Everyone knows the relationship between children and in-laws can be challenging. And though a lot of that blame gets placed on mother-in-laws, father-in-laws can be just as challenging.
Yes, they tend to get the cooler, more laid-back reputation in the family, but sometimes, their chill demeanor can be hard to crack. And sometimes getting to know a father-in-law can be a rather difficult task. But, there are ways to get over that hill. And, one of the best ways to do that is to keep your expectations of the relationship reasonable in the first place.
Keep expectations low
“Keep your expectations of your in-laws reasonable,” Barbara Greenberg, a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and parents, wrote in Psychology Today. “Always remember that they are not your parents and that they will behave differently. It may be helpful to lower your expectations so you are less likely to become distressed.”
Indeed, it can be hard to separate that your father-in-law isn’t, in fact, your own dad, who thinks the moon and stars of you without you even having to try. So keep it light, and don’t expect anything in return. This way, you’ll always be pleasantly surprised.
Make him feel needed
But, if you’re looking to win your father-in-law over a bit more, Greenberg suggests giving him a task that will make him feel important.
“Look, we all want to feel necessary,” she wrote. “This needs, of course, to be mutually agreed upon. Your in-laws may enjoy house-sitting, baby-sitting or even dog-sitting. On the other hand, they may like the opportunity to contribute in some way to family events. I have noticed repeatedly that individuals of all ages do better when they are needed and appreciated.”
WATCH: Chip Gaines & The Value Of Hard Work
Get on his level
After giving him a task, maybe find a bit of mutual ground, or ask about the things he’s interested in to know he’s appreciated. So, if he’s into football, ask about his favorite team. Does he love grilling? Get him a new cookbook and cook a few recipes together. Whatever it is, give it a try.
“This will make them feel loved and accepted,” Greenberg added. “And, if it doesn't then at the very least you will know that you have tried. My experience has been that everyone loves the opportunity to talk about the activities that energize and/or soothe them. We all know that it is a joy to be listened to. It's tiring to always be the listener.”
Never take anything personally
“A healthy couple is able to recognize and deal with the fact that their parents are human beings, with normal and difficult human feelings,” F. Diane Barth, a psychotherapist, and psychoanalyst in private practice shared with Psych Central. As she added, it’s best if you attempt to see their side and understand where they are coming from before taking anything as a personal attack.
Remember everything takes time
Rome wasn’t built in a day, so why would you expect your relationship with your father-in-law would be?
“They have needs, concerns, doubts and feelings, just like you do,” Barth added. “Treat them not like parents, but like you would any other people you are gradually getting to know.”