How to lovingly tell meddling in-laws to 'Back Off'
Here's how to stand your ground without being offensive when it comes to dealing with conflicts with your spouse's family.
For better or worse, you’re pretty much married to your spouse’s family, too. This is all good if you feel like you’ve won the in-law lottery, but what if you don’t exactly get along and have a problem with inlaws?
It might be a love-hate relationship when it comes to your in-laws, but it doesn’t mean you can’t handle conflict in a loving, respectful way.
Here’s how to tell meddling in-laws to respect boundaries and to ‘back off’ without hurting their feelings.
1. Acknowledge their value in your life
Remind them that they’re needed in your life, but that there will be decisions that you will have to decide on as a couple–like parenting styles or how to save up for the future. Draw from their lifetime’s worth of wisdom to help you grow as a parent. Don’t put your walls up just because the way they talk or communicate isn’t exactly similar to what you’ve been used to. Their need to “meddle” or constantly give their opinion may be coming from the need to feel needed.
So it’s important to make them feel that their input is appreciated, but make sure they know that it’s ultimately your decision.
2. Be clear about boundaries
Set firm boundaries and make sure they know it. Explain to them that these boundaries aren’t meant to keep them away, but more of a way to allow you to grow as parents. You have to learn on your own, and though the lessons they can impart are valuable, they’re of a different generation. What worked then wouldn’t necessarily work now. In the same way, they can offer timeless wisdom that you can benefit from. Make sure they know that you will always seek their help and advice when needed.
3. Meet resistance with reassurance
If they protest or express some sort of resentment at being kept out of the loop, be patient with them. Reassure them that they are not being taken for granted. Acknowledge their feelings and genuinely listen to them. The mere fact that you spent time letting them express their concerns is reassurance enough that they’re important to you.
4. Encourage time spent with your spouse and kids
In-laws sometimes meddle because they want to be a constant presence in your life. A way to make them feel that they’re still needed is to be encouraging when it comes to quality time with your spouse and their grandchildren. This is one way to ask them to respect their boundaries: respecting their need for bonding time and togetherness.
Have you experienced having a meddling in-law? How did you deal with it?