Thee Farm Wife

Thee Farm Wife

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Those pesky daughter-in-laws

from an artilce by Jolene Brown

We can't choose in-laws, but we can choose to communicate with them up front.
Time after time, conversations start like this: "Our family members got along just fine till the boys got married." Or, "How do we keep our assets in our family? In-laws aren't family" or, "What do we do if he's going to be with her family on Christmas?"
And so the saga of daughters-in-law begins. What I've learned is that relationships with this group can be the biggest source of pain – or joy.
To gain mutual support, loyalty, respect, and gratitude, it's critical to understand and distinguish behaviors and decisions from a family perspective vs. a business perspective.
Defining these, preferably before rings are exchanged, will require a commitment to honest communication and intentional planning.
Here's the challenge. A daughter-in-law often marries into a generations-old family business with literally hundreds of unwritten rules and an unexpressed code of conduct. Her issues range from trying to understand her husband's interactions within the family and business to finding a role for herself. Maybe she's given up her job and home to live in a more rural setting and now faces expectations, uncertain ties, loneliness, and a wish that she could just fit in.
At a recent young farmer meeting, a daughter-in-law asked, "How long do you have to be married before you get to be family?" The answer should be: "You're family from the minute vows were exchanged." Parents then get to celebrate the ad dition of a new family member, do all they can to support the marriage, and respect the boundaries of a new family unit. The new member now gets to build on the best of family history, respecting tradition and relationships, while negotiating new boundaries. If the parties have mutual reservations, each still gets to be pleasant and polite. Sometimes you get to choose to like someone before you love someone.
Defining a daughter-in-law's relationship to the business requires an expanded mind-set. It takes intentional communi cation and expressed expectations: What, if any, is her role in the business? What are her expectations of the business?

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