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Dear future daughter-in-law

By Heather Oman

My sister and I were talking today about how much we don’t like cooking. Neither one of us is particularly good at it, and while we both sort of try to muddle through and have our occasional victories, mostly we find it to be a thankless chore. And then we have those days when we really did try to make something awesome and delicious, and it flops in our face and our family looks at us with a mixture of pity, compassion, and despair at having to eat the sad, sad food.

My sister had just had one of those defeats, and we were discussing how much she hates to cook, but also how much she hates that she isn’t good at it. I had a flash of insight about one of the benefits of being a mediocre chef.

“Well, at least your future daughter-in-law won’t have to live up to some crazy high standard of cooking. Your son will never whine at her and say, “This isn’t how my mother use to make it.”

She agreed, but then we started lamenting about all the things our future daughter in laws WILL complain about our sons, or us.

The list got depressingly long.

So, to my future daughter-in-law, I just want to say this:

I’m sorry.

It’s not your husband’s fault he doesn’t know how to cook a gourmet meal. I never taught him how, because I don’t really know how myself. He comes by his food cluelessness honestly. On the bright side, he doesn’t have a particularly advanced palate, which means he is perfectly happy eating simple food and doesn’t require much in the way of fancy cooking. So, maybe I should say, you’re welcome?

Also, it’s not his fault that he is a little bit of a slob. He comes from a long line of them. I’m a little bit of a slob, and my parents before me are also a little slobby. We try, but the slob gene is a hard one to overcome. Again, on the bright side, I will never judge you if I pop over to your house and it’s in total disarray. Not only will I not judge you, I probably won’t even really notice. My son will also not really notice. Which might get annoying, because he might not notice that things need to be picked up, so, well, again, sorry.

You should also know that our family thinks in musicals. It’s not unusual for one or all of us to be in the middle of a conversation and an utterance will remind us of a lyric in a show and we will burst into song, singing that lyric. It means that there is constant music in your life, so, yay! It also means, well, there is constant music in your life, and maybe you were hoping for some meaningful conversation instead of a re-creation of Pajama Game, sooooo, good luck with that.

We also like to play games. And things get, um, heated during said games. Don’t take it personally, we will all still be friends at the end, just buckle up and enjoy the ride. Or go upstairs and read a magazine while we fight to what seems like the death if somebody dares to not follow the rules. Rules in games are VERY IMPORTANT!!! Also it’s super hard to talk about the rules without GETTING VERY LOUD! Maybe you should wear headphones while you read your magazine. I’ll pick you up some next time I’m at Radio Shack.

The last thing you should know is that we are a dog family. Like, we can’t live without a dog. Which means that while we try to combat it, there is just sort of a lot of dog hair about. Hopefully you are also a dog person (seriously, my son LOVES DOGS), but if you aren’t, I suggest buying a lint roller. Or two. Or three. And having a few in your purse and in the car. You’ll probably need them.

(I will pray really hard that my son doesn’t choose somebody who is allergic to animals. That might be a deal breaker.)

But for all our faults in parenting, we do really think our son is rad, and hope that you think so too, and if you think he’s as rad as we think he is, then hopefully everything else won’t matter very much. (Except maybe the dog hair. Seriously, it’s a thing.)

What do you want to tell your future son and daughter in laws? What have you told your current son and daughter in laws? What are the quirkiest things about your family that in-laws just sort of don’t get?

About Heather Oman

(Prose Board) lives in the south with her husband, her two kids, and her wiggly black lab. She is a licensed speech language pathologist, but spends most of her days trying to teach her own kids how to say please and thank you. She is a member of the Segullah Editorial Board, and is the founding member of the blog Mormon Mommy Wars.

7 thoughts on “Dear future daughter-in-law”

  1. I've been thinking about this lately. My oldest son is about to turn 16 and is super excited about starting to date. Me? Suddenly I am feeling mighty protective, and I wasn't expecting or prepared for these new feelings.

    I have been to hell and back with and for my kids, and I hope and pray that whomever they choose understand that happiness and joy in life are more important than towels on the floor, a clean house, or vacuum lines in the carpet. I want them to understand the value of a house full of laughter is always more important than spotless shirts, scoured sinks or Ensign covers. I want them to deeply understand that forgiveness is the fruit of the tree of life, and that everything else pales and recedes before an open and kind heart.

    So I hold my breath the tiniest bit as I watch my firstborn prepares his fledgling heart for the world.

    Also, I'm sorry, but I *am* a great cook (and so is he.) So maybe let him do the cooking if she hates it?

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  2. My oldest baby returns from her mission in 10 days, which of course means she's legitimately into the LDS marriageable category. I mean, I wed her dad a month after we returned from missions (of course girls had to wait to leave til 21 back then, and now they're returning when they're 20), and I married her stepdad 90 days after we met, so I am not one to talk. I hope she's single for a little while, but also I believe that if the right person comes along, there's no point in waiting. The thing I'm most grateful for is that she's now seen how a true marriage is, and I hope that she holds out for that. Because when you find your honest to goodness match, someone who adores, champions, supports, serves, loves, repents, forgives, rumbles, cherishes and is devoted to the same goals and ideals and long-game plans, it is SO different! I hope she'll hold out for that to come along. I hope she sees the difference between relationships that are little more than legal marriages and reasonable companionability that you can live with, and a truly rich marriage in every sense of the word. Growing up I used to say prayers for whoever I would someday marry, asking God to keep them safe and help them make good choices and whatnot. Since I had babies, I've been praying for their someday spouses, too. I want my future son in law to feel as loved as my babies that I gave birth to myself. I also hope that he thinks she's the most amazing person alive…and vice versa. I hope they like us, cause they're gonna be stuck with us no matter where they roam. #haveplanewilltravel

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  3. Love this and the comments! My oldest two are in college and just ventured onto the LDS Tinder app called "Mutual" this week and I was up hearing about their dates late last night ("it's mutual!" if you both swipe on each other). One thing I appreciate about a couple past boyfriends of theirs is when they think our family's quirkiness is cool instead of to be mocked. You gotta embrace the whole package, that future spouse doesn't come by themselves (even if it seems like it because you met in your FHE group and their family lives far away from campus). You'll be putting on your in-laws' 50th anniversary party before you know it….

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  4. One Christmas time our daughter-in-law's family joined us for the holidays. Thinking in dog terms, I'd describe their family more like labs – enthusiastic, ready for adventure, raring to go out and be active for hours, even in the cold. Our family is more of a Bernese Mountain Dog kind of family – most of us love a good nap, a nerdy documentary or to curl up with a good book or needlework. Our son straddles these worlds with aplomb and has become more of an adventurer than I might have expected. He's also a great cook now. We love our daughter-in-law for many reasons, but certainly for the verve and energy she adds to the whole extended clan. We are all beneficiaries. (You know who I'm talkin' about, Heather!)

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  5. I never tried to tell my prospective inlaws anything. Letting them get to know us without any preformed opinions (at least from my wife and me) was the best policy I could think of. That worked pretty well for us, but to each their own.

    Glenn

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