FOR PARENTS: Establishing Good In Law Relationships

Good In Law Relationships Graphic stock_HKOshoCBj copy“Parents and their married children can resolve differing points of view in a mature and gracious manner,” says Dr. Howard Hendricks. Parents will find the following guidelines helpful in avoiding such conflicts. It will keep their in law relationships strong and healthy. Pause it will contribute to the success of their children’s marriage. These guidelines will help you to establish good in law relationships.

For Good In Law Relationships:

Don’t give advice unless the young couple specifically asks for it. Even if they ask your opinion, be careful how the counsel is given. Do not preach or lecture. Instead, simply suggest solutions. Give the couple freedom to accept or reject them.

Don’t offer financial aid unless the young couple explicitly requests it. It is important for the couple to establish their independence —emotionally and financially. As difficult as it may be to watch your child and his or her spouse face financial struggles, realize that those trials are valuable for them as they develop their life together.

Keep your personal questions to a minimum. Remember, a couple’s primary allegiance should be to each other. It is not to either set of parents. The new couple needs privacy in order to develop a meaningful relationship.

Respect the couple’s confidence when they confide in you. Don’t repeat what they have told you to friends or other relatives. If you do, you may lose their trust —and rightfully so.

Don’t expect the new couple to live according to your standards and values. Your child and his or her spouse are individuals starting their own home. They need to develop their own family traditions. These are independent of those observed by their parents.


Let go of your offspring, giving the couple room to live their own lives. Rather than living through your children’s lives, find activities of your own. Don’t expect the couple to spend excessive amounts of time with you. Only by letting go will you be able to build a healthy relationship with them.

Treat the couple with respect, and don’t belittle them or their decisions. They may have a lot to learn. But they need to learn these lessons themselves. Allow them to make their own mistakes. And don’t adopt an “I-told-you-so” attitude if they fail.

Don’t expect your in-law to call you “Mom” or “Dad.” He or she may feel most comfortable using your first names. Accept the decision gracefully. Don’t make a major issue out of it.

Take a genuine interest in your new in-law as a person. Try to find out about his or her interests. Attempt to relate to your in-law in a meaningful way and on his or her terms.

And Lastly:

Don’t treat your in-law as a rival who has stolen your child’s love. Welcome the new addition into your family. You’ll multiply the love, rather than divide it.

This article, originally titled, “Establishing Good In-Law Relations,” has been offered from the ministry of Focus on the Family as an informational page. It is offered on their web site as well as in physical form for those who ask for help. Focus on the Family is a wonderful ministry that reaches out to help families throughout the world. You can visit their web site to learn all kinds of valuable information at

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Filed under: Dealing with In Laws & Parents

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One response to “FOR PARENTS: Establishing Good In Law Relationships

  1. Our daughter-in-law is abusive to our grandchildren. She is so harsh with them in our own home that it causes our family to dread being around them. Also, I have let them know how sad and uncomfortable this makes me. Our daughter-in-law and now our son tell me that I am trying to interfere in their parenting choices. My husband will not support me when I try to explain my need for this boundary in our home at family gatherings.

    My son will not let his children tell him things if it is uncomplimentary to his wife. I am at a loss how to help my little grandson (7 years old) because he confides things he shouldn’t have to deal with alone. I asked him once had he told his dad about something his mom did to him and he said he tried and his dad got mad and told him to shut-up. My husband is also passive in this situation. I feel like the weak and passive men in our lives have made this situation much worse for my grandson and myself. Also, I believe it has given our abuser unrestricted power over us. Please help us.