I need help talking to my In-laws.

  • Here's a little family back ground:  My husband and I work with his parents.  We're farmers, and Seed dealers.  So, in the Spring, he's out planting the crop, and I'm in a warehouse with his parents.  In the fall, we're all out in the field together.  On weekeds, we would all go to pizza together.  Although I've really cut that back a lot.  We used to spend all day every Sunday with them, I've also cut that back.  My family lives 2000 miles away, so we don't get "too much" of them.  I am 15 weeks pregnant.

    Lastnight, we went to a Christmas Party for the Seed Company we work for, My mother-in-law, my father-in-law, my husband, and myself.  I am not a hugger, and while there, I think my MIL hugged me 10 or so half hugs, and touched my arm or shoulder about every time she talked to me (She knows I'm a NO CONTACT kind of person).  When we went to leave, my FIL said, "We have to get Momma home", in reference to me.  On our way home, my MIL and FIL began speaking "baby talk", you know, K's become T's, L's and R's become W's.  They do this frequently, even before we were pregnant and before my sister in law found out she was pregnant.  They talk this way to their kids "Girwls, it's time to get up, todays Steveo's Birfdaay and we gotta give him spankwins." Crap like that... "Theres our Wisa, swes snuggelin on the cowch."  It makes me want to scratch them until they stop... and my  husband doesn't even notice, seeing as how it's what he's grown up with.  29 years of baby talk makes a man immune.

    At our wedding, my husband and I paid for it all, my MIL had my Sister in law and her Boyfriend take our Photographer up to the front of the Church to take thier pictures.  She said she didn't understand why I was mad since it was "Our Wedding" my husband had to tell her, it was mine and his wedding, not his whole familys wedding, as she thought and he also let her know, I thought it SUCKED, because she had more control over it than I did.

    Here are the problems I need help with:

    1)My mother in law doesn't understand that I want MY baby to go to Daycare once in a while for social interaction with other kids.  She told me, it will have social interaction with us. 

    2) I do NOT WANT BABY TALK at all.  You can sweeten your voice, or make it cute, but don't chop words, or change letters to make other letter sounds.  My husbands cousin has 5 year old twins that only know baby talk and will have to repeat preschool for a 3rd time.  I need to get them to STOP.

    3) This is not "Our Baby" as in Mine, My Husbands, My MIL, My FIL, and my FIL's Mom's Baby, it is "Our Baby" as in Mine and My Husbands Baby.

    4) I don't want them at the hospital while I'm having the baby, or just after, we will call them when they can come up for the first visit, then after that, I'd like them, and every other guest to call and make sure it's ok to stop in for a visit, before just showing up.  And I'd like visits to be about 15-20 minutes long at the most.

    I though my husband should talk to them seeing as how they are his parents and won't be so offended with this comming from him, but, I know my husband and that won't happen.  I need to know how to get this through loud and clear with out totally offending them.

    Any advice would be greatly appriciated.  Thanks!

  • Oh my goodness!  While this sounds truly obnoxious and anxiety provoking, I confess to laughing quite a bit at the ludicrousy of your in-laws!!!  It sounds like they don't have any awareness around boundaries and might benefit from some instruction with a calm but assertive daughter-in-law (calm and assertive also works well for training dogs according to the dog whisperer!). 

    In all seriousness, it sounds like the things you want are reasonable and very legitimate.  And if your husband and his family are capable of understanding what it means to genuinely love someone, they will understand that the boundaries you need to set are done for the well-being of your family, not as a personal attack on them. 

    Perhaps instead of saying you are "thinking" about doing something, like enrolling your child into day care or preschool in order to encourage healthy socialization, simply state what you are going to do and why.  If they object, you can again state (not defend or justify or use the words 'in my opinion') that "according to experts, children need to be socialized both within and external to their immediate family in order to develop to their fullest potential" and that you will be making sure your child has all of the advantages for the healthiest of development as possible. They can have their opinion, but as the mother stating this is what is going to happen, you are valuing your views as well.  No bad guys, just you asserting what you feel is best for your child.

