15 New Thanksgiving Traditions for the Family

Celebrate the holiday with these fresh takes.

For many, Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family, make memories, and eat a lot. Some of us have traditions that trace back generations. What about you? Perhaps you look forward to your aunt’s sweet potato pie or anticipate what everyone will say they’re thankful for. 

It’s also fun to start some new traditions that may become part of your family’s fabric. Your kids can look forward to them, play a part in making it better every year, and remember the first time you did it together. Who knows? They may pass it on to their children one day because they helped start the tradition.

Thinking about starting some new Thanksgiving family traditions? Check out these ideas.

1. Do a morning Turkey Trot.

Participate in a charity walk/run/race as a family. My city has one to benefit a local family shelter. No need to be a stellar athlete. Get active while helping a charity. This link lists Thanksgiving Day charity runs throughout the U.S.

2. Share words that will leave imprints on hearts forever.

a) Draw names in your family the week before Thanksgiving. 

b) Write a handwritten note of gratitude to that person. 

c) Stick it in an envelope.

4) Read the notes on Thanksgiving.

3. Facetime/Zoom family and friends who can’t join you. 

Schedule the Zoom ahead of time and see how many extended family members you can get on one call. Be sure to screenshot all the faces. Doesn’t have to last long. You’ll have different homes with Thanksgiving parties linking up for a Zoom party.

4. Deliver treats to local public servants: police officers, firefighters, convenience store workers, etc. 

Bake some cookies or homemade brownies to thank them for their service. Individually wrap them and include a note of thanksgiving and the recipe. This will help your kids learn to think of others.

5. Create a family Thanksgiving music playlist full of seasonal songs. 

Music has a way of keeping the mood just right.

6. After the meal, take a walk and play kickball, wiffle ball, or football. 

Make it a family or neighborhood event.

7. Get to know your family with a game of “Would You Rather?” or “2 Truths and a Lie.” 

You can do this on your family Zoom, around the dinner table, or during the post-meal walk.

8. Teach your kids how to make a family favorite Thanksgiving dish. 

It’s never too early to start passing down traditions to the next generation.

9. Visit a nursing home, foster home, etc.

Spend time with people who may not have family members around. Call ahead and schedule. Workers at the facilities can often direct you to those who will most appreciate your visit.

10. Invite a neighbor or someone who doesn’t have family near to share your Thanksgiving. 

11. Have kids make the appetizer (with your assistance, of course). 

You may not want them in on the main feast quite yet. The kiddos will be beaming with pride when they see everyone eating what they made for the festive occasion. If the appetizer isn’t good, everyone will forget once the turkey, ham, and pies hit the table.

12. Ask lots of questions.

Set questions out for families to discuss while eating. Make it fun and informative. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn about each other.

13. Have a post-meal family game time.

Play a good group game like Spoons, Mafia, Taboo, or Uno. (Note: Use different Uno versions: Uno Attack, Uno Triple Play, or Uno Flip.) Everyone will be talking about the good times and laughs until next Thanksgiving.

14. Get outdoors for a Friday morning hike.

Leaves are colorful. Depending on where you live, the weather may be delightful, with a slight bit of chill. Spend time hiking with the people you love. Bonus: You’ll see plenty to be thankful for.

15. Volunteer.

Serve at a community kitchen, homeless shelter, or any number of places. Call ahead to save your spot, because lots of people volunteer during the holiday season. 

Don’t get discouraged if some new ideas miss the mark. Sometimes the joy is in the attempt. But if you hit on a new tradition or two, you’ll add even more joy to the idea of spending Thanksgiving with the ones you love.

How to Stay Motivated as a Parent

Here are 6 things to help you keep your motivation game strong.

As a parent, it can be tough to feel motivated when there’s so much to do: for your family, work, home, yourself – you name it. It doesn’t really matter what time of year it is – it’s always something. Fall can be a hectic season for moms and dads with all the festivals, gatherings with family and friends, and the holidays looming large. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with everything on your to-do list, or you just feel like you lack enthusiasm right now. 

