WT 138: Can You Help Me Navigate The Grandparents?
Question 1: I have a good, but not overly close relationship with my mother-in-law. She is a HUGE help with our kids and I’d love to really honor her this Thanksgiving when we spend time at my in-laws. Do you have any daughter-in-law tips to share?
Karen's Answer: Great question and I love your heart! ☺ I know one way that I as a mother in law am always honored is when the in law, or my children, ask me if they can help me in anyway. There is always so much to do during the holidays, so an extra set of hands is very appreciated. You can also tell your mother in law your thoughts and opinions of her, that she is a great mother in law and how much your children love her. I don’t know of any person that wouldn’t love to hear those words. Honestly, go through the five love languages and exercise each one of them for your mother in law. Be creative!
Acts of Service- Offer to help with the dinner, do the dishes, set the table, etc.
Words of Affirmation- Praise her, thank her, tell what a big part she is in your family and how much you all love her.
Physical Touch- Give her a big hug when you arrive and when you leave.
Quality Time- Hang out with her a little more than usual, or ask her if she wants to take the kids and spend some quality time with them, with or without you. Her choice.
Gifts- possibly bring her some flowers, cake, basket full of relaxing things for after the holidays.
Question 2: My step-daughter recently spent the weekend with my parents (something she does every summer since we don’t have her with us full-time.) Before my parents got her, I explained to them that she needs to read each day before she is allowed to play games or watch videos on her tablet. After this latest visit I found out that my parents downloaded games for her to play on their own tablet. This bothers us b/c our daughter has been struggling with reading and (more importantly) we feel like our parenting decisions are not being respected. I confronted my parents, and all hell broke loose. They said they never questioned the decisions my grandparents made when I used to stayed with them, and they never left a list of rules for them to follow. My parents are treating me and my husband like children and I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place. My husband doesn't want our daughter to stay with them during the summer any more. Help!
Karen's Answer: It sounds like your parents are not honoring the boundaries you are setting. You need to tell them that if they can’t honor your wishes, they will lose the privilege of watching your daughter. It is okay that you do things differently than they do or than your grandparents did. You are different from them and you need to have a tough conversation.
Question 3: I will be 33 weeks pregnant at Christmas this year with kid #2 and travelling a long way to see my husband’s family over the holidays (we’re in Pennsylvania, they are in Chicago) sounds awful to me. It’s “their year” and my husband really wants to go for the week. Should I just suck it up and go? Or is this worth taking a stand over?
Karen's Answer: Whew Girl! That does sound like a miserable trip. Is there anyway your husband’s parents could come visit you? Could you fly? It might be worth the extra money to fly, to shorten your time sitting down. Sometimes your doctor won’t let you travel long trips like this so late in your pregnancy, it might be worth asking! I would talk to your doctor and look up airfares, then present it all to your hubby. You could get a weighted ball of about 25 lbs, and ask your husband to carry it around all day, before he makes his decision. ☺
Question 4: We just had our first kids (twins!) and my mom will be coming to our home several days a week to watch the babies when I go back to work soon. We are SO grateful … and maybe a little nervous about how this could change our relationship with her. I want to establish good boundaries from the very start - any suggestions before we start down this road?
Karen's Answer: You are SO smart! And it is better to have a conversation before you get started. Keep in mind, at first she could take it the wrong way, but set it up that you are trying to set you both up for success. I did this before when Kelsey was coming to live with us this time. I would think about thing that you want and write them down. For instance, I told Kelsey that I wanted her children to take a bath in their room and not in my room. I had to work BOAW and I could help in the morning and after work but from 9-4 I was working. I made a list of things and we talked through them. Make your list and pick a time where you can talk it all through. Stay calm and loving.
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