Dear Father-in-law,

Your son needs you now more than ever.

I will admit I don’t know much firsthand about the father/son dynamic. I have simply watched your relationship from afar, seeing two men wrestle with their emotions toward one another. I watch his frustration rise as you harp on his life choices, and I can see the hurt in your eyes when he rejects your opinion.

You both have many similarities, yet when I see the two of you interact, it is as if you are on different planets. I sit and watch your movements through life, and I can’t help but see how challenging your relationship seems. You both tiptoe around issuesholding your cup full of anger, trying to keep it from spilling. You both know the steps to this particular dance, and you do your best not to step on each other’s toes. The closer to the surface your conversation stays, the more likely you are to exist in the same room together.

Then, it happens, your moves become entangled, and the glass hits the floor. Bitterness and resentment paint the canvas of your interaction, and it is more than you both can handle.

It doesn’t have to be so hard.

I am sure it is strange watching your children blossom into adulthood. Taking note of their every life decision, measuring it up to your own, and feeling the need to constantly critique. I get it. What I don’t understand is your shallow means of communication.

RELATED: So God Made My Father-in-Law

Your son needs you.

He needs advice in these murky waters of fatherhood. He needs guidance with job transitions and financial uncertainty. He needs your love and support, yet you seem to come at the issue tightfisted. When the relationship between the two of you requires maintenance, you quickly retreat. Your inability to effectively communicate your emotions has corroded at the relationship for far too long.

I have watched you two dance this dance for 10 years. He, confiding in me that he just wishes you would call and have a genuine interest in his life. You, unsure of why the relationship feels so rocky. The two of you are playing a role, a role meant for a dad and child,  not ever having switched over to an adult-to-adult relationship.

RELATED: Dear Husband, I Am With You Even When It’s Hard

I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but I do see what it is doing to your son. I watch as he pretends not to be hurt when you don’t call him for his birthday. I see anger in his eyes when you favor the cousins over our own children. I see a man, trying his best to live up to impossible standards of another and falling short every time.

You know what I don’t see?

I don’t see a lot of effort on your part and therein lies my frustration. Dear father-in-law if you put in 1/10 of the effort you do now, your son just might try a little harder.

I implore you, please try.

Try to see your son as a man.

Try to tell him how much you truly love him.

Try to have a conversation without harping on his mistakes.

Try to sift through your emotions and pull out the ones that have an encouraging word.

RELATED: To Those Who Know the Bitter Hurt of Losing a Parent

In life, we don’t have a lot of second chances. Do I understand the father/son relationship? Nope. You know what I do understand, though? I understand what it is like to be at odds with my dad. A dad who died before I had the opportunity to tell him I loved him. I know how deeply that wound hits, and I pray you both have the opportunity to resolve things before it gets to that point.

Dear Father-in-law, just make the call.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Her View From Home

Millions of mothers connected by love, friendship, family and faith. Join our growing community. 1,000+ writers strong. We pay too!   Find more information on how you can become a writer on Her View From Home at https://herviewfromhome.com/contact-us/write-for-her//

So God Made a Sunday School Teacher

In: Faith, Living
Woman sitting at table surrounded by kids in Sunday school class, color photo

God looked around at all He had created, and He knew He would need someone to teach His children. So God made a Sunday school teacher. God knew He needed someone with a heart and desire to teach children God’s word. God knew the children would act up and made Sunday school teachers with patience and grace to guide them when they step out of line in class. He also made Sunday school teachers with a touch of discretion to know when the stories of a child may be real or imagined. God knew this person would need to be...

Keep Reading

Here’s to the Friends Who Don’t Hide Their Messy Parts

In: Friendship, Motherhood
Two women sit in a field with arms around each other

To the friend who invited me over without picking her house up beforehand . . . thank you.  You had no way of knowing, but I’ve been especially weighed down by the feeling of “I can’t keep up” lately—and when I walked into your beautiful home and saw dishes in the sink and laundry scattered here and there, I let out the deepest exhale I didn’t even realize I was holding in.  Because seeing your mess? Your less-than-perfect? It didn’t make me think any differently of you, but it did allow me to give myself the grace I desperately needed....

Keep Reading

This Is a Mom’s Brain in the Middle of the Night

In: Living, Motherhood
Woman looking at smartphone in the middle of the night

Dear husband, let me introduce you to your wife, insomnia edition. You see me not sleeping. You see me “playing” on my phone. Here’s what my brain is actually doing . . .  It’s 2 a.m., I wake up thinking, “I need to make an appointment” (it can be as mundane and stupid as a haircut or more importantly, a specialist appointment for one of the kids). I try to go back to sleep, promising myself I will remember. Lying there, I tell myself I won’t forget. I will remember, don’t worry. Fifteen minutes go by . . . On...

Keep Reading

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

In: Grief, Living, Loss
Small dog with head hanging out car window, color photo

Our dog Carlos has slowed down considerably within the last few months. He’s always been outspoken and opinionated–a typical firstborn trait–and to hear him snoring most of the day and tolerating things he normally wouldn’t tolerate (i.e. being carried from place to place by my son, forklift-style) put me on notice that he’s in the fourth quarter. Carlos looks and acts like an Ewok from the Star Wars franchise. According to Wikipedia, Ewoks are clever, inquisitive, and inventive. Carlos checks all three boxes. As a puppy, we tried crate training, but it never took. It wasn’t for lack of trying....

Keep Reading

Her Future Will Not Be My Broken Past

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hold hands by water, silhouette photo

Forty years ago, you were an innocent child. You were brought into this world for a purpose. Your innocence is robbed before kindergarten by a trusted relative. You are broken and bruised by those entrusted to protect you. You are extremely emotional in your childhood, but no one listens to understand. As you grow into your teenage years, emotions are bottled up out of fear. You lean into promiscuous behavior because that is the only way you know how to get men to love you. Because of abuse that no one took you out of, you stay around those who...

Keep Reading

Mom’s Special Recipe Means More This Year

In: Grown Children, Living
Bowl full of breadcrumbs and celery, color photo

Three weeks before Easter, my family and I stood in the hallway talking to a team of doctors whom we had flagged down. We were anxiously inquiring about my mom, who was in the ICU on life support. We hadn’t been able to connect with the doctors for over 48 hours, so it was important for us to check in and see what was going on. The head doctor began discussing everything they had observed in the scans and what it meant for my mom’s quality of life. Every word made our hearts break. The doctor continued to talk about...

Keep Reading

I’m a Mom Who Reads and is Raising Readers

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom with infant daughter on bed, reading a book, color photo

Since childhood, I’ve been lost in a world of books. My first true memory of falling in love with a book was when my mom read aloud Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. With each voice she used, I fell deep into the world of imagination, and I’ve never seemed to come up for air. My reading journey has ebbed and flowed as my life has gone through different seasons, but I’ve always seemed to carry a book with me wherever I went. When I entered motherhood and gave my whole life over to my kids, I needed something that...

Keep Reading

You Have to Feel before You Can Heal

In: Living
Depressed woman in bed

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.” -Cheryl Strayed How do you heal? You let the pain pass through you. You feel your feelings....

Keep Reading

I Didn’t Know How Much I Needed Other Mothers

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Two mom friends smiling at each other

I read somewhere the other day that when a child is born, a parent is too. In my first few months being a mother, I’m learning just how odd that sentiment is. In an instant, I became someone new. Not only that, but I became part of a group I didn’t realize existed. That sounds wrong. Of course, mothers existed. But this community of mothers? I had no idea. It took us a long time to get where we are today. Throughout our journey with infertility, I knew in my heart I was meant to be a mother. I knew that...

Keep Reading

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading