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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


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

Maggiemaybe Thu 24-Nov-16 16:58:06

Who says being a granny is always easy?

Absolutely noone, in my experience!

Granarchist Thu 24-Nov-16 17:12:40

I have never met anyone in my life who said being a granny is always easy. Cloud cuckoo land.

merlotgran Thu 24-Nov-16 17:24:25

It's only easy if the other one has snuffed it!

morethan2 Thu 24-Nov-16 17:29:01

merlotgran grin

mrshat Thu 24-Nov-16 19:53:58

merlotgran My sentiments exactly!

janeainsworth Thu 24-Nov-16 20:17:24

Tell us something we don't already know hmm

M0nica Thu 24-Nov-16 21:41:26

No human relationship is ever easy, husband and wife, parent and child, siblings, in-laws, work colleagues, friends. People are all different and none are perfect. There is nothing unique or special about two sides of a family not fitting together well.

Why do we have so many blogs going to great portentous lengths to state the b...ding obvious?

merlotgran Thu 24-Nov-16 22:33:09

Because they're flogging a book, M0nica?

Must think we were all born yesterday hmm

DaphneBroon Fri 25-Nov-16 08:59:38

Hear, hear merlot and m0nica, I just hope nobody buys me that for Christmas. How the heck do they get their "blogs" or books published??

Sugarpufffairy Sun 27-Nov-16 09:14:18

I find it particularly difficult when I am the one who has to go out in the middle of the night for hospital and other medical needs and I am the one who is expected to provide money on demand rarely if ever repaid but the other grandmother is the one who gets all the praise and glory and she sees the children on birthdays and Christmas while I am only asked over if babysitting is required. If I dont put up and shut up I dont get to see my DGC. I dont know if my adult child is ignoring this state of unfairness, too daft to see it or under duress.
It is a total disaster.

grandMattie Sun 27-Nov-16 09:43:55

curiously, my son's son and I are very close indeed, no problems from either parent.
On the other hand, the relationship between SiL, DD, GDs and us are not as easy as I would like. DD's PiL are endlessly in her house, with the children, and the rest of SiL's family are much, much closer than we are. And, curiously, always included when we do rarely visit.
Being a MiL holds great terrors and I do my best to keep it sipped, but inevitably SiL finds fault with some simple, unexpected comment from me. I am mute when with them, whether in my house or theirs [both rarely, sadly].
Don't get on with my own siblings, never talk to them now; ditto DH's sibling. Very sad - but whatever they may say, the fault was theirs telling DH to " when he was calling to tell them he had cancer, etc. Not easy to forgive. sad

grandMattie Sun 27-Nov-16 09:44:20

zipped confused

sweetcakes Sun 27-Nov-16 14:29:18

We don't call them in-laws we call them the out-laws grin

Yorkshiregel Mon 28-Nov-16 14:09:09

Not a very good start if you call them 'The Outlaws' is it. Doesn't make for good relations.

I get on with two of my 3 dils. The other one is much harder to cope with. She is a scientist so we get lectures on recycling (I have recycled things all my life)and global warming. I am told that my son,who I brought up and fed along with his two brothers (while OH was totally wedded to his job)until he married at age 29 'wants to be a vegetarian so he cannot eat that', 'He doesn't like meat', etc etc. I have to bite my tongue often, especially when she says 'Oh we don't bring children up like that anymore' as if I know nothing about child care or illnesses (I used to be a nurse); I have tried honestly but sometimes I just have to leave the room when she gets on her soap box. If I buy her a present she gives it away and lets me know she has done that. I stopped her doing it now because I just send money. No doubt she says I do not bother to buy presents, but I know whatever it is I buy she will say, 'they already have one', or 'I don't like that it is hideous', or something on those lines. My other dils say I try too hard to please her. So I have stopped trying now to see if that works. Gradually she has stopped my son from seeing his friends, now it seems she is trying to separate him from his family as well...but she will never win that one. My son says 'Happy wife, happy life' if I complain to him. I dare not say too much because she knows she can stop me seeing my grandchildren. Why are some women like this? It just causes problems where there should be none. I get on with all their Mothers and Fathers by the way. When we meet we always have a nice chat and we always send each other Christmas presents.

