June 24th, 2008 / 37 Comments
My mother-in-law lives with us.
You read it right. My mother-in-law lives with us.
My father-in-law passed away of cancer about 10 years ago, and she has been living with us for about that long now.
What is your reaction when you read this? People usually think I am either a martyr or a saint.
But the truth is, I am merely motivated by selfishness.
Here is what I gain with my mother-in-law living with me:
1. My children get Chinese food and Chinese culture from her that they would not get from me.
2. My children benefit from being in a multi-generational household. There is something to be said of experiences in life that young people can learn from.
3. My children have a doting grandma who makes them their favorite food anytime they want it.
4. My children experiences the bigger definition of a family, an extended family.
5. My children learn to accommodate and respect older people.
What do I personally get out of it?
The nicer I am to my mother-in-law, the nicer my children will be to me when I am old!
I am setting the example how relationships with their elders are to be. There is no better way for me to teach my children how to treat me when I am old than to have my mother-in-law live with us.
Now you see why I am selfish when I treat my mother-in-law well?
While I do not want to be dependent to live with my children when I get old, I am confident that they will take care of me the best they can.
But do I feel bothered by having my mother-in-law live with us?
When I feel a hint of that attitude and think that life is only about me, I remind myself of this story. I hope this will encourage you in your relationship with your in-laws.
A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old granddaughter.
The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.
The daughter-in-law could not stand the sight of him at the dinner table with them every night, so she set up a small table in the corner of the room.
There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner.
The four-year-old daughter watched it all in silence.
One day, the daughter-in-law was watching her daughter play with her dolls. Several dolls were set up around a short table eating play food.
“What are you playing?” the mother asked.
“I am playing house,” replied the little girl. “This is my husband,Â this is me, and these are my children eating dinner.”
The mother noticed a little table apart from the other dolls.
“And what is that table for?” she asked.
The daughter responded sweetly, “That’s where you and daddy will eat when you get old.”
*More on living with my MIL here.
Photo by Shayan