Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Nervous Daughter-in-Law

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 2:10 PM

Dear Bianca,  

My husband and I recently learned that his parents will be buying a house on our street. My husband has never been very close to his folks. He’s worried that they will make a habit of the dreaded “pop in” visit for dinner every night as an excuse to see our kids more often. Meanwhile, my parents are jealous that his parents will get to spend more time with us. Help us keep the peace so we don’t become an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond”!    

--Nervous Neighbor

Dear Nervous,

What a nightmare! I love my parents and I love my boyfriend’s parents, but I certainly wouldn’t want to share a neighborhood with them. A little parental distance is a very healthy thing.

If this were the plot of a bad comedy film, you and your husband could rig up some scheme to convince the in-laws that their new dream house is haunted or cursed. But those silly schemes aren’t likely to work in real life, unless you can afford to move, you’ve really got no choice but to suck it up and call in the Welcome Wagon.

I suggest laying down some ground rules at the start. Once they’re settled in, invite the in-laws over for dinner. After tummies are full (and you’ve all downed a few glasses of wine) share your concerns. In the nicest way possible, explain that being neighbors makes you two a little nervous.

Tell them you’d love to spend more time with them (even if you’re lying), but you also need your space. Perhaps you could establish a family night once a week or every other week, making clear that the rest of the week will be reserved for you, your husband, and kids. Your family and the in-laws could take turns cooking dinner for family nights, and that would give grandma and grandpa a regular excuse to see the kids without popping in at random.

More than likely, the in-laws will understand. Once their kids have left the house, older parents enjoy their private time as well. I know my parents wouldn’t want me moving in next door, if it meant I’d be popping in on them everyday.

Your new living situation may work to your benefit. Having grandparents right down the street could mean having a babysitter on call. Also, you mentioned that your husband doesn’t have a close relationship with his parents, this might be a great opportunity for him to forge a closer relationship with them.

As for your own parents being jealous, they’ll just have to understand that the circumstances are out of your control, and they can’t hold that against you.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

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