as we are living in the a world that embraces career growth, open-mindedness and cultural adaptation. Not only is it disrespectful to compare one human to another, but it also shows a lack of personal growth and change. when children are involved. How do you work through it? Eradicate the expectation by talking about what both would like. If there is a common ground that can be found, then great. If not, then remember it may be best to let go of that expectation as you would never want to force another person to take care of your children. It has to be done lovingly.

As difficult as a mother and daughter-in-law relationship may be, it can also bring joy if you get it right. To date, many struggle with this relationship and it has a far-reaching impact on the family as a whole. So, take a minute to dive deep in your heart and think about what is important to you as a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Is the long-term animosity worth the pain, heartache and effort in it all, or is the healing from a nasty relationship better for everyone? Of course, love conquers all.





African News Agency