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How to deal with in-laws


Suzi says:

Hello, Beth!

Ooh that’s a tricky one, indeed. The landscape has been challenging lately in terms of the family situation because both parents now work. That, plus the fact that it’s been harder and harder to find household help these days! So it’s a blessing that your in-laws were agreeable to letting you stay at their place.

Illustration by Eugene Cubillo

Illustration by Eugene Cubillo

But yes, rules, rules! I firmly believe that your husband should be the one to discuss the rules. After all, they are his parents, unless you have an exceptional relationship with them and are able to openly discuss even the most serious of topics without fear of them taking things the wrong way. Your hubby will be the best judge as to what’s a good approach to discuss rules with your in-laws.

Do take into consideration though that them being grandparents, they might like to “spoil” your kids a little bit. After all, it’s their opportunity to be able to show a relaxed kind of love for their grandkids as opposed to when they were raising their own kids. Discuss with your hubby a short set of rules and ask him to explain the reasons why in case the grandparents find them too strict. Let the grandparents also feel that they are not just rule followers but also rule implementers, and that your common goal is to be able to raise the kids in the best possible way. Also take into account their comments because they’ve already managed to raise their own children well and that they have a kind of wisdom that you can also benefit from.

Good luck, mommy! Wishing your family harmony and happiness!


Paolo says:

Hello and thanks for your letter.

It’s always a little bit complicated when dealing with grandparents and your kids on weekends, more so if its 24/7. Grandparents, and I’m speaking in broad generalizations here, love to “spoil” their grandkids whenever they can. It’s often that we share advice with co-parents here on how to best manage the usual extravagant gifts, ice cream treats, and extra attention that grandparents seem to relish giving kids. Often times these “treats” get in the way of your parenting style and disciplinary guidelines, but often times you also give way to the grandparents. It can be a bit of a concern if it’s something you have to deal with on more than just every other weekend.

Though I feel there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to this, I will offer my best advice though which is to start things off with a good “meeting” to sit down and talk about setting boundaries. I think the key really is figuring out the language that will best be able to communicate your needs and at the same time not offend your in-laws. Be inclusive, think of them as partners in raising your children, because that’s what they are. I can’t say how your in-laws will react to a talk like this but I feel it’s an important step to take to lay your cards on the table and speak plainly about how you can all work together to bring up the kids well. Honestly it’s too much of an important thing not to be open about. But like I said earlier, the key is to choose the “language” in communicating these concerns to your in-laws.

If the in-laws’ idea of getting along is going to be “our house, our rules,” then I think you have two choices—live with that as a reality of the situation or find another arrangement. There will be nothing more stifling and frustrating than not being able to do anything about things that concern raising your kids. Easier said than done, I know, but that is what I think and deep inside I think most parents will feel the same way. Laying your cards on the table from the get-go is exactly what might help to avoid this sticky situation, but I can’t stress enough how important it will be to set off in the right foot and frame of mind. Our parents and in-laws are our partners in raising our kids, and we shouldn’t see them as “enemies” of discipline and our own child-raising. Frictions are inevitable and bound to arise but if you start things off on the right foot, you will always be able to hit a “restart button” of sorts when things get a bit difficult. Good luck!