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  • Writer's pictureChristina Rhyser

How to EXPRESS Our Needs and Requests

two people talking

Dear Christy,

I know my in-laws mean well, but they constantly undermine my authority with my kids and they don't respect our family rules. How can I make them respect me? I appreciate all they do to help out (they provide two days of daycare each week) but shouldn't they be expected to comply with my requests? For example, my husband and I do not allow our kids to eat many sugary treats, but his parents let them eat candy and ice cream every single time they're together! When I drop them off and ask them not to let them have any treats, they tell me (in front of the kids!) "Don't worry, we won't... right kids?" then they smile and wink and nudge each other making their intentions obvious. They think it's all in good fun and it's their job to spoil their grandkids but that's not the point! Is it?

My husband doesn't help. He just rolls his eyes and ignores it which only frustrates me even more. What should we do?



Dear Aisha

It sounds like you need some help expressing your needs and requests to both your in-laws and your husband. Without making judgments about who is right or wrong (because I would guess that everyone involved believes that their position is the correct one), the point of conflict resolution between caregivers is to nurture healthy communication with the goal of coming to mutual agreements, and avoiding any bitterness, resentment and tension.

I have outlined ten basic steps to healthy communication in the following short article. This advice works well when there is mutual respect between parties. If there is animosity or if other relational fractures exist, this process may become more complicated.

Please use your judgment and seek out professional intervention if needed.

Give it a go and let me know if you're able to come to new agreements with your husband and his parents. Good luck!




Effective communication serves as the cornerstone of cooperation and understanding. Whether it's between parents, partners, or other caregivers, the ability to express needs and requests with grace and honor can lead to new agreements that work for everyone involved. In this blog post, we'll explore ten essential steps to enhance communication and foster collaboration among caregivers, ensuring a harmonious and supportive environment for all.

1. Identify Your Needs and Requests

Begin by clearly articulating what you want or need from the other caregivers involved. Be specific about the actions or behaviors that would support you in your caregiving role.

2. Make a Request, Not a Demand

Frame your communication as a request rather than a demand. Respectful and courteous language invites cooperation and encourages others to consider your needs willingly.

3. Validate Your Right to Make the Request

Reflect on whether it's within your rightful place to make this request. Recognize that you have the agency to advocate for your needs and seek support from other caregivers when necessary.

4. Reflect on Why It Matters

Consider why this request is important to you. Reflect on the impact it has on your well-being or the well-being of those under your care. Ensure that your request is rooted in genuine need and concern.

5. Anticipate Possible Responses

Acknowledge that the other caregivers may have different perspectives or limitations. Be open to various responses and consider how you will navigate different outcomes.

6. Schedule a Joint Conversation

Request dedicated time for an "us against the problem" conversation with the other caregivers. Creating a safe space for open dialogue sets the stage for constructive problem-solving.

7. Share Your Perspective

Articulate the problem from your perspective, focusing on how it affects you personally. Use "I" statements to express your feelings and experiences without assigning blame.

8. Listen Actively

Be receptive to the perspectives of the other caregivers involved. Practice active listening, seeking to understand their point of view without judgment or interruption.

9. Collaborate on Solutions

Brainstorm together to generate reasonable solutions that address the needs and concerns of all parties involved. Make specific requests that outline the actions or changes necessary to resolve the issue.

10. Reach Agreements That Work for Everyone

Engage in open and honest discussion to negotiate agreements that prioritize the well-being of those under your care. Ensure that the solutions proposed are feasible and sustainable for all caregivers involved.


Effective communication is the key to fostering cooperation and understanding among caregivers. By following these ten steps, you can express your needs and requests with grace and honor, paving the way for new agreements that promote harmony and support within your caregiving dynamic. Remember that open dialogue, active listening, and collaboration are essential ingredients for successful communication and problem-solving. By prioritizing communication, you can create a nurturing and supportive environment where everyone's needs are acknowledged and respected.


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