Raising a new baby is never easy. It is a learning experience for everyone involved.
However, also having to deal with a mother in law changes the dynamics of everything. Even if you have a good relationship with your mother in law, the chances are good that you will not agree on many things when it comes to parenting and how to handle a new baby.
Generation Gap Between Mom and Mother in Law
There is a definite generation gap between your mother in law and you. Times are constantly changing and new research is evolving. The way your mother in law raised her baby is probably dramatically different than the way you will raise yours. Your mother in law may have taken the advice of parenting experts such as Dr. Benjamin Spock, but you want to follow a new generation of baby experts like Dr. William Sears.
Your mother in law might be an advocate of letting an infant cry it out but you believe in immediately responding to your baby’s cry with love and reassurance. Different generations are going to have greatly varied parenting viewpoints and you will have to deal with those views when coping with your mother in law and her antiquated advice.
How to Cope With Her Parenting Advice
Here are few ways that you can cope with your mother in law and her her ongoing helpful, but often unwanted, advice.
You need to accept the fact that your mother in law means well. She is offering her advice because she loves your baby. Your mother in law probably believes that her experience in child-rearing surpasses yours. However, newly evolved research outweighs experience and such a fact might be difficult for her to accept at first.
2. Include Your Mother In Law
Sometimes your mother in law needs to hear what the experts have to say first hand so the best way to achieve this is to take have her go with you to your baby’s pediatrician appointments. Discussing your baby’s issues with the doctor together will provide her with peace of mind and she will probably more readily accept the knowledge of a doctor.
3. Continue the Discussion
It’s easy to just stop accepting your mother in law’s phone calls or avoid answering the door when she comes for an unexpected visit but such actions are not fair to you, your baby, or your husband. You need to remember that you are all family and you all love the newborn. If you disagree with certain parenting aspects then it’s imperative that you continue to discuss the disagreement and resolve any issues. Closing yourself off from your mother in law and keeping the baby from her will cause irreparable and needless damage to the family dynamic.
Let your mother in law participate in the care of the new baby even if you do disagree. Your little one is only a baby for a short time and to deny your mother in law the wonder of the stage is wrong. No matter what your disagreements might be, you all love the baby and should participate in the care and events of the infant’s life together.
5. Take it or Leave it
The old saying ‘in one ear and out the other’ works well when it comes to grandma’s advice. It is often best to just let her tell you how it was in her day and share her valuable tips with you, but in the end, you will ultimately take it or leave it. There is no reason to argue with her at the moment. Just listen, weigh out the tips, and then when she has gone home continue to raise your baby the way you want. You should not immediately cut your mother in law off when she is telling you unwanted suggestions. You do not have to bluntly tell her that you have no intention of following her recommendations or tips. Instead, you can thank her for her knowledge so she feels good but then you can continue to parent in your own style.
The Most Common Outdated Advice
Modern research has shown us that many things that were once believed to be good for an infant are in fact bad. However, your mother in law may not be up to date on the latest scientific findings so she may still believe that the old ways are the best ways when it comes to food.
One of the biggest disagreements that you may have to address with your mother in law is milk. Older generations often filled their babies bottles with cow’s milk and never thought twice about it. Lactose intolerance was almost unheard of years ago. Typically, infants cannot digest the sugars in cow’s milk and it can cause bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Now medical experts say to avoid giving infants cow’s milk before they are one year old, according to Dr. William Sears.
Another generational issue is sugar consumption. Older people often think it’s perfectly fine to give a teething baby a sugar-filled cookie.Back in the day, mothers were known to wrap sugar cubes in pieces of cloth and give the sweet treat to crying infants to suck on in place of pacifiers. In some cases, they would even dip the sugar cube bundle into brandy, rum to settle or some other sweet liqueurs settle a restless infant.
Older generations also frequently believe that filling a bottle with fruit juice is perfectly safe for a newborn. However, research shows that fruit juice before a baby’s first year of life may contribute to future obesity and dental issues, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Today, modern mothers are horrified at such practices, but previous generations of parents thought such things were normal. The chances are good you will butt heads with your mother in law over small issues such as the ones listed above.
What the Experts Say
“You might tell your MIL: ‘I know you are trying to be helpful, but we want to make our own mistakes,’” she said. “Or delicately suggest that times have changed and ‘this is just what our pediatrician recommends on sleeping”.
Susan Newman, Nobody’s Baby Now: Reinventing Your Adult Relationship with Your Mother and Father.
“Just because you’re listening to [her advice] doesn’t mean you have to follow it. And there’s no need to make stressful waves around this exciting time in your life. You can listen — to be polite — without following through,”.
Dr. Les Parrott, The Parent You Want to Be: Who You Are Matters More Than What You Do.
“Babies bring out everyone’s compassionate side. Other people may see you struggling with certain parenting issues, and they feel it is their duty as experienced parents to help you out.To a new mom who is sleep deprived and not yet completely confident in her parenting skills, even well-meaning advice can come off as critical and irritating. So take a deep breath, relax, and follow these tried-and-true tricks to sorting out the helpful from the harmful and blowing off the bad advice with charm and style”.
Jennifer Hartstein, a psychologist at the Child and Family Institute at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital
Sometimes the best way to deal with your mother in law and the new baby is simply to take a deep breath and smile. Acceptance brings peace. You need to accept that grandma is filled with love for your infant and just wants to be a part of the whole baby-rearing excitement. Give her a little leeway and rest-assured that all of her often unwanted counsel is ultimately just an act of pure love.