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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 24-Nov-16 16:55:58

In-laws - love them or loathe them?

Family relationships can be incredibly difficult to navigate, but introduce in-laws to the mix and they often get that little bit trickier... Author Ann Richardson shares her thoughts on this age-old way of gaining family members.

Ann Richardson

In-laws - love them or loathe them?

Posted on: Thu 24-Nov-16 16:55:58

(83 comments )

Lead photo

Do you have in-laws...or outlaws?

Something very strange happens when you get married. And then again when your kids get married. You acquire in-laws. It can even happen if you or they are simply involved in a close partnership.

You suddenly have a lot of new people in your 'family' who you didn't choose, but who you're supposed to be friendly with. There are their parents, sisters and brothers, and their spouses and on and on.

And we all know it can cause a lot of problems.

Of course there are some who just love their in-laws. I know a woman who insisted that her daughter-in-law should be known as her 'daughter-in-love' from the very beginning. How lovely for everyone.

I also know people who go on holiday with the whole extended family – children, their spouses, and loads of grandchildren. Some do it every year. They are very lucky to get on so well.

More frequently, we just cope. It is hard enough with the parents-in-law, not to mention other members of the family. But somehow, we usually learn how to manage. We work out what foods they eat when they come for dinner, what subjects you should avoid in conversations and, best of all, what interests you have in common.

They may not have your ideas about how to feed them, play with them or what to buy as presents. They may have loads of rules, when you believe in freedom, or vice versa.


Sometimes, they live nearby and you end up seeing each other frequently. Sometimes, everyone does their best to see each other as little as possible.

But when the grandchildren come along, it is a whole different story. If you want to see the grandchildren, the son or daughter-in-law comes too. It is part of the package.

If it is your son's baby, especially, it is hard to avoid his or her mother.

Of course, a baby can be just the thing to cement relationships. You share the love of this new being and that papers over a whole lot of cracks. Indeed, you may well be very impressed with how your son or daughter-in-law handles their new baby, improving your relationship with each other and making your time together even more agreeable.

Yet this is also where the greatest problems can arise. You go to visit the new baby or, later, the growing children, and however much you love the grandkids, you may not agree with their parents' ideas about how to bring them up. Often it is the daughter- or son-in-law whose ideas are the most divergent from your own.

They may not have your ideas about how to feed them, play with them or what to buy as presents. They may have loads of rules, when you believe in freedom, or vice versa.

And you might be tempted to give advice, but do not want to be irritating. 'Every new granny should be issued with a zip', one friend said, and it is true.

Who says being a granny is always easy?

Ann's most recent book is Celebrating Grandmothers: grandmothers talk about their lives, which is published by New Generation and available from Amazon, and you can find out more about Ann on her website.

By Ann Richardson

Twitter: @CelebratingGran

Marydoll Thu 19-Oct-17 17:12:48

Despite having eight other children, my father in law loved me and treated me like his own daughter.
If it hadn't been for him, I would never have been able to go back to university and do my post graduate teaching qualification. When he heard that my mother told me it was a "stupid" idea and I should be at home with my children, he offered to pick up my three children from school each day. I had great affection for him.
My MIL, onthe other hand, never forgave me for taking her eldest child away from her. grin.

Coconut Mon 30-Oct-17 17:58:48

Married twice, I loved both my MIL’s, it was their sons I had issues with !! And funnily enough both of them actually agreed with me !!
Personally I am so lucky having 2 wonderful DIL’s and one very kind respectful SIL.

lauerss Fri 03-Nov-17 09:50:24

enen

Heather23 Tue 14-Nov-17 11:21:30

I would dispute that comment Merlotgran. My DiL lost her dear Mum during her pregnancy and as the sole granny I feel more responsibility to be the best granny I can be; knowing how different I am from how other granny would have been; wondering how DiL feels when she sees me with her children, only naturally wishing her own DM was here to enjoy them and how unfair it is that she is not. I have no grounds for thinking this way, I have the most wonderful DiL but can only imagine that is how it might be for her. My DH didn't know any of his grand-parents and feels that loss to this day. As grand-parents we all have our own experiences to draw on and share with our DGC and even though we may not agree at times, what we share is love for our DGC and that bonds us through the trickier times imo.

Granfran Thu 16-Nov-17 06:07:05

Sounds very familiar. Doesn’t help that the other gran (my sons mother in law) is a bitterly divorced lady who lives in the north east.

moonbeames Thu 16-Nov-17 23:19:54

A big thank you annrich, your words are most appreciated. It is not easy being a grandparent, especially as some others have said, when you are stopped from seeing your grand children. It is very painful and distressing. You have helped me and I thank you for it.

Madgran77 Thu 21-Dec-17 08:14:00

sugarpuffery that is exactly how I feel. We do all the work, the other family get to do all the "fun stuff" - parties, fireworks, birthdays, trips out, holidays - every year the list of things get longer and gets added to their family list of "things we do together ever year"! Anything I suggest, even including both families, is apparently impossible! This year it was a Kew Gardens lights trip -no, too much on apparently, ...then they all went to the Eltham Palace one together last weekend! I'm looking after my GC this afternoon whilst Mum is at work ...which will be lovely, but how nice if we could spend some time together as a family rather Tha my just being useful for childcare. Oh well, I know it is better than nothing and I am luckier than many on here!

Cabbie21 Wed 27-Dec-17 19:10:41

It is true, I am much closer to my daughter and her family than I am to my son and his family.
One thing that hurts is that he and his family have spent every Christmas with his in- laws. DS and I usually work out at least one day when I can visit during the holiday period, but this year it was before Christmas and he and DIL then went out. I had a great time with the grandchildren, but I do feel I have missed out.
I rarely invite them here as we have just a small house, no room to move. This year they are away for a whole week anyway.

GlamM Fri 09-Feb-18 10:01:03

I absolutely love my outlaws! They are a source of great support and amusement to me. I am very lucky to have a great relationship with my MIL, we talk as women and friends and there is no hierarchy or awkwardness. I know that I am lucky to have this and I treasure it!