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"but the minimum is not enough"

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I guess I need some help with reacting to my mother in law. We generally have a pretty good relationship, but I am noticing something that bothers me. She is a pediatrician and hence gives more advice than I always want, but that isn't the problem.

The problem is that I feel like she is always trying to give me an out or something. Then she gets hurt when I don't want it. I'm not being very clear...Here's an example:

They were visiting for dd's first birthday and I was washing my pump parts for Monday (I work part time). She gave me a long lecture about how cow's milk was fine at this point and that I was wasting my energy pumping. I know that, but breastmilk is perfect and it helps dd relax during the 5 hours we are apart. Then, she started giving me a list of things I do that she thinks are excessive: "she could cry it out for a few nights so that you don't HAVE to sleep with her" (but I love cosleeping and hate CIO), "it won't hurt her if you went back to work full time--you're sacrificing your career" (but I am what she needs right now and I actually want to stay home full time). It goes on and on.

It's as though she thinks the bare minimum is all that I should do. I know that dd would "survive" that way, but I want her to thrive, you know?

Do you think she is mad that I won't take her "professional" advice? Or is she dealing with issues from her own parenting? How do I keep the balance without having to fight with her? On the other hand, if I do argue, will the families in her practice gain from what she might learn?

I want to be sensitive and tactful, but I believe passionately in the way I parent.
post #2 of 18
I'm really sorry that you're going through this. My own mom and mil are pretty cool about my parenting. In my case, it's my aunt who says stuff...and she never had children! Just because your mil obviously has kids and is a pediatrician doesn't give her the right to always be giving you these comments. My aunt is really nice and we love her a lot but she never really gets things..she doesn't get why Julia is still peeing in her pull-ups(she's 3) and tells me next time I have a baby I better put it on a schedule right away so it doesn't run my life etc. I found out that sometimes trying to justify things doesn't help. People who give unwanted advice(even if they do it cause they love us) usually don't want to hear it..the more I tried to explain my reasoning the more arguing she did. I usually just agree and then change the subject. But if you really feel like your mil is upsetting you a lot while you're struggling to do what you know is best, I think you(or perhaps hubby)should explain nicely that you appreciate her help and expertise but everything is fine...hth!
post #3 of 18
How would you characterize her concerns?

Is she worried that you are neglecting your relationship with her son in favor of the baby? That's something you might be able to address obliquely with her without an actual confrontation. For example: "I've never felt happier in my marriage since we had the baby. This has been such a great year for us. I think seeing dh sleeping with dd really makes me love him even more." etc. (Fill in your own experience.)

Is she concerned that your decision to work part time negates her own decisions about her career? You could ask her what her experience of going back to work when she had a child was like. You don't have to let her tell you what to do, just listen to what it was like for her.

My MIL is very ambivalent about how we are parenting (baby is now 3.5 months.) She said over the weekend, "We always thought that the child should learn to accomodate the life of the whole family." I responded, "I think you are absolutely right, but obviously, he isn't able to do that at this age." And she said, "Yes, of course, you're right." Essentially she knows that closeness to the baby will only help him, but she can't get past her sense that we are sacrificing our adult lives for his babyhood. This was what was current the last time she was learning how to parent.

I really love my MIL and I know she has a lot of great stuff to teach me. On the other hand, I know what I'm doing. It's a tough balance even when your MIL (or your own parent) isn't a pediatrician!
post #4 of 18
I find that arguing with an in-law is just pointless. The best response is a "Well, I'm very comfortable and happy with my decision. It's what is right for me and my family."

There is just not much that anyone can say in return to this. It can be repeated and repeated. I find that it really shuts people up.
post #5 of 18
I find it difficult too when family or relatives say stuff like "just you wait until you have more kids" or "just you wait until she starts rolling in the bed" or "just wait til she gets teeth!"

Like all those things are bad things...I love my daughter and if I thought she was an inconvenience that needed to be "managed" and taught how to sleep alone in a cot and eat food or be bottlefed and pushed around in a pram not a sling, I would of never had children at all! I wish that others would understand that it is NOT an INCONVENIENCE for us! We're loving every minute of it and she is a very content and happy baby - yes we can't wait til all those things happen but because we see it as a good thing not a bad thing!!

Maybe you could try saying something like, thank you for your great advice but I don't mind doing those things, in fact, I love doing them and it isn't an inconvenience for me at all. I'm just doing what I feel is best!

