How to Be a Good Parent In-Law

February 19, 2014 by

Couples frequently view their in-laws as a source of strain. I’ve also talked to parents who are stressed out and unsure how to be good in-laws to their child’s spouse. First and foremost, remember that your role as a parent-in-law is to support the success of your child’s marriage. Every action you take, every way you behave needs to be in service of helping your child leave you and cleave to their spouse.

Advice for Good In-Law Relationship

Don’t let your hurt feelings cause a rift.

A lot of issues between married couples and parents come up because of misunderstandings or hurt feelings. There will be unpleasantness from time to time. Be the older adult in the situation and practice acceptance and forgiveness. Don’t try to clear the air, instead let it go and spend time with your child’s spouse accepting them as a distinctive and worthy person.

Know that your child may adopt some new family traditions.

When your son or daughter marries, they are starting their own family and their own traditions. While you might feel hurt, don’t take it personally. Look for compromises. Talk to them about creating traditions you can share in. Don’t guilt-trip them, whine or complain. Years ago you wanted to create your own life with your spouse.  Respect their need to do the same.

Respect the autonomy of your child and their partner.

You may have ideas about your child’s marriage based on your own, but to remember that every relationship is different. Your child and their partner will figure out what works best for them. Avoid giving relationship advice unless it’s directly asked for, as unwanted advice may come across as criticism or disapproval.

Never ask your child to take sides.

Whatever you think of your child’s partner, don’t complain to your son or daughter about the person they married. This puts them in a tough position between two people that they love and when push comes to shove they will side with their partner. Unless you feel that their partner is truly endangering their wellbeing, it’s better not to say anything.

Give your child and your relationship with your child the best chance for success.  Accept and love their spouse. For every fault you see in them, look for five positives. Being a parent of grown children is a new chapter of modeling emotional intelligence and self-control.