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Need advice for dealing with in-laws

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  • Need advice for dealing with in-laws

    OK, I need help with dealing with my parents in law, and I don't even know how to approach this. We're going home for a long visit this summer, probably about a month and a half. I have 3 kids, and they will spend a good deal of time with those grandparents, including time while I'm not there.

    Problem #1: I am not in good graces with the in-laws. They're wonderful, kind people, but I defected from their beloved (only true!) religion, and brought their son on my journey of apostasy, and now their grandkids are on the road to hell as well, so they don't want to listen to anything I have to say, because, obviously, I was deceived by Satan, and therefore am not a source of truth and light. Also, MIL doesn't really care to learn new things, having finished that business by the time she was 17 or so. (cheap shot!)

    Problem #2: MIL is on her own weight loss journey, which, most recently, involves reading a self-help book written by some 80 year old lady who advocates "everything in moderation" as a wellspring of health. I've ventured into discussions on insulin response (which I thought would be a safe topic, as her second son is type 1 diabetic), and sugars/grains causing fat storage, but this cannot make sense to her, since the entire universe revolves around the low-fat, calories in/calories out crap, including her religion, which has a specific belief that wheat was created by God for the use of man, and that meat should be eaten sparingly and in times of famine, i.e., low-carb is evil. I will point out that she has lost exactly zero weight on this plan.

    Problem #3: She does not believe in respecting my wishes (because they're evil!), and continues to offer such delicacies as breakfast cereal, boxed macaroni and cheese every day, fruit juice or fake juice or soda at EVERY meal, lots of frozen junk, lots of pretend whole wheat bread (that has caramel coloring to be brown), fat free dairy, sugar-free and fat free desserts, etc, etc, etc. She is not about to change the way she shops just for me and my evil ways, especially if it will corrupt her grandkids.

    I know I sound bitter (and am!) but I want to get past this. I've created a huge source of disappointment and emotional pain for my parents in law. I want to have a good visit, but I also don't want to derail all of my efforts to teach my kids how to eat healthy and just ignore what I know. On the other hand, kids are resilient, and even as I've changed the foods we eat at home, the only thing they really miss is toast. They don't ask me for treats every day anymore. But I also never prohibit them from accepting sweets at school or at someone else's house. It seems like once or twice a week couldn't really hurt that much, but 6 weeks straight? With twinkies available for daily consumption? Yes, twinkies and ho hos are always there, as well as a closet full of candy. Is this the definition of moderation?

    Yikes. Does anyone have any ideas? Should I just not worry about it while we're there? I will also point out that my young sister in law, who is 14, will eat nearly nothing aside from mac and cheese, and considers herself a "non-tryer", as in, she will. not. try. new. things. And MIL just lets it go. So if I requested anything else, it might make her brain explode. Plus, protein foods are expensive (Oh yeah, I forgot to say that she cares not a speck about organic vs. conventional, so any meat she buys will be the cheapest supermarket meat, usually on sale because its sell-by date is that day, and I just can't do that. I have nearly a paralytic phobia of non-organic meats.).

    Is it the end of the world if I just forget about it for 6 weeks?

  • #2
    The religion thing is impossible. I have a good friend whose IL's are died in the wool JoHo's (getting worse as they get older) and what it has come down to is complete estrangement, husband, kids & herself haven't seen or spoken to them in over 10 years.

    Unfortunately there can be no compromise w/ fanaticism. You're right in saying 6 weeks is no big deal, try to get some enjoyment out of it.
    Wheat is the new tobacco. Spread the word.


    • #3
      The bigger question: why are you going for SIX weeks?

      I'm on my own on this often, but because I have Celiac's disease, here is how I view it. This is the way I eat. You don't have to like it or agree with it, but I'm not getting sick (changing the way I eat, etc.) because you have a different way. Since these are your children, this is your summer vacation, you should enjoy it the way you see fit. It will not kill your kids to have a meal or two now and then with the grandparents. But I would not allow it to happen all the time, as you don't want your kids eating that crap all the time, regardless of low-carb or not -- that is pure junk food by even the diet zealots.