If that’s where you find yourself as a parent, here are some ways to ignite your motivation as you and your family make the most of this time of year.

1. Remember that it starts with you.

It’s often easier for parents to live out Newton’s First Law of Motion, which states that an object in motion stays in motion. It’s hard to stop when you are overrun with things to do. The thought of slowing down is overwhelming. So we put on a happy and excited face when in reality, we lack energy and motivation. 

You’ve probably heard that “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It’s true! You have to find things that provide energy for you. It’s essential to understand that taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. Actually, it allows you to be a better parent.

2. Find ways to have child-free times.

Make time in your schedule to enjoy being alone. You may have to get up early or stay up late. You may have to resort to using the bathroom as an escape. Sometimes I find myself sitting on my back porch enjoying the sound of crickets and cicadas and watching the sun go down. Whatever you have to do, make space for yourself. 

3. Remember your why.

Most parents work hard to raise their children to become productive adults in society. Raising kids is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be times that you are tired. You may feel like nothing is going the way you planned or thought. In those moments, remember your reason. 

4. Find ways to enjoy your parenting journey.

When things are challenging, take time to reminisce. Look through old pictures and videos. Then, create new memories. Work together to find a new favorite dessert recipe and cook it together. Have an impromptu photo shoot. Go for a scenic drive and enjoy nature. Be creative and make it fun.

5. Live in gratitude.

Being a parent is one of the greatest gifts through the big things, little things, easy things, or hard things. An attitude of gratitude demonstrates that we are fortunate to have the opportunity to parent our children. (Not trying to give you anything else on your to-do list, but keeping track of your blessings and expressing thankfulness is actually good for you in so many ways!)

6. Find parenting mentors.

One way to stay motivated is by finding parenting mentors. Think about the people you know who have raised their children and exhibit the attributes you want for your children. Once you identify them, invite them out for coffee and ask them, “How did you do it?” Listen for tips that you can incorporate into your parenting. 

Parenting is easy. (Said no one EVER.) HAA! Parenting is one of the hardest things you will ever do. There will be times when you feel like you have nothing to give. Many of us have felt the same way, so believe me when I say you are not alone. Feel. What. You. Feel. Then find that drive from deep inside to help you get back on track so you can be a motivated parent. You are exactly what your children need.

Tips for a Stress-Free Halloween

You don't have to let Halloween drive you crazy!

Halloween stress got you downright scared? Does the thought of taking your little monsters trick-or-treating give you nightmares and send shivers down your spine? Does the sugarfest at the end of the evening just make you want to screeaammm?? 

We all know that kids can sense the stress that we feel, which affects their stress levels.1 And that can make for a harrowing, horror-ific Halloween night. 

But there’s no need for the stress of Halloween to drive you batty. Instead, try using these spooktacular tips below for a stress-free Halloween with your kiddos. 

