What To Do When The Family Interferes With Your Parenting…

Friends and relatives are often the most trusted supporters when it comes to raising babies. And yet, I hear tales of judgement and poor advice daily, so this blog is addressed to all those new aunts, uncles and grandparents, or friends of new parents – and to those parents who struggle with constant criticism or judgement from someone close to them.

New babies are exciting – everyone wants to hold and see the infant, and will ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ in delight at how beautiful he is. And yet, there is also a tendency to advise the new mom, and analyse everything she does. Most of this ‘advice’ centres on what the mom should do differently or is doing wrong, what might be wrong with Baby and comparisons of different parenting styles.

Don’t get me wrong, extended family can be absolutely wonderful as joys and woes are shared, and it helps families stay in touch with the importance of their togetherness, traditions and shared experiences. However, so often those closest to a couple will become the hugest millstone around their necks, even while making some wonderful contributions to the new family. This is because their advice is often of the “See, I told you so” type, or the giver of advice is trying to improve on their own mistakes, while appearing to know more than the new parents. How annoying!

Grandparents frequently believe their methods are best because after all, “Look how you turned out”. Others may sense anxiety and vulnerability in the new mother, and see this as an open invitation to take over and show her what to do.

If you’re a new parent who’s struggling with this, try to understand that everyone loves the excitement and joy surrounding the birth of a baby, and that many have the best intentions in the world when they share their ideas and advice. Of course, there is more than one correct way to raise a child, so try not to take their comments too seriously. Babies are just as individual as adults, and a little trial and error is sometimes needed to discover what works best.

It might simply take you stating quite clearly and in a friendly way what you prefer and choose to do, for attitudes and approaches to change. Take time to thank those close to you for what they do to help, and ask directly for help with specific tasks to show that you do want their involvement. The subtle message will reach all but the most insensitive! Involve and acknowledge relatives by sending them special photos of cute moments and baby hand- and footprint cards! Remember, close relatives and friends, even if they seem critical, will be there for you when you really need assistance.

And to relatives and friends, please – be gentle; raising babies is challenging enough without making it worse. Why not read my tips to make you the most appreciated supporter you can be?