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Don't Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws into Family Paperback – September 4, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Offering plentiful composite case studies, the fair-minded, inclusive, and congenial Nemzoff doesn't promise quick solutions and realizes some problems are unsolvable, but she focuses on helpful ways to improve relationships that with time and effort can be fixed. (Publishers Weekly)

Family therapists know that the main difference between humans and animals is that humans maintain relationships with their in-laws. Ruth Nemzoff's Don't Roll Your Eyes is a trenchant and insightful exploration of that species-specific behavior. (Brad Sachs, PhD, author of Emptying the Nest)

Ruth Nemzoff thinks wisely and deeply about family connections. She presents a carefully nuanced consideration of this oldest of topics. Don't Roll Your Eyes has something to teach everyone. It would make a wonderful gift to any family member and is an essential addition to the bookshelf of any professional working with families. (Judy Osborne, author of Wisdom for Separated Parents)

With her characteristic wisdom and wit, Ruth Nemzoff treads into the minefield of in-law relationships, from extended families to grandchildren, money, religion, and myriad other issues. She offers examples and expert advice to help us keep in-laws from turning into out-laws. An indispensible field guide for generations on both sides of the in-law divide. (Mary W. Quigley,, NYU professor and author)

Dr. Nemzoff's clarity and candor, wit and wisdom really shine through. She is not afraid to tackle any issue, any modern permutation of the extended family in the 21st century. (Joan Wise, former general counsel AARP)

About the Author

Ruth Nemzoff is the author of Don't Bite Your Tongue, and a popular speaker on the topic of parenting adult children and family dynamics, including at the AARP. Ruth was profiled or interviewed for many national and local papers and radio and television, including The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Jewish Advocate, and InterFaith Family. She is a resident scholar at Brandeis University's Women's Studies Research Center, and lives in Boston, MA. Find her on the web at


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230338992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230338999
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #497,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Dr. Ruth Nemzoff, author of Don't Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws Into Family (Palgrave/Macmillan, September 2012), the former assistant minority leader of the New Hampshire State Legislature, the first female Deputy Commissioner of Health and Welfare in New Hampshire, and the first female Bank of New Hampshire Board Member is currently a resident scholar at Brandeis University Women's Studies Research Center where she wrote Don't Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Your Adult Children (Palgrave Macmillan 2008), which won the 2013 Reader's Choice award for best book for parents of college-aged children and empty nesters. Dr. Nemzoff has led over 250 discussions on this topic in the United States, Canada, India, China, and England.

For over ten years, she was an adjunct associate professor at Bentley College. She was also a pioneer in developing programs for persons with disabilities and started the equal opportunity office in the New Hampshire State Department of Education. In addition, she was a consultant to schools on gender equity.

She was formerly a visiting scholar at the Wellesley Center for Research of Women, where she wrote an historical analysis of the "Changing Perceptions of Mother of Children with Disabilities." She has also published articles about environmental advertising and women in business and politics. Ruth Nemzoff has served in the United Way Board, the New Hampshire Governor's Commission on the status of Women, the New Hampshire Governor's Commission for the Handicapped and the Developmental Services Planning Board. She was a member the New Hampshire Business Development Board and the Board of Boston's Jewish Family and Children's Services. She founded a nursery school, a counseling service, and the National Women's Legislative Lobby. She served on the board of the Pro-Choice Resource Center and of Newbury College. She is currently the chair of the advisory committee of the University of Massachusetts center for Women and Politics, and a board member of and Lasell Village, Retirement Community and serves on The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. In 1998, she ran for Governor's Council and lost by less than 1% of the vote.

Dr. Nemzoff holds a Doctorate in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard University, a Master's degree in Counseling from Columbia University, and a Bachelor's degree in American Studies from Barnard College. Her papers are archived at the Schlesinger Library, Harvard University. She and her husband, Harris Berman, have four adult children, four in-law children and eight grandchildren.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christine on June 4, 2014
Format: Paperback
I'm a daughter-in-law seeking an improved relationship with my mother-in-law. I've read many books, scoured countless blogs, and talked with a therapist about improving this relationship. Of all my "research," reading this book (twice) has been the most fruitful activity.

This excellent (and quick) read acknowledges the complexities of in-law relationships while still providing clear, concise recommendations for both generations. But here's the kicker: you must be prepared to do your part in making things better. Don't read this YET if you're still at the point where you just want to complain about your in-laws. The author challenges you to be a bigger person, so read this if you're ready to do some work and be happier!

The author is a wise, wise woman. This book could very well improve many lives!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By donne on January 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
Ruth Nemzoff is a wise woman whose writing truly resonates with me. She offers advice on what to do when perfect strangers--or people you wish were strangers--become your family, namely in-laws.
Nemzoff is an expert at navigating family dynamics and grasps all the different perspectives of intergenerational relationships. She examines the forces that make in-law relationships troublesome as well as how multiple generations can benefit from them.
She writes from experience and says that of all her careers--teacher, administrator, state legislator, and professor--mothering has been the most rewarding. She has four adult children, four in-law children, and seven grandchildren, with whom she has very satisfying relationships. It's easy to understand why, given her insight and communication skills.
Here's an example of how she nails a basic problem: The generations often blame each other when expectations they don't even know they have are not met. We find ourselves angry, for example, when no gift arrives and we realize we expected one. We feel our emotions before we realize what we actually want. We often hang onto nostalgic expectations of family roles when roles are changing.
The ease or difficulty of these relationships depends a lot on the willingness of all parties to make things work, says Nemzoff. Both generations want to be appreciated and acknowledged for their efforts and not taken for granted or judged.
Don't Roll Your Eyes focuses on specific issues that can cause tension among the generations. Nemzoff explains that because of popular in-law jokes we can be wary of one another before we even meet. Or we can have different ideas about how much closeness we want. Another problem can be competition between sets of parental in-laws who may vie for priority.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lily on February 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was an easy read. The theme to me throughout is you need to turn the other cheek. Covers alot of different situations. You can complain to friends or a spouse but really need to control your emotions toward the in laws to keep peace. Very complex time going though the empty nest and trying not to be competitive,not alot of concrete answers on how to deal but that differs with personalities. I think life plays a cruel trick in that alot of us won't be around to see our own kids go though these life adjustments. I think it's very hard for the 2 generations to communicate. The author mentions that in the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Dolgen on February 13, 2013
Format: Paperback
My daughter just got engaged - perfect time to read, Ruth Nemzoff's book, Don't Roll Your Eyes - Making In-Laws into Family. You know what they say, "When you marry - you marry the family as well." Ruth gives the reader tools on how to help ensure that you have the resources to establish a healthy, functional relationship with your in-laws. She tackles modern day issues with wit and wisdom! This should be mandatory reading for everyone who wants to have healthy long lasting relationships with new family members.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ann Abram, PhD, LCSW on January 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While addressing universal concerns, Dr. Nemzoff also ask us to see on a very personal level how family relationships can be repaired, resulting in feeling better ourselves and at the same time offering our children positive role models for dealing with family conflict. We give ourselves and our children the gift of learning how to work through difficult family matters. In addition, Dr Nemzoff gives very specific and helpful hints as to how to go about navigating this sensitive territory.
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