No more wars with in-laws

No more wars with in-laws
Photo: ST

You've hardly spoken to your mum-in-law since your wedding, when you both fell out over the arrangements. It's been a long while and you even have a new addition to the family now. You feel that it's time to mend this relationship.

It no longer matters how strained the relationship with your mum-in-law is. If you want to heal the rift, Dr Richard C.Woolfson can help you.

Here are 10 strategies to turn things around.

Admit that change is needed

Acknowledge that this family tension is unproductive and has a negative effect on everyone. It doesn't matter how it started or who said what to whom. What's important is that the status quo can no longer continue. You will all benefi t from an improvement.

Have a positive outlook

Work on the assumption that your relationship with Grandma can improve. Even if you had tried and failed in the past to make things better, tell yourself that this time, you'll succeed.

Reflect before taking action

Ask yourself these questions: what are the underlying causes of the problem you have with each other? Are all the diffi culties caused by her unreasonable behaviour? If you had done things differently, might the dispute have been less serious?

Talk with your husband

He also has a part to play in improving the relationship. Tell him that you're unhappy with the current tension between you and his mum. Explain that you want to have a better relationship with her, and ask for his opinion. Listen to his comments and suggestions, without pre-judging them.

Promise to change

Make a commitment to improve the way you and Grandma get on with each other. Be determined to understand and communicate with each other better. You're much more likely to resolve disagreements when you've made up your mind to succeed.

Take the first step

Find time to speak to her alone, without anyone else listening in. That might mean arranging a specifi c appointment with her or just turning up at her doorstep without your baby in tow. Calmly explain that you realise you both don't get on well and add that you'd like that to change.

Understand her viewpoint

Instead of discussing who is to blame, ask her what she thinks you could do differently to make her warm up to you. Listen to what she has to say without arguing, even though you'll probably disagree because there are two sides to every argument. Let her know that you understand her perspective.

Look ahead

Discuss the future with Grandma, instead of dwelling on past problems. Voice your suggestions for changes, as well. Try to maintain your cool, no matter how agitated she becomes. This won't be an easy meeting, but it's certainly better than maintaining this unhelpful intergenerational Cold War.

Make small changes

Perhaps you and your baby could visit her every weekend; or you could agree to stop criticising each other. Find minor strategies and then stick to your agreement.

Expect slow but steady progress

Your relationship won't mend overnight, so expect only gradual improvements over, say, two or three months. But if you both try hard, you'll eventually notice an improvement in your relationship. And that can only be good for everyone in your family.

 

Young Parents, published by SPH Magazines, is available in both digital and print formats. Log on to http://www.youngparents.com.sg/subscription to subscribe and for more parenting stories.

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