how to set boundaries with in laws
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Dealing with in-laws can be a tricky situation. While many people have great relationships with their in-laws, others may have recurring issues. That is where setting healthy boundaries come into play. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the common in-law problems that require boundaries, how to set healthy boundaries with in-laws, and when to seek the help of a therapist.

What are the Common In-Law Problems that Require Boundaries?

1. Overbearing Mothers-in-Law

Many of us have heard the jokes about overbearing mothers-in-law showing up unannounced or trying to take over parenting responsibilities. While this may have a humorous side to some, it can be a serious issue that requires boundaries. When you start a family with your spouse, it’s important to establish parental authority and limit your mother-in-law’s overbearing tendencies.

2. Criticizing Parents-in-Law

Another common in-law issue that requires boundaries is criticism. Parents-in-law may criticize your parenting styles, housekeeping, or your choice of spouse. It’s important to set boundaries and let them know that their criticism is unwarranted and hurtful.

3. Toxic In-Laws

Some in-laws may be toxic, meaning they cause stress and drama that affects your relationship with your partner, parenting, and/or daily life. Toxic in-laws may have a personality disorder, may behave abusively, or may have addiction or emotional problems.

How to Set Healthy Boundaries with In-Laws?

1. Find Common Ground with Your In-Laws

Setting boundaries with your in-laws does not mean cutting them out of your life. Finding common ground, discussing your differences openly, and listening to what they have to say may help build a healthy relationship with your in-laws. This will send a clear message that you’re going to handle difficult situations as a team.

2. Confront In-Laws Politely and Keep Your Cool

When you’re dealing with in-law drama, it’s important to stay calm and confront them politely. Explain your boundaries and make it clear that their behavior is not acceptable. Being firm but respectful is key.

3. Get Your Spouse Involved and Present a United Front

Make sure that your spouse is on board with the boundaries you want to establish. Consider presenting a united front when confronting in-laws and handling difficult situations.

When to Seek Help of a Therapist?

1. When In-Law Issues Affect your Marriage or Parenting

If your in-law drama is affecting your marriage, your parenting, or your daily life, it’s time to seek help from a therapist. They can help you develop communication skills and coping strategies that will improve your relationship with your in-laws.

2. When You are Dealing with Particularly Difficult In-Laws

If you’re dealing with particularly difficult or toxic in-laws, seeking professional help is crucial. A therapist can help you find ways to deal with difficult situations while preserving your mental health and your relationship with your partner.

3. Whenever Possible, Involve Your In-Laws in Therapy Sessions

If your in-laws are open to therapy, make sure to involve them in sessions. A therapist can teach you how to handle the situation and build a healthy relationship with your in-laws.


Setting boundaries with in-laws is crucial for a healthy and happy family life. By finding common ground, confronting politely, and seeking professional help when necessary, you can build strong and positive relationships with your in-laws while making sure your boundaries are respected.

Q: What is an in-law?

A: An in-law refers to the parent or relatives of your spouse. For example, your mother-in-law or father-in-law.

Q: What does it mean to set boundaries with in-laws?

A: Setting boundaries with in-laws means establishing limits in your relationship with your spouse’s family in order to maintain a healthy balance and prevent them from interfering in your married life.

Q: How can I handle toxic in-laws?

A: The first step is to recognize the warning signs and trust your instincts. Then, use techniques such as CBT to improve your self-esteem and communicate in a healthy way with them. You can also try to limit contact and avoid speaking about certain topics that may cause conflict.

Q: How can I build a good relationship with my in-laws?

A: Building a good relationship with your in-laws requires patience, understanding, and compromise. Try to find common ground and do little things to show that you care. Respect their opinions and avoid confrontations, even if they say things that you disagree with.

Q: How do I keep the peace with my in-laws?

A: To keep the peace with your in-laws, it’s important to communicate openly and honestly with them. Create clear boundaries and avoid unnecessary conflicts. Always keep in mind that they are a part of your life and that a strong relationship is worth the effort.

Q: What if my spouse’s family is overbear?

A: If your spouse’s family is overbear, it can be challenging to find common ground. However, it’s important to pick your battles and confront the situation in a respectful way. Create a united front with your spouse and address the issue together.

Q: How do I deal with problematic in-laws?

A: Dealing with problematic in-laws requires patience, communication, and understanding. Be clear about your feelings and avoid being insulting or negative. Try to find a solution that works for everyone and always approach the situation with a positive attitude.

Q: What should I do if my in-laws interfere in my marriage and family life?

A: If your in-laws interfere in your marriage and family life, it’s important to set clear boundaries and communicate those boundaries assertively. Be firm but respectful and make it clear that their interference is not welcome.

Q: How do I keep a good relationship with my in-laws even if they say things that I don’t agree with?

A: To keep a good relationship with your in-laws even if they say things that you don’t agree with, it’s important to respect their opinions and avoid unnecessary conflicts. Don’t take everything they say personally and try to find common ground where possible.

Q: How do I handle unsolicited advice from my in-laws?

A: Handling unsolicited advice from your in-laws requires tact and diplomacy. Say something like “I appreciate your concern, but we have our own way of doing things.” or “Thanks for your advice, but we prefer to handle this ourselves.” It’s important to be polite but firm.

Q: How can I deal with the family dynamics in my in-law situation?

A: Dealing with the family dynamics in your in-law situation requires patience, understanding, and communication. Try to create a united front with your spouse and address any issues together. Always keep in mind that a strong relationship with your in-laws is worth the effort.