Let’s talk about a complex but important topic today — in-laws! If the word itself makes you squirmy, don’t worry because you’re not the only one. It’s not always that you find in-laws who respect your privacy and need for space. Those of you who stay under the same roof with your in-laws can attest to this. It’s irritating and troublesome when in-laws get nosy and try interfering in your family decisions. The same is true in regards to decisions pertaining to your child. Your in-laws definitely love their grandchildren but they have to know their boundaries. When it comes to a child, it’s the parents, whose decision counts as the final one. They might argue that they have “more experience”, but it’s still not up to them to intervene in your parenting style.
Being a parent is hard enough, and when you have a newborn, you have a gazillion things to worry about. One of those things should not have to be your in-laws. So it’s best to put your foot down and set some boundaries with them. It might be uncomfortable to have that conversation, but it’s essential, nevertheless. So, if you’re wondering how to set a few ground rules with your in-laws when you have a baby, you’ve stumbled on the right page. Here are five ways you can set clear boundaries with them to make your life easier:
1. Approach Them As A United Front
Remember that you and your partner are a team, and the rest of the family comes next. Whether they are your parents or your spouse’s parents, it’s important to avoid taking sides. Discuss your boundaries with your partner before speaking to your in-laws and go in as a single unit. If you disagree with your partner on something, talk in private and come to an agreement beforehand. But don’t do it in front of your in-laws because it makes your position weaker, which might be exploited.
2. Maintain Consistency
If your in-laws want to help out with babysitting, that’s okay, but you must establish boundaries with them clearly and stay consistent. If you don’t want to feed your child sweets, tell them that’s a big no. They might want to break the rule for “occasions”, but if you bend the rules (even if it’s only rarely), it gives them an opportunity to ignore them and play by their own rules.
3. Tone And Language
Talking to your in-laws about something related to their grandkids can be a sensitive topic. So, ensure you know what you’re telling them and also how you’re telling them a certain thing. Think about what language and tone you’d want to use because it can make things messy if you say the wrong thing. Besides, no one likes it if you go in guns a-blazing. You might just end up provoking them to do exactly the opposite of what you’ve told them.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Say “No”
A firm “no” has no follow-up questions or compromise. So, if you’re sure about something, then say no and be stern about it. However, if you feel like you would probably change your mind later to something your in-laws have asked you, do not shun the idea by telling them “no”, as that would be counterintuitive. Because they might not take your “no” seriously the next time. You could try telling them that you would think about it, instead.
5. Communicate To Them That Before Making Any Big Decision For Your Child They Ask You First
There will be many decisions, big and small, that would need to be made on your child’s behalf. As parents, you have some things planned in your mind for your little one. Be it the crib your child sleeps or the decor of the room, and later which school they go to, you want to be the one who takes the final call. Express it clearly to your in-laws that you like taking your time before making any decisions. They are off-course welcome to suggest any recommendations they have. It’s just that they should avoid having the final say without your confirmation.
If your in-laws are living with you, it’s natural that they would be privy to your family matters. Be it health issues of the mother or the baby, or some minor issues between you and your partner, your in-laws would get to know them. It’s totally fine with them knowing these details as long as they don’t blurt it out to others. If in any case, you come to discover that they are sharing family details with other people, be it neighbors or other relatives, you will have to take a stand on it. Confront them and express to them that involving other people in family matters would only make things worse. Though you may feel hesitant to confront, believe us, it’s better to not be the gossip topic of other people.
5. Ask Yourself The Tough Questions
The most important thing to keep in mind while setting a boundary is the intention behind it. Ask yourself the difficult questions: “Is this for them, or the baby?”, “Is it helpful or harmful?”, “Do they have the baby’s best interest at heart?”. When you ask yourself these questions, you will get some clarity which will help you decide where to draw the line.
The narrative that in-laws interfere too much did not come out of thin air. Therefore, establishing boundaries is important. They are your child’s grandparents, and you want them around to build a good relationship with them. But in the end, you are the parent which entails you as the one most responsible for your children. Establishing boundaries might seem hard in the beginning and chances are that your in-laws would feel as if they’re being not given enough importance. But as you’ll see, this is a hard pill that would solve many of your future problems. Setting some ground rules will help avoid any future resentment that may occur because of a lack of communication. What are your thoughts on this? Comment below and let us know!