Know your place when you are “The in-law”! Tips & Advice on staying neutral in your Spouse’s family feuds!

As the daughter-in-law of a phenomenal mother-in-law and the sister-in-law to 5 wonderful sister-in- laws, I can’t say I can relate to this blog on a whole, but I have had to remember my place in my husband’s family dynamic on a few occasions over our 23 year marriage.

I’ve had the pleasure… or maybe not so pleasurable moments of having this conversation with not only a few of my friends, but also with my own mother who didn’t have the greatest relationship with her mother-in-law, and one thing I know for sure its’ never a pretty picture.

Yes, we’d all like to think that once we say “I do” that, we are all “family” and all is well in the world, …but unfortunately sometimes that day does come…the day when a family feud arises and your spouse decides get you involved,... Or the day when one of your In-laws decides to cross the line and chastise one of your children and your spouse doesn’t do anything about it. How do you handle this? What do you say? Do you give your spouse a reply?... Do you say something to your In-law?... Oh the stickiness of the whole situation.!....

Well there is no quick answer to situations like this. In certain instances maybe you should say something to your In-law and in others maybe you should just bite the bullet and let things go for the sake of peace in the family.

Listed below are 5 tips that may not keep the most toxic, volatile, or unstable families from going to blows with you or with each other, but if you put these tips into practice before any drama ensues, you just may keep your relationship with your In-laws stable, or neutral, if nothing else!

Tips for staying neutral in your spouse’s family feuds.

1.     Never forget that your spouse will always be blood to his/her family and for them to forgive your spouse for something that was said or done will always be easier than forgiving you. There’s a reason for the saying “Blood is thicker than water.”

2.     Always see how your spouse is feeling about an argument, disagreement or decision made by their family. It may not affect them the same way it affects you. Even if you think your spouse should be hurt by something that was said or done by one of their family members, always check their feelings before you go blindly into a response in their defense. They may not be as upset about the situation as you.

3.     Always take into account your spouse’s family culture and dynamics. This means just because you did things in a certain way in your family when you grew up, doesn’t mean your spouse and their family did things the same way. For example you may have grown up in a house that never poked fun at each, but maybe your spouse grew up in a family that did this kind of joking all the time… making jokes about each other’s character or physical flaws (etc), but in your family this would have been considered tasteless and insensitive! OR maybe your father made all the decision in the family but in your spouse’s family, momma was the head and daddy just listened and did what he was told. These variants in family dynamics can make a big difference in a family’s structure, and understanding them can definitely play a part in how you and your spouse handle family feuds with each other and with each other’s family.

4.     Always remember that your children are your spouse’s children, your spouse’s mother’s grandchildren and even your spouse’s sibling’s nieces and nephews. They will always be family, even if death or divorce takes you out of the picture. So always keep their relationships in mind when responding to family feuds.

5.     Remember there are consequences to your actions. Saying something that’s on your mind or doing something about something you feel was an injustice to your immediate family may seem like the right thing to do at the time of the incident, but always remember that after you say or do something in retaliation that there are consequences to be made and paid. They could include you being ostracized from family gatherings, you could be shunned by family members or worst you could cause a rift between your spouse and their family. This is not to say that you shouldn’t say or do something about an injustice done to your immediate family, it’s just saying be ready for the consequences of your speech or actions.

Understand that not all family’s have issues such as this! The Brady Bunch (The perfect looking family) can be a real thing, even if you’ve never seen them… but if you find yourself in the midst of in-law issues or on the receiving end of one of your spouse’s family feuds, just keep in mind that not every issue in life needs to be address and that there are ways to defuse disagreements and rifts in family feuds;… because you never want a rift to get out of hand and cause a tidal wave between you and your in-laws.

Always Remember

Relationships Do Matter!

Toinette Neube

“5 Tips on raising Teens & Young adults who enjoy "Family Time"!

If you have children there are two points in life I’m sure you have been at or will eventually get to; that point when you are trying to figure out "where the time went, and that point where you are trying to get your kid(s) to spend more time with the family!

I have raised 3 boys into young men & to this day at 18, 19 & 22 years old they ALL still love "Family Time"! Proud Mommy moment! :-)

When I speak of family time, I don’t mean just dinner, it could be an event, a movie, or just hanging around the family having fun. Each and every one of my boys love staying regularly connected to our family, even as they get older; and THAT is an accomplishment all in itself!

Because of popular opinion, my husband and I awaited the day that so many people talked about; that moment when the boys would not want to hang around us or have family time any longer!” So we openingly accepted our fate… but to our surprise the day has yet to come.

Now we do understand that it is healthy for them to venture off and find their own way in life. That’s not what this blog is about; it’s about teaching or showing your children how important family time and togetherness is in their lives and praying they will take that lesson on into their own family value; because we all know, friends come and go, but family is forever!  

So how did we do it you ask? Well as with anything in life, nothing is fail proof, but I can say I believe my husband and I found a few rules and practices that worked for us while they were small and we just made them habits throughout the years and they still seem to be working 22 years and counting later.

Listed below are 5 rules and practices that have worked for us and we feel confident will work for you with time, practice and some stick-to-it-ness!

  1. Start when they are small! Catch them while they still need & even want your time & attention. Start incorporating family time into your family’s weekly routine once you are able to begin a regular routine after having the baby. This can even start once the baby starts to use a highchair; pull that highchair up to the table so he/she can be included in dinner time. Starting earlier is key, because we all know if it’s not ingrained in them, IT WILL NOT last long.
  2. Make it a habit! Keeping family time as a weekly routine is another key to getting the kids use to it. They say it takes doing something 28 to 30 days over and over again before it becomes a habit, so keep it up!!!
  3. Make it interesting! Make sure it's something they have an interest in. It could be a movie, a game, a TV show, an event, etc. The family time event, outing or “thing” doesn’t always have to be something everyone agrees on; for example sometimes mom may have to suffer through a football game if she has a house full or boys, (I know this one oh too well!) or dad may have to sit through watching "Princess Diaries 2 for the 3rd time, just for his own little princess....Sometimes you have to suck it up and “Just sit through it!”
  4. Don’t be so serious about it! Don't always use “family time” as a time for direct lessons. As they grow up there are always lessons in life they can learn, and you may be tempted to use this time to make an example of those lesson or talk about certain topics, but trust me when I say you don’t want to always use “family time” as a serious moment. Mix it up from fun and light topics to serious ones with fun and light being the prominent one. As a teen or young adult you don't always want to feel like you are in school. So even if your motive is to use this particular family time as a lesson, "feel" the kid(s) out. If you feel you can discuss the topic at hand right then, then go for it, but if not, then go to the event or watch the movie and save the “life lesson talk” for another time.
  5. Be Flexible! As they grow up continue to have scheduled family time but be flexible with them. Yes as they get older & make their own schedules they may miss a day or two of “family time”, but keep the tradition up and eventually they will realize what they are missing and come back into the fold. 

As I mentioned earlier nothing is fail proof and you really have to cater life to your own family’s culture and values, but one thing I do believe is if you have a heart to keep “family time” alive in the lives of your teens and young adults then just by having the desire to do it is a start and just by starting you are on the RIGHT TRACK to raising teens & young adults who will always enjoy & love Family Time!

Remember, Relationships Do Matter!

Toinette Neube