Issues with SIL - PG related - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-03-2010, 04:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I love my SIL, but now that I'm PG, she's making me nuts! I guess when it comes to medical/scientific stuff, I am much more "gringa" than when we talk about religion, social conventions, etc. (I grew up in the US, DH is Honduran.) Even though she's been here in the US for nearly 15 years, she still puts more faith in many of the Honduran traditions than in modern medical science - which means that I'm going to kill my baby by going to the gym or continuing to travel for work, and my baby is going to be disfigured if I don't eat everything that I crave as soon as I crave it. And she even said that maybe my baby is already dead because I haven't felt it move yet - I'm only barely 8 weeks, TYVM!

Unfortunately, when I explain that the doctor says that everything is fine, SIL is offended. She actually called me at work to ask why I was so "aggressive" when we visited last weekend - after the millionth "you can't still..." and "OMG, I can't believe you haven't..." I put my foot down and told her that per Dr, I'm doing everything I need to. I tried to explain that here in the US we go about things differently than in Honduras, and that while I respect her opinions, I don't necessarily share all of them and will continue to follow my Dr's advice - exercise included. She flipped!

Is there a good way to A) smooth this over? B) continue to share with my SIL and family during my PG w/o constantly dealing with the same thing? I get that what for me is her being "metiche" is really just her being excited about the baby (our first) and interested in our lives, but I'm not sure I can deal with the stress of being lectured about how I'm going to "kill my baby" every time I go over there. Also, since I get along with SIL better than my DH does for the most part, I'd really prefer not to have to involve him...
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Old 02-04-2010, 12:50 AM
 
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I'm not sure if I have so perfect advice that fixes everything but I can say that I can totally relate. My MIL is WONDERFUL, BUT she buys into every superstition on this face of the planet. During my pregnancy it wasn't so bad but she stayed with us for the summer to watch DD and I had to constantly hear how XYZ was going to hurt DD. She wasn't saying it in a mean way but she's really into not letting kids be messy and is very overprotective especially when DD started to get mobile. I'm the complete opposite and tend to think it's part of childhood to get dirty and explore on their own.

Most of the times if things did get tense I'd get have DH intermediate. If he wasn't around I'd just calmly tell her I've researched XYZ and it's ok or that we've checked with our doc already.
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Old 02-04-2010, 04:02 PM
 
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Oh my. I lived and worked in Honduras (around SPS) for awhile, and there was this one woman who, somehow, found out I was asthmatic and would seriously flip any time she saw me wearing flip flops. Cause air touching the bottom of your feet is bad if you have asthma. (??!) Thankfully, she was just a random and I could smile and nod and move on down the road. I don't know how you should deal with your SIL, but I do know you guys are going to want to come to some sort of compromise or you're going to be ready to stick her in a cave in Antartica by the time you hit 20 weeks. Then you get to deal with birthing choices, feeding, diapering, clothing, discipline, schooling, etc, etc, and there will be cultural clashes in many of those areas too.

Have you tried something along the lines of, "I'm so glad you're my SIL, and I really love you. I know you're excited about our baby, and I know you're going to be a great tia. I also want you to know that *I*/WE love this baby too and we're certainly not going to do anything that might harm him/her. We might make different choices than you, but we're doing what we believe to be best for our child. Can we just agree to disagree on x,y,z?"

I know this comes from a place of cultural difference, but it is, at its core, simply a matter of respecting other people's choices. Are there certain things you can just acquiese (or appear to acquiese) to? The cravings thing seems like something that could easily be a non issue. Either don't mention the craving, or do mention it while you're actively getting or eating whatever it is. Better yet, "SIL, I'm craving ____ (especially if it's a Honduran food!), would you mind making me some this afternoon?".

However you go about this, it's probably a good thing to establish some boundaries now. The last thing you want/need is a well meaning relative bashing a parenting choice and telling you that you're forever harming your child as your sleep deprived, overwhelmed, bodily fluid covered and leaking, emotional self is adjusting to parenthood.

