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Tolerance of other people part 4- in laws

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

I was raised in a family that accepted say a son in law as a son. In fact my parents even after a short time with my sister just dating a guy would say "you are a son to us". Now part of the reason for this was that my parent were afraid of my sister getting pregnant outside of marriage so they wanted her married quickly.

I wont mention too much about how I felt in having a future brother in law living in our house that I barely knew and was competing for! Especially after my blood brother suicided a few weeks earlier and my future BIL even wore my deceased brother clothes.

This and other events made me think - how should we treat our in-laws? Decades later I've come to a conclusion based also on 4 long term relationships including two marriages and 3 step children.

In my view you marry or in a relationship with a person (lets call them a spouse) but you didnt fall in love with their family members. For this reason alone you have justification to keep some distance between you and your in-laws, not that you need justification however your spouse could want you to become closer to his/her family.

As above, I think there is plenty of reasons not to treat in-laws like true blood. It is insulting to your own children.

The distance mentioned earlier also includes living with them. I've seen the destruction of families brought about due to the son in law and daughter residing with mum and dad so they can save for a house. It has a high risk and permanent damage can occur.

Everyone has their own ideals about helping the young adults achieve. I'll just say this- hard work in any manner didnt hurt anyone. Hard work allow those doing it to appreciate the fruits of their labour. Also parents that have worked hard and around retirement age should have the right to relaxation including the security of financial freedom so they can enjoy their approaching twilight years. Those times will come for their children.

Your thoughts?


2 Replies 2

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hey TonyWK,

I really see where you're coming from here. I'm pretty much fresh into adulthood. I haven't had much dating experience and am currently in a long-term relationship so this is something I've had to think about quite a bit. In terms of mother/father-in-laws treating their child's partner like family, I think this largely differs based on culture, religion, family traditions, and even based on past life experiences of the family as a unit.

In my view, I'm a very family-oriented person, and I would like to see my partner have a good relationship with my parents/family, but like you, I don't necessarily agree with the idea of the partner becoming an extension of the family as, essentially, an extra child. It's very important to me that my parents value the person with whom I'll be sharing the rest of my life, as they've been there for every significant milestone since I was born so they have a solid understanding of who I am, how I live my life, and what it's like to live with me. On this basis, I believe that my parents can make reasonable judgements about who I will and will not be compatible with in the future.

I have also talked to other friends about this. I have some friends who don't really place that much value on family, or aren't in contact with many family members at all. To these friends, seeing their partner have a good relationship with their parents is of minimal concern, and it is far more important for their partner to be well-integrated into their social life with their friends, for example. We all value different things in our relationships, and I've seen much variation even within my own friendship group and in my extended family.

An interesting point of discussion you've opened up here! I'd love to see others' responses.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Tony,

I have a different view on this one based on my experiences. I place a big importance on family but only come from a relatively small family. As such, I have always had images of falling in love with someone and being welcomed into his family, and them becoming my own, all gathered around the table at Christmas etc. However, my reality has been very different. From the outset my partner’s parents made it pretty clear that their son (my partner) and his sister (my SIL) were number 1 and me and my SIL’s husband were several rungs lower. As a result (or perhaps because their bad behavior has been excused all their lives) my partner and my SIL feel pretty comfortable disrespecting both me and my SIL’s husband, probably and they know their parents will turn a blind eye. If their child treats us badly in front of them, there is silence or they will jump in and defend their child. They may think that it is doing their child a favor but both relationships have suffered as a consequence. My SIL is on the verge of divorce and I have often considered leaving my partner to find a better dynamic including a family who accepts me. In contrast, my family have accepted my partner with open arms and have treated him like a son. The only reason I resent that now is because of the way I am treated by his family, it makes me feel very alone. However, if it went both ways I wouldn’t care on bit.
I think any family that treats their child’s partner as second class citizens creates an unhealthy dynamic, as does “taking sides”. I also think that it inadvertently damages their child’s relationship as a consequence. I personally think the best approach is to welcome serious partners with open arms, remain out of any relationship conflicts, and support your child if needed should they ever separate but again don’t get involved. That’s just what I wish would have happened in my case to be honest. Some of us really want to have a close family with everyone included, I think it robs people of that opportunity when there are different classifications.