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A Gentle Guide to Dealing with (Your) Pushy Parents
Many people will be keen to initiate you, as you take those first few steps in your rite of passage as new parents. They will look at your baby bump and swoop in with suggestions and “nuggets of baby wisdom”, whether you care for them or not. You become a big magnet that attracts all sorts of (sometimes unwanted) attention and advice. These people will include your parents and parents-in- law.
Despite their best intentions, you’ll feel judged when they say, “You’re doing it wrong!” or “You really don’t know what you’re doing!” It’s a parent’s nature to help their child, so when they see you (their child) struggling, they will instinctively offer assistance. After all, the fact that they are your parents and you’re still alive does show that they do know a thing or two about the parenting game!
Here are five tips on how you can gently deal with your sometimes-pushy parents when their advice or actions start to grate on your nerves:
1. Stand and Fight on the Same Side!
If your parents do this: Question your parenting style and constantly offer unsolicited advice.
You can do this: Agree on how you’re going to raise your child and stand as a united front against potentially unfair criticism. It’s not easy but don’t complain or pass on the problem to your husband (when it comes from his parents). Approach them as a team. State clearly that while you may have a different way of doing things, you are still grateful for their support.
2. Stand Your Ground with a Gracious Smile
If your parents do this: Share their opinions, even on small and silly issues. This is definitely not easy for expectant mums, still insecure about their parenting instincts. Some lines may really not make medical sense e.g. “if you eat a lot of oranges, baby will have a lot of mucus when he is born.”
You can do this: Don’t get mad. The best defence is to smile graciously and thank them for their input. Just say, “Every baby and family are different. That might not work with ours, but thanks for sharing. I will definitely think about it.” Then do what the both of you think is best for baby.
3. Defend Your Boundaries
If your parents do this: Do something to or with your little one that you’re really not comfortable with, like giving him water because “that’s what we did with you” or constantly picking him up when you are trying to sleep-train.
You can do this: Have a serious conversation when their advice or actions really interfere with your parenting style. Acknowledge their love but remind them (whether in person or with a heartfelt letter) that it’s important that they support your parenting decisions.
4. Draw on Their Strengths
When your parents do this: Constantly want to help.
You can do this: List down their unique strengths and decide on how to best draw on these. Come up with practical things that each grandparent can do to help. If your mum is good at sewing, ask her to make a baby quilt. If your father-in-law is an excellent cook, get him to make you some nourishing soups during your pregnancy.
5. Choose Your Battles, Find a Balance
When your parents do this: Spoil the small children in the family rotten, so they can stop being the “bad guys”.
You can do this: Stand your ground on the rules that truly matter, things that can hurt your children’s wellbeing or character. Don’t be at constant war with them. Stand your ground if they offer your little one water but cut some slack if they offer your toddler a little ice-cream when out at the mall. Relax and compromise a little when it’s largely harmless. Keep an open mind and heart. If you ignore everything, you may miss out on that one brilliant tidbit that can be a real lifesaver.
You may disagree on some things but everyone will wholeheartedly agree that the most important thing is for mummy and baby to be healthy and well nourished. Ensure that you get all the key nutrients and two types of probiotic cultures (L. rhamnosus CGMCC 1.3724 and B. lactis CNCM I-3446) you need for a healthy pregnancy and beyond by taking a glass of nutritious MOM & ME a day!
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