Tools for In-Law Relationships - Elaine Froese | Canada’s Farm Whisperer | Your go-to expert for farm families who want better communication and conflict resolution to secure a successful farm transition


Tools for In-Law Relationships

by | Jul 7, 2014 | Farm Family Coaching, Farm Succession

in-law relationships

There seem to be a number of weddings on our calendar this year. Parents welcoming a new bride to the farm or relating to a well-acquainted daughter-in-law take a look at these questions and compare the answers with your spouse.

Questions for the Founding Generation to Better Relate to Daughter-In-Laws:

  1. What new insights or outlooks has our daughter-in-law brought to our family?  And brought to our farm?
  2. What do I most appreciate about our daughter-in-law?  What conscious things do we do to embrace our DIL and make her feel loved and accepted?
  3. What strengths does she offer to our farm team?
  4. What has she taught me?
  5. How has our daughter-in-law shone the light on some of our unwritten family rules or norms?
  6. How has our daughter-in-law made our son’s life better?
  7. What do we need to forgive or let go of to make our relationship with our daughter-in-law stronger?
  8. What fears has our daughter-in-law helped us to overcome?
  9. Three ways that we can show more care for our daughter-in-law are to:
  10. If I held nothing back, I would tell my daughter-in-law:
  11. What sacrifices have we made for the next generation?

Questions for the Next Generation to Better Relate to Mother in Laws:

  1. What do I most appreciate about my mother-in-law?
  2. What conscious things do we do to embrace our mother-in-law and make her feel loved and accepted?
  3. Three ways that we can show more care for our mother-in-law are to:
  4. What has she taught me?
  5. What sacrifices have your in-laws made for you and your spouse?
  6. How has your mother-in-law been a role model for you?

You can repeat the questions for son-in-laws and father-in-laws.

As we have been researching, there is very little written about in-law relationship building on family farms. Therefore, we are striving to develop practical tools to help families learn about their values and differences, in order to be more accepting and gracious with each other’s strengths and intentions.

Try this chart out and let us know what you think. It is adapted from work in Australia by Mick Faulkner’s Agrilink Agricultural Consultants, who I had the pleasure of working with in August.

How Happy Are You With Your Farm In-Laws? And They With You?

This is a tool for self-reflection and awareness, or you can share it with your in-laws to better understand their happiness factors. Click the chart below to download the Farm Relationship Self-Assessment Tool.

Are You Unhappy or Dissatisfied

If in any of these points of concern you are dissatisfied or unhappy, your farm is functioning below potential.

  1. If one or more in-laws feels they are not accepted by their in-laws, this could show a lack of respect or closure of the gate to kinship and being fully included as part of the family.
  2. If someone is not able to try new things on the farm, this could be resistance to change, and/or a power imbalance between family members and farm managers.
  3. If expectations are unclear this may be a sign of role confusion, unrealistic expectations and poor communication flooded with assumption.
  4. Good decision making allows for all voices to be heard. A lack of this may show a power struggle or poor communication habits. It could be that the “women are to be kept out of business” in some families. Not having a voice can also be a  sign of pure disrespect.
  5. If a farm family is critical and judgmental it nurtures destructive behavior and negative workplace culture.
  6. Lack of appreciation is a huge stumbling block to business success. This is particularly so for the Generation Y group  (born after 1980) who expect more feedback than previous generations do.
  7. Financial reward is important for survival and recognition. The goal for most adult children successors or business partners to become owners, and be fairly compensated for their sweat equity and labor.

I am now a mother-in-law with a wonderful daughter-in-law who is studying hard to become a nurse. Each season of our lives brings new challenges and opportunities. Let us all work together towards more harmonious relationships to strengthen our farm teams.

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1 Comment


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