How To Survive Christmas With The In-laws
Copyright 2007 Heaven Ministries ~ Marriage Healing Ministry

Are you having the in-laws over for Christmas dinner? For some of us trying to deal with disrespectful, overbearing or manipulative in-laws can make the holidays even more stressful than they already are. This article will discuss a few tips for making this time of year easier to manage while enjoying yourself at the same time. 

Have Everyone Bring Something 
If it's possible ask mother in-law and every person that is coming to your house to bring something so that all you're cooking is the turkey or ham. Everyone can bring a side dish from the list of side dishes of your choosing. This way mother in-law cannot snub her nose at your cooking. Of course if they are coming from out of town this will not work.

Detach With Love
If your mother in law is any thing like mine, you will at times have to lovingly detach from her. My mother in-law is overbearing and bossy and the reason is she is set in her Italian ways! I have come to accept this fact from her and so I prepare myself for "the anything can and will happen" attitude. And this works! I go through in my head all the different scenarios that will happen. 

For instance your mom in-law may want to tell you how to cook the turkey or ham, hence, it's not the way you learned from your own mother and you simply do not want to take her advice. What a dilemma. What can you do without offending your mother in-law? You can politely tell her that next year you would love to come over to her house for Christmas while she cooks the turkey or ham the way she likes it because you know it will be delicious. 

Uh oh, now you have backed her into a corner, she will have to do the cooking next year just to show you that her ham is better than yours. You see how that works? By the way, do not ever tell your mother in-law how to do anything, showing her instead works better. 

Be Respectful Even If It Hurts
I think most mother in-laws mean well. They don't want to step on your toes but because they are so used to doing things their way, they feel that their way is the only way. Mom in-law may henpeck you because of your children's table manners. Little Jimmy is wiping his mouth on his shirt and gulping is milk with loud slurps. Your in-laws glare at you with those piercing eyes that seem to say "you're not a good mother for not teaching your children proper manners at the dinner table." Now what?

Sometimes we tend to make things worse with our mother in-law. Out of annoyance, we can't hold back our feelings towards her, and we get disrespectful, and that makes us look like the ones who need help doing things properly. Let her go ahead and tell you how she likes things done, and listen to what she has to say, even nodding your head in agreement and leave it at that. Tolerate your in-laws even if it is hard to do. 

Be Politely Assertive
Many times when our in-laws become overbearing we don't do anything about it, except maybe feel resentful. So you have to politely assert yourself with them about the way you do things for your own family. Always smiling and staying as monotone as possible. Don't let them hear one hint of emotion in your voice, be confident in your dealings with your in-laws and they will accept you for who you are. They can tell when you lack self-confidence in your abilities and that is why sometimes they give out unasked for advice. 

Talk With Your Spouse
Talk with your spouse before your in-laws come over. You both need to be in agreement on how you will deal with them if they do become too pushy and overbearing. They may be your in-laws, but they are your spouse's parents. They certainly will not take you very seriously unless you both agree on the attitude you will take with them. 

If Annoyed - Leave Room
If your in-laws behavior does annoy you, leave the room before you blurt something out that may embarrass you and make you look bad. Most of the time if we take a deep breath and think about what we should say and do, we can come back in a more relaxed manner and express ourselves with confidence. And that's the way we need to be with our in-laws. 

Bottom line is your in-laws may think they know it all, but if we give them reasons to believe they know it all, you will be stuck with parent in-laws that will often be annoying, overbearing, and give you unasked for advice. It's all up to you. Be assertive and respectful and by all means, enjoy yourself this holiday season.