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crazy family?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Anyone have any creative ideas for limiting the damage that your crazy families can inflict during pregnancy or on your baby? I'm trying to come up with something that is a nice, polite version of "f-off, you messed me up enough, and I don't need/want your input"

that sounds a bit harsh, but is basically reality. I've come into this issue: my family thinks I don't WANT this pregnancy, because I'm always changing the subject or bringing up negative points... I DO want this baby (obviously), but I don't want their input, and have resorted to the immature reaction of disagreeing with absolutely everything all the time (defense mechanism). I don't want to talk to them about it at all, but of course, that's the only thing they want to talk about. I don't want to tell them that I'm going to try as do as many things completely opposite from what they've done with me or their own kids, because I don't see their method as "working".

It's a bit of a bind, and I'm afraid of hurting them at some point once I've finally had too much of their "help". Suggestions are very welcome. Keep in mind there is a long history of dysfunctionality, and it's only within the past couple years that I've learned there isn't much of a relationship to "repair" and it's just an energy black hole to try and change it.
post #2 of 18
DH's family is like this, it's really hard on him. He tried with DD1, to say, that we were going to do things another way, and you are right it did not work. They just felt attacked, and would list the many ways they turned out ok, etc... We don't discuss it or if we do, it's this is what we are doing, end of discussion, comments are not welcome. He keeps them at arms length, they don't know about this pg, and I'm not sure when we will tell them even though they live the next town over.


Maybe just tell them that you do what this pg, but you are not interested in advice. There really is no other way around not hurting their feelings with a dysfunctional family.
post #3 of 18
Just refuse to discuss it. You don't have to do it rudely, just give platitudes "oh, yes, we're happy to be having a baby! DH and I have so many things to look forward to! And what's for dinner?" You know, change the subject.

My DH's family (actually his mother) has a lot of baggage and they always end up fighting when they're together. Then everyone feels bad. DH finally told his mother last time that they couldn't have this kind of interaction when we have a baby. It just wouldn't be right. She got that and things have been much better.

Of course, my opinion is that his mother is somewhat mentally imbalanced and arguing with her does no good anyway. She doesn't fight fair.

Anyhow, what I'm getting at is..change the subject. Refuse to engage. Do things your own way.
post #4 of 18
sorry, mama.
i have many of the same issues with my family. with my first, I did pretty much announce that i was doing it differently. everyone knew we coslept, i made a big deal of nursing until ds weaned naturally and that i wouldnt spank my son... for some reason, i thought it was important to let ppl know that we did things differently.
that didnt work too well for me or ds. Many ppl felt obligated to argue and predict that ds would be abnormal or monstrous for being too "coddled" and not being beat regularly. (LOL they get upset at me for referring to spankings as beatings; they feel there is a big difference while i do not). This time I have a different partner and so this whole new family- and it is the 1st grandchild on that side, too. so everyone is interested. i know now to keep my mouth shut. we will have a "nursery" since we have the extra room and i am going to just let everyone assume baby will be sleeping in there. and i definitely know now to keep breastfeeding between me and baby and plan on having no discussions about this, unless it is with dp or LLL ladies if we have some unforeseen problem. I am going to have to broach the issue of no vax with dp and am worried about this, because i think he will want to discuss this with his family. i plan to give him enough info that he wont feel so unsure and ask him to keep it between us, but if i have to i will debate with his family over this issue even tho i know what i am doing as mama and feel it is none of their bizness.

in your situation, i believe i would minimize the contact with family for now.
i hope you figure out how to handle their interest in a way that you feel comfortable with.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
thanks, all. It's hard to break the cycle, I guess, and I shouldn't be surprised that there's no easy way out of this.

