So, my middle daughter of 3 is getting married in 12 days. This is the first wedding we’ve made, and it’s been quite an-eye opening experience. My question is - what goes into being a good father-in-law? I’ve never had to deal with male children until this point!
He’s a good kid - treats my daughter well, very attentive to her, nice, serious, has a great sense of humor, and we share many common interests. He’s stayed with us almost every Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath) since before they were engaged. I like him.
I know I’m not supposed to be his friend, but I don’t want to be overly formal, either. He’s already comfortable around us, I think.
My husband is a good FIL, he treats our SIL as he would treat a younger friend, gives advice when asked and doesn’t butt in, otherwise. We have grown to love him like a son. Give it time to grow on you, if your daughter loves him he must be okay, right?
It’s just that when we first met him, and while they were dating (they dated for exactly one year before getting engaged), I asked him all manner of questions, some of which were fairly personal. I just wanted to make sure that he knew what he wanted to do with his life, and was serious enough to get married. Once they’re married, all that is my daughter’s worry. I guess I’ll have to learn to bite my tongue every once in a while.
Funny thing - the first time we met him was at a restaurant for dinner. He was in the IDF at the time, and came straight from work - so he had both his rifle and pistol with him, and he was in uniform. I joked with him that it was supposed to be the other way around, that the FIL was supposed to have the weapons.
Just the fact that you like him already puts you in the “good FiL” camp. If I may be nosy, do you like his family too? The inlaws of one of my brothers (including the wife herself) are from a different planet from my family; the inlaws of the other… we might as well have been family before we officially were. I think it doesn’t take any kind of genius to understand I like the second situation a lot better
My FIL was wonderful, but that came mostly from the fact that he was just a good guy all around, so I’m guessing in that area, you won’t have a problem. We just had a comfortable relationship. We could sit down and have a beer together and talk about sports, the weather, the kids, or just enjoy the silence of each other. That’s something that was established well before the wedding, so I’m sure you will be fine.
I didn’t ask him that directly, but I did ask him what he was going to study in university, what type of job he would look for after he graduates, if he was taking marriage seriously, if he was going to take good care of my daughter even if things don’t go smoothly. I also made it clear that while we will help them financially when we’re able, we are not going to give them a check every month, or pay their rent, or any of that stuff.
His parents are wonderful and sweet people, and despite the fact that they live 6 thousand miles away, we have a great relationship. I can’t imagine how weddings were put together without WhatsApp, Google Docs, and email. Apparently their plan is to move here to Israel after they retire.
I can only tell you what I like about my father-in-law (I am a woman.)
He treats me as a separate individual from his son and we have our own shared interests. When the weather is nice, we usually go for a walk in the woods every Friday, just the two of us. We talk about all kinds of things, some shared interests are philosophy and nonprofit management. He teaches me a bit about his own work… Business. He takes me out to lunch regularly.
He treats me like his own kid. When I was sick in the hospital a couple of years ago due to a serious gall bladder infection, not only were he and his wife at my bedside, they were up until 3am researching gall bladder surgery, and grilling the poor surgeon the next day about the planned procedure. It was entirely unnecessary, but adorable. What it did was raise my expectations about what parents should be. For contrast, my mother’s reaction to my almost death was to wonder if she should get her own gall bladder checked out.
I have no relationship with my bio Dad or mother. I effectively have no parents and he’s the closest I’ve got to a father. I don’t like to call him that because I have baggage, but I don’t mind when he introduces myself as my father, as he did to all the doctors in the hospital. I don’t know how your SIL’s relationship with his own parents might influence his expectations of you. With him, I sort of feel like I have a parent for the first time in my life.
But the biggest thing, to me, is being treated as an individual rather than an extension of my husband.
I was gonna add this to my post. We have helped both our married kids financially. Early on Mr.Wrekker decided not to set it up as loans, instead we called it gifts. We didn’t want there to be animosity about ‘owing’ us. But, of the the 2 the SIL took his own initiative and paid us back when he came into a small windfall. Mr.Wrekker has a renew ed respect for him because of that action.
Son-of-a-wrek and wife struggle with their finances so we continue to help when we can. Always calling it gifts. I find the DIL harder to deal with. Only because she has a strange personality. She has barely a relationship with her own parents, so we don’t push. I worry she needs more than she’s getting from us, I am not sure how to fix this, but I try. And we keep the door open at all times.
The best part of kids-in-law are those sweet, sweet grandbabies!!
I’ll tell you what makes my husband a little uncomfortable with my father, not that it’s necessarily bad, all of it. He (or my uncles) will come over and ask “how is work”, with a series of follow up questions. I think they are just chatting. My husband still feels like he’s having that first dinner all over again 25 years later. They’ll ask, “when are you going to organize the garage”, “do you like the paint” or other house-related questions. My husband reads them as criticisms of the home maintenance. My husband feels they are too harsh to me.
I think, as you said, bite your tongue sometimes. Try not to be critical, and keep things cordial. If you feel that you are connecting as friends, follow those strings. Build a strong family connection, and worry less about what color paint they have chosen, or what type of clothes they dress the baby in.