  • Scare up an easy dinner before you go out. Full tummies make for happier trick-or-treaters. Don’t make it complicated for yourself. Shoot for frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, or easy grilled-cheese sand-witches. And save a few leftovers for when you get back home. 
  • Join forces with other families. The candy-hunting trip can be much more fun and manageable when you’re together with friends. Adults can help look out for each other’s kids. A long night of trick-or-treating can feel shorter (not to mention more relaxed) when you have other parents to share the experience with. 
  • Hit the restroom before candy-sniping. Ok, you probably know this if you’re a veteran parent. But it’s a good reminder. Bladders are small, and frustrations can arise when you’re across the neighborhood and one of them “has to go…reeeaal bad…
  • Pack for the road. Tote along a backpack with extra jackets, water bottles, an umbrella, and a plastic shopping bag (either for candy wrappers from “on-the-spot” taste tests, or in case the plastic pumpkin bucket snaps a handle). Your kid may insist on wearing their sparkly cowboy boots or dinosaur feet, so carry along an extra pair of sneakers in case they get tired, achy feet later in the trip. (A stroller or wagon is a good idea, too!)
  • Plan for the cold. If possible, have the rugrats wear PJs or sweats under their costumes. It adds an extra layer to cut off the chill, and they can easily peel their costumes off when they’re ready to sift through the spoils when they get back home. 
  • When it’s time, kill the porch light. You and the family may like to hand out candy to other little witches and ghouls once you get home from your own trick-or-treat trip. But don’t forget to take the opportunity to spend some alone time together as a family. Close the door, turn the porch light out, brew up some hot chocolate, and cue up a kid-friendly Halloween flick until it’s time for lights out. 
  • Relocate for trick-or-treating. Is your neighborhood not the most lucrative on Halloween night? Is the candy supply in short supply on All Hallow’s Eve? Trying to avoid taking your kid by Old Farmer Johnson’s abandoned shack to see who has a pack of licorice to offer? Find out who in your town is offering treating opportunities. Sometimes the stores in the mall will hand out candy. Churches, community centers, and other organizations will often host Halloween festivals or “trunk-or-treat” nights. This keeps the candy-hunting in one spot, facilities are close and convenient, and high-grade candy is usually abundant. 
  • Offer candy credit. Before the little monsters start goblin up all the processed sugar, make a deal with them that they can trade in a portion of their loot for other incentives. Maybe they give you 80% of their lot for a trip to buy a $10 toy. Or for half their chocolate, you’ll take them to see a movie at the theater. Donate their trade-in candy to a good cause

When it’s all said and done, Halloween should be an opportunity for families to draw closer and share a fun experience together. And being stress-free doesn’t have to be just witchful thinking. Trick-or-treat yourself (and your kids) to a stress-free Halloween night!  

Source

1Laurent, H. K. (2014). Clarifying the Contours of Emotion Regulation: Insights From Parent-Child Stress Research. Child Development Perspectives, 8(1), 30–35. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdep.12058

5 Tips for Keeping Your Child Motivated in School

You can be their biggest encourager toward success.

Part of being a parent is being your child’s biggest cheerleader, encourager, and motivator. Our kids have a lot going on in their lives, and staying motivated in school can be a challenge. It’s a responsibility and a privilege to come alongside and help them discover what motivates them.

If you study great leaders or successful people, there’s often one key common trait: they are highly self-motivated. They have clear goals, take steps to achieve them, are passionate, and aren’t crippled by failure. There are numerous theories on what causes motivation, whether intrinsic or extrinsic, arousal-driven, or instinctual. It may be all of those or a mixture. But self-motivation is definitely a driver of success. 

You can help your child discover what motivates them personally and foster an attitude of self-motivation.

Here are 5 tips for keeping your child motivated in school:

1. Create a learning environment.

Let them know that your family takes education seriously. Help your child see themselves as a good student. See the world as an educational opportunity and find different ways to help children learn. You can help them learn in the real world by using the five senses and everyday activities (no textbook required). 

2. Stay positive.

This may seem obvious but being positive is the best way to encourage your child. Reinforce positive behavior with praise and support. Acknowledge when mistakes happen, then turn them into learning opportunities.

Researchers have found strong evidence that when students believe in themselves, they achieve more academically. The best way for your student to believe in themselves is for you to believe in them. Students care when they think that others care about them. 

3. Get involved.

According to the National PTA, the most accurate predictor of academic achievement is not socioeconomic status or how prestigious the school is that a child attends. The best predictor of student success is the extent to which families encourage learning at home and involve themselves in their child’s education.

When parents are involved with their children’s school, they have the support to thrive and develop a lifelong love for learning. Showing interest in their studies, volunteering at school, and staying connected to their teacher are great examples of parental involvement. 

Children with engaged parents are more likely to:

  • Earn higher grades,
  • Graduate from high school and attend post-secondary education,
  • Develop self-confidence and motivation in the classroom, and
  • Have better social skills and classroom behavior.

