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Nothing could have prepared me for that all-important moment when my firstborn child was placed on my chest for the very first time. I had, of course, spent much of my pregnancy reading up about infant care and parenting choices. I knew what kind of mother I wanted to be. Indeed, I also read about that rush of love new moms are meant to feel and I had theoretically accepted the idea that nothing but actually having a baby could offer adequate preparation for parenthood, and I still wasn't prepared.
In other words, no matter how much knowledge you may acquire before becoming a parent, and no matter how many babies you may have taken care of, every new parent is completely inexperienced at being responsible for their own child. And isn't that daunting?
Some of the early parenting decisions and dilemmas you will be faced with simply relate to practical matters, but a great deal of them are health-related in some way.
Is that bowel movement really normal? Should you call the doctor about that fever? Do you have enough breast milk? Will your baby be quite normal after falling off the bed? Is co-sleeping safe? When should you start solid foods? Should you "cry it out" or soothe your baby every time she cries? What clothes are weather-appropriate? Is your baby developmentally delayed?
Guess what? You will figure it out, and you will also inevitably make many mistakes along the way. People you love, people you know, and total strangers will think they know better than you all along the way, and though some of them actually have useful advice, many are irritating (even those that might have useful advice). How do you deal with people who want to push their "sound parenting advice" down your throat?
Dealing With Unwanted Advice From Grandparents
Grandparents are bound to have views on your child-rearing decisions. They usually have plenty of experience, and they're also more likely to voice their opinions because they care about their grandchild and are excited about their new role in life. Having supportive grandparents on board can be tremendously helpful, but constant advice and inquiries about your and your baby's well-being may also come to feel like you're being choked. That's something most new parents prefer to avoid.
Grandparents' views about baby care may also be outdated, plain bizarre, or simply not your cup of tea.
What can you do to maintain a positive and close relationship with your parents and your partner's parents if they also have a tendency to offer unwanted advice? This depends on the grandparent's personality, on how strongly they believe they are right, and on your national and family culture. The good news is that you'll always have quite a few options.
Some grandparents are happy if you simply share what you do, and sometimes why. Their ultimate goal is to be part of your baby's life, and to support you in your new role however they can but without being pushy. You may tell these grandparents that you're so happy they are around for advice when you need them, but you just need to figure the rest out for yourself.
If you don't feel you need their advice on sleep training or when to introduce solids (things you may disagree on), eager but non-overbearing grandparents might really like it if you use their help in some way. You could ask them to research where you can get the baby products you use for the best price, they could be your co-Googlers in case of health issues, or they might like to cook you a meal here and there if you live nearby. When you do think you could do with their advice, they'll be happy to offer it.
Other grandparents are a bit pushier. They might have researched their own infant-care practices in detail way back in the "dark ages" and now think you ought to do things the same way.
These folks sometimes benefit from emails that demonstrate the FDA or the World Health Organization now actually recommend "X thing you're doing", or whatever other explanation you have for doing what you're doing. You could also simply thank them for their thoughts and then proceed to ignore them. Occasionally, you might need to explain that their constant advice is making you feel stressed. An alternative is to pretend you're doing things exactly the way they suggested, though that approach is reserved for special cases.
Obviously, you're going to react to your well-meaning, loving mom differently than to your mother in-law with Narcissistic Personality Disorder — to name some random examples. Whatever you do, you definitely have the right to feel confident about making your own decisions and making that clear to grandparents, but if the grandparents are generally sane people and they say stuff you don't want to listen to about your baby's health, you may want to ask yourself if you need to pay attention anyway.