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I am a multimedia journalist currently working as a Senior Web Journalist/ Videographer with Khaleej Times in Dubai, UAE. Prior to this, I worked as a news editor with CNN’s Indian affiliate in Noida. I graduated from Syracuse University in New York state in 2012 with a Masters degree in Broadcast and Digital journalism. I have worked in video production, online journalism, features writing and market research over a period of four years.

How to Strike a Chord

By Nilanjana Gupta (NEW DELHI) – There could be a wide difference in opinion between your “modern” children and “traditional” in-laws. The trick is to be flexible and firm, in turns, as needed. We speak to people from three different generations on how to keep the peace. And love!

Teach by example

Meeta Mukherjee, 36, teacher, Indore, and mother of eight-year-old Tanish and three-year old Tanay

‘I try not to correct my in-laws in front of my children, as they would also try to do the same. It’s best to stay calm and polite with my in-laws in front of my children and teach them by example. Many times I purposely tell my children how good and loving their grandparents are.

My mother-in-law holds strong opinions about what my elder son should or shouldn’t do. When she is too rigid, I seem to agree with her while defending my own opinion – for instance, ‘He spends so much time practicing his guitar, doesn’t he? But his interest may grow into his passion and later on his profession. After all, these days so many career options are open. One need not only be a doctor or an engineer. It’s such a relief!’ Then to develop their bonding, I get my son to hear stories from my father-in-law or help my mother-in-law in making fruit jams.

Sometimes I am rigid with my children – for instance, when my mother-in-law wishes to watch her desired TV serial while my son wants to catch up on a cartoon show, I support my mother-in-law as she doesn’t have access to any other mode of entertainment. At the same time, using too many rules to set their boundaries doesn’t help, as then they tend to look for easier alternatives and do things in hiding. I ensure whatever my son does is informed beforehand.’

Show them you care

Meghna Basu, 22, engineering student

As a child, I have been lucky to have my grandparents spoil me with chocolates and icecreams, when my parents were rigid with my eating habits. But as I grew up and it was not just about “icecreams” anymore, my grandparents too tried to set boundaries for me. They started raising concerns with my spending time outside with friends or partying late nights. When arguing did not work, I tried to give in on small points and negotiate the key issues – for instance, I now keep them informed about my whereabouts whenever I am out with friends, and reach back home before it gets too late. I sometimes bring my friends home and introduce them to my grandparents so that they acknowledge my friend circle. I also do my best to respect their religious traditions and needs – for instance, I would never attend my friend when my grandparents need me to do something for them. Small gestures help, such as calling them up whenever I am away from home for some days, or asking them if they need a ride to the market.

Be flexible… upto a point

MN Gupta, 86, retired official, Delhi

 In these changing times when youngsters are given the liberty to make decisions in life, it’s best to be flexible and lower one’s expectations, and yet maintain some basic ground rules. I balance my role as a fun-loving grandfather and I try to avoid being a replica of their parent. Whenever there is a clash between me and my grandchildren, I avoid asking my son or daughter-in-law to talk to them. I prefer communicating directly. I let them speak their mind without imposing that I am always right and they should respect me. But I draw a line when it comes to their behavior and language. If they are rude to me, I immediately check them, as they would feel that I am not able to stand up for myself.

I am strict at times – for instance, when my grandson starts excessively eating food from outside, I cut down his pocket money so that he spends wisely.

My daughter-in-law is a homemaker and I make sure that she stays in her role as a disciplinarian. I also help my grandchildren in their school homework, so they know I am equally involved in their school activities as their parents, and that I care for them.

This story was published in the December 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping.

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