Technology has made communicating with teachers convenient, but it doesn’t replace building a relationship with your child’s teacher. Parental involvement matters more now than ever. In 2016, research showed a drop in parents who believe that parent-teacher communication is effective. Knowing your child’s teacher and making sure they know you matters. Get to know other school staff as well.

4. Don’t obsess about the future.

As a parent, I want my child to be successful, but what does that mean? Does success mean they attend a top-tier college and launch a successful career? Maybe. Does it mean they discover what they love and chase that passion? Possibly. Does it mean they find ways to positively contribute to society and make the world a better place? Absolutely! 

Your child’s education is essential, but don’t focus too much on what lies ahead. Help them discover what motivates them in school right now, and what makes them passionate. Help them see how they can contribute to their community now today. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in where we want our kids to go that we overlook living in the moment with them. 

The future is important, and we should prepare them for what lies ahead. We don’t have to sacrifice the present in the process. 

5. Reward effort.

Your child may be motivated in school by rewards, and that’s ok. Who doesn’t like a reward for a job well done? Research shows that external rewards can undermine students’ internal motivation for learning. The findings don’t mean, however, that incentives have a universally negative effect on internal motivation. In the same study, students who initially showed little interest in drawing and later received an unexpected reward for doing so chose to spend more of their free time on that activity.

Side note: It’s highly beneficial to reward effort as well as achievements. Maybe history isn’t their forte, and an average grade is the best they can achieve. If they’ve put all their effort into the work, it deserves to be recognized.

Although each student is motivated differently, if a student believes that hard work and persistence pay off, it strongly affects their motivation. Take the time to help them identify their motivators.

Sources:

The Importance of Students’ Motivation for Their Academic Achievement – Replicating and Extending Previous Findings

Motivation Matters: How New Research Can Help Teachers Boost Student Engagement

How Parent Involvement Leads to Student Success

How the Instinct Theory Explains Motivation

Other blogs:

5 Ways Positive Parenting Creates a Lifelong Connection with Your Child

How To Encourage Your Child’s Strengths

5 Ways To Help Your Child Be More Confident

8 Ways Kids Are Smart

Maybe you were like me and had a vision/dream/plan for how your life would go. During my college years, I created a five and 10-year plan for my life. It included graduating, getting a job, getting married (I was dating my future husband), buying a house, and traveling. None of my dreams had an unplanned pregnancy, which can rock your world.

Some of the things I planned did occur. I graduated from college, worked as a teacher, and got married. Eventually, other items made my list, like attending graduate school. Still, getting pregnant was down the line – way down the line.  

But picture this: I was in the last semester of graduate school. I had found my dream career. I was feeling unwell but attributed it to eating bad mall food or the stress of school. But something inside said, “Go get a pregnancy test,” and I did. I still remember what I felt when those two pink lines were evident on that strip: OMG, I’m pregnant, and it’s unplanned. 

If you’re in a similar situation, you may be wondering how to process all you’re feeling inside.

Here are some ways to help you process the emotions of an unplanned pregnancy:

1. Acknowledge the emotional overload.

Take time to process everything that you are feeling. It doesn’t have to happen overnight. 

When I saw those two pink lines, I immediately went into denial. This can’t be happening. This wasn’t in the plan right now. Then I was bombarded with emotions like being overwhelmed, scared, nervous, excited, and a little shame and guilt because I was faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Then came gratefulness because my doctor had told me it would be challenging to have a baby, and several of my friends were having trouble getting pregnant. Dealing with your emotions can take a while, no matter what they are.

2. Feel what you feel.

It’s essential to allow all that you feel to surface, even if it’s ANGER. Your natural reaction may be to push down negative thoughts or emotions. It’s better to put all your feelings on the table to deal with them. If you are angry at yourself, your partner, or even your child, it’s OK to feel what you feel. You just can’t stay there, because it’s not helpful.

3. Be prepared for your feelings to change.

You are experiencing many things right now, but that doesn’t mean you will always feel this way. If you feel angry or overwhelmed, it definitely doesn’t mean you aren’t cut out to be a parent. An unplanned pregnancy doesn’t mean your child won’t be loved or adored upon arrival. Be gentle with yourself and your spouse/partner as you both process. 

