You and your spouse have agreed not to use physical punishment on your children but your in laws start complaining that the children aren’t disciplined enough and they mention that you are too soft as parents.
Your father-in-law wants to take the kids out for ice-cream even though it’s way past their bedtime. You say no, but he then starts grumbling about ‘spending quality time with his grandchildren’. You know that if they have a late night, tomorrow morning is going to be a real struggle getting them out of bed.
You tell your children that their TV time is up, according to the house rules, but your in laws say that you should not be so strict. You feel your authority is challenged by being contradicted in front of your child.
These three scenarios can happen to you regardless of whether you’re a new parent or about to celebrate your silver wedding anniversary. Parents-in-law can sometimes be a handful, but there are ways to manage the difficult situations they place you in and still maintain a positive relationship with them.
What You Can Do
- Accept and expect that personality conflicts will happen. Remember that all families go through this same process. Different generations have different ideas, and it is okay to listen to their opinions while retaining the right to disagree. Most of the time they mean well, even if they may not communicate their opinions in the most appropriate ways.
- Realize that you can maintain a civil relationship with your in-laws while not agreeing with them all the time. The key is learning to communicate this disagreement in a way that is respectful and polite. For example, try not to disagree with them in public so that they do not lose face.
- Don’t forget that as a parent, ultimately you need to make the decisions about how to raise your children. The priority should be to make decisions for the best of your children rather than to please your in-laws or parents.
- Ask their opinions and be open to ideas and criticism. They may be right sometimes. It takes a strong person to admit we’re wrong and to take on board constructive criticism.
- Be sensitive to their needs as well. The truth is that they play an important role in your child’s life and your child is a very important part of theirs. While you may not agree all the time, it is important that they be allowed to spend quality time with your children. Having great parents in law who are understanding and supportive is a blessing. Nevertheless, it is important to live harmoniously and work together well with them, while observing territorial boundaries and open communication. Remember, when all is said and done, they’re still a significant part of your family!
Having great parents in-law who are understanding and supportive is a blessing. Nevertheless, it is important to live harmoniously and work together well with them, while observing territorial boundaries and open communication. Remember, when all is said and done, they’re still a significant part of your family!
Did You Know?
If you’re afraid of your inlaws, you’re not alone. This is a surprisingly common phobia, and it’s called soceraphobia, which is defined as “a persistent, abnormal and unwarranted fear of parents-in-law” and causes countless people needless distress.