Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective

10 Less-Than-Helpful Remarks In-laws Should Stop Making

10 Less-Than-Helpful Remarks In-laws Should Stop Making

We get it. Your whole family is elated because your eldest brother finally got hitched. His wedding had been a long time coming. Now that he has crossed over, you are itching to "orient" your sister-in-law into the family. You have oodles of advice to pass along to her. “I know my brother better than she does, I have known him all my life,” you argue. Before you bog down your sister-in-law with tons of unsolicited advice, consider whether your words will edify her or dampen her spirits.  

Many married people confess to feeling hurt by comments made by their in-laws. Here are 10 less-than-helpful remarks in-laws should stop making:

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  • 1. When Can We Expect Kids?

    There seems to be an unwritten rule that folks are expected to bear kids soon after their wedding. The pressure is specially mounted by the in-laws. If a couple takes several years before having kids, hairs start raising and fingers start wagging with: “Don’t you know you are not growing any younger?” “You really need to give me a grandchild!” It is outrightly rude and careless for inlaws to sneak in such comments. 

    Remember that childbearing is a very sensitive matter. No one wants to be coerced to discuss their reproductive health, especially with their in-laws. Also, some couples do not have kids because they are dealing with varying degrees of infertility. They are not merely “killing time.” Prodding them on the same is poking a raw, throbbing wound. Others simply don’t want to have kids. Recognizing that they are adults, it is best to leave them to their choices. Chiming in with unsolicited advice and forcing them to listen to your experience on the subject matter is intruding into their privacy. The Bible encourages us to mind our own business:

    “That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” (1 Thessalonians 4:11, NKJV).  

    2. His/Her Ex Wouldn't Do That!

    Picture this: your sister is in the last trimester of her first pregnancy. Her husband has to dash out of town for a week for an urgent business trip. He has tried his best to dodge this trip because he is worried about his wife. It has, however, not been possible. He gives you a call and explains his frustration. He also asks if you could constantly check on his wife (your sister) while he is away. This makes your blood boil. You can’t believe he is actually going on the business trip. "My sister’s former boyfriend wouldn't leave her in her hour of need!” you blurt out in anger. 

    Comparing your in-law to your kin’s ex is appalling. Appreciate him or her with their strengths and flaws. After all, your kin chose them above other potential mates, and that’s all that matters. They must have known what they were doing. 

  • Woman stepping on a scale

    3. You've Really Packed on the Pounds

    Let’s be honest, a friend could comment on your weight gain or loss and elicit no reaction from you. You easily discard the comment and move on. But when an in-law starts zooming in to your body image, that is bound to ruffle your feathers. People gain or lose weight for many reasons, some factors being out of their control. Commenting on their weight fluctuation is overstepping your boundaries. They are likely to feel that you are attacking their body image. Besides, people are so much more than their dress sizes. 

    4. You Should Have Consulted Us First

    Perhaps you grew up in a close-knit family and sought each other’s opinions on nearly everything. Changing jobs, buying a new car, and moving cities had to be chewed over by the whole family. When one of you ties the knot, you don’t anticipate that anything will change. So when you find out that your brother and his wife have opened a restaurant without your family’s knowledge, you go up in arms. “Why didn’t you ask us first?" "Why would you keep that a secret?"

    The Bible says that a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2: 24, NKJV). This means that a couple is free to make their own decisions without consulting or seeking the approval of their family. If they chose to share the information, it's all well and good. But if they don’t, no one should condemn them. As an in-law, do not hold the married members of your family hostage. Set them free to make their own decisions.

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  • 5. That's Not the Way My Daughter/Son Likes It

    Yes, you have known your daughter all her life. You know what makes her perk up and what makes her skin crawl.  As her birthday inches closer, you can’t ward off the itch to talk to her husband. You need to warn him that she loathes surprise parties. She also doesn’t care much about flowers. But a small intimate dinner with family? You are certain that would sweep her off her feet. You intend to find out what your son-in-law is planning for her birthday so that you can steer him in the right direction. 

    Doing this is overstepping your boundaries. Remember, your daughter is now one with her husband. Unless he reaches out to you for advice, it's best to allow him to run the show. 

    6. You Named the Baby What?

    Your son-in-law calls, bearing the fantastic news that you are now a grandpa. “What’s his name?" you ask nervously. "We named him Aaron, which means "miracle." We’ve trusted God for this child for so long and we couldn’t think of a more suitable name."  

    "You named the poor baby what?" you retort bitterly. You don't like that name. You were nursing the hope that they would name the baby after you. But they have gone out on a limb, giving him a name that is not in the family line. 

    Having your in-laws poking holes at the names you cherry-picked for your children is very upsetting. Furthermore, parents don’t name their kids on a whim. A lot of thought and prayer often goes into that process. Everybody should respect that.

  • man opening wallet with cash inside

    7. You Need to Take Better Care of His Money

    Anna was in the grocery store with her sister-in-law in tow. As she hauled her family’s weekly supplies onto the shopping cart, her sister-in-law kept fidgeting. "Are you sure you need all that? Don't you need to take better care of Joe's money?" she blurted out. Mortified, Anna burst into tears. Having your in-laws accuse you of misappropriating their kin’s resources is a punch in the gut. Furthermore, such comments are disrespectful and demeaning. If you are dealing with in-laws who pore over your shopping lists with a fine-tooth comb, you need to put your foot down and ask them to stop that disgraceful habit. Remember that God has not given you a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). 

    8. Why Do You Live So Far from Us?

    Perhaps your mom-in-law feels that you whisked her daughter miles away from her. She has a plan. She has found an apartment near her home and wants you to move your family there. She would like to see her daughter and grandkids more often. She has even offered to pay the moving company so that she can be reunited with her daughter at the earliest opportunity. Such an action is intrusive and offensive. In marriage, a man is asked to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. Therefore, relatives should not persuade their married kin to live near them. They are free to live wherever they deem fit. 

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  • 9. That's Not How You Raise Kids

    “You need to put the kids to bed earlier!” or “This child should be helping you with chores by now.” Such comments from the in-laws, criticizing your parenting method, are downright unsavory. Their words make you uncomfortable and communicate disrespect. Parents are given the onus of bringing up their children by God. While it’s okay to offer advice on how they can ace the parenting journey, it is wrong to make them feel incompetent as you impose your parenting tactics on them. 

    Instead, consider being helpful. Rather than telling your daughter-in-law she should have the kids in bed already, ask if you can dress them in their pj's and read a bedtime story. This way, you are helping with your actions rather than condemning with your words. 

    (When in doubt, don't offer an answer unless they first ask a question.) 

    10. Your Family Does That?

    Families are unique, possessing varying family traditions. Different cultures, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and regional distinctions all pour into how families commune. Perhaps your sister-in-law's family has to round up on Christmas Eve and take photos in their pajamas. Or perhaps they have to go camping twice each year. Though their traditions may sound a little puzzling to you, avoid criticizing what they do. Nitpicking at what the other family fancies is demeaning and disrespectful. 

    In addition, if you allow your attitude to turn sour, pointing out the "weird" things they do, you are likely missing out on fun experiences for you and your kids. Give camping a try! Or see who can find the gaudiest Christmas pajamas. Learn to embrace the eccentric pieces of your in-laws' traditions. They might just become your favorites! 

    Crosswalk Writer Keren KanyagoKeren Kanyago is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Spring. As a wife and mom, she uses her blog to weigh in on pertinent issues around parenting, marriage, and the Christian Faith. She holds a degree in mass communication with a specialty in print media. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and/or shoot her an email at