Saturday, January 16, 2010
YOU'VE HAD A BABY...GET READY FOR IN-LAWS
So, you've survived through childbirth (it was touchy for awhile there..didn't know if you were going to make it or not) and you've brought your little perfect, wonderful smelling bundle of joy home. Having a baby not only expands your family by one, it also stretches it out to include a lot of people who up until now had marginal influence before. Now you get to have grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins more involved in your life. Your baby creates a biological relationship between people who might have had only a passing acquaintance until now...like you're parents and your husband's (or boyfriend, fiance, or invisible body, or whatever the case may be)parents. Your brother-in-law and his wife, whom you never much cared for, are now critically important to you as your baby's uncle and aunt. You want the baby to know then, to be friends with their children and to feel loved and protected by them. And, of course they all have their two cents to add at any given time about how your parenting affect THEM.
Now you're officially part of their 'tribe' since you birthed one of their kin so more attention is paid to you. You are taken more seriously as a member of your significant other's family and viewed with more respect by members of your own. The part of belonging to the family created by your child is great, however, some of the other parts can be more problematic. All of a sudden, everyone seems to care where the three of you are planning to have Thanksgiving dinner or which grandmother you plan to honor with your time on Mother's Day. There will be times when you will swear that it isn't the pleasure of your company they seek but rather only your baby's. This is probably more fact than an illusion.
My advice, stand up for yourself and your baby from the start. There is no point in keeping in side what you want. You are not the only one that loves this baby and is only fair to share however, it is still YOUR baby. Traditions are great and everyone should have a chance to make them so of course you want to make grandparent's happy visiting on certain holidays etc, but you still want to create your OWN traditions.
A great reward is the love of grandparents. They play a huge role in your child's life just as they played in your own. Grandparents love your babies in a free and relaxed way that is impossible for us parents and they love them whether they're not fond of you at all. They also offer a sense of belonging and heritage to children and they are more than wiling to tell embarrassing stories about you to bond with your child so watch out. don't forget, whether it's your parents or your In-laws, grandparents are the only people who will listen to your endless baby stories because they are interested , not just polite and they may even baby-sit now and then....which you WILL need.
This love fest from them doesn't come in a 'baggage-free' package though. These relatives of yours are now concerned with what she eats, where she sleeps, when she's potty trained and how you mother her. They may not be trying to intrude, but all of them will at some point seem to make little passive-aggressive statements that may want you to fun into oncoming traffic. We already know how fragile a new mother's confidence is and there are few things that can threaten it more than the judgment of her own mother-in-law. Keep in mind she really does have the baby's interest at heart but it is essentially YOUR baby so don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. Of course try to count to at least 20 before opening your mouth but if you do it from the beginning than you won't risk bottling it up inside and all of a sudden one day snapping with your head spinning in circles like something that came out of the Exorcist. Also, if you gently lay your foot down from the beginning on decisions than she may be less likely to offer her two cents more than needed. Just remember, these people love your baby and I'm sure they are not trying to discount you as a mother, they just all want what's best even if it's 10 different things.