Good luck. And, congratulations on the new babe!

For greater things are yet to come...

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Old 02-04-2010, 04:58 PM
 
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I'm laughing about Selkat's flip-flop thing because I've been yelled at my DH's family for going barefoot on cold tile (in the summer).

It's tough. I've been told everything under the sun about the harms of doing (or not doing) this or that, and I just smile and say I didn't know, thanks. I was going to get sick and die (while prego) if I left the shower with wet hair in the hot summer, no a/c, and even a slight, cool breeze hit me...

There are many times it's best to just recognize and respect each other's differences to keep the harmony of the family.

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Old 02-07-2010, 04:44 AM
 
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My advice is don't get into it! I would just change the subject and move on. I would even say "Why are we discussing this?" and talk about the weather.

When my French mil would give me bad advice, especially about sickness and breastfeeding (which she didn't do), I would gasp and say "Who told you THAT?!?" and it would shut her up. I wasn't out to win awards in diplomacy but it worked.

Where we live, they believe that sickness comes from the weather, wind, etc. Coming from a medical family, this bugs me no end. I'll actually ask them "Ever heard of viruses??" I also have a good line. "I'm from California. It's hot there and we get sick just as much as you do here in France" lol!

Mentioning that healthy babies are born in the U.S. too, or something in that vein might clamp her up.

Good luck!
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:28 PM
 
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My advice is don't get into it! I would just change the subject and move on. I would even say "Why are we discussing this?" and talk about the weather.


Good luck!
This! I have a korean mil and a taiwanese mom. My mom is educated, my mil is not, but both are bad when it comes to cultural superstitions and non-scientific based advice that make entirely NO sense. My mil is worse though, b/c I don't think she got more than an elementary education and in general is just a very ignorant person and doesn't read or do anything to enhance her mind. She went on this wknd during my son's bday party to tell my mom about the glories of kimchi and how kimchi prevents you from getting sick. I then asked her, if that was so, why was she sick all of the time (honestly, I want to know, b/c this woman also eats raw garlic like candy, but she is sick ALL of the time, and personally I think her #1 culprit is that she does NOT wash her hands!!!!)? She told everyone that was left at the table that she was a, "special" case, since she worked, "too hard" (not really) and that is why she is sick all of the time. She also told my brother (who is a PM&R doctor, so musclo-skeletal-neuro is his specialty) that b/c she worked, "too hard," that is why she has osteoporosis. Um, no, it's b/c she is asian and asians are pre-disposed to osteoporosis, my mom has it too and if anyone has worked harder, my mom works like a slave compared to my mil!

My brother told me afterwards that he had to bite his tongue in order to not tell my mil that her logic was backASSwards, b/c if you do a lot of physical work, it puts you at LOWER risk of osteoporsis, not the other way around. However, he knows that with ppl like our parents and my in laws, it's just not worth getting into it with them, b/c no matter what, they will still believe they are right and you are wrong. So, it's easier just not to engage them in any type of conversation, b/c they are too closed-minded to listen to someone else's logic. In the end, they walk away feeling self-satisfied, as if they gave you some wise piece of advice (not), and you walk away feeling like your head is going to explode. So, basically our policy is to let it go through one ear and out the other, say, "uh huh" and change the topic.
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Old 02-14-2010, 08:29 PM
 
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ahahaha.... i just had to comment on the kimchi thing. what is WITH that? i worked with an older korean man when i lived in korea a couple years ago, and he was (well the whole country does) going on about kimchi CONSTANTLY. yet he was probably the sickest still standing person i've ever met. he was always telling me to take care of my health, but heaven forbid i ever take a sick day to actually recuperate from getting sick. no... i should be at work, shovelling in platefuls of kimchi, and taking naps in the staffroom, not at home, sleeping in my bed, and keeping my germs away from healthy people. i think i tried explaining the differences in our countrys' philosophies on getting sick once, but after that i just gave up and nodded thoughtfully whenever anyone brought up one of their ridiculous superstitions.
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:51 PM
 
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All I can do is send hugs and say I relate. My family is all from El Salvador/Honduras and there are many many superstitions and bad advice...mind you there's some good stuff there too (two of my Great Aunts are nurses and one is a midwife). With my Mom, she will give advice and then call constantly to make sure I'm complying....I wish I had advice. Mostly I snap when I'm sick of it and she doesn't respect anything I do. I'll tell her specifically that we won't be feeding DD2 cereal from a box but that I will make it myself and the next day she brings me a box of rice cereal...demanding I feed it to her.

