I know in-law relationships are not always the best but this is severe. We are very successful as a husband and wife and as parents. They are so negative towards us (including their son). Its not that they just don’t like me, but our daughter too and my husband.

They are extremely negative. We can’t share anything positive with them because they turn evil. Mainly the mom. She calls and worries hubby by saying I dreamt something bad will happen to you. Recently my husband got a very good job and we’ve felt even more negativity since then. Last my husband stopped by on his own and as soon as he walked in she said I dreamt you got laid of from this new job. All my dreams come true. Just so negative. And this stressed my husband out a bit. They are also very negative towards our daughter. People always say she’s very advanced for her age and they seem to hate that. Want her to be and know less than she does.

My husband feels even worse when he sees my parents by the way they treat us (with so much love, respect and happiness for us).

He just wants the same I feel and is afraid of completely being cut off by his parents if he confronts them, but if it does happen then it wasn’t worth it in the first place, in my opinion. Then again I am sure its easier said than done and I am sure its a lot harder for him than it is for me since they are not my parents.

Husband is very down with all this. We don’t know how to deal. PLS any suggestions? Its affecting us a lot.

A: Your in-laws strike me as sad, sad people. Rather than take pride and pleasure in their son and his family, they feel the need to tear them down. When people don’t feel very positive about their own lives and don’t feel they have what it takes to change it, they sometimes resort to this kind of behavior. It’s as if they are saying, “If I can’t find a way to get up to your level, I’ll cut you down to mine.” Imagine how inferior these folks must feel if they even have to cut down a child’s successes.

“Confronting” people like this is unlikely to work. They will only get defensive and angry. All you can do is love them and remind yourself that such negativity is about them, not about you and yours. Since children are more vulnerable to criticism, you may want to limit contact with your daughter until she is old enough to understand that she can love her grandparents and still not accept their words as truth.

Do catch them being right whenever you can. Praise and appreciate them every time they make the smallest positive contribution and you may eventually see at least a small change. Be patient. This will take a long, long time.

It’s sad that your husband didn’t get the kind of family he wants. But he was wise enough and lucky enough to marry into one. I hope that he can celebrate that fact and let himself accept the support and love of your parents.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Apr 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). How do we handle my in-laws’ extreme negativity?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/04/17/how-do-we-handle-my-in-laws-extreme-negativity/