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As a woman who has lived through many passages and learned through my larger than life experiences (positive and negative), I’ve discovered how to take a big empowering bite out of life.

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Building a Relationship With Your Daughter In Law

Building a Relationship with Your Daughter In Law

I am too young to be her mother. She is too old to be my daughter. That is where the dissimilarities between my daughter in law, Jami, and my end.

I love my daughter-in-law. She has earned my love and I have earned hers. Our relationship is built on trust and love of family.  Jami Good has been my daughter in law for 33 years.

We are both wise women who know the important role of the Matriarch. Building a relationship with my daughter-in-law has been a treasured experience. Fourteen years ago, after a tumultuous time in the Good family, Jami Good gave me a “gift.”

What Should Be the Mutual Goal Between These Two Women?

Building a relationship with your daughter in law is about agreeing on a mutual goal. The mutual goal of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law should be to build, maintain and sustain mutual respect for one another that will benefit all family members. Jami and I had the same goals. It was our similar type natures that strengthened our bond and a mutual respect, friendship and love that established an engaging and loving family atmosphere. It was not always that way. But not because of us.

The Family

There are  Goods. Two grandparents, three grandsons and two wives, two great grandsons, and Jami.  We are a multigenerational family of different ages with different viewpoints, but unlike many other blended multigenerational families, we have successfully bonded as a group. I pay tribute to Jami Good, my daughter-in-law and one of my closest friends, for making this happen fourteen years ago.

It Was Not Always This Way

I remember our first meeting. I was dating her widowed father-in-law, my ultimate concierge, Sheldon F. Good. The Good family, Jami and her late husband Steve wanted to meet the ‘“widowed Hawaiian Princess” ( the name they gave me!) from Honolulu so they invited us to their home for dinner, along with Jami’s mother and two young (at that time) sons.

The dining room table was beautifully set and dinner was delicious. I don’t recall the dinner conversation but I do recall my positive feelings toward Jami. I liked her immediately.

I don’t want to sugarcoat the story. There were years of strife ‘the new wife and the money syndrome that goes with the territory and the changing of the reigns from father to son in my husband’s company. Two very natural problems in families.  As conflict deepened, Jami and I did not see one another for several years. The family became estranged. This had nothing to do with  Jami or me.

And then the unforeseen  happened. Jami’s husband and my husband’s son passed away.

Jami Good’s Gift

The day of the funeral Jami reached out to me. She put her arms around me and without a word, I put my arms around her and we reconnected. That was 15 years ago. That was Jami’s gift. She welcomed me back into the family. I accepted instantly. The  experience felt so natural; it was meant to be and from that day forward until this very moment we are kindred spirits.

Tea for Tea and Two for Two… Not Always

Without a cooperative daughter-in-law and a cooperative mother-in-law, the entire family suffers. Many mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law compete with one another. Many mothers-in-law want to be the mothers of their daughters-in-law. Many mothers-in-law are difficult women and so are many daughters-in-law. Many mothers-in-law are jealous and vice versa. Many mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law are like oil and water. And many on both sides are manipulative. Many are just plain selfish and think only of their own needs. And let’s not forget, the daughter-in-law’s mother! She can be a pistol, if you know what I mean.

I think in most families the biological mother plays the strongest role. It is her voice — of positivity or negativity — that her husband and children hear; it is her actions that can make or break up the multigenerational family. In our case, Jami’s mom and I were always on friendly terms.

Steps to Try:

  • Be a team player. Don’t be afraid to give in even when you feel you are right. Whether you are in a first or second marriage, think of your husband’s and grandchildren’s feelings.
  • If you are in a first marriage, accept the fact that your son is supposed to fall in love with a woman so put your jealousy aside. Your son will always love you unless you become “the awful mother-in-law” to his wife.
  • Take the back seat. Pretend you are Miss Daisy. I love riding in the back seat of our car. I feel like Miss Daisy!
  • Silence is golden. You will lose if you are a “buttinsky.”
  • Remember your daughter-in-law is not your daughter. A daughter usually forgives her mother. A daughter-in-law often times will never forgive her mother in law.
  • Don’t make her an “outlaw.” Make her your daughter.
  • Act the way you want to be treated.

The Gift

Upon the unexpected death of my son-in-law, Jami rose to the occasion by showing her boys through her positive actions that she wanted to reunite and strengthen the family by supporting and promoting my role as the boys’ grandmother. It is thanks to her that the boys began to accept me as their grandmother.

