What’s the worst thing about visiting your in-laws? There are whole movies about this — hit movies, even. “The bed is horrible” is about the most boring in-law gripe in the world. As parents, you can gain invaluable karma points by giving your grown kids and their families an awesome place to sleep. When they come to your house, make them feel comfortable. Show them you care. Give them a break. Buying them a great guest bed might be the only way you can have a great relationship with your in-laws by osmosis.

Before your Kids are Married

This is the testing phase, otherwise known as aggressive screening. It might seem like a good idea to put that young guy or girl through a little torture to see how they hold up against your family. However, keeping them on the old sofa bed to up the challenge factor is a bad way to go. If they don’t notice you’ve neglected the bed, they could hate you and not know why. They’ll just feel really uncomfortable at your house and get a feeling of foreboding during conversations about how to split up the holidays. If they do notice, they’ll think you’re cheap and don’t invest in important things. This could raise a red flag for the kind of mate you’d actually want your child to end up with.

Stubbornly sticking with the Hydabed your cousins grew up on or your futon from college is more likely to prevent your kid from visiting when she’s met someone great than to ferret out a weasel. Better to let them start on even footing and expect them to be on their best behavior when they visit — no excuses.

Happily However Long After

So your kids are married. Fantastic. For better or worse, the parade of suitors has ended (at least for now), and you’ve got a steady in-law. Everyone will have given them gifts to make their home more comfortable. Someone should probably give a gift to the parents of the newlyweds, but that’s not what this post is about. After the wedding, you have to up your game. If you’re on their bad side, now they have more leverage. If they’ve always loved you, it’s harder to impress them. And if it’s a constant battle to keep the peace, you’ll need all the help you can get.

Do a favor for yourself, your kid, and posterity. Transform your house into a place they run to and not from. Dress up that guestroom, put in a great new mattress, give all your kids the best sleep of their lives, and watch the good fortune roll in. You can end the debate over who the best grandparents are before it even starts. A little added comfort will show that you care and keep everyone on their best behavior for years to come.

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