4. Talk to your circle of support.

Yes, you may be on emotional overload. You have too many questions and not enough answers. Guess what? Your partner is probably dealing with the same things: shock, denial, feeling overwhelmed, or even scared. In the same way you need space and time to process, give your spouse/partner the same consideration. A healthy relationship should be the primary safe space for you to share concerns and fears about the change in your lives.

Talking to friends and family will help you recognize that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. In fact, more than 45% percent of women in the U.S. have experienced an unplanned pregnancy. Sharing all that you feel in an open and safe environment allows you to process your feelings. 

Emotions do not have to be destructive, and what you do with all you’re feeling can make a world of difference. So allow yourself to feel and process through what you feel. Shoving down your emotions and ignoring them aren’t beneficial to you or your situation. As you read this, you may still be in some form of shock or denial, and that’s OK. Keep moving forward and processing your emotions to get to the other side. 

Remember, some of the best surprises are unplanned.

Other blogs:

4 Things to Know About Emotional Safety

Tips for Controlling Your Emotions

Unplanned Pregnancy in Marriage

Sources: 

Preventing unplanned pregnancy: Lessons from the states

20 Questions to Ask Your Family This Fall

Celebrate together as the season changes.

The cool, crisp mornings. The crackle of a bonfire. The gooeyness of s’mores. The vibrant colors popping in the trees. Fall is upon us, and it’s oh so magical.

The dawn of any new season brings opportunities to intentionally connect with your kids. It’s a great time to talk about what makes fall unique and learn more about your traditions and traditions around the world. 

Here are some questions to kick off fall conversations with your family.

As with any good questions, take the opportunity to dig a little deeper into your kids’ responses. Ask them why they answer a certain way. Have fun! You might find some new fall family traditions in your conversations.

1. What fall scent smells the best?

Pumpkin spice, apple cinnamon, apple cider, pecan pie, bonfire, just to name a few.

2. What’s your favorite fall activity?

Hayrides, trick or treating, pumpkin carving, the list goes on and on.

3. Where’s your favorite place to go in the fall?

Do you have a specific place you like to visit to see the leaves change? Is there an apple orchard or pumpkin patch that your family loves?

4. What’s your fondest fall memory from your childhood?

This could be a specific holiday, a fun trip, or just something that brings joy.

5. What fall holiday do you enjoy most?



6. What fall holiday from another culture would you like to learn more about?

To learn about more holidays around the world, check out 10 Autumn Traditions Around the World – Aberdeen.

7. What’s your favorite fall food?

Plan to make these as a family over the next week.

8. What are you thankful for?

And since gratefulness isn’t just limited to Thanksgiving, get our free download: 25 Family Activities to Increase Thankfulness and Joy

9. What’s your favorite thing to watch in the fall?

(Halloween classics, Thanksgiving specials, football, the World Series, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or are you prepping for Christmas already?)

Would you rather:

10. Enjoy a pumpkin spice drink or apple cider?

11. Get lost in a corn maze or spooked in a haunted house?

12. Eat caramel apples or candy corn?

13. Watch football or baseball? (It’s the playoffs!)

14. Jump in a pile of leaves or go on a hayride?

15. Have a cool, crisp, fall day or go back to the summer heat?

Trivia (Who doesn’t love good trivia?):

16. What makes leaves change their color? 

(Answer: Sugar is trapped in the leaves, causing red and purple colors.)

17. What country did Halloween originate from? 

(Answer: Ireland. Halloween originates from a Celtic festival celebrating the new year on November 1. Traditions were to light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.)

18. What is the most popular autumn tradition in the world? 

(Answer: Halloween. It’s traditionally celebrated as All Hallows’ Eve in many countries (the day before All Saints’ Day). 

Bonus: Thanksgiving comes in second, followed by Dia de Los Muertos. If you want to explore another culture’s celebrations, I strongly recommend learning more about Dia de Los Muertos. Sounds like a “Coco” movie night!