Ironically, my mom picked up a book for me & gave it to me last time I saw her, which I kind of just glanced at & said "oh, thanks" and then said I had to go. She had she didn't know anything about - just saw it and bought it for me, told me I could get rid of it if it was useless. I got home and looked at it (the 'K-I-S-S guide to raising a baby' or something like that) and it advocated cosleeping, breast feeding, cloth diapers, etc.... So now I can say "but that book you gave me told me to :-) " Unfortunately it didn't say anything about elimination communication, which is going to be the biggest bone of contention.

but yes, I think not discussing it would be best. It's hard - my moms a little delusional. Thinks we have this wonderfully close relationship, which we obviously don't. We talk once a month or so. I see her once every other month or so, although I'm in her neighborhood several times a week. (she also invents things about DH - he's a wonderful guy, and doesn't need inventing, but she makes him out to be this high level exec. and tells him how exec.'s should act... he isn't and doesn't want to be, and it makes him really uncomfortable, but she refuses to hear us when we say "that isn't true at all"). She's also very into denial, which was is kind of her most damaging fault. She's NOT combative, but just very undermining. Its impossile to face her head on. Which works much better for me.

Honestly, I feel bad for her. I feel guilty. She's a crazy old lady who spies on the neighbors and makes up fantasies to entertain herself. It's sad. She's a sad person, and seems empty to me. I feel bad cutting the impact she has on her new grandchild - in effect taking it away from her on some level. I think at times it might be hard to keep in mind that I HAVE to protect my kid (a new thing for me - I never got any protection - my sister & I joke that we were 'feral' kids), and my mom is an adult and can make her own decisions. We don't HAVE to spend a lot of time with her and fullfill her fantasies just because she's my mom.
post #6 of 18
i prefer one of two strategies:

1. the nod and smile strategy (the proof will be in the pudding when you raise your little one and he/she turns out awesome, they don't need to know the details)

2. the kill 'em with kindness strategy - you tell them that if they did such a great job with how they raised you, they should have complete and total faith in your parenting decisions. there's no reason to talk about it, you know exactly what to do.

i'm sorry you're facing this...it's hard no matter what you do.
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by IncaMama View Post
i prefer one of two strategies:

1. the nod and smile strategy (the proof will be in the pudding when you raise your little one and he/she turns out awesome, they don't need to know the details)

2. the kill 'em with kindness strategy - you tell them that if they did such a great job with how they raised you, they should have complete and total faith in your parenting decisions. there's no reason to talk about it, you know exactly what to do.

i'm sorry you're facing this...it's hard no matter what you do.
Both of these are BRILLIANT!
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by IncaMama View Post
i prefer one of two strategies:

1. the nod and smile strategy (the proof will be in the pudding when you raise your little one and he/she turns out awesome, they don't need to know the details)

2. the kill 'em with kindness strategy - you tell them that if they did such a great job with how they raised you, they should have complete and total faith in your parenting decisions. there's no reason to talk about it, you know exactly what to do.

i'm sorry you're facing this...it's hard no matter what you do.
I do the smile and nod. Luckily the only people interested in how we're raising the baby is my dad/his gf and my mom. My mom has her opinion occasionally, but she learned in my teen years arguing with me is futile. My dad/his gf are oddly receptive to our decisions, I'm guessing it's because he's thrilled to be having a grandchild.

I may end up having problems with DH's cousin (raised as his sister... looong story) so I make him field her calls as much as possible. DH doesn't have, nor want, anything to do with his family. I don't have any siblings so I'm not required to have any interaction with my family... who all have a completely different mindset than I do.
post #9 of 18
If the subject can be avoided, I would try that. I have found with my crazy family that things tend to come up when we visit. Luckily, I live far enough away that we visit seldom. I have been accused of "depriving" my children (limits on sugar & candy) and simultaneously spoiling them - My children, according to my mother & some siblings, have "golden ---holes." (THis in response to bed times and our concern for our daughters' over-stimulation during trips)

Meanwhile, dh's stepmother has issues with our extended nursing, co-sleeping, and homeschooling ideas.

