Since You Asked…

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Dear Caroline,

My daughter recently married into a family I don’t care for. Her husband’s parents don’t have much class. For example, when they came to visit my home, I spent an entire day shopping and another day cooking a delicious dinner, which I served on my best china. When I visited them, they put out cheese and crackers on paper plates at the last minute. That’s just a simple example. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

The point is that as long as my daughter is married to their son, I have to see them, and every time I do, they irritate me.

What can I do?

…Miffed Mother in Law

Dear Miffed,

That short answer to what you can do is nothing.

While your social standards for entertaining guests may be more elevated and sophisticated than theirs, your standards are nothing more than your opinion about how things should be done. There is a vast difference between an opinion and an empirical truth. As long as your daughter is happy in her marriage, that’s all that matters.

God gives every human being permission to be who they are. We, in turn, are our best selves when we find the grace to do the same. It’s not our job or right to make people feel something is wrong with them because they’re not just like us.

When these people annoy you, remind yourself that, like everyone else, you too have less-than-stellar qualities other people have to tolerate.

Granted, you didn’t get to choose these new relatives, but you have one choice: You can choose to meet them where they are — for your daughter’s sake — assuming they’re treating her well.

Meeting people where they are doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything they say or do. It means acknowledging their right to their own opinions, choices and individuality. Now that you know to expect cheese and crackers on paper plates, don’t be surprised when that’s all you get, and give yourself the latitude to reciprocate in kind.

Your daughter’s transition to wife is a big adjustment for her. New wives tend to feel a certain pressure to try to please everyone.

Be there for your daughter with an understanding and sympathetic ear. Give her the best advice you can when she asks for it. But please remember that her marriage isn’t about you.

No matter how you feel, please don’t burden her with class comparisons or unsolicited critiques of her new husband or in-laws.

Yours truly,


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