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Dear Care and Feeding,
Our married daughter’s in-laws are, sadly, pretty immature people. The week of these kids’ weddings, my wife was forced into playing therapist to convince them of the importance of attending their son’s outdoor wedding (fear of COVID nearly kept them away!).
This was hugely stressful for my wife. In the three years since then, we’ve been amazed by their self-pitying comments and guilt-inducing remarks directed at their adult sons and daughters-in-law. They gossip to each of their sons about the other’s marriage, offer their opinions about which marriage is better/worse, and which couple treats them best. They childishly keep track of which couple spends more time with them and gives them more attention. Last year our daughter and her husband got up the courage to tell them this was inappropriate behavior and communicated clearly that it needed to stop, and it subsided for a while. But it’s rearing its ugly head again. And besides this, these people, who are in their 60s, seem generally miserable and share that misery frequently with the “kids,” which triggers their anxiety. Any suggestions?
—What in the World?
Dear What in the World,
Oh, yes. stay out of this. Your daughter’s relationship with her in-laws is none of your business. Your son-in-law’s relationship with his parents is even less your business. Your daughter and her husband are adults, and how to handle this other set of parents is entirely up to them. (By the way, anxiety about contracting COVID, even outdoors, in May 2020, was not in any way an overreaction. I’m sorry it stressed your wife out for having to persuade them to attend—and I certainly hope no one died of COVID as a result of this gathering—but your including this information as an example of the in-laws’ “immaturity” makes me take everything else you’ve said with a grain or two of salt.)
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