Gaining a new son or daughter-in-law can be a source of joy. But it can also be a source of stress for parents. The new in-law is now a member of your family—that you didn’t get to choose. The new in-law may do things differently or have a different outlook than the rest of your family. And it’s not uncommon for parents to feel emotions of disapproval, skepticism, or even jealousy over this new relationship in your child’s life.
However, it’s essential to maintain a friendly relationship with your child’s spouse if you want to have a happy and drama-free relationship with your child. As the parent in-law, you have a lot of power in determining how that relationship goes. Here are a few ways to keep it from going sour.
Give advice to the in-law only when asked
It isn’t always easy maintaining a positive relationship with your son or daughter’s new spouse. But it’s important to try.
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Don’t try to force your way of life on them
Maybe your child’s spouse wants to live in a city—but you feel the best place to raise kids is in the country, preferably right down the road from your house. Or maybe your religion is important to you and you think it should be an important part of your grandkids’ lives, too—but your child’s spouse wants nothing to do with it. Don’t push. Let the couple work these things out for themselves. The best you can do is stay open and present a positive example of the type of life you like to lead—and give them the freedom to choose without judging them.
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Don’t pressure anyone
Avoid asking your child and his spouse when they’re going to have grandkids, when the in-law is going to get a better job, when they’re going to buy a house. Your child and his or her spouse may not have the same priorities in terms of life steps that you think they should. Maybe they’re not ready to have kids, buy a house, switch jobs, or make another move you think they should be making. Feel free to ask about their plans in an open, pressure-free way—but avoid giving them the impression that you’re judging their answer.
Stay away from intimate purchases
Maybe you used to buy all your son’s underwear—but that type of purchase is likely to be seen as at least a little creepy by his wife. It’s better to acknowledge to yourself that your child’s spouse will be responsible for similar intimate rituals from now on—and don’t try to insert yourself into their lives in too intimate of a way.
Get to know the in-law on his or her own
Your new in-law isn’t just an extension of your child. He or she is a unique individual—and it’s important to try to form an individual connection. Talk to your new in-law about common interests, or try to establish a new ritual or tradition between the two of you. Above all, be welcoming and friendly—and avoid any negative comments or unsolicited advice.
It isn’t always easy maintaining a positive relationship with your son or daughter’s new spouse. But it’s important to try. This person will be in your family from now on—hopefully forever—and will make a major difference in the happiness and harmony of your family relations. You can make your life much easier by doing as much as you can to ensure the relationship is positive.