Elrel Mon 28-Nov-16 14:59:27

Sweet cakes - a friend referred to his partner's parents as 'my outlaws'' simply because he and DP weren't married. Everybody was happy with his little witticism!

Smileless2012 Tue 29-Nov-16 09:26:37

It's a catchy little title isn't it; 'In laws love then or loathe them', amusing in a way unless of course you're the in laws who are loathed.

We thought we had a really good relationship with out d.i.l.; we genuinely loved her and believed her when she said she loved us too. Things began to change when she became pregnant with their first child. We weren't aware of it at the time because things were being said and done behind our backs.

The ensuing chill once he was born was impossible to ignore. We tried talking to our son so we could fix whatever the problems were, but to no avail as in truth we weren't the problem; she was.

We were eventually cut out when our GS was 8 months old, he'll be 5 in January and that was the last time we saw him and the last time we had anything other than abuse from our son. We have another GS now, he's 1 and we've never seen him up close.

I suppose this catchy, and depending on your own personal circumstances amusing title will help to sell this book but for the in laws who are loathed and lose their own child and only GC as a consequence, it's a twist of the knife that's been so cruelly plunged into their backs.

aggie Tue 29-Nov-16 09:33:09

I know one SIL likes me , and I think the other does , but we do argue about daft things , he winds me up till I see the grin and retire smouldering ....... then we forget it , my DIL is a kind and helpful girl , I see all my GC . Must be doing something right !

aggie Tue 29-Nov-16 09:33:53

Or just lucky ! I am not smug about it

br0adwater Tue 29-Nov-16 09:46:40

Yes, this thread is all about "buy my book" but it gives me a chance to thank all my sister grans for their contributions on this and other treads. Being a gran and MiL is not as simple as it sounds at first and I have found great solace in realising I'm not struggling alone. In fact I'm much luckier than most. Thank you all.

suzied Tue 29-Nov-16 09:52:46

Reminds me of the joke " what's the difference between in laws and outlaws? " - outlaws are wanted!

DaphneBroon Tue 29-Nov-16 10:35:38

I feel we are incredibly lucky with our 3 SILS, if we had had 3 boys instead of girls, I could not have wished for better young men (40 ish is young right?) Each is very different, but complements the DD in question, despite being different they each have some characteristics in common, as do our DDs and they all get on well with each other. They seem to tolerate their MIL /FIL well enough and (so far) have not caused anybody any grief.
( ?? Trust they keep it that way!)
I also get on well with their parents and see different aspects of my character in each of the mums with whom I have more than our children and grandchildren in common.
Lucky indeed.

ginny Tue 29-Nov-16 10:39:33

We are lucky too. I love both my Sons in Law. Don't always agree but that's ok, we don't fall out . One has no family and the other has parents quite different to us. We meet on family occasions and get along pretty well. I am conscious that his parents don't get to see DGS as often as I do ( due to circumstances not choice ).so I tend to stand back a bit when they are around. Only have one Sister in Law and we get on very well as we have shared interests and hobbies. I get along with my Mother in Law although I can't say I have any special feeling for her. She is DH s mum and part of the family . So sad to hear of the problems so many people have.

annrich Tue 29-Nov-16 16:22:38

Yes, I have written a book about the joys and challenges of being a grandmother and I would love for some of you to want to read it (many grandmothers have loved it, as you can see from reviews), but life is more complex than just selling a book. This blog post, as well as my book, was written to help people feel they are not alone in family difficulties and even to encourage them to feel able to give voice to their pain. The title was set by Gransnet and not by me - and was certainly never intended to hurt anyone. The title of my book is Celebrating Grandmothers and I do celebrate each and every one of you (even those who think what I write is the bleeding obvious) because I think grandmothers are not given as much credit as they deserve for what they do. Depending on circumstances, some sail through all the potential difficulties with nothing but joy, but there are many others who suffer considerably as evidenced by these comments. If my writing has helped even one woman to ease some pain, it was definitely worth it.

Smileless2012 Tue 29-Nov-16 19:30:22

Thank you annrichflowers

Perhaps LucyGransnet, knowing some of the subjects regularly discussed on GN, and one thread in particular, a more appropriate title could have been chosen.