If you thought your in-laws were intrusive before you had kids, then hold onto your maternity pants. The “fun” has just begun. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the truth is that your relationship with your in-laws is likely to grow more tense once children enter the picture.
But then you probably discovered that the day you announced that you were pregnant. Ah, yes, that was the day your father-in-law insisted that you follow tradition and name your son (or daughter), “Clyde Waldo Dufus III”. And later that evening your mother-in-law purchased airline tickets and reserved a seat in the front row of the delivery room, followed by a two-month visit in your guest room.
Don’t get me wrong; some in-laws are wonderful people who respect their daughter-in-law’s needs instead of expecting her to revolve everything around them. Let’s take a Jeff Foxworthy style approach to finding out if you have intrusive in-laws.
You Might Have Intrusive In-laws if:
#10 They insist that they are entitled to be present in the delivery room.
#9 They compete with the other set of grandparents by fighting about who gets to see the baby first, who gets to stay at your house first, who gets to be called “Grandma”, who buys the best toys, etc.
#8 They make it clear that they don’t like the name you chose for your child…and may even go so far as to refuse to call him by that name.
#7 They insist that you should breastfeed your baby instead of leaving the decision to you.
#6 They pressure you to let your baby cry in its crib for awhile instead of letting you decide whether or not you want to hold him.
#5 They lecture you on the importance of spanking instead of leaving the discipline decisions to you and your husband.
#4 They insist that you spend every holiday at their house and try to make you feel guilty if you try to start any new holiday traditions.
#3 They think that they are entitled to spend time with their grandchildren whenever they want to; therefore they show up uninvited, insist that you come visit them constantly, etc.
#2 They undermine your authority by saying things to your husband and to your child to imply that you aren’t a good mother or that their opinions outrank yours.
#1 They refer to the baby as their child instead of yours.
Here are some tips to help you survive intrusive in-laws:
* Replace your insecurity with confidence. You and your husband are the final authority on your children. If your in-laws don’t approve of something you are doing, then so what? You don’t need their approval, so don’t behave as if you do. Just because they disagree with something you do doesn’t mean that you are bad parents.
*Learn to let your in-laws be upset with you. Don’t overlook your own needs constantly just to keep everyone else happy. For example, if you want to spend the first week home from the hospital with just your husband, then tactfully tell both sets of parents exactly that. If they put up a fuss, let them know that it is not up for discussion.
*Behave as an adult on an equal level with your in-laws. Your in-laws are not superior to you, so don’t behave as if they are. The next time they give unwanted advice, say, “Thanks for your advice, but I’ve decided to do it this way instead” or “I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.” Their opinions are just that…opinions, not fact.
*Unite as a couple. Tell your husband specific things that you need for him to say when certain situations come up such as, “Honey, the next time your mom says something to you that implies that I’m a lousy mother, I need for you to tell her that you aren’t willing to listen to her say negative things about me.”
Only you can change your life. Develop healthy behavior patterns by saying and doing new things to show you are now an assertive mom. You can’t force your in-laws to change their behavior, but if you change your own, then they will likely change theirs too.