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Keywords:

  • daughters-in-law;
  • extended family;
  • family relationships in adulthood;
  • in-laws;
  • intergenerational ambivalence;
  • intergenerational relationships;
  • mothers-in-law

Abstract: Within the framework of individual developmental theory and intergenerational ambivalence, we examined the complex dynamics of the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship. Using focus group and semistructured interview data, we explored mothers-in-law’s and daughters-in-law’s perceptions of “being part of the family.” The diversity among the perceptions of the unrelated 23 daughters-in-law and 19 mothers-in-law countered the validity of stereotypes often held about the women in these roles. The women described the ambivalence many of them felt as they searched for their place in the family. Findings suggest that women of all ages may benefit from education about this critical relationship and need to develop skills to express themselves to their mothers-in-law/daughters-in-law to facilitate adequate management of the ambivalence prevalent in this relationship.