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When you become a mother, everybody showers blessings on you and your newborn baby. They wish you both the very best of health and a lifetime of happiness. They also extend to you the assurance and confidence that you will be an excellent mother and look after your child very well. This assurance is something every mother seeks in her family and friends – as raising a baby can be a nerve-wracking job! However, not all of us are as lucky to have a supportive and loving family. Some of us just have to endure criticism every day…about the way we keep our house, the way we dress – even the way we look after our baby!
A mother (name not revealed to maintain anonymity) recently shared her experience on how her in-laws picked on every little thing she did for her 6 months old baby. Every action of hers was judged, every move criticized. This made it – and is continuing to make it – very difficult for her to exercise her duty as a parent.
As many of us who live in joint families, or maintain close relationships with in-laws, know, a certain level of advice is always welcomed. After all, our in-laws also want the best for their child. However, when these comments turn passive aggressive, it just creates an unpleasant environment for the mental health of the parent as well as the development of the baby. In this mom’s case, what made things really ugly is how her in laws did not just limit their opinions to her or her baby. They even went ahead to complain about the mother’s parenting skills to her husband!
This Is What She Has To Say About The Whole Incident
“In general, they are alright people, honest. But I get the impression that their favorite pastime is to complain about my daughter, 6 months old. This has been going on ever since she got out of the “potato phase.”
“They think I spoil her Habits”
Of course, they coo, kiss and adore her. They do love her, but in contrast they constantly criticize her behavior. In a baby voice. “Aww, baby does not like her paternal aunt”, “aww, all baby wants to do is cry and sleep and stick to mommy”, “baby has gotten used to being carried around, how bad” and so on.
Now it would be fine if someone said it once or twice every time we meet. But every person says it a multiple number of times, every single time we meet, now that adds up.
“They Think I am Potentially Harming Her”
In fact, even when I try to bring my daughter into a positive light, they manage to say something negative. One time, I wanted to demonstrate my child’s ability to sit, so I sat her down on my seat and stayed next to her while hovering my hands. Immediately, I had to hear this: “Mommy is doing such dangerous things with baby.”
Wow! I think I am a saint for not giving the slightest of flinch upon hearing those words. Inside though, I was infuriated.
“They Think I am a Bad Parent”
Basically, I feel that they constantly make me feel like a bad parent by their onslaught of pointless remarks. And worse, they keep criticizing a little kid who can only express herself by the spectrum of laughing and crying.
Of course she is not going to consider your feelings if you are too loud and in her face.
Of course she is going to express discomfort if you force hard kisses on her.
Of course she is going to cry and reach for me if she is tired and three people are trying to get her to smile at the same time.
She is not the same as her rambunctious cousins. She is sensitive and curious, she prefers more peaceful surrounds, she is learning how to cope with stimuli. She is not a toy. She is human and she has her likes and dislikes.
“They Complain About Me to My Husband”
So complain all you want, but she is not going to be moulded into a 3 year old energetic boy that you expect her to be. But that is not all, no. They don’t just complain about her. They also have to complain to my husband about me defending my own daughter. And my husband? He is just like his family.”
How You Should Deal With Such Negative Interference
All these instances are not just limited to this mom, but are quite prevalent in several households. But just remember: it is rightly said that ‘mommy knows the best’! Elders’ remarks and interference should not come in the way of parenting your child. After all, you are the one ‘responsible’ for shaping your child’s future, not them.
1. Take Charge and Speak Up
Aggression of any form is toxic. When you are subjected to a constant rant of passive aggressive behaviour, it becomes difficult to nurture your kid in a positive manner. Therefore, biting your tongue and taking criticism should not be an option. The only thing to keep in mind is your ‘tone of voice’. Yes, that makes all the difference. Respectfully thank your in laws for their advice, but make it clear that you may need to figure things out on your own too.
2. Do Not Engage
A response is probably more appreciated than a reaction. Unless absolutely necessary, do not engage or react to their hurtful comments, instead just smile and let it roll off your back. Your body language matters a lot here, so pay attention to not roll your eyes or re-frame the situation.
3. Let Your Spouse Step in
Parenting is a team effort – it does not happen by only one person’s investment. But sometimes, your husband, or the one confidant and support system you thought you could always count on also seems to ‘side with’ his parents and not you. Some of us moms have experienced the situation when his mother is the husband’s first confidant, and not his wife. The husband may also find it tough to see or support your point of view over his mother’s. It is essential to have an understanding with your partner regardless of who says what. You must bear in mind that he cares for your baby too and will never do anything that goes against the baby’s interests. Establish an understanding and give your husband an opportunity to step in whenever a situation demands it.
Being a parent is a tough job that comes with its own rewards and challenges. On one hand you need to stand up for your children and on the other you are always watched with hawk eyes on every move that you make. But there comes a time when you need to draw a line. You are the mom and your decision about your baby needs to be final, never mind what your in-laws or anyone else in the family says.