New Book by SSW Faculty explores In-law Relationships: Mothers, Daughters, Fathers, and Sons


SSW Professor Geoff Greif (r) and Associate Professor Michael Woolley (l) are authors of the new book "In-law Relationships: Mothers, Daughters, Fathers, and Sons."


From the publisher: Marriage is a major step in a relationship, and each member of that newly joined pair brings with them their own existing family and the corresponding complexity and richness of in-law relationships. These are multi-generational, multi-layered, and, like a kaleidoscope, a shifting amalgam of emotional colors. Exceptionally important, in-law relationships can be joyous and comforting. They can also be complicated, contentious, and disappointing. These ties serve as a model for how to stay connected across generations for the well-being of grandparents, parents, and grandchildren, and as a bellwether for what to avoid.

Drawing on interviews and survey data with more than 1,500 mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, daughters-in-law, and sons-in-law, the book describes how these complicated and highly significant relationships develop over time. Geoffrey L. Greif and Michael E. Woolley focus on the relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law as well as fathers-in-law with sons-in-law. They describe the struggles as well as the triumphs that people encounter with these relationships from the perspectives of both generations and suggest ways to improve the relationships. To improve in-law relationships, Greif and Woolley present action-oriented family therapy theories based on the insight, communication, boundary building, and narratives that family members wish to create. They also explore how these relationships change with the normal transitions of marrying into the family, having children/grandchildren, and aging.


In-law Relationships describes highly successful and nurturing connections as well as those that are troubled and distant. The resulting book offers a variety of clinical lenses to help readers of all backgrounds focus on and, if needed, repair in-law relationships.

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