Advice on Polish Mother-in-Laws
We all know the jokes about Poles and how wide spread they are throughout America and other countries. We all know the jokes about mother-in-laws, so to have a Polish mother-in-law surely is setting yourself up for a lot of hard work. Or is it? Polish mother-in-laws can be likened to Irish and Italian mothers; loving, religious and generous. They will either welcome you with open arms as a new "son" pinching your cheeks and giving you the best silverware and crockery in the house or else, will disapprove of their daughter's choice of man, however this is more likely to come from protective fathers rather than mothers so you are safe there. The traditional image of a Mama in Italy can also reflect in a Polish mother-in-law. She is often central to the hub of the family, cares for her grandchildren rather than them going off to nursery of childcare and takes care of all necessary housework. This image is very traditional however and it must be remembered that all mother-in-laws are individual and may react to your marriage differently. Generally however if you remain respectful to her and her daughter and show your love then you will do well in a Polish family which are very welcoming and warm.
Flowers are the best bet to impress, polite manners and offering to be helpful, but not imposing. Quite often time is a factor in a good relationship with the wife's mother. Time allows for the family to unite and for everyone to become accustomed with one another although saying this, my mother has been married to my father for twenty-eight years and his mother and my mother still get under each others' skin! Perhaps it's a generation thing, or it may just be that they both have stubborn personalities. They do however respect one another and my Grandmother often praises my mother for her hard work and for the way she raised me and my mother often helps my grandmother with things like hemming the curtains and hanging pictures on the walls. Polish women can be quite stubborn and interfering. Heed this warning, as if you just let it go over your head, like water off a duck's back, you may find life is a lot easier.
Quite often mother-in-laws in Poland are addressed as "Mama" or Mom like you would address your own mother. In the olden days and in some villages to this day, when a woman married a Polish man she would move in with him and his parents and all live together. That was the tradition especially in rural areas and small remote villages and is still practised in some areas to this day. Therefore, it is important to respect and get along with your mother-in-law because she bonds the family and most thoughtful women respect that.
On Mother's day in Poland, which is the 26th June, it is custom for men and women to give flowers to their mother-in-law, as well as their mothers because once married, a mother-in-law should be treated as if she were your own mother. Rather than celebrating birthdays in Poland, many people celebrate their name day called Imieniny. Although the custom of celebrating birthdays is now growingly popular the importance of name days remains present. On a mother-in-law's name day it is custom to buy her flowers or treat her as you would on a birthday with presents and a cake.
I hope this advice is helpful and that you have long and happy relationships. Remember that a little compromise and understanding goes a long way in any family whether American or Polish.