Love & Sex Q&A: My In-Law’s Uncontrollable Children

Q Dear L&S Q&A,

Five years ago my husband and I adopted our son, he is the light of our lives, he’s an amazingly gifted boy.  Very creative, and academically advanced. But hey, what parent wouldn’t say that?  He has also been bought up with manners and to be polite around adults.  We can take him out to restaurants and in public, and he is always well behaved.

Last weekend we met up with my sister-in-law for a family meal, and due to her complete inability to control or teach her children discipline we were all asked to leave a restaurant because her kids were screaming, misbehaving, and annoying the other guests.  In the car park on the way out, I had a few words with her, and it’s all blown completely out of control.  She has reacted very badly and created a massive wedge in the family, because I was honest with her and (admittedly, in the heat of the moment) called her a bad mother.

My husband is now piggy in the middle and feeling a lot of pain, as he is very close to his family, but he can also see my point of view.  I feel sorry for bad mouthing her, but also feel my sister-in-law should be a better parent.  Our son is very confused with this situation. He’s missed playing with his cousins, and he burst into tears last night which makes me feel so bad.

Any ideas on how to sort this out?

Peter I


A Dear Peter,

Apologise for your outburst, and say you are sorry for calling her a bad parent.  Some people have very different parenting styles, and some like to give their children free reign to be creative and express themselves.  Admittedly, I am not one of those, and I get equally frustrated when a family have misbehaving children in an enclosed public place like a restaurant.

Obviously this situation has caused a big ripple in your family, and this is causing upset with your son and husband.  I am not saying you were wrong for getting upset with being asked to leave a restaurant for the misbehaviour of your sister-in-law’s children.   Your sister-in-law probably felt equally bad that her children caused the problem, and having it pointed out so clearly that she was ultimately the responsible party for the mess caused her to react in such a hysterical manner. But now we’ve progressed from just an awkward situation in a restaurant to a potential disruption in family relations that could have repercussions for years. Better to deal with it now.

You don’t have to grovel or offer your soul up for a crushing. Just say you are sorry for what you said in the heat of the moment.  Nip it in the bud now, otherwise it will just hurt you and your immediate family more with an even bigger rift.  This is one of those things that doesn’t get better over time.



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Jonathan WelfordJONATHAN WELFORD heads up, a relationship and dating coaching practice. He was awarded the accolade of being one of the top 10 Gay Relationship Bloggers for 2013. He writes gay agony uncle columns for numerous publications in both the UK and USA, and is also a regular columnist for He lives with his Scottish husband in Manchester, UK.