Once a man and woman decides to get married, they both become son-in-law and daughter-in-law to their respective parents and their parents will become co-fathers-in-law and co-mothers-in-law to the couples. If the man and woman have siblings they become sister-in-law and brother-in-law to each other’s siblings. There are also cousin-in-laws.
The first known use of in-law was in 1894 and means a relative by marriage. Being an in-law means you have the same rights and responsibilities that the biological person has. For instance, a sister-in-law has the same rights and duties a woman’s biological sister would have.
Generally, co-mothers-in-laws have been stereotyped as bossy, meddlesome, troublesome, authoritative, controlling, overbearing etc. Tales of mothers-in-law’s treatment to their daughters-in-law is so bad that some women make it a prayer point to marry a man whose mother is dead. Notwithstanding this perception, everyone has a role to play in a newly formed family. Most problems with the in-laws stems from a place of misplaced priority, unacceptability and ignorance. I say ignorance because each in-law is not aware of their respective duty that will create peace and harmony in the family. In some cases, there are already deep rooted bitterness and dislike amongst family members before the introduction of a new member via marriage.
The parents-in-law are not meant to cause mayhem in the newly formed family where both spouses are still trying to understand each other. The role of parents-in-law is not make exorbitant requests or request for money or expect money from the newly formed family. There should be an understanding that a newly formed family needs money to settle their lives, purchase household items and manage their home. Should the newly formed family be buoyant enough to assist, the in-laws should not expect it to be as enormous as it used to be prior to the marriage because new responsibilities by virtue of the union has been added.
The role of a son-in-law is not limited to giving money or other forms of gifts to his parents-in-law. He also has a role to be attentive to his parents-in-law, discuss with them, show concern in their affairs, always receive them warmly and respect them. A daughter-in-law has a duty to show care, love and be respectful to her parents-in-law. A sister-in-law and brother-in-law have a duty to promote peace and harmony, be respectful and loving and also render assistance with domestic chores where he or she is younger than the couple and in cases where he or she is older, she or he has a duty to render good sisterly or brotherly advise to the couple.
A father-in-law can assist his new daughter-in-law or son-in-law to understand every person in the family, what works with what and whom. He can intervene in case of misunderstandings or problems and also render fatherly advise to the couples on how to build a strong union and good future. He should serve as a role model to his son-in-law by living by example in terms of leadership and in terms of being the head of the family.
A mother-in-law can assist her new daughter-in-law or son-in-law in being peaceful, tolerant and understanding. She can also render motherly advise on how to have a good home and be a role model to her daughter-in-law and son-in-law. A mother-in-law also has a duty to assist the daughter-in-law during and after the delivery of a new born baby.