The only thing worth stealing is a kiss from a sleeping child. ~Joe Houldsworth
Adding a new family member is a challenge for the entire family system. Mothers become grandmothers, siblings are created, aunts and uncles are born right along with the baby. With all of these changes hurt feelings can happen as everyone learns their new role.
If you thought that avoiding stepping on toes was hard surrounding your wedding, it is nothing to having a baby. It does not have to be this way though. There are ways to navigate the treacherous waters of new parenthood without causing a huge rift.
Everyone Has an Opinion
Your mother, your mother-in-law, sisters, brothers, and the mail carrier will have an opinion on topics from names to newborn diapers. People often express opinions about things they have no real concern for. Unless he or she is caring for the baby, then it is really none of their concern.
When people are sharing their opinions with you they are usually not judging you, but sharing what they may feel, is an important bit of advice. Smile and nod- then do what you think is best. But at least listen politely, you never know maybe you’ll pick up an important tip.
If they insist on preaching their philosophy to you, and it is something you do not agree with, change the subject. Hopefully they’ll get the hint.
Address Issues as a United Front
If there is an important issue, address it as a united front. Sometimes, I swear people can sense a weakness and go right for it. Intentionally or not, don’t let people play you off of your partner.
The Delivery Room
This is one issue where what the expecting mother says goes. You will be the one in labour You will be the one with every bit of her on display. If you don’t want your mother or mother-in-law there for the birth, that is perfectly acceptable just tell people ahead of time.
If you are choosing to have your mother there and not your mother in law that is fine. It may be smart though to ask the one who you are inviting to the delivery room to keep it quiet though.
You can always enlist the help of your doctor or nurse to have people leave. You can discuss it with them early and have a ‘code phrase’ or something that signals your nurse or doctor to kick everyone out. Let them be the bad guy.
Visitors at Home
Most mom’s these days are discharged a day or so after having a baby. Years ago, women and babies had to stay a week before discharge. In all the excitement over meeting the new baby once you get home some individuals may forget that things have changed and babies and mothers are often discharged very soon after delivery.
My mother stayed with us for a few days to help me find my sea legs. Any longer than a few days and it would have been overwhelming, so it worked for us. This arrangement may not appeal to you. Some people prefer to have minimal visitors for the first few weeks and then welcome house guests after they (the new family) has established a routine.
If you have out of town visitors after delivery remember to keep you needs in the forefront of your mind. This means you should not feel obligated entertain, cook, or clean up. Let them do it. If people insist on visiting, you can insist they get a hotel room to ease your mind.
One thing to remember is honesty is the best policy here. You can be honest while being kind which is the best way to go. If you take on too much you may end up resenting the people who want to help the most.
Having a new baby can bring families together and strengthen the bonds extensively or it can cause huge rifts that are hard to heal.
An entrepreneur, and a very internet savvy grandmother, Christobel Edwards loves nothing more than to help new mothers feel better about the choices they are making. She is very concerned with the health of the environment and helps mothers become educated about green parenting choices. This includes her passionate belief in cloth diapering as the evidence shows that disposables could be environmentally damaging.
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