March 16, 2011 in Features

In-laws’ idea not such a bad one

Washington Post

Dear Carolyn: My in-laws live out of town. My husband’s sister and her husband, who live in our area, have a 3-year-old daughter, so my in-laws primarily visit them. My husband and I do not yet have children, and have gotten used to being the second priority. They have crossed the line in the past by asking to stay at our home rather than my sister-in-law’s for the purpose of visiting their granddaughter. My husband very gently reminded them that our house is not a hotel; they should plan to stay with us when they visit primarily with us, and plan to stay with his sister when they visit her.

Here’s our current problem: When they schedule visits with my sister-in-law, they don’t check with us about the dates. When the dates don’t work for us, they imply that we should feel bad for not being available.

My husband has talked to his mom about feeling left out, but so far, nothing has changed. – Tired of in-law drama

I have a different take on when they “crossed the line.” I see it as their proposing a practical way to visit both of their children’s families – enjoy Grandkid by day, you two by night – with four added bonuses: (1) The newish parents get to wrangle their toddler to bed without the Eyes of the Family upon them; (2) The grandparents get a breather from toddler life; (3) The no-kids family is included as more than a guest to the kid party; (4) You get credit for hosting your in-laws while having them in your home on a very limited basis.


And for proposing this pragmatic coup, your in-laws got slapped on the wrists. Last time they asked to visit you, they got “gently” corrected, and now you’re annoyed that they don’t ask to visit you?

Please entertain the possibility that they had a good idea. It won’t erase your in-law problems, but it will allow equilibrium.

E-mail Carolyn at

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