Resolving Differences With Your Son- or Daughter-in-Law

Reviewed Mar 21, 2017

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Summary

  • Accept your in-law for who she is.
  • Give him a place in your life.
  • Put yourself in your in-law’s shoes.
  • Apologize and forgive.

Many people do not confront their daughter- or son-in-law because they fear that doing so will jeopardize the relationship. Take for instance Helen, who never confronts her daughter-in-law Janna. “In-laws already have a bad rap. Why give Janna a real reason to dislike me?” reasons Helen. Actually, confronting your son- or daughter-in-law when issues arise will more than likely result in improved communication and a better, more enjoyable relationship.

Setting the stage for a healthy in-law relationship

All in-law relationships experience conflict from time to time. But you can minimize such occasions by taking these steps:

  • Accept your in-law for who she is. Respect her uniqueness and try to focus on her positive qualities. Remember, you cannot change your in-law, but you can change your attitude and how you value each other.
  • Empower your in-law by giving him a place in your life. Include him in family decisions regarding holidays and special events. Show that you appreciate and respect his feelings and opinions—even though you may disagree.

Step-by-step look at resolving conflict

Issues can erupt as a result of power struggles, divided loyalties and communication problems, or you simply may not see eye to eye. No issue is too big or too small to bring up, however, if you feel angry, hurt or unfairly treated. Follow these steps:

  • Cool off. Emotions can keep you from identifying the real issue.
  • Identify the problem. Perhaps a string of episodes, rather than a single event, has caused you to feel the way you do.
  • Put yourself in your in-law’s shoes. How might she be feeling? Are there underlying issues? Did you say or do something that could have been misunderstood or misinterpreted?
  • Communicate. Find a time when you will not be interrupted or rushed. Make sure your in-law has your full attention and understands your meaning. Do not blame: Use “I” statements, not “you” statements. Make sure your body movement, voice inflection, facial expressions, and other nonverbal cues match with what you say and how you feel.
  • Avoid forming alliances. Do not involve or ask other family members to take sides, including your spouse, son, or daughter.
  • Listen. Do not interrupt or make assumptions. Avoid being critical or defensive. Listen for what is behind the words—like feelings and ideas.
  • Be willing to apologize and forgive.
  • Solve the problem. Be flexible to work out a compromise that satisfies both you and your in-law, although you may still disagree.

Resources

The Mother-in-Law's Manual: Creating Relationships That Work for Ourselves and Our Children by Susan Abel Lieberman. Bright Sky Press, 2009.

Reluctantly Related: Secrets to Getting Along With Your Mother-in-law or Daughter-in-law by Deanna Brann. Ambergris Publishing, 2013. 

By Christine P. Martin

Summary

  • Accept your in-law for who she is.
  • Give him a place in your life.
  • Put yourself in your in-law’s shoes.
  • Apologize and forgive.

Many people do not confront their daughter- or son-in-law because they fear that doing so will jeopardize the relationship. Take for instance Helen, who never confronts her daughter-in-law Janna. “In-laws already have a bad rap. Why give Janna a real reason to dislike me?” reasons Helen. Actually, confronting your son- or daughter-in-law when issues arise will more than likely result in improved communication and a better, more enjoyable relationship.

Setting the stage for a healthy in-law relationship

All in-law relationships experience conflict from time to time. But you can minimize such occasions by taking these steps:

  • Accept your in-law for who she is. Respect her uniqueness and try to focus on her positive qualities. Remember, you cannot change your in-law, but you can change your attitude and how you value each other.
  • Empower your in-law by giving him a place in your life. Include him in family decisions regarding holidays and special events. Show that you appreciate and respect his feelings and opinions—even though you may disagree.

