Boys are generally a lot of trouble, but after all the scraped knees, fistfights and missed curfews, there's a huge bonus for parents of male children: You don't have to pay for their weddings!
However, that doesn't mean there's nothing for you to do before your son gets hitched. Your list of chores and expenditures is going to be much different from the bride's parents, and your big to-dos won't involve caterers, florists or wedding dresses. That doesn't mean every decision and conversation is going to be easy. You'll need to come to terms with your true feelings about your boy's bride, assess your financial situation and maybe even make plans for a future vacation to recover from the stress!
Click over to the next page to learn what your son's big day has to do with that crazy aunt you see just once a decade.
You don't have to discuss your crazy Aunt Janice's numerous run-ins with law, her questionable taste in men or her unbearably tacky lawn ornaments, but you should probably disclose her clinical depression. And the fact that she's a hoarder and a cancer survivor.
We all have family skeletons, and while you don't have to open all your kin's closets, it's important to reveal any medical-related issues, especially any diseases that are or could be hereditary. Your son's wife is going to be the mother of your grandchildren, so it's only fair that she knows what she's getting into.
Of course, you can also point out the thick head of hair your husband still sports -- good traits are important, too.
If you have the inclination and the funds to make a down payment on your son and daughter-in-law's first home, do it. But don't break the bank and set yourself up for financial ruin.
It's a once-in-a-lifetime event, sure, but "lifetime" is the operative word here, so make sure you keep enough in the bank to comfortably live out the rest of yours. Your son and his new wife have decades to build and acquire their assets, and while it's true they could probably use the help, they'll be OK without it. You managed to get by without a massive donation from your parents, and they will, too.
Your eventual demise is never a fun topic, but you and your husband need to discuss who gets what when the time comes, and your future daughter-in-law should be included in your plans. You don't have to split your children's inheritance with her, but if there's something specific she likes or that you think she should have, change your will to see that she gets it. It can be anything from an old quilt to your car or even the dog, but leaving a little something specific for her will let her know you care and will make her feel loved after you're gone. What's more, it'll speak volumes to your son!
You probably have one or more appropriate suits, tuxes or dresses stashed away in your wardrobe, but it's not a bad idea to splurge on something special for the big day. Even though your son is the one getting married, you should still look your best, and nothing will spiff you up like a swanky new outfit. Few in attendance will know you splurged on the clothes, but you'll feel better -- and look better -- in new threads. Besides, many parents tend to sneak in an extra vacation or two once the kids are married off and permanently out of the house, and a new tux or cocktail dress is sure to get plenty of use at the nightly black-tie dinners on that Caribbean cruise you'd like to take next year. (And if you ask us, you deserve a getaway!)
Perhaps it was the low-cut dress she was wearing the first time you met her, or the fact that she used to date your son's older brother. Whatever the issue is, it's time to get over it. If you're not on good terms with your kid's soon-to-be Mrs., try to make amends.
Like it (and her) or not, she's your son's life partner, and any lingering hostility will only strain and damage the relationship between you and your boy, his wife and your future grandchildren. Even if you're all on good terms, do what you can to strengthen the bond. She's family now, so make her feel at home.
HowStuffWorks learns about the free-range parenting philosophy and talks to the movement's founder Lenore Skenazy.