I have learned that it is best to be straight-forward when confrontation cannot be avoided. Making boundaries clear has lessened a lot of the hardship in our interacting. Folks still discuss our "crazy ideas" behind our backs, of course, but our children and we are spared it - relatives know what to expect from us, aren't caught off-guard and are less likely to react in an extreme way.
post #10 of 18
I know you will not like some of what I have to say but I couldn't help to add this have you looked at your part.Maybe keeping an open mind or even just open ears is all you need to do.You don't have to take any advice or even agree with anything you hear.It sounds like your mother is a very lonely person who just wants to be involved with something (i.e. spying on neighbors).A simple pharse I use often is "you could be right".It avoids arguements and lets the other person "win".And throwing it was in the book you bought is not a nice way to handle something sounds a bit childish too.I like what someone else had to say about not telling them about the "hot topics".That is between you and your dh.You don't want to burn bridges you'll never be able to cross again if you need them.
These people you are talking about are people too and deserve to be treated like you want to be treated. Don't stoup to their level.The energy you put out comes back to you threefold.
post #11 of 18
I don't talk about hot topic issues unless I have to. I don't discuss breastfeeding, leaving my DS intact, co-sleeping, not spanking, etc, etc. If I bring these things up, it is just an open invitation to anyone to argue their point. It also comes across as insecure I think. I mean, why annouce to the family that you don't believe in spanking? The only thing that is guarenteed to come of that is an arguement and hurt feelings.

You know you are excited about this baby, it doesn't really matter if they know it or not. I'd go with the smile and nod and say, "Thanks for the advice!" routine.

If you end up finding an AP-friendly pediatrician after the little one is born, you can always say, "I talked to the doctor and s/he said to (or not to)______ (whatever the topic at hand is)."

Sorry for all the incorrectly spelled words. I'm quite sleepy at the moment!
post #12 of 18
I think the "nod and smile" is a good suggestion.

I would also say, pregnancy is a really easy time in terms of letting people be involved without actually having any control. I mean, you can go shopping (for something fairly neutral, like clothes!) with somebody, and they get to feel involved and special, but it doesn't change anything. Whereas, after baby comes, those same people will be asking "can he taste my ice cream?" (that is to say, if you're lucky they'll ask!) and it will be harder to control their role. So I would say, let her enjoy this time with you as much as possible. You can't fight the battle in advance, you can't preemptively keep her from doing whatever it is she'll do, whether suggesting solids at a month, or buying you a stroller you won't use, or whatever. If you find ways for her to feel involved now, I think it will be easier later. If she feels like she's being pushed out now, she may just fight all the more later to be involved with the baby because she feels like she missed out on something she should've had.

I'm sorry you're dealing with this stress right now!
post #13 of 18
ditto the avoiding "hot button issues". MIL is very much of the doctors are gods generation so none of the care providors or places or methods of birth have been freely given that way they weren't in the open for discussion. Ditto with cd, no-circ, breastfeeding, cosleeping etc. They were just done. I don't need her or X's opinion and I feel like telling people ahead of time is just opning yourself up for advise and comments. Sure once you're doing XYZ they'll throw their $0.02 in but somehow that feels easier. Sometimes it helps your issue. We have been a no-fax family since dd was born. We never talked about it and no one knew. We weren't hiding it just not advertising it. Well the lo are starting daycare and dh was talking about getting together the exemption letters to mil. Well apprenly she flipped and went off about how dangerous and irresponsible that is etc. Instead of getting into the whole vax debate dh just pointed out to mil that the kids are pretty healthy and haven't had any of the vax diseases. That pretty much ended the conversation
post #14 of 18
It took me a while to get the hang of being a mama bear (as in a growly protective mama bear), but I am really good at it now. If someone in my nutty family starts saying something, I cut them off and say that it isn't up for discussion. Sometimes being blunt is the best. Just changing the subject is avoidance. If you have a crazy family, you really do need to put up rock solid boundaries. I have lots of experience with this, unfortunately.

