How To Manage Overeager In-Laws as a New or Expecting Parent

Setting healthy boundaries as a new or expecting parent comes with many obstacles. It’s important to know and remember that any boundaries you set aren’t a stop sign, they are in fact more of a map - of which you all need to be on the same page. 

I know you’re thinking, how? Is it even possible to implement healthy boundaries with your in-laws!? Well, I’m about to share with you five of my top tips that have helped my husband and I build and maintain a healthy relationship with ours! 

Get Your Priorities in Order Before Your Little One Is Born

(if you’re a new parent, it’s not too late to start now!) 

Whether you’re currently pregnant, or you’ve recently given birth it’s worth sitting down with your partner and talking through the things that you will and won’t deal with once/now that your baby is here. Things like:

  • Who are you comfortable with having in the delivery room? 
  • Do you plan on keeping family and friends updated during labour? 
  • Who will you allow to come and visit you post-birth while in hospital? 
  • Once home, do you intend on having visitors straight away? If not, how long do you want to wait? 
  • Will visitors come to your house? Or will you go to theirs?

These are all pretty straightforward questions but you need to begin setting healthy boundaries from the off. Remember - it’s your baby, it’s your postpartum, so it’s your call to make.

The trouble is, this can begin to get a little tricky one your baby is here. Depending on your current relationship with your in-laws, once you are home, they are of course going to want to visit. If you’re allowing your parents to visit very soon after birth, yet you feel it’s best that your in-laws don’t visit until a few days or a week after birth - you run the risk of causing tension between families, possibly even yourself and your partner. So deciding together in advance when your family members will be able to meet the baby will be super helpful in the long run.

Obviously, you don’t have to make a decision straight away, this is something you can talk over between yourselves - but setting these boundaries with your in-laws is essential. After all, boundary setting will be a big part of the next 18 years, maybe longer. 

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Be Kind 

Now trust me, I know how overwhelming and infuriating in-laws can be when they disagree with your boundaries.. especially when they take them personally. But no matter how annoyed or how irritated you are, try to stay calm and be kind. 

Saying something you’ll later regret In heated situations is only going to cause more tension between yourself, your partner and his/her parents, so when you feel yourself getting frustrated take some deep breaths and try your best to remember the positives in your relationship. 

Make Sure Your Partner Is the One Leading Things

When making decisions about your in-laws, it’s usually best that it comes from your partner (I mean, how would your family react if your partner told them they couldn’t see their grandchild right now!?). Especially if it’s a decision that they won’t like, be that asking them to visit less, or asking them to not stay for so long. If you are the one to pass on this message, they may harbour feelings of resentment towards you (been there, still working through it!) for a long time thereafter. 

If your partner is the one to deliver this message, they may still be annoyed but chances are they will move past it a lot quicker than they would had it been you. 

Before you make any big decision, especially one that you know will leave a bad taste in their mouth - make sure both you and your partner agree, as regardless of who delivers the message, it is a joint decision that you’ve made together. 

No Means No

If the answer is a firm no, there should never be room for second-guessing, no compromising and no questions asked. 

No means no, unless the no might turn into a yes at a later date! If it’s a no right now but your decision may alter in the future, instead of saying no, you could look to tell them that you will think about it (be that now or in the near future) and then you’ll let them know. Or try something like, not right now but maybe it’s something we can explore in the future. 

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Always Be Constant and Consistent

In order to set healthy boundaries that work, you need to be firm with them. If you’ve told your in-laws that you do not feel comfortable with them taking your baby out, no matter whether it’s for a walk around the block or for an afternoon - stick to it. 

If you start to make exceptions to the boundaries you’ve put in place, then your in-laws may take that as the green light to push for more and break apart your boundaries further. Resulting in you feeling stressed and disrespected because you’ve said one thing and they are doing another. 

Obviously there will be circumstances where your boundaries go out the window for a short time, but where possible stand firm. 

Something to remember - Chances are you won’t be able to keep everybody happy, at some point somebody is going to voice their displeasure - it’s to be expected. But remember you and your partner are a team. And as long as you and your partner are on the same page and are able to show up and support one another, it will be okay.

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