When two people marry, they unite not only themselves, but also two completely different sets of parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. When this happens, it isn’t unusual for tensions to arise and for you as a new parent-in-law to feel uncomfortable and uncertain about how to get along with your son or daughter-in-law.
However, now that your new son or daughter-in-law is part of the family, embrace them as they are, and work towards maintaining a harmonious relationship. While it may be difficult at times, it is not at all impossible. To help you along, here are some tips to make it work:
Accept Your Child’s Decisions
Most parents have certain standards for their children and as they grow older, these standards may or may not change. At times, these standards can be set too high or seem too impractical. It is important to understand that your own marriage should not be the benchmark for your children to follow or match. Setting standards for something that is entirely out of your control will only lead to disappointment. Understand that your children are individuals who have a right to choose whom they want to spend the rest of their lives with.
Accept that your children are mature enough to be responsible in love and able to identify what's best for them.
Nonetheless, if you feel that your child has made a mistake, go ahead to state the reasons for believing so. If your child disagrees with you, know you've done what you could, and learn to accept their reasons for the decision.
There are things that you may not seem to understand or refuse to accept, but allowing yourself to get to know your son- or daughter-in-law better, may lead to a surprising and positive relationship between you, your child and their spouse.
If a behaviour or quirk of your son- or daughter-in-law annoys or ruffles your feathers, you can bring it up in private with your child or their spouse. However, in this instance it is always a good thing to be diplomatic. Just as you would be upset if a new acquaintance criticised you, your child-in-law may also feel upset if you bring your points up in a critical or negative manner. Be polite and state the reasons for your discomfort in a rational and logical manner, and be willing to accept their replies in turn.
Refrain from lodging unnecessary complaints to your child about their spouse’s behaviour before seeking an amicable way to broach the topic. Try to understand that the habits and behaviour may not seem negative to your child-in-law, and as such your behaviour or habits may in turn seem strange or awkward to others as well.
Give Them Space
Hold yourself back from interfering with the lives and practices of your child and their spouse. Do not impose rigid regulations for how your child and in-law should behave in their own home or in raising their children.
Keep a firm distance from their domestic situations and allow them to come to their own decisions, unless they ask you for advice. Even if you feel strongly against their methods, allow them to explore on their own. If it is truly a mistake, at least they will learn from it.
Respect Their Decisions
Above all, respect the decisions of your children, allow them the room to grow and experience life on their own ground and at their own pace. After all, love is a mystery and may not always be clear to third parties. Be polite, respectful and kind and in turn your child-in-law is likely to reciprocate.
- Never be too quick to judge, allow yourself and your child-in-law time to grow on each other with mutual respect and courtesy.
- Understand that your children’s choices are theirs to make and learning to accept it will help keep you and your children on good terms no matter the outcome of their relationships.
- Treat your children-in-law the same way you would have wanted your own parents-in-law to treat you.
Article first appeared in Families for Life (hyperlink www.familiesforlife.sg) on Sep 2015. Republished with permission.
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