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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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Hear It From Honey: It’s GOOD Advice – “How to Have a Good Relationship with Your Son or Daughter-in-Law”

I know many families from different walks of life who have problems with their daughter-in-law or son-in-law. I have listened to countless stories of close families who became dysfunctional families after one or more of their adult children married. Hopefully, you are not among this group of frustrated, sad, and angry mothers-in-law.

Often the situation has nothing to do with you personally but nonetheless, is a very serious problem, because it affects the dynamics of the entire family.

But, instead of dwelling on the negatives, let’s give it a ‘one more try for the family’ effort. After all, you are wise and twenty years plus your son or daughter-in-law. You are the Matriarch of the family, the Commander in Chief. Your goal is to strive for harmony.

With tongue in cheek, though I am very serious, build a lasting and warm relationship with his or her mother! If you strive to have a friendship or at least a good relationship with their mother, it becomes difficult for a disgruntled young-in-law to upset the family dynamics. Think about it. I am smiling!

The Spouses My Children Married Were Their Choice, Not Mine

I have been a mother-in-law for several years, and it took me time to evolve into the mother-in-law I am today. I treat my daughter-in-law and sons-in-law as my children. There is nothing I would not do for them. I am a mother-in-law to my two daughter’s husbands and a mother-in-law to my husband’s children in a blended family. But, there is a caveat.

If there is strife between a father and his natural children, there is nothing you can do except give it your all by trying to convince your partner to make amends with his children. If this is impossible you should stick by your husband’s side. This sets a good example for family members.

Accepting Opinions That Differ From Yours Is Key

Many mothers-in-law overstep their boundaries.

It is a skilled mother-in-law who is able to step back and keep her thoughts to herself. In other words, don’t be a ‘Budinski!’ Remember, they are young adults, but they are adults. You can secure your footing by showing them respect. They are going to have their opinions and tastes that differ from yours, and well…they should. Actually, you may learn a thing or two from them! The key is to gain their respect and confidence. When you gain their confidence they will probably ask you for your opinion and accept your advice. You are from different generations, and though you have different mindsets, you can educate one another. And, remember helping out is a plus and very different from giving unsolicited advice.

Avoid These Conflicts

1. A daughter-in-law or son-in-law is mistreating your adult child, their spouse.

2. You are excluded from the family.

3. Feeling the loss of your adult child.

4. The new in-law does not want to be a part of your side of the family.

5. A disrespectful new in-law.

6. You sense awkwardness and nervousness.

7. Miscommunication.

8. They won’t let you see your grandchildren.

Positive Communication Is Key

I think it is necessary that you take the lead in avoiding conflict with a difficult new addition to your family. My philosophy is to have open and clear communication. Be authentic at all costs.

Some people argue that steering clear altogether and making do is the better choice. Only you can judge the situation at hand and make a decision that makes you happy. As noted above, I disagree with this philosophy. I will explain why.

There are other people in the family affected, especially your grandchildren. Everyone will feel an undercurrent that will eventually peel away the positive dynamics in your family. Take an encouraging stand and see where it leads. And, remember, you want to set an example for your grands and other young adults in the family.

How to Have a Positive Conversation

It is easy for both a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law to be misguided in their thoughts and pass judgment that is inaccurate. When no one talks, no one knows. That is the best kept deadly secret in any important relationship. You both have individual fears and desires and when they are tucked away no one knows true and authentic feelings.

Remember, your daughter-in-law wants to control her new life and eventually her children. You would like some control but your son is grown and has his family. You have to realize this is a passage in life. I know mothers-in-law fear losing their son and grandchildren not only to the daughter-in-law but to the daughter-in-law’s, mother! That is why I mentioned that you should become close with her mother!

When there is a tug of war for control you cannot win if you are forceful or threatening. Handle the relationship with kindness, love, and openness. If she is a little witch, there is nothing you can do. Take the high road.

Work On Having a Harmonious Relationship

I love the word harmonious. I feel my whole body relax when I say the word out loud and see it in print. A harmonious relationship is made up of relaxed conversation that is varied and interesting, open, authentic and there is humor in the mix.

It is my feeling that it is up to us to make that type of relationship happen. We are twenty years (or more) older than our spouse’s mates, and we also have the better tools to work with problems. You are above all, wise. Focus on what is good about your daughter-in-law or son-in-law and learn to tolerate what you don’t like for the sake of the family and especially for your sake.

Do you have issues in your relationship with your daughter or son-in-law? Let me know in the comments below or share your ideas on Facebook. As well, send me your question at: info@www.honeygood.com! All names will be confidential and questions will be answered by me. 

