Dear Louanne… I would like to have a good relationship with my daughter-in-law but I don’t know how to create one

How can I build a good relationship with my daughter-in-law? I recently got married and my husband wants his daughter and I to get along well. She lives with her mother, who I have a pretty decent relationship with. My daughter-in-law is nine, and sometimes wants to be friendly, and other times prefers not to. For the moment, I have not had a conversation with her, although she participated in the preparations for the wedding. I want us to be close but I don’t want her to feel forced.

M

Hello BM,

Blended families can symbolize renewal, second chances, acceptance, and people brought together by love and choice rather than blood. The best one can live is living in a blended family, but the worst too.

You and your husband have come together in love and joy. Your young daughter-in-law may feel a little uncertain about the changes that are happening.

You and your husband are the adults, so it’s important that you both bring open communication, respect, lots of love and patience to your new family so that together you can be a close and loving blended family.

Don’t expect to love your daughter-in-law overnight. Get to know her and give time for love and affection to grow.

If you haven’t talked to your husband yet and agreed on how you’re going to parent together, have that conversation soon.

Children need to feel safe. They need to feel they can trust the adults involved in their lives. A child of divorce has already known the pain of adults who let him down. They may not be sure to trust again.

Giving the child their place in the family, where they will be included in decision-making, will help them feel valued. It was very insightful and thoughtful that you made sure she was included in the wedding preparations. This can continue in family life.

By creating an open, non-judgmental family environment, you will help your daughter-in-law feel heard and emotionally connected to you.

You mention that sometimes she wants to be friendly and sometimes not, it shows that you notice her pace. Let her continue to set the tone as you continue to offer time, patience, and interest.

Don’t forget your relationship with your husband. You both have a responsibility to take care of your relationship. Couples in blended families may spend so much time and energy managing the needs of children that they forget about their own. Taking care of your relationship will create a solid foundation, which will benefit everyone. When your daughter-in-law sees love, respect, open and clear communication between you and your husband, she is much more likely to replicate these qualities.

Make sure you both set aside time to be together.

Relate NI has introduced a new service called Relationship MOT. This is a fantastic opportunity to support you and your husband by connecting with each other and spending a session nurturing your relationship as you adjust to married life and are a blended family. relateni.org/relateni-services