      Stand your ground. You will NEVER have their approval, so why stress out about it? For reference, I come from a cult background, and have been disowned by several members of my family, so I know of which I speak. Live your life. Enjoy it. Do NOT let others determine how it will be enjoyed. They have no right to do so, and only your kindness and guilt allow it to be otherwise.

      Best of luck, but again, why SIX weeks? Isn't a weekend enough?!
      The Sedition of Sisyphus: Go Find Another Rock

      Griff's Cholesterol Primer


      • #4
        No - it is not the end of the world.

        Honestly, I don't think you can do much about what they will feed the kids when you are not there. In my mind, you need to let that go. Even having inlaws that will take the kids for 2 or 3 weeks is a blessing most of us don't get to appreciate, enjoy your time off, and don't worry if they will eat lots of KD. I did as a kid and although it is not optimal it didn't kill me.

        If you feel you can be open about it, perhaps discuss the fact that you do eat a fairly different diet from them, and seeing how you can integrate it into living in their house for that long. If you offered to shop and cook and clean up after yourself, she might even appreciate it, even though it is not her "cup of tea".

        I would not try to convert her - it sounds like her efforts at converting you are not working either, so maybe just accepting each other will be more comfortable and more loving for everyone.

        I would think that her religious differences with you probably cause her great distress, and the fact that she would like you all to believe what she believes is a sign that she loves you all and wants what she thinks is the best for you.

        I am going to visit some relatives in a month and will have some of the same dietary challenges. I am the only one in my family who is completely primal, but I plan on letting them know what I can eat, and taking care of my own family's meals by myself. If there are meals we will do together, I will have to discuss them with my extended family and figure out what we can work out. I will leave the kids there for a while, and they will get SAD.

        Even though my kids get more junk than I would like them to, they will eat dandelion greens, frozen berries and unsweetened yogurt, lots of fresh veg, and tons of other stuff no other kid around the neighborhood will touch. What I am doing is providing them with healthy options. By the time they hit their teens or 20's, what they eat will be their own choice.

        I hope it works out for you.

        A joyful heart is good medicine

        He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot

        Mmmmm. Real food is good.

        My Journal:


        • #5
          Yes I don't get why you would subject yourself to this if it's such a source of stress?? Six weeks?!? I wouldn't stand for it. They sound like closed minded poeple and you simply can't win in that situation. Make a visit if you must but make it short.

          Sometimes life comes down to standing up and saying I'm just not doing this and that is it!!


          • #6
            Wow, this already makes me feel a little cooled down. Ciavyn, we're staying for 6 weeks because we live across the country, so this is our once a year visit with the grandparents. My husband's parents and whole family, including 6 siblings plus their kids, and my parents and siblings and their kids all live there, as well as my high school friends who have kids the same age as my kids. It's a big deal for us to be able to spend time with everyone. Unfortunately, the place that has the most space, and is the easiest with kids, is my MIL's house. My mom's house is tiny, and her husband gets overwhelmed by the little kids, so we don't stay there, even though they're fully on-board with us in every other way.

            JKC, your kids sound like they're doing great. Dandelion greens? My 4 year old daughter love chicken liver. I'm grateful for your perspective.


            • #7
              This is also one of my problems-I feel for you! It's hard to stand your ground when it's an in law and want to keep things civilized, so I tell mine the "truth" if they keep trying to feed me crap-I have an allergy to flour and sugar( If you follow consider it in Paleo terms it really is true). Celiac disease( even though i don't) when they push it. I don't know what I will do when I have kids, it's hard enough finding something to eat when i'm at gatherings. It makes me want to scream!!! It's like people's lives consist of sweets and bread (what else would they eat besides that?)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's what everyone asks when I tell them about the Paleo diet. "Well, what else is there to eat?" GAHH I get so frustrated i'm half tempted to tell them if they love the stuff so much and if it's so impossible to live without go ahead and live off a bag of flour for a month and tell me how great they feel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry for the rant. :/ Is your husband Primal?
              && It's not just about living well, it's about dying well.


              • #8
                A weekend at MIL's with ho hos and bad food is one thing, 6 weeks is way, way different. If eating healthy for you and the kids is a priority, you have to take all the action yourself that it takes to handle it.

