For those of you who studied philosophy, you may be wondering how German philosopher Martin Buber could possibly relate to in-laws, and for those of you didn’t, stick with me. It’s more interesting than you might think. But first I want to tell you three little stories. The names are changed but the stories are real.
Story One. My friend Barbara revealed during a recent conversation that she prefers to keep her son-in-law emotionally at arm’s length.
“While I love my son-in-law, I never want to put my daughter in a position where she feels she could not leave her husband because of my husband’s and my attachment to him. I wouldn’t want her to feel that she is breaking up the entire family, ” she said.
Story Two. My friend Jeff told me that he wanted to speak to his daughter about his son and his daughter’s brother, Jared. Jeff is worried because Jared is becoming attached to a religious sect that he (Jeff) doesn’t approve of. When I suggested that his daughter’s husband might have some insight into the situation, he responded that he was not comfortable with his son-in-law, the situation did not involve him and that this was “a family matter.”
Story Three. My friend Marie told me that she and her husband don’t want to get too close to their daughter’s new partner. They loved her former husband and were very hurt when the young couple broke up. They don’t want to go through the pain of loosing another son-in-law.
While all these positions are understandable, in each case, the daughter or son-in-law is not equally valued and loved as those born into the family. The implication is that they are not fully part of the family and as a result have second class status. Read More