Jami and I are like-minded women. We are in harmony with one another; we are kindred spirits. We love nature and nurture. We love to do girly things and shop together. We are soulful. We like to travel and just wander. We like to talk on the phone and text and send emojis. We do not like confrontation. This is a blessing for all concerned because Jami and I both want to sweeten the lives of my husband (her father-in-law) and her boys (my grandsons.) Over the past 15 years, our multigenerational family has blossomed and bloomed by welcoming Jami with two daughters in laws and two grandchildren and made me a great grandmother on the Good side of the family.


Fast forward to today, Jami and I are closer than ever. And, the ‘Good Boys’ as I call them  are my grandsons. I am close to all of them and I love them. We share stories and good times and times of trouble. We are an open family and happy.

As a daughter-in-law to two mothers-in-law, I recall how I felt.

My first mother-in-law — may she rest in peace! — was a very difficult woman. I was always respectful, but I recall I did write her a letter 20-some years later letting her know my feelings. Her actions toward all of us were unpleasant. I never fought with her. I ignored her. I was afraid of her. Very unpleasant.

My second mother-in-law was a pistol. She was very abrupt and yet I loved her and I know she loved me. I remember on a special occasion I sent her a bouquet of flowers.  She returned them to me with the explanation that she did not like flowers. She was honest and I would laugh with my ultimate concierge because I knew it was not about me. I would take her shopping and she would be so grateful. I miss her.

Family dynamics are often difficult for mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law to blend. I think the mother in law should take the lead in making sure her son and daughter in law are happy with her because she has years of wisdom under her belt. A daughter in law is young and lacks wisdom. So, dear mother in law, turn your cheek, count to ten, and be the Matriarch.

I think if family members treated one another with kindness and respect — the way they treat friends — there would be far less discord. Words should be weighed and a mother in law should come from love. Amen. Amen.

This story is dedicated to Jami Good who give me a great gift…her family, which is now… our family.

Honey Good Signature

April 2, 2019


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  1. Janne Bradley says:

    Oh Honey, what a beautiful story, I am so happy that you and Jami reconnected. Such sad circumstances have given you that bond. I have a beautiful daughter in law, of whom I am immensely proud. She is a strong and independent woman who looks after my son as any mother would desire. Kylie my daughter in law came from a broken home and never had much support in her formative years (drugs were involved with parents and a sibling). However she has worked hard to become a well respected and accomplished woman in society. I love her dearly, my son has some serious health issues where he needed a transplant and during this time I did not know if she could handle seeing him so sick. I am proud to say she researched and read up on his condition and made sure she was understanding of medications, possible side effects and how to help him heal. Together they are a force to reckon with, unfortunately they will never be able to have children but recently becoming an aunt and uncle to my first grandchild they are pooring their love into this precious little bundle. Together they laugh, torment each other, disagree sometimes but most of all they love each other unconditionally and as a mother and mother in law their relationship fills my heart. She is so respectful of me and my feelings and I of her and hers. We definitely enjoy a strong bond (something I never had with my mother in law, which has always to critise me) and we even take sides playfully with our husbands and laugh a lot. I think of her as one of my kids and will always be there to support and love her in anyway I can.
    Regard. Janne.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      What a beautiful letter. I think you might want to send it to her. What a special gift to save and cherish from a mother in law to her daughter in law. I loved reading it. I am happy your son is doing well and that you are happy. Warmly, Honey

  2. Bogue Pauline says:

    Thank you for this Honey. I need this encouragement to reach out to my “step” daughter-in-law. I don’t need to wait for something tragic to happen to do this….and it may not be reciprocated immediately. In time however, I’m confident it will be pay off.

  3. Amanda McLean says:

    Honey what a beautiful and sad story and I am glad that in the end, things work out. I have to ex daughters in law from which I have not much good to say ideally I wish could turn back the clock and make our son listen to us, his mistake has been more than very costly emotionally and financially, the silver lining has been the two beautiful grand-daughters. I had a wonderful relationship with my mother in law and I miss her so much and I hope my son marry a girl with a nice lovable personality and we can become a close net family.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      If he learned his lesson, you will be blessed with girl with a lovable personality. You will be a good mother in law because you had a good role model, your mother in law. You know how to make it work. Warmly, Honey

  4. Libby Walls says:

    This was a lovely story and I admire you for being so open and honest

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