Foreign in-law dilemmas

By Jacko Waterman Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/12 14:13:39

Let me start with a wholehearted, 100 percent true declaration - I love my in-laws.

While I love them, we have disagreements about many things such as how many layers of clothing the kids should wear in winter, how loud conversations or the TV should be and things as simple as heating, lighting and other household living arrangements. But it's not all bad! I never have to worry that the kids will ever be dirty or hungry for more than 30 seconds. Nor do I need to worry about feeling lonely or isolated in this foreign land - they are always there.

It all started 10 years ago with the first "meet the parents" dinner. My wife had prepped me well. Everyone was polite to a tee. "Please eat more." "Let me serve you." "No need to be polite." The key for harmony was commitment. I was ready for commitment to marriage and therefore commitment to the family, but perhaps with a different cultural understanding.

After we were married, it became more "real." At the time, the old family home and government efforts to relocate the neighborhood always seemed to dominate discussions. I couldn't understand everything, nor could I help, but knew how to look supportive.

The relationship changed when we had kids - it got much more personal. They moved in "temporarily." To them it was completely natural, but this is where the dilemmas started. It was done out of love for us. But eight years later, I am grateful but not sure how to approach the subject of them going home.   

I don't believe that grandparents should act as parents in their role with grandkids, or that parents should act as "older, income-generating kids" who can't look after their own children. This is where we are now. It's a dilemma because this seems to be how they like it and what's more, their sense of identity and worth is tied up in this as well. 

As a son-in-law, I gladly accept my duty to look after my in-laws, but whereas I think they should go home to enjoy their lives, rest more and come and visit whenever they want, I'm faced with a situation where asking them seems to be a rejection of what they've done and who they are. I love them, but I don't know how to show it without seeming selfish for my own wants and needs.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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