Helping your son-in-law feel like part of the family is really a win-win-win operation. To begin you want your son-in-law to be happy because his happiness is likely to be reflected back on the whole family. If he remains shy and standoffish then he can be a real hindrance to the full harmony of the family. You would probably also like to help your son-in-law feel like part of the family because you instinctively know that when he’s happy, your daughter is happy too and that’s certainly important to you. Finally, helping your son-in-law to feel like part of the family means that you really can enjoy the fact that you have not lost a daughter you have gained a son.
There are lots of ways to go about helping your son-in-law to feel like part of the family, but my experience has convinced me that these are four very simple but very effective tools that can help you to bring about that happy result you are seeking.
Talk to him about himself, not about your daughter. Sometimes parents fall into the trap of talking to their son-in-law primarily about their own daughter- how fun she is, how sweet,how athletic and so forth. While this can make for easy conversation on the surface it doesn’t let your son-in-law find his way slowly into your family. You need to give your son-in-law a chance to talk about who he is, what he likes to do, what his hopes and dreams for the future might be. You aren’t looking to invade his space or make him avoid you the next time you get together. Your questions, gently offered, can show a real, warm interest in your son-in-law not just as the husband of your daughter or father of your grandchildren but as someone you want to know better. Reaching out respectfully and leading your son-in-law to talk more about himself than your daughter can be a way help your son-in law feel like part of the family
Ask him to fix something. You don’t have to wait til your car breaks down to ask your new son-in-law to fix something. In fact the idea of welcoming a son-in-law into the family by putting pressure on him to perform in some way is seldom a risk free proposition. What you want to do is do a little investigating, ask a few questions, discover your son-in-law’s strengths and weaknesses and then when the time is right ask for his help fixing something or helping to resolve a problem. He doesn’t even have to be successful , just knowing that you trust him to give something a good try builds mutual trust. Besides when you ask someone to do something for you, you are simultaneously ending their status as a guest or visitor. If you want your son-in-law to feel part of the family find his strengths and fit them and him into the family picture. Another win-win situation.
Make a point to learn and recall his favorites. Everyone likes a little personal recognition, including a new son-in-law who is anxious to feel a part of the family. What is more welcoming than having members of the family know and cater to your favorites. Asking your son-in-law about his favorite baseball team, television show, golf course and preparing his favorite sandwich, dessert or beverage tell him that his important enough for you to both remember and care to honor his favorites. He’s not just someone stopping in, someone you don’t know much about. You know his favorites and are happy to recall them together because he is a part of your growing family. .
Treat him like your own son. There is a very real distinction between the way people treat their own children and everyone else. To help your son-in-law feel part of the family requires you to do all in your power to reduce that distinction as much as possible. And this is not always easy to do. Treating your son-in-law like your son means seeing his good points and bad and continuing to accept him just the way he is. It means agreeing with him wholeheartedly when you think he is right but also being willing to discuss differences reasonably and with respect. Mostly it means being willing to expand your circle of love and caring to include one more person and to be willing to show that affection and consideration openly and faithfully.
Welcoming a new son-in-law and making him feel like a real part of your family is not a simple task but it can be the best and most enduring gift you will ever offer.
Treat him like he’s your son