Criticism never really brings the change you want, so don't waste your time and energy. Instead listen to H. Jackson Brown, Jr.. He said "Let the improving and refining of your OWN life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others."
Are you committed to not being critical? If so here are ten things you SHOULD say to your son-in-law:
1. "Is SHE treating YOU right?"
This shows your son-in-law that you know he is a good match for your daughter. And that you have faith in him. Not long after my youngest daughter married, I asked my son-in-law this question. The answer was "Yes!" as I had expected. My daughter cracked up because when his mother called, she asked her a similar question: Is he treating you right?
2. "Wow- this is amazing!"
Acknowledge the good things he has done such as improvements around the house, fixing the car or teaching the kids a new skill. Always be on the lookout for things your son-in-law has done. Make sure to show your approval. Everyone enjoys recognition when they've done something well. (Be sincere because hollow praise is just that- hollow.)
3. "Don't give up."
Support your son-in-law as he strives to improve. Don't focus on what he hasn't done yet. Rather, offer words of encouragement and know in time he'll achieve his goals. You'll be glad you were not a stumbling block to his progress. Instead you will share his joy knowing that you stood behind him.
4." _ (insert your daughter's name) never seemed happier."
Give credit where credit is due. Noticing the positive influence your son-in-law has on your daughter will encourage that positive influence to continue. This will lead to a healthier relationship that fosters your daughter's successful marriage.
5. "Can you help me out with ...?"
Seeking advice is one of the best compliments you can pay. Ask your son-in-law for help or advice in areas where he excels. Make sure that you don't become a burden by over doing it. His wife and kids may take all the extra time he has. However, an occasional request shows you recognize his strengths and sends a positive message.
The holidays should never be a time of dread because of YOU. Before making holiday plans, ask what your adult children have in mind. Consider that your son-in-law will want to spend time with his parents and catch up with his siblings and their families. Try celebrating before or after the special day. The main thing is communication and a willingness to not always have your own way.
7. "Dinner's on us."
Young families don't always have dining out in the budget. Providing a gift card to his favorite restaurant is a real treat. Beware! You don't want to send the message, "I know you can't provide, so I will." As a birthday or anniversary gift, your kindness will be appreciated.
8. "Can I watch the kids for date night?"
Offer to watch the kids to give your son-in-law one on one time with his wife. This is a win-win situation. You get to spend special time with your grandkids and you're doing a favor for the parents. Couples need regular time alone together, especially as their family grows. Show that you are supportive of the marriage relationship. Make sure to plan fun activities your grandchildren enjoy. This way everyone will look forward to date night.
If your son-in-law lives in another city or state, offer to Skype or FaceTime with the kids. This, again, is a win-win situation. You'll spend time getting to know grandchildren better. Mom and dad have some regular free time even while living far away from family.
10. "Thank you for being such a great father to my grandchildren."
Never forget that your grandchildren are the wonderful people they are, in part, because of your son-in-law. Letting him know that you sincerely appreciate him will boost his esteem as a father and may encourage him to want to do even better.
In the words of H. Jackson Brown, Jr., "Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you."This applies to your son-in-law. When he married your daughter, he became one of your children. Keep this in mind and his achievements will amaze you. One day, when his children marry, you may even notice him following your example.
Kathryn Cron has a bachelor's degree in English and 14 years experience as an educator. She has lived in three states as well as a short time in Eastern Europe. She is a mom, a grandmother and most recently a new wife.