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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)

TITLE: No Duct Tape Necessary
By Dianne Janak


“Not that your barbeque was dry or anything, but you must try our family recipe for the perfect sauce.”

“Have you cleaned your ceiling fans? That’s why the babies sneeze all the time…”

“If you want to know what I think, I have a couple of hours tonight to talk.”

At times I amazed even myself with the invaluable amount of wisdom I readily dispensed at the mere mention of my adult children’s issues . It flowed freely without a thought, which could have been the problem. Thinking is apparently a good thing.

Yes, I’m a Mom-in-law now that my three daughters are all married. My dream to escape outside the box, breaking all stereotypical molds of Meddling Momma was a little compromised, I know.

But, my wise solutions seemed beyond my years. I was compelled to share it.

My paychecks , sad to say, were often sour looks, interruptions, and sometimes a walk-away as my precious jewels of profundity filled the air with a sweet fragrance of Mom-in-law brilliance. That was then.


At the suggestion of a few “insightful” friends, I joined CODA, a twelve-step group for codependents. I wondered if my adult children paid them, but opted not to investigate. Ignorance is bliss.

That was where I found the invaluable secret to world peace, or at least peace between in-laws of all ages and genders and cultures. It’s called the miracle of “NO CROSS-TALK.” I’m never cross so I doubted that would be a problem, but it has nothing to do with mood.

In a nutshell no “cross-talk” means:

1. No interruptions while someone else shares.
2.No unsolicited advice given or attempt at fixing someone else.
3.Focus on only yourself and how you are admitting you are powerless to fix you
and need God’s intervention.
4. Don’t even give Kleenex to a crier as it will stop the healing flow of tears.
5. Learn to listen with acceptance and no judgment. Help create a safe atmosphere for others to talk freely and work out their own predicaments.
After going to meetings for several months and practicing no cross-talk, I knew it was time to take it to the streets.

Imagine this. Try to, I know it’s hard. Mother-in-laws all over planet earth hushing up. Suddenly it is so quiet, we hear turtles breathe.

Married couples would actually have to deal with their own mistakes, and learn by failing. No advice to shun, so no need for caller I.D. Moving to other countries to escape the continual chatter of our well- intentioned hearts would not be necessary.

We actually start to work on our own stuff, and leave you to work on yours. Divorces and domestic abuse would freeze, as the mom-in-laws set the unspoken but lived- out example of listening instead of yapping. Changing rather than controlling. Was it possible?

No cross-talk is addictive. It was finally time for the experiment of a lifetime. Putting it into practice with my married children would be easy I daydreamed. I would then write a book, make millions, and move to Hawaii.

I thought perhaps it would help me with my new son-in-laws. At first they thought I was sick. As soon as I prepared them for my new direction, the phone started ringing.

Son-in-law #1: “Mom, we’re thinking about moving to another state with the grandchildren. I ‘m sure you will trust us to make that decision. Just pray ok?”

Son-in-law # 2: “Mom, we’re going to quit church. It’s just so hypocritical. I’m sure you understand.”

Son-in-law # 3: “ We both decided we need to see if we can live on love alone. Like you all did in the old days. We leave our jobs tomorrow.”

I sat there speechless, practicing my new skill. This was either a heavenly joke or an earthly set-up. I’m seriously thinking that perhaps the “no cross-talk” rule is good only for 12-step groups.

I mean come on. Get real. I called each of them back after stifling my well intentioned sage advice.

“Do you have a couple of hours? I have some things to say. And I don’t want any cross-talk, please.”

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This article has been read 681 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/15/08
I enjoyed your clever satire. Why, indeed, shouldn't our adult children and their mates receive the benefit of all our wisdom!
Debbie Wistrom05/15/08
You did this w/o being preachy. Your humor eased the tough spots.

I can appreciate your need to "help."

Good Job on topic as well.
Carol Sprock05/18/08
I appreciated the honest portrayal of yourself--good intentions and all. I was a bit thrown off after the list of rules when you went into a general stream of thought about no Meddling Mamas (love the alliteration). I'd been expecting the point of view to remain specific to your experience and was awaiting the first involvement with sons-in-law. What you said was excellent and kept the humorous outlook on the topic but just threw me off a bit. I like how you ended the piece with not wanting any cross-talk.
Jan Ackerson 05/19/08
Very good job with the voice. I love the bit about being able to hear turtles breathe--so funny!

I think you hit the balance just right.
Sharlyn Guthrie05/19/08
I love it! The advice seemed excellent for most situations, but I chuckled at how reality caused your human, mother-in-law-ly (new word)spirit to emerge once again. THis is very creative and well done.
Mariane Holbrook 05/21/08
You did such a good job with this and your touches of humor were right on target. I really liked this entry!!
Sara Harricharan 05/21/08
Lol! I love the idea of "No Duct-Tape necessary!) Cute, there's just the right touch of humor here and I loved the idea of "Crosstalk" Now there's something I can hold onto the next time I'm listening. Great job! I loved it. ^_^
Casey Chavez05/23/08
Hi Dianne, This is Jenny's sister...Casey. After reading some of your submissions, I decided to join.

You are really funny. I enjoyoed this post.
Betsy Markman05/23/08
Very good indeed!