Finish this statement:

19. My favorite Halloween treat is:

20. My favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving is:

Use these conversation starters at the dinner table or in the car.

Fall is a great time to connect as a family. Take the time to slow down before the bustle of the holiday season. The weather is perfect for getting outdoors and exploring with your family.

Other resources:

DIY Date Night: Let’s Fall In Love!

25 Fall Activities For The Whole Family To Enjoy

30 Romantic Fall Date Ideas For Couples

Grandparents usually mean well. Like you, they want your child to become a great adult, but their way of showing this can cause problems. Sometimes they may seem controlling, undermining, manipulative, overbearing, or critical. They can make you feel insecure, incompetent, or small. (Imagine my thumb and pointer finger getting closer and closer to each other.) You both have desires and expectations. Sometimes, they clash and the grandparents overstep boundaries they may not even know they’ve crossed.

It can be anything: food choices, entertainment, clothing, the holidays, discipline, etc. Things they don’t think are a big deal may be huge for you. You want a good relationship with your parents and in-laws. You also want your kids to have good relationships with their grandparents. In your mind, the boundaries are designed to protect that relationship. 

So what do you do when the grandparents overstep boundaries?

1. Start by resolving in your mind the reason for the boundary.

This helps you clarify why it’s important to you. How does the boundary help the child and/or family? 

2. Is there a bigger issue?

Are they overstepping because of fear? Do they fear their grandchildren won’t like them as much if they don’t give them more sweets or grander holiday gifts? Maybe they’re afraid their grandkids won’t know them well if they don’t see them “enough.” They may just think the boundary is unnecessary. It’s also possible they’re trying to make up for lost time.

You don’t have to know all the answers, but talking through them with your spouse and the grandparents with an open mind can help you address bigger issues.

1. Get on one page with your spouse.

Understand 1) the boundary, 2) how it was crossed, and 3) the reason for the boundary. It’s common for the boundary to be “more important” to one spouse than the other. But sticking to the boundaries (whether you agree on the level of importance or not) is essential.

2. Talk to the grandparent.

It’s generally better for the biological child to talk to their own parent privately, away from the kids or others, though both spouses being present is a good thing. You may start the conversation with, “I was bothered when you __________,” or “I was disappointed when I heard _______________,” or “I felt disrespected as their parent when you __________.” Notice the use of “’I” statements. You’re not calling them a bad grandparent or accusing them of being something negative. You’re addressing how you felt when a particular event happened.

3. Ask why?

Tone matters. Body language matters even more than words. This part of the conversation may help you understand if there are bigger issues.

4. Stay on-topic.

Focus on the main issue, not about whether you’re a good parent or how they felt at the last holiday dinner. 

5. If grandparents keep overstepping, then adjust.

However, be specific about the reasons why. Perhaps you skip a few holidays or don’t let the kids stay the night with their grandparents for a while. Be clear. This isn’t about the grandparent feeling the same way about your boundaries or trying to be someone they aren’t. It’s about raising your family and creating the family culture how you see fit.

6. Search for areas of compromise.

(I don’t mean compromising the expectation to respect boundaries.) As parents and kids grow, boundaries may change. What kids can watch on TV may change. For instance, if what grandparents feed your children is an issue, a compromise may be that the child and grandparent can prepare food to eat together once a month. 

7. Separate the act from the character.

The grandparent may be manipulative, controlling, or judgmental. Pointing out their actions and crossed boundaries is more concrete and tangible than calling them manipulative. Instead of saying, “You’re manipulative. You give them gifts you know we don’t approve of,” you could say, “When you gave them that gift for Christmas that we didn’t approve of, I felt like you were manipulating to get them to like you.” Remember, the goal is to help the grandparent have good relationships with your family. 

8. Forgive.

If the grandparent expresses an understanding and a realization that they overstepped a boundary, then forgive them. Don’t hold the grudge forever. If it becomes a pattern, you can still forgive as you adjust. (See number 6.)