    Part of setting good boundaries means that you are setting them to promote wellness, not ward off unwell intruders...your perspective here will influence how you communicate while setting boundaries I believe.  If your intent is to promote well-being, you focus on the positive forms of communication that resist judgment or hostility.  If you focus on the craziness of unwell intruders (or baby-talkers as the case may be!), then they will hear your frustration instead of the positive message, which is that you are a new mom and are confident enough to start talking about how you are going to raise a happy and healthy child and how exciting is that??!!!!  

    This is an opportunity to assert what your ideal situation as a mother will be and how appreciative you will be of those who will help you to actualize that ideal situation.  For example:  "We're so excited to be starting our new immediate family that our plan is to celebrate this life changing event as quietly and closely as possible those first few days and then slowly introduce extended family so as to not overwhelm the baby or our own fresh and emotional experience!  It will be so wonderful to ease into bring baby home to you all...I wonder what that first home-welcoming celebration will look like with you waiting our return home?  Will you be able to make sure you are ready to greet us and welcome your grandchild for the first time when we come home?"  You can choose different words of course, but this my tactic in terms of saying what you want, how you will attain it, while at the same time letting them know you are not excluding them. Same for phoning visits ahead of time..."I'm learning how challenging those first few weeks are with a newborn and how important setting routines are.  We probably won't be seeing you much during those first weeks as we adapt to the new baby and responsibilities and as the baby adapts to us...we don't want to overwhelm the little guy/girl, but not to worry, as we grow our parenting wings we will make sure you become part of some fun family routines!"

    As far as the baby talk goes...that might be an on-going struggle, but workable I think.  They might get tired of you correcting them, but you can just tell them it is important to you that your child learn to communicate effectively as they age, that part of their ability to grow and develop a healthy brain means they are able to use language as a tool to access others and would hate to see them alienated by others because most people don't talk baby-talk.  If this is too passive aggressive (it might be), maybe find some parenting resources that will back you up (I'm sure I have read in numerous places to monitor how frequently baby-talk is used in order to promote healthy development of speech and language, which is healthy for the brain development too!).  Then just discuss what you learned from those resources and state you have decided that because this makes so much sense, you are going to make sure you regulate your own desire to talk baby talk too much.  It's ok sometimes, but maybe limit it to 10% of the time???

    But until baby arrives...oye vey, how annoying!  Say that you are already desiring some grown up conversation and the baby isn't even here yet!...then blame the hormones and apologize???  I don't know...talk with your husband and ask him to be your ally in terms of regulating how frequently this occurs.  If he struggles with this, find out why...chances are he notices but has formed walls around how he tunes it out.  You can also act really confused, like they are speaking a different language, then ask say "oooohhhhhh!  Did you mean to say ___ ?".  Short of this, I got nothin'!!!

    This is all I got and please listen to others advice because I am not an expert at all...I was just so drawn into your post and feel your pain.  I'm actually 33 weeks along and beginning to set some very strong boundaries with my family because they do things to each other (in terms of put downs and controlling behavior) that I simply don't wish to expose my child to.  For me it's about my childs needs, not my like or dislikes, so if setting boundaries feels tough at times, try to remember if it's for your child's best interest, it is probably worth the discomfort. 

    And as horrible as it might sound, you can always blame the pregnancy hormones (to a certain extent) if while you are setting boundaries some unpleasant emotions surface!  Just don't use the hormone excuse to diminish the value of such boundaries...you have value even if the occasional emotional explosion distracts others from seeing such value.

    Also, maybe a good time to help your husband learn how to set boundaries too.  Setting limits doesn't have to be mean or alienating or critical or demeaning.  It is usually in EVERYONE'S best interest to have boundaries set.  In loving families, no one wants any one family member to feel stepped on.  It sounds like your in-laws care about you an awful lot, so give them the benefit of the doubt and expect them to respond well because you can expect them to care about everyone's best interest.

    Okay, my rant is over.  Hope this helps and good luck...something tells me you'll need all the support you can get (maybe consider joining a new mom's group to get on-going support from them as well!)

    Best of luck, and congratulations on the baby!!! Try to make some alone time to just feel what you need to feel separate from what others are doing too...a special time regardless of how stressful I think.

  • Thank you so much for your understanding and advice. :)