“Sweets won’t hurt for the baby, so let him have it.”
“Noong panahon ko, di naman ganyan magpalaki ng bata.”
“This is the right thing to do– ganito ko pinalaki yung asawa mo.”
Do these lines sound familiar to you? The baby has arrived, and while it is a happy thought, this change can make or break your relationship with your in-laws. Raising a newborn is demanding as it is, especially for new parents, but it gets even more stressful when excited elders in the family give unsolicited advice and question your parenting choices. From disapproving of your baby’s meal plan to surprise visits, these differences in opinions can cause a clash with your in-laws, so how do you set some boundaries without hurting your relationship with them? We know that it can be nerve-wracking just thinking about it, so we came up with a list of ways you can manage the drama and keep harmony in the household. Keep scrolling as we give you some tips on how you can involve the in-laws in your journey without losing any sleep over it!
Yes, you are tired from sleepless nights, plus drowned with never-ending motherhood chores. With everything you are going through, the last thing you need is a family member criticizing your parenting decisions. While it is easy to feel dazed and overwhelmed with all the unsolicited advice and meddling, your in-laws are just excited to take care of the new addition in the family. Thus, the first step in managing your in-laws is to understand that they do not mean harm to your little one. If anything, they are just showing love and care for them even more. Putting this into your mind will help you stay calm and have a comforting mindset. Although sometimes, disagreements may occur. But it would not hurt to acknowledge and appreciate their efforts. After all, the main priority is the baby’s health and safety.
We know it is a bit complicated to deal with in-laws, especially if they tell you their life-long plans for your newborn. Unlike talking to your own parents, it is a bit hard to communicate with them as you have to be careful not to hurt your partner and their feelings. Hence, this is where your husband gets into the picture. Align with him, come up with a joint parental plan together and communicate this with everybody. You must have a united front, especially in difficult situations. If your in-laws are still insistent, let your spouse take charge and deal with them.
With the hysteria for a newborn baby, most in-laws love to come unannounced. For them, they do not see a reason why a quick drop off or a visit to see their grandchild needs to gain permission. But we know this can be triggering for drained and sleep-deprived parents of a newborn. Of course, you cannot say “no” and disallow them to see their grandchild. But, boundaries have to be set. So, you can politely tell them to schedule or at least give you a heads up for next time. It would work both ways – they would not want to come if both of you and the baby are sleeping anyway.
The truth is, you need help, and your in-laws know that since they have been through the same situation. Although things have changed over time and you may not adopt their traditional ways, give them a chance and let them help. Instead of automatically disregarding their assistance, maximize the fact that you have support by your side. Be firm on what is essential, and that is to make sure you get to do as much as you could for your family. Think about where you need support and point them to that direction such as cleaning or laundry, so you can do other stuff for the household. You can also take advantage of your in-law’s strengths (for example – if in-law is a good cook, ask them to make dinner). Accepting the help will definitely take out a lot of stress and burden from your shoulders.
While it is normal that your topmost concern is the welfare of your baby, it is also equally important that you maintain a good relationship with your in-laws. We know it is easier said than done, especially if they can really get overbearing. But, you have to keep in mind that they simply want what is best for your baby, just like you. Sometimes, all you need to do is to accept the help and understand things from their perspective. Make them feel useful and always end things with appreciation. Involve them in every journey and let them give the love and care for your little one. They are the grandparents of your baby, after all.
- Honey Nagpal Lalwani, How to Deal with your Mother in Law when Raising a Baby, July 2015
- Pinky McKay, Surviving the In-Laws After You Have a Baby, June 2020
- Susan Newman, 6 Smart Ways To Interact with Your In-Laws After the Baby Arrives, N.D.