There are lots of challenges to be faced when welcoming a baby on to the scene, but perhaps the most surprising is managing your relationships with friends and family, all of whom are keen to help give advice and support for your new arrival.
Whilst they of course mean well, many In-laws will be super excited about the arrival of their first grandchild; but having ‘been there, done that and got the t-shirt’, they will also have lot of ideas and opinions about the best way to raise a child, from where, when and how they should sleep, how they should be fed or even what they should be called! At times, this constant barrage of advice can be a little overwhelming and be a source of tension at what otherwise should be a happy time.
How do you cope with interfering in-laws without damaging your relationship?
- Ensure a united front – Talk to your partner and make sure that you are on the same page and that they reinforce the same views as you. Whilst you shouldn’t have to do so, this united front is helpful when explaining together the reasons for your decisions.
- Ask your partner to ‘have a quiet word’ – Rather than get into an argument or row, bite your tongue. If there is a difficult conversation to be had, whether it’s something like asking them to call before just arriving on the doorstep, or explaining that the routine you’ve created is something that works for you; let your partner take the lead, potentially alone, as it’s is likely to come better from them. That said, make sure they understand that this is how you both feel and not just your partner doing the dirty work on your behalf.
- Blind them with the facts – In reality, parenting advice changes all the time and therefore its highly likely that things have changed since their own children were small. Reinforce the facts, whether that’s breastfeeding and its benefits, or advice and guidance about safely co-sleeping – it’s much harder to argue with science!
- Don’t ignore every bit of advice – Whilst some of their advice can be taken with a pinch of salt, it’s also important to remember that despite the time gap, they will have experienced first-hand most of the parenting challenges you are about to embark upon. Don’t brush off every single piece of advice as being interfering, as you never know when their support could be really helpful!
- Remember they mean well – 9 times out of 10 at least, their comments are made with good intentions. Take a deep breath and remember that it’s an exciting time for them too. Try and focus on the positive elements of your relationship and thank them for the supportive things they do!
- Set boundaries – At the end of the day – this is your child, not theirs. If you don’t want them having a sugary snack or have decided to raise your baby as a vegetarian for example – these are your decisions and you’re entitled to stand by them. You can state the boundaries of your child’s upbringing without being rude. Simply explain and ask that they maintain consistency to avoid any confusion or mixed messages as your child grows.
- Smile and nod – At times, it’s easier to just nod, smile and politely thank them for their opinions, but avoid betting into a debate. Keep your sense of humour and accept that when it comes to babies, everyone’s opinions are going to be different.
Have you faced interfering parents or in-laws? How did you manage their relationship with your kids?