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What Do You Do if Your In-Laws are Having Too Big of an Impact on Your Family Culture?

Jeremy:
What do you do if your in-laws are having a dramatic or maybe a too intense, too big impact on your family culture? How do you handle that and how do you think through that? This is a problem. A lot of times people have the opposite problem where their parents, their in-laws are not very engaged, not very involved. Others have the issue where they feel like, ah, there’s a lot of encroachment and I’m not sure how to handle this. We got this question that was well-worded from Lucas. He asks, “Could you guys do a video on how to manage your parents, my son’s grandparents, influence on my nuclear family dynamic? It has been a source of frustration, partly because of my own insecurity and their strong personalities.”

One of things I love about just the way this question is worded is just Lucas’ is honesty about some of this is your own insecurity and one of the realities, you guys, is when you start a new family, your father-in-law, or mother-in-law, but let’s just say your father-in-law, because that could be the most intimidating and he’s been working on this probably for 30 or 40 years, if they have an intact family and you’re marrying into a strong family, all of a sudden bam, you’re a total newbie at this. You’re like how do I get started? I need some practice. I need the ability to do this without being overly influenced. I do think about this in stages. I do think it’s important that early on there be enough separation, enough clarity so that you as a father can really develop the kind of culture and the kind of partnership that you need with your wife.

But what’s cool about that is oftentimes we think that the purpose of all of that strength, all that clarity and that united front is to then move away from the previous generation. But oftentimes what I’ve discovered is that if you can be really strong as a father, learn how to really establish your own family culture, give yourself some space to do that and have that conversation obviously with your wife. Then as that gets stronger, it’ll be easier for you to actually involve those upstream generations into that family culture.

That’s how it worked with us. There was a season where it probably wouldn’t have been real healthy for us to have too much influence coming in from upstream generations. I didn’t know what I wanted, I didn’t know what kind of culture made the most sense for our family. I needed to figure that out. Me and April had to work on that together and had to work on our own partnership. But once we really established that, then we increasingly open the doors to both of our parents and now it feels very natural. But those were the stages we went through. And I think oftentimes when you have a really young, fragile new family, this can be really challenging. But what do you think, Jeff?

Jeff:
Yeah, I was going to say the exact same thing of there certainly does need to be kind of a protection and a pursuit of your new nucleus. It’s just like any kind of a startup even in biology and organisms of that early years is very fragile in creating and bolstering the foundation. And then you can go put out in the wild and then you can go out and live and grow and learn. And I think it’s similar of you want to live in a multi generational way, but you do have to make sure that this new entity of one flesh coming together, man and woman and with children is a new entity that’s being formed or a new division of the company in some sense.

You can have to know what’s your pursuit, what are you doing? Where are you going? And then I think then you can actually, basically with a little separation and a little, especially if there’s a little bit more hands on this before, then just taking that a couple of years or something. And I think communicate that properly, communicate that kindly. Maybe it means a move, maybe it doesn’t. But with the long game of knowing like, Hey, but I do want to come back here and I do want to integrate and I do want to connect. I just need to find a more vision and identity for our family currently. And I think if you can communicate that, then I think the Lord will do a lot. And I think also that sounds riskier, especially to someone who’s maybe walking through insecurity, like you said.

And I think that’s where that seems to be almost the thing that’ll help grow you in that. That’s risk is the thing that’ll help bolster you and grow you in that scenario. That’s what I would say. And that’s what I encourage you with. There’s a little bit of both and, and a little bit of separate grow, really understand God’s vision for your family, where he wants to take you and he wants to do, so that you can then integrate and come back in and integrate multi-generationally. I think that’s a huge deal.

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