It’s an age-old question: are in-laws a help or a hindrance? I know we’ve all heard plenty of negative feedback in regards to in-laws, and the role they play (or don’t play) with our children. But is the hype true, are all in-laws evil? I’m not one hundred percent driven to answer yes or no on that question. In my personal experience with in-laws, I believe that everything depends on the attitudes of all parties involved. Sure, we have flaws, and at times personalities and convictions don’t mesh, but I do believe there is a benefit to creating a positive relationship with in-laws.
My husband and I have been married for over 10 years, and I have experienced many highs and lows on my relationship journey with my in-laws. Throughout all the mountains and valleys that have been placed in our paths over the years, I have discovered that there are many benefits to bridging gaps in the in-law union. I am by no means an expert on in-laws or relationships even for that matter, but I have found a few things that can help create a more harmonious connection between myself, my children, and my in-laws.
• Communication is Key-
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it a thousand times, communication is golden! If you don’t say it, how will anyone know? A couple of years ago my children’s school had a special day to honor the students’ Grandparents, it ended up being a pretty big shindig, with refreshments and a program. I made the mistake of assuming that my Mother-in-Law couldn’t attend because she works at a school across town, and I truly figured she wouldn’t be able to leave work to come to the Grandparent’s Day Celebration at my kiddo’s school. When my Mother-in-Law found out about the special event, (from another Grandmother that attended) she was crushed, and understandably so. I hadn’t even made her aware of the event, I just made the decision for her by keeping the information from her. Keep those lines of communication open, even if it doesn’t seem that important at the time, always keep in-laws included on any upcoming events, news, etc that pertains to your family.
• Set Boundaries-
I believe this is a great way to keep things very clear, and balanced with in-laws. Before the birth of my last two children, I established my wishes in regards to interaction with the baby, as well as my comfort level pertaining to company in my home-in advance with my husband, who in turn helped convey those desires to my in-laws. As well, now that my children are older, my husband and I have both set forth our guidelines, and rules that we have in place for our children, and our in-laws happily comply.
Plain and simple, respect is necessary on both sides of an in-law relationship. I have great respect for my Mother-in-Law, she did raise my husband, and he is the guy I married, so she has to be pretty great by default. I have learned things from my Mother-in-law that I cherish, (for one-how to make cream gravy, and homemade biscuits) and I appreciate the fact that she has insight, and can draw off of life experiences, and readily share a wealth of knowledge with me. We’ve also established a respect for each other within the differences of our parenting views and ideals. It’s definitely important to agree to disagree at times.
• Don’t Abuse or Use-
I am guilty of expecting an instant babysitter, especially living in close proximity of my in-laws. It is extremely crucial to not assume that in-laws are available 24-7, at my your every beck and call. Even though in-laws are Grandparents, that doesn’t mean that they always want to babysit, and they really are “allowed” to have a life of their own, apart from grandkids. On more than one occasion I have found myself feeling irritated that my Mother-in-Law had plans, and couldn’t keep my kids overnight. Yes, I admit that I have a tendency to be a little selfish, don’t we all? So, I remind myself frequently that both my Mom, and Mother-in-Law are allowed to have alone time, and they can say no, without any guilt-trips from me.
• Treat with TLC-
No matter how old we are, it’s always nice to receive attention, and a little something special on occasion. Remember your in-laws on their birthdays, anniversaries, mother’s and father’s day, and any other special time that comes around. I am oftentimes busy, and overlook important dates, but it is imperative that we remember to recognize and pamper our in-laws. When my in-laws know that we care about them it can make the bond stronger, and show that we (children included) are willing to invest interest in their lives, as well as demonstrating our love.
As I said earlier, I’m not “the in-law authority” by any stretch of the imagination. I am still learning how to interact, and communicate with my in-laws on a daily basis. I do realize that there are some situations where in-laws aren’t involved, around, or even alive for that matter. But, for the situations in which we do have in-laws, let’s put our best foot forward, and attempt to create a lasting connection. So, what do you think: Are your in-laws a help or hindrance?