Department of Human Development and Family Studies National Normal University, Taipei
Department of Living Sciences National Open University, Taipei
The main purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between father-in-law and son-in-law, as it developed in the modern society. With changes in society, more and more newlyweds choose to live “near the wife’s parents.” Traditionally, paternalism has dominated families in Taiwan; the relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law are based on the tradition of “living with the husband’s parents.” Thus far, research on the relationship between father-in-law and son-in-law has been neglected. Our study began with a case centered on a family of newly-weds who chose to “live near the wife’s parents.” We analyzed the family before marriage, after marriage, and after childbirth. Semi-structured interviews were conducted; apart from the father-in-law and son-in-law, the mother-in-law and daughter were also interviewed. Results indicated that: (1). The development of the relationship between a father-in-law and son-in-law can be likened to the weaving process of cotton prints — through the process of knowing each other （reeling off raw silk from cocoons）, interaction （spinning）, integration after marriage （weaving）, and incorporation after the birth of third generation; (2). Although the life course theory provides different perspectives on understanding the relationship between father-in-law and son-in-law, the five principles of the theory are all important in different ways when applied to interpret the different stages of the development of the relationship; (3). It was not possible to interpret the relationship between father-in-law and son-in-law using the ideas derived from rights and obligations established around the concentric circles with male-linage at the core.
Keywords: narrative research, father-in-law and son-in-law relationship, intergenerational relationship, in-law relationships.