Dealing With Your In-Laws After Having a Baby
Communicate With Your Partner
Whether you are married, engaged, dating, not dating, or whatever you are doing, you will need to communicate with the father or mother of your new baby. I cannot stress how important it is that your partner and you are on the same page when it comes to what and how you will be doing things with your baby.
I read somewhere recently that it is always you and your partner vs. the problem- and that is so true! Sometimes in disagreements, we get so caught up in being right that we forget about what's really important. You as the parents should always have a united front- no matter what the circumstances. After all, they are the mother or father of your baby and do deserve a basic level of respect from each other's families.
Talk It Out
When dealing with issues involving your in-laws always try to communicate how you feel with your partner first. DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO DISMISS YOU. I can not say this enough. If you truly respect your partner you will not dismiss how they feel and you surely will want to at least hear where they are coming from.
When approaching any issue involving how another made you feel you'll want to refrain from placing the blame directly on another person. For example, if I tell my spouse "Your mother doesn't respect the way I parent our child!" vs. "I don't feel respected by your mother when it comes to how we choose to parent our child." You've now made your statement less attacking and more united by changing and adding a few words. It's not always about what you're saying but how you're saying it.
Don't Shut Down
If you're still having trouble getting your partner to understand where you're coming from, you'll probably want to throw your hands in the air and shut down- don't. Problems don't get resolved by walking away, they just fester and build up. Take a minute, or a couple hours, and revisit the problem once a little time has gone by. Maybe all your partner needs is to sit and let what you've said sink in for a little while to fully process where you are coming from. It's easy for us to call our parents on their wrong doings but it's not always easy to hear someone else do it.
Once you've communicated to your partner how you feel, come up with a solution to the issue. Setting limits on how you will be treated, spoken to, spoken about, and more is 100% acceptable. In fact, it is your right as a human being to say what you will and will not take from other people.
I think this might be every new mother's worst nightmare- unwanted advice from your in-laws. Now, let me just say this. If you want the advice then by all means and if the advice is truly coming from a caring place then by all means. But unfortunately, this isn't always the case. Your parents and your in-laws are there to support you as a new mother or father—that's all.
If you are dealing with a case where your in-laws are constantly critiquing about how you parent or nurture your baby or child, let your spouse know. Remember that it is how you say it that can make all the difference. Now, I know a lot of men out there are not going to like this but, you need to say something to your parents if they are making your spouse feel some type of way. In the end, in the beginning, in the middle, wherever- your family always respects and takes things like this better coming from their own child rather than their daughter or son in law. It's just a fact. You are the one who has grown up with your family and knows how to communicate with them (hopefully) so it only makes sense for you to be the one who sets the limit. Now, this doesn't mean you have to go full on attack mode or make your family cry and get all upset. You just need to set the limit respectfully.
You can say things like:
- "We appreciate your advice but we need to figure things out for ourselves and learn about what [insert baby name] needs."
- "Thank you for your input but I think [insert spouse name] is doing a great job and can figure it out."
- "Mom/Dad please be aware of what you are saying to [insert spouse name], it can come off a little degrading." (even if its a lot degrading)
I can guarantee at some point or another your mother in law will compare your baby to your spouse or one of her other children. Now, that is all fine and dandy but when she starts comparing how she struggled and how you struggle then we have an issue.
A friend of mines mother in law recently said something to her that just didn't sit well with me. During a trip away from home, my friend told her mother in law how she was struggling with her 3-year-old and how hard it was. Her mother in law responded by saying, "You're talking to the wrong person because I had four little ones under the age of five, and I had no help." Well, that's just something you don't say to your daughter in law. If this said mother in law wanted to continue popping out children year after year because she wanted lots of kids she cannot compare her self to a woman who had a surprise baby and didn't really want kids. Now, before you all jump down my throat- my friend loves her son but she just wasn't someone who planned on having kids and that's okay.
The best part about this is that the mother in law was actually the one who told me about what she had said! As soon as she finished I was quick to let her that what she said was not okay. I let her know that comparing one mother's struggle to another was not right since every mother struggles with different things. But that doesn't make any struggle less valid or important. As mothers, we need to support and encourage each other through our struggles, rather than dismissing the struggles because they weren't the ones we dealt with.
"You are a guest in their marriage and a guest in their home. You have to fold into their rules and their lives if you want to be welcome there."— Dr. Phil
It can be very easy to be one-sided when it comes to your family; I mean after all they are your family. It can especially be hard if you've had some animosity with your in-laws in the past. Remember to be fair!
Holidays are always so hectic—the gifts, the food, the people, and let's not forget who will be hosting? If you have a large family and your spouse does not it can be easy to get pulled into having something going every single holiday with one side of the family. You'll have to compromise on each end. Maybe one gets Thanksgiving Dinner and the other get Christmas Dinner. Or maybe you can host and have both families over! Ugh, did I actually just say that? Unfortunately, I did. Keep the peace and compromise with your spouse over holidays to avoid neglect on your family and your in-laws.
Make the Effort
Whether you are texting pictures, sending holiday cards, or inviting to activities with your littles—always make an equal effort with your in-laws. Now I'm not saying you always have to be the one to make the effort but do make an effort- even if you don't want too. There have been plenty of times where I have not wanted to try or not wanted to do something because of how someone has made me feel. However, please keep in mind if you are being completely disrespected by your in-laws I can understand not making a 100% effort to do certain things, but at least be sure to make some sort of effort on your behalf.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.