Basically tell her you're HAPPY and doing what you like and want to do!

By the way, cows milk IS BAD for not just babies but for humans as well. We stopped all dairy products 4 months ago and have never felt better. Dairy has a glue-like substance in it called caesin which isn't really made for human insides - dairy is also a mucous producer - my husband's sinus allergies have been close to nonexistent since he stopped dairy! I think there is more info on www.notmilk.com
post #6 of 18
It sounds to me like she is concerned about your well being; perhaps when she had young children she felt lots of pressure to stay home with them and "just be a mom", but she really wanted to be involved more in a life outside the home. I think you should explain to her that you're very happy being with your child, and that taking care of your dc while they're young makes you feel complete, so you're happy to put your whole being into it.

My own MIL is a very sweet woman, and while she didn't raise her own children the way we are raising ds, she has never made a negative comment. I told her once "it's not like they're this small forever!" and she smiled and agreed.
post #7 of 18
Originally posted by Quickening
I find it difficult too when family or relatives say stuff like "just you wait until you have more kids" or "just you wait until she starts rolling in the bed" or "just wait til she gets teeth!"
I love it when people say things like that about children. You can always say, "Oh, well then we'll just have to change what we're doing when that happens."

It's not like you will, but it's also kind of silly to say, "don't treat your baby like a baby now, she's going to get older!"

T Anecdote:

My friend married a man who had a child from a previous marriage. I really love this girl, and I volunteered to help her find a wedding outfit before the wedding. (She was maybe 8 years old then, now she's 17 or 18!) She wanted to wear black shorts, a white shirt and a purple vest. I took her to the store and told the saleswoman what we were looking for, and that it was for a special occasion (so we wanted nice fabric.) She was horrified--how could I let this little girl go to a wedding in anything but a dress! Finally she said to me, "Well, you just tell little Shmeedle when she gets older, she'll want to wear a dress!" I blurted out, "Yeah, but by then she'll have outgrown these clothes, anyway."

She looked great at the wedding. I don't know if I've ever seen her in a dress.
post #8 of 18
I'm sorry you have to deal with this - I know how annoying it is to get unwanted advice.

I have to agree that it seems as if a lot of people/parents are satisfied giving the minimum to their children - always searching for the easiest, most convenient way to parent. Sad.
post #9 of 18
I wouldn't assume she is dealing with "issues" from her parenting. I think she is just trying to help you by telling what worked for her, or trying to alleviate stress.

Obviously, she's not helping you. I would just tell her straight out that while I appreciate her concern, that I was doing things differently.
post #10 of 18
My sister uses this for unwanted advise, said in a very pleasent voice with a smile, "thats one way." It usually stops the advice, without having to say, "shut up already!!"
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
You all make a lot of sense! I agree that she is trying to look out for my relationship with my husband and that she doesn't want me to burn out. She basically a good person.

I think the main problem I have is not with her advice itself; I am very good at taking what works and ignoring what doesn't. I think the problem is that she acts so wounded when I don't suddenly change the way I do things. That's one.

Then, as I think about it, there's number two. Maybe she gets under my skin so much because, on some deep level, I'm afraid that my husband will listen to her instead of me. That is probably not a REASONABLE fear, but it feels real; especially since my dh is not one to read a lot of parenting books or theory or to really examine the way things are done. He is happy with our parenting and very supportive. Maybe I'm afraid that, if things get hard at some point, he'll want to take advice that sounds easy.

Does that make sense?
post #12 of 18
Originally posted by carmen veranda
My sister uses this for unwanted advise, said in a very pleasent voice with a smile, "thats one way." It usually stops the advice, without having to say, "shut up already!!"
Oh, that's a good one! Think you're sister will mind if I use it? I'll just rotate that one with my standard, "This is what works for us" comment.

Teak, like you, I worry about my dh listening to my MIL over me because I think he sees her as being more experienced than me and all. Luckily, my MIL doesn't give unsolicited advice and my dh knows that I'm doing my best and making informed decisions so the above worry has never come to pass. I agree with the other posters that your MIL is probably trying to be helpful instead of intrusive and if you keep that in mind, maybe you won't feel so bothered.

post #13 of 18
Can you tell I'm dealing with this same thing by the way I keep reading and posting to the thread?

I think it's harder to deal with a nice MIL giving advice than a mean one. Because in the end, you have to make the decision. There is no way you wouldn't be getting this advice, even if you were parenting in a totally mainstream way. They just want to help out.

