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Dear Madrone,

I have a problem, and nowhere to turn. I throw myself at your feet, and ask you to take pity on me. It's like this. My husband is out of the picture.He took himself out, if you know what I'm saying when he decided that after fifteen years, three children and God knows how many loads of laundry and hot meals, he'd rather date a hot load, who looks fifteen. So be it. He's dead to me, although so long as he's not busting my chops with the child support, I insist the children show him the proper respect. That's not the problem. It's this. I have needs, and one of them isn't the need for a new husband. How can I take care of these exigencies without the neighbors talking or the children knowing?

Hot and not bothered, Carroll Gardens

Dear Hot,

If it's just about the exigencies, that's simple. Handle it yourself. For the price of bubble bath powder and an inside lock on the bathroom door, you're set. Any other avenue involves third parties, and those avenues are lined with onlookers sitting on stoops, just waiting for something to yap about because they have no lives of their own. Even if you went to Atlantic City or to the Poconos or even Alaska, the way these things go, your aunt's goombah will be there with the senior citizen discount cruise, count on it.

If you're looking for more than that, well, that's a different question, one you did not ask.

God bless, Donna

Dear Madrone,

My daughter, who is a rebel, is getting married to a person whose family is different from ours. Very different, if you get my drift. We are against this match and have made it our business to tell her so. And yet she goes against us. How can we stop the wedding? Horrified, Riverhead

Dear Horrified,

You can't.

God bless, Donna

PS. Which is to say, you can. But you don't want to. Unless of course you don't want your daughter to ever get married. Which may be the case. But Madrone, you tell me, of course we want her to be married, but into a family more like ours. What you don't understand, but you really should get straight, is that there is no family like yours, and if you think one is the same because you all look alike or you have holiday dinners on the same holidays, it's only going to be trouble down the line. I have seen terrifying battles over whose lasagna recipe is preferred, when the only real difference is whether or not to leave the onion in the gravy in after it is browned. Unless you call it sauce, and I've seen fights over that, too.

Dear Readers,

Lately I've been getting so many letters wondering what to do with the ideas schools give your children. You must understand, it is the stated job of schools to give children ideas and since the children come from all kinds of families, there is no guarantee that every idea they bring home will be one you agree with. You have two choices, keep your children away from ideas, this is a time consuming practice as ideas are everywhere, not just at school and they get very attractive once they are forbidden. The other way to think of ideas is like all the colds and fevers children get when they are young, the fevers spike up to 103, even 105 sometimes, but in a five year old, not so serious. In a twenty year old, very bad. In other words, vaccinate your children…let them have ideas, when they are young, and you can keep an eye on things, and then when they get older, they can be exposed to all sorts of ideas without major harm.

God bless, Donna

Rules of the Family Archive





Pamela Bongiorno Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles. She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.

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