I think that maybe in our culture there has been so much reliance on our mamas/MILs that this generation is feeling a bit jilted. Mind you, there could be a plus side in this in that they'll support you after baby's born (helping to clean, take care of baby, take care of you) but it all comes at a price: unsolicited advice. I'm trying to find a balance right now of being thankful for my mother's help and still setting boundaries. One of the things I've had to say to my mother (when she insisted that after going to doctor's for the family flu that I wasn't doing enough and should be giving everyone "medicine") was "Mom, I feel like you don't think I care about my children or worry about them when they are sick. I've made sure to have a doctor look at them and am taking many measures to make sure they get better, I know that this isn't all the stuff you would do but I assure you that I love my children and can take care of them." It worked for about a half day
But I pull that one out often now and hopefully eventually she'll get the point.

I also make sure to ask for advice on issues that aren't make or break for me so that she feels her opinion and experience are valued (and sometimes for more important ones too!). I also make sure to tell her how much I appreciate her help.

It's tough, it's crazy-making...and I think it's not just limited to Latina MILs and mamas...Good luck!
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:58 AM
 
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Originally Posted by LaPreciosa View Post
And she even said that maybe my baby is already dead because I haven't felt it move yet - I'm only barely 8 weeks, TYVM!
OMG!!!! This is the worst comment a person can make IMO! How horrible to say such a thing. It was said to me earlier in my pregnancy, because I wasn't showing soon enough for someone. I have never known anyone a 8 wks who has felt movement, and I worked Labor & Delivery for years!! We got tons of freaked out moms in early weeks waiting for movement...

I have no guidance on how to handle the relationship with your SIL, mostly because I have no relationship with my IL's that isn't full of them judging my overly liberal beliefs & behaviors and their overly conservative jerky way. I just give you a million hugs and much love!!!

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Old 02-16-2010, 11:55 PM
 
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ahahaha.... i just had to comment on the kimchi thing. what is WITH that? i worked with an older korean man when i lived in korea a couple years ago, and he was (well the whole country does) going on about kimchi CONSTANTLY. yet he was probably the sickest still standing person i've ever met. he was always telling me to take care of my health, but heaven forbid i ever take a sick day to actually recuperate from getting sick. no... i should be at work, shovelling in platefuls of kimchi, and taking naps in the staffroom, not at home, sleeping in my bed, and keeping my germs away from healthy people. i think i tried explaining the differences in our countrys' philosophies on getting sick once, but after that i just gave up and nodded thoughtfully whenever anyone brought up one of their ridiculous superstitions.
Lol, I don't suppose this same guy felt that kimchi was why Koreans don't get SARS? My mil tried to tell me about that one, she an an italian co-worker decided that italians and koreans are the only ones who don't get SARS. She also thinks that there are no gay Koreans, although she admits that gay ppl do exist, it's just that none of them could possibly be korean.
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Old 02-18-2010, 10:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey ladies - just wanted to say hi and thanks for all the support and advice. I did finally confess to my husband that his sister was making me crazy, and I guess he must have told her to back off, because she's been mostly reasonable since. I still get the disapproving looks and what-not, but that can handle.

I expected some conflict going into this - I lived in Guatemala for several years, so I'm used to the cover your feet, don't shower if you're sick, hot/cold associations, etc. I knew that ideas about pregnancy are quite different and not entirely based on current scientific research, I guess it just took me by surprise the insistency with which this "information" was being pushed upon me.

