They don't help out as much as you'd like
This situation can be tricky because grandparents certainly have the right to set their own boundaries, just as you do, says Kohl. Being with young children is draining, and if your in-laws don't feel up to the challenges, or if their lives are already filled with work and other projects, you have to accept their choice.
On the other hand, they may not volunteer because they don't realize how much you need the help. Spell out your needs clearly. One Idaho grandmother, a real estate agent, frequently canceled visits with her new grandson if a client called at the last minute -- a practice she stopped when her son quietly explained that his wife was suffering postpartum depression. "As soon as my husband told her what was going on, she immediately offered to rearrange her schedule to be available whenever I needed a break," says the mom.
If you don't know whether your in-laws are trying to establish boundaries or simply don't realize how much help you'd welcome, ask them if they're interested in having some one-on-one time with their grandkids or if they might be up for last-minute babysitting. If the answer is "We'd love to help out, but our schedule is packed right now," don't ask again. And if the answer is "Sure!!" then pour on the gratitude.
You won't iron out all the clashes, but working out the conflicts offers a huge payoff -- for your kids. They're the ones who benefit most when all the people who love them get along.
Some in-laws are harder to deal with than others, and some are flat-out impossible, but experts agree that most relationships can flourish when certain ground rules apply. And if you're having more trouble negotiating with your own parents, these tips can apply to them, too:
Establish clear boundaries right away. If you don't want habitual drop-bys or constant advice, the time to stop them is now, before they become a habit. Otherwise, you run the risk of blowing your top at the worst possible moment. One Colorado mom of three admits that when she finally spoke up after years of resenting the way her MIL constantly contradicted her, her mom-in-law walked out of the house and didn't come back for a week.
Decide what you feel strongly about and what you can be flexible on. For the sake of family peace, you may have to let the little things go while you hold the line on the big stuff. For example, you know it's better for everyone if your child gets to bed at a decent hour. So let your in-laws know that's the rule the next time they come over to babysit. But you'll probably have to give in on those two slices of pie for dinner.
Know when to hold your tongue. Sometimes telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth is unnecessarily hurtful. If you don't feel comfortable leaving your baby alone with elderly grandparents, get a babysitter. And if Grandma persists, say something pleasant like "I really appreciate all your offers of help, but having a sitter who knows the routine is a lot easier for me, and I'm so frazzled at the moment, I just need to do the easiest thing I can." Then let it go.
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