[Originally posted at Just the Facts, Baby]
It’s hard enough to navigate the challenges you face with your partner after a new baby, but other relationships can get shaken up as well. Suddenly, getting along with your parents or in-laws can become tricky. My mother is a wonderful mom and a fantastic grandmother, but I do remember a time, just after my first child was born, when she elbowed me out of the way at the change table.
I remember thinking, “Did that just happen?”
I don’t even think she realized it-as my mother, she was used to taking care of me, and taking care of my baby seemed the thing to do. It was hard for her to see me as the mother in this situation and it was an adjustment for her to pull back and support me rather than take over. We had many a blanket war. I would take it off, sure my son would overheat, and she would put it back, certain he would freeze. It took a while for each of us to find our roles and our places.
It can be even more challenging when this battle is playing out with in-laws. Small issues can crop up, such as your baby’s features being attributed exclusively to your partner’s side of the family (as if he was born by immaculate conception), as can bigger issues, like criticizing your parenting or undermining all the work you did to get your child to sleep through the night. This can cause friction between you and your partner too, forcing you to take sides and align with each other or your parents.
The best way to handle these challenges is to remember that most of us work it out and find ways to see the good outweighing the bad. (I’ll deal with problem in-laws in a future blog post-I promise). Grandparents offer a lifetime of wisdom and have already raised their kids to adulthood. If you and your partner disagree on what they have to say, stay neutral-getting mad only escalates things. Listen and reflect back their advice, then make your point. If you’re confident, you will send the message that you hear them, but you and you partner will be making your own choices.
Treasure your baby’s grandparents; the magic, perspective, and history they can bring to your children are incredible gifts. No one can make your child feel as special as a grandparent. You may not always want to hear what grandparents have to say, but their wisdom can be priceless. When it isn’t, find the humour in it. At times, the best thing you can do is shake your head and laugh.