How To Deal With Your Mother In Law And Your New Baby

The indications started early in your pregnancy: your husband’s mom started calling every day, asking for a rundown of how the baby feels, what you had to eat that day, how your health is, whether you had chosen a name yet. She began buying baby clothes the week after you announced you were pregnant, both blue and pink “just in case.” She gives you lists of family names. She talks about how she’s looking forward to having a baby around again, and tries to tell you everything you should do to keep healthy during your pregnancy.

Then the really frightening word comes: she wants to move in with you after the baby’s born, just to help you out a little. A little! You know better: she wants to tell you how to run everything, and you don’t want her to intrude on your new family’s time.

You don’t have to, either, and you’re right: you need time with your husband to bond with the baby. Your mother-in-law is well-meaning, but you simply can’t have this happen to you. And you need time to learn how to be a mom, too, room to make mistakes without constant criticism. Babies have survived new mothers for years, after all, and you should feel confident that you will do just fine.

But how do you get the mother in law to leave you alone? You can’t just tell her to butt out. What are your other options?

Start by talking about your feelings to your husband. He is always your best friend and ally in life, and even though it’s his mother who is causing you stress, explaining to him how you feel is your first step. If he has trouble understanding, see if you can find a good intermediary: clergy, a counselor, a nurse, or just a friend who understands, preferably one who has been through this before. You need your husband in your court before you can get anywhere with this situation.

Next, talk to your own mother and tell her what’s going on. Do NOT let her interfere or even talk to the other mother about it; she just needs to understand that you may have to treat both of them the same.

Practice this line, with a sweet smile: “No, thanks.” If your mother in law offers to move in, say “No, thanks.” You don’t have to explain, unless she demands it; even then, look for convenient reasons you can’t let her in: the house is too small, you don’t have a bed for her, the lease doesn’t allow guests.

Every time you have to say no, see if you can follow it up with a yes. “But you know, I was looking at the most beautiful little crib the other day. What do you think about this one?”

You don’t have to let her make any decisions about important things to you – but if the issue isn’t a big deal, let her contribute. Remember, she’s going through a change too. If it’s her first grandchild, she has no idea how to be a grandmother and not a mother, and that’s not an easy transition to make. She may be missing those days when your husband was a tiny little thing, too. See if you can get her to pull out pictures of your darling sweetheart when he was wearing diapers, and speculate about whether the baby will look like him.

Speak more on the phone and have your mother in law come over less. If she’s still pushy, and you just can’t ignore it, ask her to come over and call less. You’re pregnant; it’s perfectly natural for you to be tired, and it’s good for the baby that you get plenty of rest. Leave a pressure release valve for her; make sure there’s a time that she is welcome to come over, and make sure she knows when it is.

The important thing to remember is that this is YOUR baby and YOUR pregnancy. You are the queen right now, and whatever you want, you should get. This means that you let those you want into the delivery room, and exclude those you don’t want, whether they like it or not. You choose your baby’s sitter, you decide how the little room will be decorated, and you and your husband are the ones who choose how the baby is raised.

Grandma is there to spoil the little one periodically, and give him back to you. Remind her of how nice it will feel to be able to give the crying, screaming baby back (even if you have to invite your best friend with the shrieking toddler over when Grandma’s there) and it will be a much easier sell.

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