Anyway, I'm happy to report that there have been no further insinuations of failed pregnancies or negligence on my part (although I swear she was ready to tie me up the day I was playing Dance Dance Revolution with her sons).

Thanks again ladies for all your input!
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Old 06-12-2010, 08:14 PM
 
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I just have to say, as an educated person with friends who work in the Western health care industry how surprised and saddened I am at the ignorance that takes place on both sides of the healthcare debate. Of course kimchi does not cure or prevent all illnesses. However, kimchi (which like sauerkraut and kambucha) develops enzymes that aid in digestion during the fermentation process. For those of you who have taken bio or anatomy you know that a large percentage of the human immune system can be found within the digestive system. Foods that aid in digestion can go a long way to keeping people healthy.

Simply because someone is "uneducated", comes from a non-western country, or a rural community does not mean that everything they believe can be discounted as superstition. Much of the modern medicine that we rely on today was developed from older natural home remedies (aspirin anyone?). It's important to be respectful of differences and realize that there are many valid approaches to health and wellness that are outside the sphere of modern Western medicine.

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Old 06-12-2010, 11:57 PM
 
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Simply because someone is "uneducated", comes from a non-western country, or a rural community does not mean that everything they believe can be discounted as superstition.
THIS!

Not walking in bare-feet isn't something that is prolific in American culture, but we have our own odd cultural stuff. Chickenpox parties is coming to mind... anyway, the part that makes it superstition seems to be class based. And just because we are a wealthier country doesn't mean that our practices aren't just as backwards.

On another note, I don't know much about the hot/cold stuff of Latin America, but I wonder if the ideas are similar to the hot/cold stuff in Asian medicines. Interesting...

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Old 06-14-2010, 12:40 AM
 
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Simply because someone is "uneducated", comes from a non-western country, or a rural community does not mean that everything they believe can be discounted as superstition. Much of the modern medicine that we rely on today was developed from older natural home remedies (aspirin anyone?). It's important to be respectful of differences and realize that there are many valid approaches to health and wellness that are outside the sphere of modern Western medicine.
it's a bit presumptuous to assume we're coming at this from a purely western viewpoint, don't you think? just because we're commenting on strange practices and ideas on health that have impacted our lives doesn't mean we discount "non-western" ideas based on that alone.
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Old 06-14-2010, 05:03 PM
 
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Hello Silverfish,

I didn't mean to imply that everyone posting (or even that everyone with a particular example of "superstition") was coming from a western background). I apologize if that's how it came across. I am also not trying to demonize anyone in this group. I am simply commenting on the cultural phenomenon (that I see taking place mainly in industrialized and western countries) of invalidating and belittling natural healing.

What I was trying to get at is the fact that some of the most effective western medicines and procedures have their roots in non-western and holistic medicine practices. I think that the demonizing of natural medicine happens in just about every country all over the world at this point . I am certainly not trying to say that there is not place for modern medicine or that every ancient remedy is legitimate. What I am trying to say is that a lack of ability to scientifically quantify or explain (usually simply because the research has not been done) on the part of people who use natural medicine in other parts of the world should not be written off as superstition or ineffective. To do so is disrespectful and short sighted.

"ahahaha.... i just had to comment on the kimchi thing. what is WITH that?" ... "i think i tried explaining the differences in our countrys' philosophies on getting sick once, but after that i just gave up and nodded thoughtfully whenever anyone brought up one of their ridiculous superstitions". - Silverfish

After rereading your comments I am assuming that I misinterpreted them. You asked "what is with the kimchi thing" and I did my best to explain where that school of thought comes from and why it has some valid health benefits. You also ended the post with "ridiculous superstitions" which seems at best uneducated and at worst disrespectful. I'm sure that many modern health care practices seem as strange to others as ancient practices may seem to us. I wasn't commenting on your physical location or ethnic background (which I wouldn't presume to know) but rather on the judgments and philosophy that you expressed.

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