DEAR ABBY: I have read with interest your columns with tales of discontent involving overbearing in-laws. Some of them have been downright frightening, although, of course, not all in-law relationships are fraught with conflict.
I bring this up because I'm about to become a mother-in-law for the first time. My oldest son will marry his longtime girlfriend early this summer. She's a lovely girl, and we already consider her to be a cherished member of our family.
I remember a "Mother-in-Law's Prayer" that ran in your column years ago. It was a kind of "pep talk" from a woman to herself as she approaches mother-in-law status. I found it quite humorous. Would you please reprint it for me and for other mothers-in-law as the spring wedding season beckons? Hopefully, I won't need to refer to it often. Also, how can I get the booklet that contains it? -- KATHERINE M., FORT WAYNE, IND.
DEAR KATHERINE: Congratulations on your son's forthcoming wedding. The item you referenced has been asked for many times.
Over the years, readers have requested that I reprint articles that have special meaning to them on subjects such as parenting, children, animals, aging, death, forgiveness, etc. My booklet ("Keepers") contains 72 column pieces that people have told me they kept to re-read until the pieces were yellow with age and falling apart. It can be ordered by sending your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price. You'll find stories, poems and prayers like the one below to inspire you, make you think or simply brighten your day.
If all mother-in-law relationships were judged solely by the letters in my column, many people would conclude that it's an emotional minefield. I discussed this subject with a psychiatrist who shared that a mother-in-law who is perceived as overbearing may be one who was a conscientious mother. But now that her child is grown, she finds it difficult to relinquish her role as teacher and protector and quit "hovering" -- an interesting observation.
A MOTHER-IN-LAW'S PRAYER
"O, Lord, help me to be glad when my son (or daughter) picks a mate. If he brings home a girl with two heads, let me love both of them equally. And when my son says, 'Mom, I want to get married,' forbid that I should blurt out, 'How far along is she?'
"And please, Lord, help me to get through the wedding preparations without a squabble with the 'other side.' And drive from my mind the belief that had my child waited a while, he or she could have done better.
"Dear Lord, remind me daily that when I become a grandmother, my children don't want advice on how to raise their children any more than I did when I was raising mine.
"If you will help me to do these things, perhaps my children will find me a joy to be around, and maybe I won't have to write a 'Dear Abby' letter complaining about my children neglecting me. Amen."