13 Moms Talk In-Laws and How They Balance Those Relationships

13 Moms Talk In-Laws and How They Balance Those Relationships

Find out how these moms deal with the complicated in-law relationship.


By Judy Koutsky

In-laws can be wonderful … or a handful. While some moms have a great relationship with their mother-in-law (or father-in-law), most have a loaded, complicated one that needs to be handled with kid gloves. Whether it’s walking on eggshells, making the grandkids the focus, or simply having an email relationship, these 13 moms have figured out a way to balance that in-law relationship. Find out how.

1. “I have my kids call my in-laws once a week. They live on the opposite coast and while I don’t really want to talk to them weekly (nor do the kids), I feel less guilty when we do so. I put the in-laws on speaker and encourage the kids to do the talking. That way, I come across as the good daughter-in-law without really doing much work.” -- Janice, San Diego, California

2. “My husband and I used to split all the holidays between the two sets of parents. Now we combine everything. We tell both sides of the families what we’re doing for a specific event, like Thanksgiving, and invite everyone to join. Whoever shows up, shows up. That way, we’re not playing favorites with one side of the family.” -- Misty, Berwyn, Illinois

3. “My mother-in-law is a handful. Instead of trying to talk to her or email her, I send her art projects from the kids. My children, ages 4 and 6, bring home tons of crafty things and quite honestly I’d probably toss them because I don’t have the space to keep them all. Instead, I send them to Nana -- it makes her happy, it makes the kids feel proud that their work is good enough to send in the mail, and I feel like I’m keeping the peace.” -- Jackie, New York City

4. “I host my in-laws for dinner once a month. I hate cooking, so I usually just do something easy like a store-bought lasagna and salad. I seat my husband next to his mom and dad and I let him do most of the talking. This way, they get to see the grandkids [and] their son, and I’m usually busy in the kitchen ‘preparing’ the meal.” -- Elizabeth, St. Louis, Missouri

5. “My mother-in-law and I have an email relationship. I keep it short and sweet. I send her updates on the kids, little tidbits, and notes on the weather. Nothing heavy. It’s the perfect relationship.” -- Sally, Palm Beach, Florida

6. “I have a rule that I only say positive things to my mother-in-law. If there are any problems, I make my husband deal with it. I figure I deal with my mother, he can deal with his.” -- Marisa, Cicero, Illinois

7. “I feel like family events are never going to be evenly split, so I just make an effort to do things with the in-laws two to three times a year. It can be anything – a holiday gathering, a dinner, a shopping trip. That way I feel like I’m doing my duty without doing tit for tat.” -- Nan, Carbondale, Illinois

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8. “My in-laws love to lay on the guilt. After years of therapy, I’ve finally realized there’s no changing it. I let them say whatever they want and then I just move on to a new topic without taking the bait. ‘Why don’t you visit more often? Why don’t the grandkids call more’ is met with my response of, ‘Marc and Julia looked adorable in the holiday card’ and ‘I hope your trip to Florida was fun.’ It’s like we’re talking two dramatically different conversations, but at least there’s no fighting.” -- Megan, Portland, Maine

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9. “I had a heart-to-heart talk with my mother-in-law, against my husband’s wishes. But it really seemed to clear the air and now the balancing act isn’t so challenging. We get together with them as often as we can, but they (seem) to understand if it doesn’t work out.” -- Tracy, Chicago, Illinois

10. “I lost my own mom when I was a teen, so I welcome my mother-in-law’s persistent calls, visits, and emails. It makes me feel needed.” -- Christy, New York City

11. “I make the kids the center of the relationship. I make my daughter go shopping with my mother-in-law and make my son go to the movies with my father-in-law. That takes a lot of the pressure off me and my kids get spoiled for an afternoon.” -- Jenny, San Francisco, California

12. “I get together every other month with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to either go shopping, go on a spa day, or just grab a meal. That’s six times a year -- often enough that we can catch up, but not too often that we fight or get sick of each other.” -- Robin, Indianapolis, Indiana

13. “I try and remember that my in-laws produced my wonderful husband. That makes getting together with them for every single family occasion a little easier. Sometimes.” --Christy, Tallahassee, Florida

How do you get along with your in-laws?


Judy Koutsky is the former Editorial Director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also Executive Editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on Twitter @JudyKoutsky.

Image ©iStock.com/gradyreese


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