Becoming a Parent Could Mean More Trouble With Your In-Laws

According to a new study, having kids = way more problems with your spouse's parents. Prepare accordingly.
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According to a new study, couples with kids are more likely to have conflicts with their in-laws.

File that under: Duh, well.

I mean seriously... there's nothing like having children to amplify the family squabble situation. It's pretty much a catch 22: You want the parentals around to pitch in with childcare, you just don't want them always hanging around. And if don't know what I'm talking about, cue up an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond to watch Doris Roberts as Marie Barone and you'll understand real quick.

See also: Kris Jenner, Livia Soprano, Bunny MacDougal, and Jane Fonda as the merciless Viola Fields in Monster-in-Law.

Using survey data from Finland with over 1,200 respondents, researchers studied conflicts that couples reported having with their own parents and also with their spouse's parents. Here's what they found: When it comes to fights with our own moms and dads, those of us with kids are just as likely to report conflicts as those without. But when it comes to getting along withn-laws, parents seem to have way more trouble—particularly if we're prone to calling on the grandp's for babysitting duty.

"Daughters-in-law were more likely to report conflicts when their mother-in-law provided more grandchild care," said researcher Mirkka Danielsbacka. "This indicates that the increase in conflicts between in-laws are related to grandchild care."

Like we said, a catch 22. The researchers call this phenomenon the "kinship penalty"—meaning, that as in-laws become more kin-like through the presence of a grandchild, their mutual conflicts increase. Makes sense. More time = less boundaries. So what's a frustrated DIL to do?

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My husband's parents retired to the Sunshine State about 10 years ago, so luckily this is isn't really an issue for me. If you can't ship your own in-laws off, you should probably check out these tips for dealing with them. Because deep down, the things they do that bug you might actually be coming from a place of love. And while forging a healthy relationship with them may be tricky once kids come into the picture, the bottom line is this: when you married your spouse, you married his parents too—for better or worse.

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom of two who writes about parenting and pop culture. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and then follow her on Instagram

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