Inside Out 257: In-Law Prep 101

10.03.12 | Martha Manikas-Foster

Can we prepare to become good in-laws?

Most of us pour energy into preparing to become good parents. We attend pre-natal birthing classes, gravitate toward playground conversations about local pre-schools, and after a while fill entire shopping carts with books to guide us through our children’s adolescence.

But are there ways to prepare to become good in-laws

My children are not married, but it seems to me that--at its core--becoming an in-law is a by-product of foundational change. I imagine that some of that change could be painful. Once the ring is on the finger, the child who used to look for your counsel will now look to his or her spouse. So, for you, there’s a loss. And if your new daughter-in-law or son-in-law had a very different upbringing from what went on in your house, you may need to redefine your picture of what a family looks like—as well as how you will celebrate Christmas and Easter.

Given that the role of in-law is based on change, there must be a way to prepare to build upon what is gained in that change, and not upon what is lost. If we don’t, I wonder if we might become what no one wants to become: the meddlesome matriarch or patriarch who complains about how little the children visit and how differently the grandchildren are—or are not—being disciplined.

What are some of those things we can keep in mind as we look ahead to becoming good—or even great—in-laws? Here with some ideas is Dr. Halee Gray Scott. She teaches theology, spiritual formation and leadership at Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University.

“If you’re wanting to be a good in-law, you can  . . . start thinking about being supportive, being accepting. People really want to be accepted by their in-laws,” Halee says, “But, also being reserved in the way that you give them advice, and holding back a little bit whenever you see them making mistakes in parenting that you wouldn’t make--or maybe they don’t make challa bread the way you would like them to make it. I think those are the key things.” 

Hear the entire recorded conversation by clicking the “Listen” button above. We talk about what makes a good in-law, the role parents can play during the years their children are dating, and how, even in childhood, parents can give children tools to help them make wise marriage choices when they are grown.

After you listen to the conversation, please leave us a comment or two below.

To keep up with Dr. Halee Gray Scott through her blog, click here:


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Inside Out airs Wednesdays at 12:20pm EST during the Family Life Noon Report.


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