You always hope that when children come into the picture, everything will turn wonderful, and people will be so happy for you. But for some reason, crazy families try to drag you down just when they should be helping you soar. Give up on the rosy picture, and just start to create your own beautiful happy family.
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fairymom View Post
I know you will not like some of what I have to say but I couldn't help to add this have you looked at your part.Maybe keeping an open mind or even just open ears is all you need to do.You don't have to take any advice or even agree with anything you hear.It sounds like your mother is a very lonely person who just wants to be involved with something (i.e. spying on neighbors).A simple pharse I use often is "you could be right".It avoids arguements and lets the other person "win".And throwing it was in the book you bought is not a nice way to handle something sounds a bit childish too.I like what someone else had to say about not telling them about the "hot topics".That is between you and your dh.You don't want to burn bridges you'll never be able to cross again if you need them.
These people you are talking about are people too and deserve to be treated like you want to be treated. Don't stoup to their level.The energy you put out comes back to you threefold.
Respectfully, please keep in mind that there is a whole lifetime of issues here with my mom. It's not really fair for you to judge me on this. I would never say "well, it was in that book you gave me" and stick my tongue out at her (mentally)... I have way more tact than that.

I have tried over and over again to get her involved in many aspects of my life (I even moved back here). I have tried for many years to build a decent relationship with her, only to finally figure out that she isn't really capable of sustaining one. I don't think she wants one. She IS a lonely person, but that isn't my fault, and I don't own responsibilty for that anymore.

I do understand avoiding hot topics- that's a good idea, and I'll try that. But I'm not sure how long some can be avoided. My mom wants a very active role in her grandchild's life (she lives 20 min away). I'm not sure how active a role in my childs life I want her to have (my dads and alcoholic & she enables him. we were chronically neglected as kids - if anyone needs/wants details, I'm happy to share in a private message - just don't want to post to the internet). She'll see her grandchild often, but I don't think I trust her enough to leave the kid with her for any period of time, really. If I tell her "you might be right" she'll hear: "you are right, go ahead and do that". She hears what she wants to hear, not what you actually say. When she "wins" she runs with it and it snowballs into some other issue.

I'm not burning bridges here, I'm trying to break a cycle. But gently and without conflict.
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnatty View Post
If you find ways for her to feel involved now, I think it will be easier later. If she feels like she's being pushed out now, she may just fight all the more later to be involved with the baby because she feels like she missed out on something she should've had.
Yup - this is a good idea. I did try this yesterday with my mom. I asked if she would be willing to pull together some books for the kid - my favorites as a kid, the good classics. Used ones, not new ones. (she was a librarian, I figured this is right up her alley). The reply I got was: you're welcome to come over and pick through what I have here, and then you can try the church fair next weekend, there are always kids books there. It's pretty obvious she didn't want to do it (not even over the next several months - it's not like I'm going to use them before the kid is born). I'll talk to her and add "well, I thought maybe this is something that you might like to do for the baby" but I don't really think it'll work. I really thought I had nailed it. nope.

I'll keep trying...
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you ALL for your responses and input. This is such a thorny topic, I know. Partially, it's all jaded by our own personal experiences, which is tricky, because we don't really know where each other is coming from.

Sadly, I think what I'll end up doing is the same thing I'm already doing. Just kind of keeping my family at arms distance. Being connected but not really plugged in. Listen, nod, and then disregard (the bad advice - there may be some good advice in there, who knows). I'm not sure what else I CAN do. But I certainly can't change other people. Sometimes it'll be unavoidable, of course, and I'll just have to deal with it then to the best of my ability.

I think in the last few years, I've started being mama bear to myself in a way, and now that there is a child in the picture, I think it'll be easy (relatively speaking) to transfer that focus.

Thanks again for your thoughts. Gives me much to think about.
post #18 of 18
There are some relationships that are so damaged it's best to stay on the surface. Sometimes, like in my husband's case, when a parent is very abusive (no matter what their own problems were) I'm amazed that they even try to maintain a surface relationship and attempt forgiveness. Good for you for making an effort with you mother.
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