I married my husband at 21 and became a Christian at age 33. I never had a Christian mentor and could have used the help of an older Christian sister when my mother passed away when I was 42. As I revisited the story of Ruth, I realized I want to be a better Christian mentor to my own daughter, daughter-in-law and to other Christian young women.
If you’re unfamiliar with Ruth and Naomi’s story in the book of Ruth, Naomi had been a widow for 10 years when both of her married sons passed away. Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem and since both of Naomi’s daughter-in-laws were Moabites, Ruth instructs the childless younger women to return to the homes of their own people. Orpah does, but Ruth insists on staying with Naomi:
And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
Ruth 1:15-18 (ESV)
Each time I read Ruth, I wonder what made Ruth decide to stay with her mother-in-law. Was it her kindness? Was she just feeling sorry for her? Had Naomi been such a good mother-in-law that Ruth desired to go with her instead of going back to her Moabite people?
I would only want to go with a woman who was kind and upright. As a child/teenager there was so much turmoil in my own family, so I didn’t have good examples. I married into a Christian family, but I’ve only seen favoritism and badmouthing of ex-daughter-laws which made me bitter. Rereading Ruth has shown me the kind of mother-in-law I would like to be and how God has directed me to be.
Titus 2:3-5 shows the responsibilities of females in the church body:
Here’s my list of rules for mother-in-laws. Please feel free to share any advice/rules that have helped you in your mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship.
1. Pray for your daughter-in-law.
2. Always call ahead before visiting.
3. Do not be intrusive.
Don’t call too much, visit too much or do things without asking.
4. Don’t be critical of your daughter-in-law.
How she raises her children, keeps her house, her cooking, etc. is her business.
5. NEVER criticize your daughter-in-law to your son or other family members.
6. Do not gossip about your daughter-in-law.
7. Don’t show favoritism – this includes your own children, grandchildren, and other daughter-in-laws.
8. NEVER tell your grandchildren that their mom or dad is wrong.
9. Love and praise your daughter-in-law.
10. Do kind things for your daughter-in-law.
11. Always include your daughter-in-law. Schedule special times with her, other daughter-in-law(s) and your daughter(s). Going out to eat or getting coffee together, a simple day of baking, getting manicures, etc. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
12. If your son divorces, be kind to your daughter-in-law, especially if there are children. She will ALWAYS be the mother of your son’s children. NEVER talk badly about an ex-daughter-in-law, especially in front of your grandchildren.