Relationships Between Parents-In-Law and Children-In-Law of Differing Racial and Ethnic Backgrounds

An Initial Qualitative Exploration


  • Micah Saviet University of Maryland School of Social Work
  • Geoffrey L. Greif University of Maryland School of Social Work



couples, qualitative, interracial, interethnic, in-laws


In-law relationships have drawn recent interest from family scholars. Historical trends demonstrate a significant rise in newlyweds marrying someone of a different race or ethnicity. Given this growing population of inter-racial marriage, the need to know more about these couples and their families is paramount. This article describes four themes that emerged from qualitative interviews with nine parents-in-law discussing their relationships with their child-in-law who is of a different race. The overarching themes identified for in-laws included: being initially hesitant based on race and/or culture; managing barriers pertaining to communication, language, and/or culture; differences that were enriching to the in-law relationship; and bonding related to shared minority status. Based on these findings, social workers may assume a supportive role for members of interracial families as they navigate not only social barriers but also their in-law relationships.


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