From birth plans to diaper options to naming your baby, it seems that the minute your pregnancy is announced, opinions about how to raise your child are shared more than a Pinterest nursery décor post. What do you do when this well-meaning advice isn’t exactly, well – sought after? Here a few local experts provide some great suggestions on how to graciously handle family and friends as you prepare for your own growing family.
My parents want us to call them the moment I go into labor so they can rush to the hospital and be part of the experience. (Both my sisters have done this.) While I appreciate their enthusiasm, this is our first child and my husband and I would prefer to have a more private experience to welcome our child into the world. What is the best way to tactfully tell my parents we don’t want them there right away?
This, to me, sounds like a lucky situation to be in. For one, you have parents that are excited and eager to be a part of your child’s life. Second, it seems that you and your husband are united in your birthing plan. These are two good things. Remember that and try to remain calm and peaceful in the delivery of your message to your parents. Have the conversation with your parents sooner rather than later. A difficult conversation doesn’t get easier the longer you wait to have it. It just gives more time for your anxiety, stress and fears to grow. Be assertive. Assertive communication involves being mutually respectful to yourself and your parents. Tell them clearly and with confidence that you and your husband have decided that you would like to be alone for your labor and delivery. It can help to acknowledge your parents’ excitement and show appreciation for their eagerness. You can express gratitude for how they raised you and modeled being a good parent, and how excited you are for them to be grandparents in your child’s life. It can also be helpful to give your parents a job for the delivery day. This will help them feel that they are contributing (check on the family pet, bring you a meal after delivery, find the perfect yellow duck layette to bring baby home in, etc.). How you choose to labor and deliver is deeply personal and only you know what is right for you. Trust yourself and maintain your personal boundaries…great lessons for you to model to your child throughout life as well!
Kristen Pastrick, LCSW, LCAC | Psychotherapist and Owner of KAP Counseling, LLC in Broad Ripple
Although my pregnancy seems to be going well, I have had a miscarriage in the past and am very nervous about things turning out okay this time around. It doesn’t help that several coworkers, upon learning I’m pregnant, begin to tell me a horror story they’ve personally had or someone they’ve known has had during pregnancy. Maybe they are trying to “bond” by sharing these experiences, but it just makes me upset. Is there a nice way I can redirect these types of conversations when they begin?
Whether a woman has experienced a miscarriage or not, concern about the health of her baby is typically universal. This would likely be more intense for women who have previously miscarried a child. This work situation would likely make anybody upset and uncomfortable. People often do not know what to say when it comes to difficult situations. They may ramble on because they cannot think of socially appropriate ways to respond. With that being said, you may want to decide to genuinely share your feelings about your co-workers’ stories. Many of us want to avoid conflict, but setting boundaries with other people is often needed. Maybe saying something direct would be helpful not only in the moment, but for the future as well. (For example: “This conversation is going to make me upset. Let’s talk about something else.”) You can also excuse yourself from any conversations that take place when you feel like it. If you choose to redirect the conversation, pick a work subject that will allow their interest to move from personal agendas to more pertinent work topics. If your attempt at redirection doesn’t flow smoothly, it can still be considered successful as long as the person responds to changing the subject matter. Remember that assertiveness can allow us to avoid conversations that we do not plan to participate in now, or in the future.
Colleenia Korapatti, MA, LMHC | Private Practice, Groff And Associates
We are receiving quite a bit of pressure from my husband’s side of the family to carry on the family name and give our son a name we definitely do not like. We don’t even want to use it as a middle name! Choosing not to follow tradition here will really ruffle some feathers though. What can we say to family members to help them accept our decision?
The naming of a child is such a personal decision. Parents want a name that has a significant meaning to them. When receiving suggestions from family members about naming a child, start by thanking them for their input. Let them know that you are glad they care about the decision but it truly is a personal choice and you hope they will respect that.
Some very important themes can be conveyed to family members who are pressuring you to choose the name they want. You might say:
-We have picked out a name that is very special to us. Please give us the opportunity to make this very personal choice.
-The name we chose has a special meaning and we hope you will respect the decision we have made without pressuring us.
-Love our child whatever the name; he or she will be family. Love me enough to let me choose the name I feel is best for my child.
It is important to stay united in this decision. Both husband and wife need to support each other so other family members do not think it is just the wife’s decision to use another name that will not carry on the family tradition.
Dr. Marcia Compton, D. Min., LMHC, LAC | AAA Hope Counseling
I have a very traditional mother-in-law who has not so subtly stated her opinion that once a woman becomes a mother, she should leave her career to stay home and raise her children. I like my job and plan to go back to it after my maternity leave ends. I want to be respectful of her opinion, but her comments are starting to get under my skin. What should I say next time she brings this up?
Wow, that’s tough! It can be hard to assert yourself, especially when you value another’s opinion. Your MIL, sister, dad, friend, or even a store clerk are going to have opinions about what you should do with your child; being kind, but firm in your decision and response are crucial to avoiding confrontation and hurt feelings – including your own! Ultimately, you have to do what is best for you and your spouse. One way to respond might be to say “We have talked about it and we think it is best for our family for me to return to work.” Or, “We want our son/daughter to know that women can be successful [as both mothers and career women] so we feel it is important for me to continue to work” or “I truly enjoy my job and believe I can be both a successful mom and a successful _____”. Another simple strategy for almost any type of situation is the sandwich technique, where you say the unpleasant thing sandwiched between two compliments or nice things. Example: “You have done such a great job raising your kids. We have decided I am going to return to work. We know you will continue to love and support us as we raise little Johnny.” Good luck!
Jessica Hood, MSW, LCSW | Child & Adolescent Therapist Indy Child Therapy
Whether it’s Aunt Dot pushing her home remedy cream or your mom’s insistence on using cloth diapers, not everyone realizes when their “helpful” suggestions cross the line. Learn how to handle these situations in an assertive (but gracious) manner now and you can lay the foundation for good relationships for years to come!