There has to be some way to acknowledge how much we appreciate the concern and love what they tell us, even without actually implementing it!
post #14 of 18
I don't get any of this from my MIL (I adore her, and am actually far more close to her than my mom, though thank god my mom doesn't know this). My MIL actually is a very AP-oriented person...sometimes we have the opposite problem--I will REALLY want her to give me advice on something and I have to cajole her before she'll say anything because she doesn't want to seem intrusive. ;>

However, MY mom on the other hand is very different. I'm very good about smiling and nodding and ignoring the advice, but then she gets pouty and snippy. Finally one visit she actually yelled at me about 'rejecting' everything she ever did, when I should be grateful that I had such a "wonderful family". (This has been a recurrent theme in our relationship, ever since I can remember.)

Finally I just had to point blank tell her that my choices had everything to do with my family, and nothing to do with hers. We lead a very different lifestyle, we live in a VERY different society, and our family dynamics are completely different. It wasn't a rejection of her and dad per se...she could take credit for me having the ability to discern what was best for MY situation, if she liked. That seemed to help. I know most people do not throw tantrums like she did, but I think one of the reasons why a lot of parents and parents-in-laws get hurt over our different parenting choices is that they assume that it's a personal rejection of *them*. I think that if one can possible get them to understand (even if you have to tell a white lie) that it is NOT, many times people will back off. At least that's been the experience of me and many of my friends. I think that parenting is often part of our primal psyche--people will defend their way to the death sometimes, even when they might think that *maybe* there might be something to another way. The more differences you are confronted with, the more it pricks and pokes at you. Look at how many AP people fly into a foaming internal rage when they see something in public (knowing NOTHING about anything other than that moment in time) that seems to fly in the face of what they "know is right". Now imagine seeing your beloved grandchild being raised in a manner that you suspect spits in the face of everything you thought was best when you were parenting your son/daughter. Not too surprising that it gets hackles raised!

But I think most reasonable people can control that reaction, and just a touch of reassurance that we still love them and do NOT judge them for different ways (esp. if that's the case) can go a long way to ease the hurt.
post #15 of 18
I would ask her directly. If you get along with her and she mentions something like the milk thing, why not just say "yes, I know she can have cow's milk. I want to offer her my milk and this is why....."

You can also ask her about being offended. For example " Mom, I've been meaning to ask you this. You offer a lot of good advice, but sometimes I disagree with your advice. Do you get upset when I don't follow your advice?"

Quick story:
DH and I were not yet married, but visited his parents. We had been together for 4 years at that point. His mom was upset that we weren't married yet. She made it clear in indirect ways. So we bought her some flowers. She asked what for and when we said it was because we thought she was upset about a,b and c, she thought about it and later told us that she didn't even realize that she was feeling that way. She decided that it was ok and she just wasn't aware that she was really bothered by us not being married and that it was coming out subconsiously.

Sometimes asking directly is the best way
post #16 of 18
Just blandly say, "I'll take that into consideration," (or "I'll take that under advisement") and then keep doing what you're doing.
post #17 of 18
I think the best thing to do in this situation would probably be to sit down and have a heart-to-heart w/ her. Explain that you love and respect her, that you really value her advice, and so on. Then, lovingly explain that you have researched your options and feel that you've made the best decision for your family.

My own MIL sometimes tries to insist I do things her way. Unfortunately, we have huge language barrier; so I cannot simply sit down and talk things out w/ her. I have to send DH in to do it for me. Of course, she simply acts superiour and tells him how things should be done : . I often find myself saying something like, "Hmmm, that's an interesting idea."

We have to remember that parenting choices are very personal, and it's sometimes hard for ppl to separate their egos from their choices. Parenting is so fraught w/ guilt that it often makes ppl defensive when they perceive a challenge to their parenting choices. KWIM? I think it's important to be sensitive to that. You might even ask her point blank if she is hurt when you don't take her advice b/c she thinks you think she made the wrong choices (or doesn't have valuable advice or whatever you think the root problem is). When she sees you're trying to empathize w/ her, she'll probably drop her defensiveness...hopefully!

Good luck and HTH!
post #18 of 18
It sounds like a combination. She is trying to make sure you are not a better mother than her and she thinks that because she is a pediatritiuon that she knows more than you do. That has got to suck!
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