Your child’s grandparents may have strong opinions about boundaries, and it’s tough for some to respect their child as a parent. If you’re willing to stand with your spouse and have some tough conversations, you can help everyone transition to this new phase in everyone’s relationship. 

Other blogs:

So, You Need to Talk to Your In-Laws About Boundaries

What To Do When Grandparents Undermine Your Parenting

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5 Tips for Distancing From Your In-Laws

Getting along may take time, effort, and patience.

As a newlywed, establishing and navigating relationships with in-laws can be filled with tension and pitfalls. I recall the first significant conversation with my in-laws when I felt disrespected and disconnected. The conversation went something like this: “Hey, you never call. You never come by. Do you not like us?” I remember trying to gather my thoughts. My first reaction was, “OMG! I want nothing to do with them!” From there, I had to stop and consider what they were asking for, not what I was hearing. They wanted to be part of our lives but were pushing too hard to make that happen.

You may be saying, “There is nothing to consider! They said something I don’t like, and there is nothing to think about and nothing we need to talk about, ever.” I get it. I really do. 

And please hear me say this: If your in-laws are verbally or physically abusive*, this blog is not for you!

Nevertheless, for me, there were things to consider, like:

  1. Relationship with my sisters-in-law (They had nothing to do with that conversation.)
  2. My husband loves his parents and wants to continue to have interactions with them.
  3. How will our future children be impacted by this distant relationship?
  4. What about other family gatherings? 

So before I chose to destroy (sever) the relationship, I sought to find healthy boundaries* and create appropriate distance between my in-laws and me. 

Here are some things to keep in mind if you need some distance from your in-laws, too. 

1. Understand that their family dynamics or interactions are different from yours.

I struggled with needing distance because my in-laws expected the same thing from me that they expected from their children. They expected me to call every morning and have dinner with them on Sundays. It took me a while to recognize that they didn’t have unrealistic expectations; their expectations were just different from the ones my parents had. Once I set a boundary of once a week calls and dinners once per month, things calmed down.

2. Be willing to create a relationship with the in-laws.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re just getting to know them or if you had a long-term relationship before your marriage. Now that you’re married, you are establishing a new and different relationship. As such, you’re still getting to know each other. Be open to a fresh start. 

3. Their behavior probably comes from a place of care.

Usually, in-laws desire to feel close and connected. To you, it may feel like they’re smothering you and your relationship. Try to see the good in their actions. 

4. Living away from them can provide natural boundaries.

I remember watching “Everybody Loves Raymond.” The main characters, Deborah and Ray, lived directly across the street from Ray’s parents, Marie and Frank. Deborah and Marie had issues. One of the main ones was proximity. Marie and Frank constantly barged into Deborah and Ray’s house without advance notice or invitation. I would tell my husband, “Couldn’t be me.” Gratefully, it wasn’t. Within six months of our marriage, my husband and I moved 12 hours away from our families. Truthfully, it was easier to deal with or even ignore behaviors because I would only be around them for short periods.

5. You and your spouse are a FAMILY.

It may be hard for one or both of you to set boundaries with family. Remember this, though: Once you’re married, your spouse becomes your primary family member. In my case, I do respect my mother-in-law as his mother. Yet, I know my PLACE as his WIFE. I am confident and don’t feel the need to compete with my mother-in-law. Your primary allegiance is to the family you created with your spouse. Standing up for them with your family or supporting them as they stand up to their family for you is crucial. 

When you and your spouse said, “I do,” you united your families as well. Learning the rules of engagement for each family requires time, effort, and patience. You may have heard the old saying: “Good fences make good neighbors.” That saying also applies to families. When you have healthy boundaries, it can prevent in-laws from being outlaws.

*If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.*

Other blogs:

What to Do When You Don’t Really Like Your In-Laws

So, You Need to Talk to Your In-Laws About Boundaries

What to Do When You Aren’t Crazy About Your Future In-Laws