Do you enjoy your relationship with your in-laws?
Now that many of us are freer to gather in family groups, you may be spending more time with your children and grandchildren. That would also mean you’re going to spend time with your son-in-law or daughter-in-law as well.
Relationships with in-laws are often filled with potential landmines. They were raised in a different culture, a different belief system, a different economic reality. They have this or that habit you hate and which you taught your own children not to do. They use language that makes you uncomfortable or aren’t as responsible as you would like. Being with them sets your teeth on edge.
But with concerted effort and a dose of human kindness, these tricky relationships can be healthy and enjoyable.
Here are some ways to enhance your relationship with your son-in-law or daughter-in-law:
Remember Your Child Chose Them
When you take note of irritating habits or behaviors, remember that your child chose to live his or her life with this person. There must have been good reasons your child chose to love this person. Look for positive aspects of their life and let them know you appreciate the way they show a strong work ethic or the way they spend time with their children. There is always something positive to note when we look for good things rather than focusing on problems.
Your young in-law is part of the family now, not just a cumbersome addition. Treat them like family. Welcome them into your home and family events. Let them know you enjoy them and are thankful they joined your family. One positive gesture can overcome uncomfortable parts of your time together.
Make an Effort to Know Them
Everyone loves having someone show an interest in their life. Ask questions and learn about their upbringing, their family members, their gifts and their dreams. Sometimes a simple conversation and some intentional listening can change a relationship for the better.
Refrain from Comparing
It may be true that an earlier boyfriend or girlfriend captured your heart, but it’s unfair to hold your current in-law to the standard of an earlier love. Don’t compare your in-law to anyone else who came before. Look for the positive attributes and traits in this person and let them know you appreciate them.
Although it may be easier to overlook a person newer to the family, you’ll be glad for the improvement in your in-law relationship if you invite them to coffee, lunch or a day of shopping. No one likes to be left out and everyone appreciates a genuine invitation to share in the family fun.
Sometimes it’s harder to know what to buy for someone new to the family. But you’ll be rewarded for taking the extra effort to learn about your in-laws preferences and show them you care by giving generously. Often a gift of time or sharing skills is just as appreciated as a costly gift item. Teach them to make a favorite recipe or share your skill in home repair with them.
Make your in-law welcome when you see them. Every time. A genuine smile, a quick hug, a pat on the shoulder—all these gestures show you accept them and are glad to see them. Just think of ways that make you comfortable with others, and offer them to the new family member.
If you’ve ever experienced being the new person in a group or in a family, you’ll remember how awkward and uncomfortable it can be. Give your young in-law the benefit of the doubt and get past the differences. Embrace learning to know them and then move on to including them fully in your family life.