Dilemma: my daughter-in-law is a TV addict

Katharine Whitehorn / 27 January 2016

Agony aunt Katharine Whitehorn hears from a reader who is concerned about her daughter-in-law watching too much television.

Dilemma: TV addict

My son’s partner is a television addict. I can honestly say I have never visited them when the TV has been off. 

I can only feel that my son puts up with it because the house is in her name. 

When I go to visit there really is no opportunity for conversation or discussion. To me this is plain bad manners on my daughter-in-law's part. Am I wrong?

I feel like saying something but don’t want to start a row.

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

You’re right on both counts – it is bad manners, and a row would be a bad idea. But I think you may be wrong in thinking your son puts up with it unwillingly – people who have “wallpaper TV” are often hardly aware of it.

I suggest you do one or both of two things. Try to see them outside their house – in yours, in a restaurant perhaps, and even remark how nice it is to be able to hear what they’re saying.

And when you do go there ask, hesitantly, if they could turn it off as you’re getting a little hard of hearing these days.

It's worth playing the frail old lady card, if it allows you to get closer to your family.

Read our tips on building a relationship with a difficult daughter-in-law.

Our readers say...

We also asked our Facebook followers for their advice...

"I'd say stop interfering. She can watch telly if she wants to and maybe it's even the son who wants it on constantly, but no it's always the 'in-law' that's in the wrong!"

"Maybe her daughter-in-law struggles socially."

"Trying to control someone's behaviour is a sure fire way to put emotional distance between you. She's an adult and can make her own choices. Showing love and acceptance is a much better way of being, and may offer the chance to influence her down the line."

"Surely it's her choice...!"

"Nothing to do with you."

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