Trading a son-in-law for a son.
I have five sons and one daughter. The perfect ratio.
Not because she is any trouble. With my wife on one side of me at the dinner table, there is only one other spot open at the table…and she owns it. My sons? Meh, let them battle for the other spots (see my article on How to Parent Using the Seniority Method).
Moving on, she’s the baby of the family and has always been protected; the rights of being my only girl and the youngest. Here’s where the story goes a little awry…
One day, while away at college, my daughter up and met a boy. I know, right! Not only did she meet a boy, she and this boy hit it off, meaning in my language they were really digging each other (my mind resides somewhere in the late-70s to 80s).
She and said boy, okay, actually “M-A-N,” decided to start dating exclusively. As a father, in every traditional sense of the word, I offered a number of jealous comments about this man to my sons, my wife, and also my daughter (no bueno, that’s Spanish for no good).
The comments were not an actual reflection of the man or his character, they were a reflection of a dad’s feelings about his daughter actually being attached to someone other than her first love (me!).
Well, the jokes and jabs continued and my sons tended to join in on the jab-fest. After all, their father was initiating the hazing and it was fun at times. Fun isn’t the right word, it was mean. Yeah, mean, that’s the right word.
Luckily for this dad, I married a woman with exponentially more common sense and compassion than myself (sound familiar guys?). At some point, my wife was able to reflect back to me the way we were treating my daughter’s boyfriend.
Truthfully, some of the self-realizations were very uncomfortable for me. The kind of realizations which make you grimace and hang your head. You would never let someone get away with making the comments about other members of your family.
I did something very difficult for me; taking my fault to heart and figuring out how to change and repair the damage done.
During this, my daughter and her man decided to get engaged. She had upped the pot and raised my bet (we live in Las Vegas, can you tell). The wager was back to me. I decided to lay down my cards and encourage my sons to do the same thing. This lay-down had a wonderful result.
My daughter won. My daughter and her man won. My daughter, her man, and her brothers won. My daughter, her man, her brothers, and her mom and dad won. Our FAMILY Won.
Behind the scenes I went to my sons and told them that the teasing and jabs needed to stop. I apologized to them for setting a bad example and leading them down a bad road. We talked about their sister and how we should proceed. We talked about how important it was to make her fiancé part of the family and love him as much as we loved each other.
I was getting a son-in-law, but more than that, I was getting another son and my sons were getting another brother.
My sons took our little discussion to heart. I took our little discussion to heart. Huge fatherly sigh.
My son-in-law recently graduated from Air Force Basic Training. He was in the top 10% of his class! This week, he will graduate from Air Force tech-school and start his career in the military.
My daughter has been living at home the past few months, waiting for her husband to finish tech-school, while incubating their first child (big grandpa grin).
I’m truly proud of him and how he’s working to create a good present and promising future for his family.
To my son-in-law: Thank you for your service, for the way you treat my daughter, and for being such an amazing SON!