Living with your parents-in-law can be tricky. Not only do you have to get accustomed to someone else’s style of living, you will also have to excuse (any) peculiar habits, practices and values.
On the bright side, living with your in-laws can benefit your children, says Sarah Chua, a parenting specialist at Focus On The Family Singapore. Many grandparents are a huge source of support in raising our children. “As the saying goes: ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Grandparents can play a vital role in the developmental years of our children and help to pass on family values and traditions to our children. This helps them grow up to be more secure and valued in knowing their heritage,” explains Sarah.
Communicate your plans but listen to their perspective.
Sharing the decisions you’re making as a couple – where you will live, when you plan to have kids, how you plan to raise them – will make your in-laws feel valued and honoured. You don’t have to share every detail, but letting them in on some of your plans can build trust and respect in the relationship. Take time to listen to their perspective too. When conflicts arise, refocus your perspective by looking for the positive. Practice restraint and don’t yell or raise your voice.
Ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say going to encourage and build up the other person, or tear him or her down?” Avoid ridiculing, humiliating or demeaning the other person. You can express your concerns without attacking the other person. Have the courage to admit your mistakes when you are wrong.
Don’t allow your pride to get in the way of your relationship.
Spend time intentionally. What can warm the hearts of parents more than knowing you care about them? By initiating ‘family time’ with your in-laws, you’re telling them that they are valuable to you.
When you choose to understand your in-laws and love them, you are also choosing to honour your spouse and their relationship with their parents. Learn to appreciate them for who they are and to accept each other’s weaknesses and differences.
Do what you can to build the relationship.