Step-by-step look at resolving conflict

Issues can erupt as a result of power struggles, divided loyalties and communication problems, or you simply may not see eye to eye. No issue is too big or too small to bring up, however, if you feel angry, hurt or unfairly treated. Follow these steps:

  • Cool off. Emotions can keep you from identifying the real issue.
  • Identify the problem. Perhaps a string of episodes, rather than a single event, has caused you to feel the way you do.
  • Put yourself in your in-law’s shoes. How might she be feeling? Are there underlying issues? Did you say or do something that could have been misunderstood or misinterpreted?
  • Communicate. Find a time when you will not be interrupted or rushed. Make sure your in-law has your full attention and understands your meaning. Do not blame: Use “I” statements, not “you” statements. Make sure your body movement, voice inflection, facial expressions, and other nonverbal cues match with what you say and how you feel.
  • Avoid forming alliances. Do not involve or ask other family members to take sides, including your spouse, son, or daughter.
  • Listen. Do not interrupt or make assumptions. Avoid being critical or defensive. Listen for what is behind the words—like feelings and ideas.
  • Be willing to apologize and forgive.
  • Solve the problem. Be flexible to work out a compromise that satisfies both you and your in-law, although you may still disagree.

Resources

The Mother-in-Law's Manual: Creating Relationships That Work for Ourselves and Our Children by Susan Abel Lieberman. Bright Sky Press, 2009.

Reluctantly Related: Secrets to Getting Along With Your Mother-in-law or Daughter-in-law by Deanna Brann. Ambergris Publishing, 2013. 

By Christine P. Martin

Summary

  • Accept your in-law for who she is.
  • Give him a place in your life.
  • Put yourself in your in-law’s shoes.
  • Apologize and forgive.

Many people do not confront their daughter- or son-in-law because they fear that doing so will jeopardize the relationship. Take for instance Helen, who never confronts her daughter-in-law Janna. “In-laws already have a bad rap. Why give Janna a real reason to dislike me?” reasons Helen. Actually, confronting your son- or daughter-in-law when issues arise will more than likely result in improved communication and a better, more enjoyable relationship.

Setting the stage for a healthy in-law relationship

All in-law relationships experience conflict from time to time. But you can minimize such occasions by taking these steps:

  • Accept your in-law for who she is. Respect her uniqueness and try to focus on her positive qualities. Remember, you cannot change your in-law, but you can change your attitude and how you value each other.
  • Empower your in-law by giving him a place in your life. Include him in family decisions regarding holidays and special events. Show that you appreciate and respect his feelings and opinions—even though you may disagree.

Step-by-step look at resolving conflict

Issues can erupt as a result of power struggles, divided loyalties and communication problems, or you simply may not see eye to eye. No issue is too big or too small to bring up, however, if you feel angry, hurt or unfairly treated. Follow these steps:

  • Cool off. Emotions can keep you from identifying the real issue.
  • Identify the problem. Perhaps a string of episodes, rather than a single event, has caused you to feel the way you do.
  • Put yourself in your in-law’s shoes. How might she be feeling? Are there underlying issues? Did you say or do something that could have been misunderstood or misinterpreted?
  • Communicate. Find a time when you will not be interrupted or rushed. Make sure your in-law has your full attention and understands your meaning. Do not blame: Use “I” statements, not “you” statements. Make sure your body movement, voice inflection, facial expressions, and other nonverbal cues match with what you say and how you feel.
  • Avoid forming alliances. Do not involve or ask other family members to take sides, including your spouse, son, or daughter.
  • Listen. Do not interrupt or make assumptions. Avoid being critical or defensive. Listen for what is behind the words—like feelings and ideas.
  • Be willing to apologize and forgive.
  • Solve the problem. Be flexible to work out a compromise that satisfies both you and your in-law, although you may still disagree.

Resources

The Mother-in-Law's Manual: Creating Relationships That Work for Ourselves and Our Children by Susan Abel Lieberman. Bright Sky Press, 2009.

Reluctantly Related: Secrets to Getting Along With Your Mother-in-law or Daughter-in-law by Deanna Brann. Ambergris Publishing, 2013. 

By Christine P. Martin

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as behavioral health care or management advice. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have questions related to workplace issues, please consider contacting your human resources department. ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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