How to Make Your In-Laws Like You
So you’re dating someone that you really like. They’re fun, smart, and everything you’re looking for. You even think they’re the one.
Okay maybe you’re getting a little ahead of yourself. But you can’t deny they’re great. Just one roadblock. Their parents don’t like you.
Who doesn’t fear their potential in-laws?
Dealing with In-laws provide plenty of fodder for Hollywood movies. In our personal lives jokes about in-laws are used in social situations and breaking the ice in awkward family gatherings.
But meeting someone’s parents can be awkward and anxiety inducing. Especially if you feel like you’re on the outside.
They might hold doctoral degrees and you’re still taking part time night classes. They may be the types that always follow the rules and you’re more of a rebel. Or it could be that you just made a horrible first impression that’s hard to come back from.
The problem is, you want to go the distance with your significant other. You just need to know how to win over your future in-laws.
Love is War
Menelaos Apostolou was curious about how children dealt with the family of their significant other. He did extensive interviews with Greek families to find out. The study and his findings were published in the journal Human Nature.
Menelaos looks at it like this:
“Parents do not always find their children’s mate choices to comply with their own preferences and engage in manipulation in order to drive away undesirable boyfriends and girlfriends.”
When parents dislike someone their son or daughter is dating, it can get a bit rough. Some children fight back with tactics of their own.
However, less is known about how their mate tries to persuade the parents-in-law. He explains:
“To avoid this situation, individuals engage in counter manipulation in order to change their prospective parents-in-law’s minds to accept them as mates for their children.”
I’ve heard of mating dances in the animal kingdom. It seems we humans take it to the next level by engaging in a manipulation dance with our mate’s parents as well.
Love is tough.
Strategy and Tactics
The study consisted of three different parts.
The first part consisted of giving an open-ended questionnaire to the children. This resulted in 41 different techniques that were used to get into parent’s good graces.
The second part tried to identify which tactics were used most. The tactics were grouped into 7 broader tactics. The categories – in order of most employed – include:
- “I am right for your child.” Children would demonstrate to the prospective parents-in-law how they were a good influence on their son or daughter.
- “I do not deserve this!” They show their mates’ parents that they do not deserve their rejection.
- “Why don’t you like me?” Individuals try to determine why the parents disapprove and try to change their minds.
- “No confrontation” They avoid confrontation.
- “You have to accept the situation!” A tactic where they threaten parents with possibly never seeing their grandchildren.
- “Approach” Individuals try to grow closer to the parents by inviting them for dinner and buying gifts.
- “Tell them I am good!” They ask their mates to persuade their parents.
What Actually Works
The final part of the study polled the parents.
Which tactics were actually the most effective in convincing the parents that they were worthy?
The two strategies that were most effective with parents were:
- “I am right for your child”
- “No confrontation”
And the two strategies that were least effective were:
- “Tell them I am good!”
The research also suggested that the mother may be more likely to influenced with these tactics than the fathers. Something to keep in mind when focusing your efforts.
Word of Caution
When considering the best tactic to persuade their parents, you may want to be cautious. The study itself was done with Greek couples and their in-laws. So there might be some cultural context that you may have to account for.
Additionally, not everyone’s parents come from the same background or have the same values. So you may want to take that into consideration as well.
Hopefully, though, you find yourself in the best case scenario. Where they actually like you and you don’t have to worry about how to make your in-laws like you.
But that might just be wishful thinking.
A of DooM