Pop Culture

Lisa Ling’s Lessons for Living With Your In-Laws

Share this Post:

Lisa Ling is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and bestselling author who you’ve seen on ABC News, National Geographic, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The View. She’s currently the Executive Producer and host of This Is Life on CNN, now in its seventh season. Behind the scenes, Lisa shares her home with her Korean-American oncologist and CEO husband, their two daughters, her sister-in-law, her mother, and her mother-in-law. Here are Lisa’s tips for managing the chaos and, better still, finding healing for everyone.

Make sure to listen to the full interview with Lisa.

Lisa Ling Lives With Her In-Laws (and It’s Great) transcript

1. Ask for help. 

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Because I think we, in our culture, when someone calls us a supermom, we kind of wear that as a badge of pride, when those are impossible expectations to uphold. They’re just impossible. And I would like us to just allow ourselves to be vulnerable and just say that I’m going fucking bananas and that I need help.”

2. Healing is a group effort. 

“Paul and I have done a lot of healing over the years, and we’ve both come to a place where we don’t just think about the issues of abandonment and the lack of affection that we experienced from our own parents ourselves. We think about, and I’m going to get very emotional here, how much our own parents needed that.

We’ve talked to our parents [about it]. In fact, we talk a lot now, and in the case of my mom, who left it when I was seven, my sister was four. It’s like I grew up thinking, how do you leave kids when you’re that age? I was with my dad and my grandma and we were in a stable community, and my mom was not stable at the time, and I had that resentment.”

3. Empathy is everything.

“Many of us…have these deep scars. And it’s impossible to think about our own parents, not as our parents, but as a similarly stunted child, who didn’t get what they needed from their parents. And when you really stop and think about it, our parents didn’t just have parents that weren’t able to show affection — they went through wars…

The resentment directed toward our parents is sometimes really misplaced, because it’s not their fault…It’s this trauma that has lived with us intergenerationally that we can’t pinpoint. But it makes sense that, you know, if you don’t have a model for how to do it, how would you ever know how to do it?”

4. Respect yourself—and each other. 

“I respect [my mother-in-law’s] journey. I respect the life lessons that she bequeaths to me and to my kids…Even though I don’t believe [in Christianity the way that] she believes, I happen to have a pretty impressive biblical repertoire. And so when she comes at me with something that she thinks is biblical, I have a retort very often because I’m familiar with much of the Bible, and I think she respects that I at least have the knowledge. It isn’t a decision that I’ve arrived at erroneously…

I mean, religion is still somewhat touchy in the household, but there is such a deep respect for the human and even the faith, because her faith has gotten her through so much. And so I really respect that relationship that she has with her faith.”

5. Treasure your time together.

“I don’t know how much time [my mother-in-law] has left on the earth. I mean, she’s 91 and she’s been having some health challenges. And so the notion that my kids won’t get to spend significant amounts of time with her makes me so, so sad. And so therefore, both my mom and my mother-in-law are at our home, because they live a couple of blocks away from us, almost every single night.

There is a lot of food that’s cooked every single night. There is a lot of advice being doled out to Paul and me every single night, and it’s highly overwhelming every single night. But I wouldn’t have it any other way…It’s chaotic and loud, but it’s so beautiful. I love having so much family in my kids’ lives and in my life all the time.”

For more insight and bits of advice, check out 10 Side Effects of Growing Up Asian in America, as well as Top 12 Tips for Being a Good Indian Daughter-In-Law.

Posted by Team Mash-Up
Team Mash-Up is the brain trust of smart minds and savvy creators, that builds all the cool stuff you see here.

Related Posts