National Association of Marriage Enhancement


Have you ever seen the classic sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond? It is full of comedic material since Ray’s parents live directly across the street from he and his wife Deborah as they attempt to raise their kids in peace. Ray’s mother Marie constantly barges in and complains about Deborah’s cooking, cleanliness and parenting abilities. Meanwhile, Marie babies her son and tries to keep nurturing him. The show definitely shows an extreme version of meddling in-laws, but parents who have not cut the cord can be a very realistic problem. And often the most evident time of this is during, you guessed it, the Christmas season.

What does the Bible say about this?

1. The Leave & Cleave Principle: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Gen 2:24 (KJV)

2. Glean wisdom & Respect them: “Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” Prov 23:22 (ESV)

It is important to keep your parents in the picture, meddling or not. The Bible encourages us to glean wisdom from those older and more experienced than us. Your parents raised you (or your spouse) and for that they deserve your respect. That being said it is also very important you establish yourself as a married couple. You are a separate entity now. The more you allow your parents to take part in your marriage, the more you distance yourselves from each other and decrease the unity in your home. If your parents are stepping over the line, you need to set boundaries. For example, a healthy boundary would be to keep opinions kind hearted and to ask that they would respect when you and your spouse choose a different course of action. Another healthy boundary would be to attempt to keep them out of petty conflict or marital trials. It is not good to have parents pitted against their child’s spouse since that alienates the spouse from feeling safe in their own marriage. One more healthy boundary would be to ask them to respect the rules of your household. Your parenting styles may be different, and your parents need to acknowledge that they are no longer in a parenting role with your children or with you. Ask that you be given a chance to establish your own family guidelines just as they were able to when they raised you.