                It looks like you will need to explain to MIL that your food requirements are not like everyone elses's, but no worries, you will handle the groceries. Invite MIL and the Mac and cheese kid to eat like you do! Offer to cook the healthy stuff for them. Try and be positive when you mention this.

                This is a tough situation, I know. I'm single and have to deal with this for just one, and for shorter trips. Im doing Easter with a family I met at work and they pretty much know I'm good for turkey and not much else, so I'm on my own.

                Another family I have dinner with knows that I bring my own smoked salmon and celery with natural peanut butter, so no pressure. But these are trivial compared to 6 weeks! That's heavy duty.

                I guess you could make something up about the way you all eat is "Drs orders," or just be honest and say "We follow Primal Blueprint, and we can't stop it." Primal Blueprint for us means we have to handle our own groceries, so thanks for your support...

                Good luck. No one can keep you on the program but you, just remember that.


                • #9
                  Ah, OP, gotcha. Still, I stand by what I said. And while I appreciate the idea that this could be the MIL's way of showing affection to you by trying to convert you to her religion, my cynicism insists that it is a religious imperative to convert everyone who is not of your [insert judeo-christian evangelical religion here] faith. It has little to do with affection and everything to do with religious guilt and control (exerted by the church, not necessarily the dear apostle). But there again, I shook the dust of organized religion off my shoes a while ago.

                  I agree with DFH. Make your own food when possible, but I would stick with your lifestyle way of eating as much as possible. Otherwise, you will feel like crap for six weeks. Of course, Celiac's disease person here, so I'm vehement about my needs due to lack of any other options -- no one wants me sick at their house. It's ugly.

                  Best of luck. And hopefully, this will include much fun as well as in-law trials.
                  The Sedition of Sisyphus: Go Find Another Rock

                  Griff's Cholesterol Primer


                  • #10
                    Don't go? If they were giving your kids beer and cigarettes would it be 'well, kids are resiliant'? They want to feed YOUR kids crap. Not their kids. They ignore your wishes. The make you feel like an outsider. Have a nice family vacation and go visit them when they can allow you to make the decisions for your family.

                    oh, and you have not created any disappointment for anyone. They are allowing their closed-mindedness to disappoint themselves.


                    • #11
                      If you are staying for so long why wouldn't you shop for your familie's food. Just tell the in-laws that you don't want to sponge off them for 6 weeks and go shopping. I would also cook too and say it is your way of contributing. I do this anyway when I stay with my in-laws or my parents. If people are put off by my diet then I take it out of their hands to feed me. It sounds like you can't insult your MIL anymore then you already have. You are a grown up and can feed yourself and your family.
                      Check out my primal blog:


                      • #12
                        Any chance you can do a house swap? Or find a cheap place to rent/housesit while you are there? It doesn't make sense to me that you would want to subject yourself to that kind of stress.

                        I won't stay at my parents' house for more than 4 days because our lifestyles/diets are so different.
                        Ancestral Nutrition Coaching
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                        • #13
                          Could you stay somewhere like a caravan/camping park? Somewhere you can make your own meals?


                          • #14
                            I see one of your kids is 4, how old are the other ones? Maybe you can sit them down ahead of time, and explain the situation to them - build on what you've taught them already about nutrition and then discuss making choices and what to do when faced with a lot of unhealthy foods. If it were me, I'd talk to them about deciding which "treats" would really be worth to me and enjoy those, and which things wouldn't and how to avoid them.

                            I don't think you'll get strict compliance out of young kids in the face of all that on offer, so maybe you can get *some* compliance from them this way. On top of that, you can probably run interference on some of the bad stuff, and then don't sweat the rest.

                            As for yourself, just hit up some stores and do your own food for the most part - at least when it won't cause trouble. If it WILL, I'd get sneaky and keep a stash of primal foods in your bedroom, and just "pick" your way through the meals you can't avoid. At least you'll have something on standby if you get real hungry, and maybe you can brush up on your IF skills.
                            Sassy: Revised - my primal log


                            • #15
                              What's your husband's take on all this? After all, they're his parents.