Warmly, Honey

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September 2, 2021


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  1. Jeanne says:

    This is a topic bear and dear to me and my life with my DIL. They have been married 15 years and we are not given access to her family. I would like to develop a relationship with her mother but do not see her and not sure how to request even her address as they have recently moved. My DIL has become more and more distant to me. We see and help with the grands but mostly see my son and DIL as we receive or return the children and are not even invited into the house at this exchange. I am at a loss for what to do to help this change.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      Open authentic communication.Invite her out for lunch or coffee. Tell her you validate her feelings and would like to know what is making her so upset. Tell her you care and you have she will share her thoughts with you. Do not become defensive when if she tells you. Work together to make amends. Warmly, Honey

  2. Margianne Feller says:

    Lovely post. I wish I could do this but believe me, I have tried. My son tells me it started when they were not invited until the morning of the rehearsal wedding dinner that was at a restaurant. Actually, I had called my son (my oldest and his second marriage and his brother was best man). I had called Eric Wednesday afternoon to ask what they were planning for Friday evening. As both sides had relatives coming in from many states, I had waited long enough to mention this (but both were mature.) He said he would talk it over with his wife-to-be and get back in touch. He called the next morning (Thursday) and said, yes, they should have planned something. What would I suggest? I suggested a nice and popular restaurant and even though it was late they would set us up in the back room. Eric, the groom, said he was going to talk with his brother and he would tell him. Apparently that didn’t happen until the next morning – Friday. My younger son came into the restaurant with his wife and she wouldn’t speak or even say hello. I have made many attempts to talk with her but she sticks her nose up in the air and says she is not interested in what I have to say and walks away. I guess she doesn’t remember that we bought out a restaurant in Carmel for their rehearsal dinner (it was a destination wedding) even though that was the duty of her parents but they were not involving themselves (divorced). His brother has explained things to her but she will not accept it. So sometimes it is not the mother-in-law at all. She doesn’t care apparently and I might add that she doesn’t want children though my son would be a great dad as I watch him playing with his nephews. Also, I was a high school counselor and have worked with many young people. There are some that apparently cannot be won over!

    I love your blog – every day you talk about subjects that are important!

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      Well as I said in my blog, “Sometimes you get a little witch.” Accept it and go on with your life. Let them, hopefully come to you. I am so glad you like my blog. It warms my heat. Warmly, Honey.

  3. Patti says:

    Thank you!! Your article is excellent! It is straightforward and honest!
    I have a daughter and son in law who always feel short-changed in life! We recently took them on a vacation during which they were sullen, resentful and quite honestly , rude!
    I later was told that on the first day, my SIL “ felt something” and of course my daughter followed suit. This was a pure fabrication!!! They also have one child who is physically aggressive with others-children & adults alike. They do not discipline him!
    They blame everyone else for the things they are not happy about in life— which is a lot!

    We do respect them and their opinions. We don’t interfere with their decisions, although there are many things that they do differently than we do… I just feel like I cannot win. I feel like I give 1000 percent but it’s never enough!

    Do you have any insights?

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      Stop giving! Be very nice and loving but stop giving. They may appreciate you when they realize what you did for them! Warmly, Honey

  4. Susan "Honey" Good says:

    You can win. Have a heart to heart conversation validating their feelings and expressing yours. Don’t be defensive, be logical. You are right on all counts. And, I say this as a mother in law, a grandmother and at one time a daughter in law. Keep me posted. Warmly, Honey

  5. Donna Lee schmitz says:

    I was looking for insight and saw your article. Help! I have a lovely family. I do much more than I probably should but typically everyone is so gracious that it makes it worth the cost and effort. Long story short, my dil has been extremely cold and distant for the past year and more. She criticized everything I do behind my back. I noticed even her mom is now rude/hostile to me. I talked to my son and told him that whatever I did I apologize for. I told him how much I love them and things got better for a while. Not it’s terrible again. I compliment her all the time. To my face she is distant but nice. She comes from a very closed family system. I am going to invite her to lunch as suggested above. I don’t think she will come but I will try. My son provides a wealthy lifestyle for her. She has never had to work a day in her life; and with it she has become
    very snobby. I grew up poor and worked incredibly hard and have done very, very well also but I know it bothers her when I try to get the most for my money. I think I am hurt more than anything. So any other ideas would be
    greatly welcome. Thanks
    Donna Lee

    • Susan Good says:

      Invite her to have lunch with you at a restaurant. Hopefully, she will accept. Validate her feelings because whether you think they are right or wrong they are her feelings. “I respect your feelings. Something is bothering you and I hope we can right whatever you feel is wrong. Your feelings matter to me.” Let her talk. Do not become defensive. Good luck. Warmly, Honey

  6. Tammy says:

    My DIL called me and confided in me that my son is having some issues. I was aware of the issues but when I bring them up he thinks my DIL has told me their personal business. Well now she has told me. He is having some depression/anger/with-drawl/trust/job/ health/substance(legal) use issues but costly. This is impacting his marriage, child and friend relationships. She asked me to talk to him, but limited me to only what situations I know about, which are not much. When my DIL basically vented to me – I am glad she felt comfortable doing so – I had some trust issue red flags hit me with what she said. I don’t really feel confident that I can separate my own trust issues I will have to REALLY get this straight in my mind. I can see both sides of the situation. Sorry rambling. She wants me to talk to my son. I am not sure that is going to solve the issue. I feel the best thing for them is to go to a marriage counselor, but my son won’t go. My question Am I right to talk to my son to ask him to get some help? This may blow up and only cause things to get worse for everyone, but it won’t have a chance to get better either if I don’t. Please any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!

    • Susan Good says:

      I think silence is golden. You cannot win. Neither can his wife. He will most probably be upset with both of you. This may ruin your relationship with your son and upset the marriage (because she confided in you.) Maybe a close friend can speak to him since his friends are aware of his situation? The best thing for the couple is go for help as a team. Your son and his wife should work out their problems together. Good luck. Warmly, Honey

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