Before we married, my partner and I had a beautiful baby girl. While not anticipated, it was amazing and confusing and, mostly, conflict-inducing. We hadn't ever discussed, at length, the involvement of our parents as grandparents to our child/children, and there came a point where it was a major issue. In the beginning all was good until, well, it wasn't. There are a lot of things I wish my partner would've said to my in-laws about our baby because, honestly, it might've helped us navigate the boundaries much sooner.
In playing Devil's advocate, I can understand how my partner's parents might want to be so involved in our daughter's life that they may, unknowingly, overstep. Also, knowing that my partner is majorly passive and will avoid conflict by all means possible, it was inevitable that a perfect storm would erupt at some point. It turns out, weeks surrounding our wedding was that point and we'd eventually have to separate ourselves from the situation entirely to focus on our own growing family. Fun, right?
After I had our son (5 years later) and life returned back to "normal," it became apparent that some issues we'd had before still hadn't changed, while a lot of the really important things had. Navigating any relationship is tricky but I can't help but ask myself, is it my place or my partner's when it comes to his parents? We've been together 13 years this summer and, in that time, he's never spoken up to his parents about things that have caused issues between he and I. Yes it's as frustrating as it sounds, especially when all I want is the best for my children (which, to be clear, involves all grandparents). With that, here are some things I wish he'd have said to my in-laws a long damn time ago, regarding both of our babies.
"Please Respect Our Space..."
In asking for space, it doesn't mean "go away forever," but just, you know, for that moment. If my partner had said this way back when, we'd have avoided a sh*tload of problems.
"...But Also Spend Time With Our Baby"
If the above had been clarified, we wouldn't have to literally beg for grandparents to see our babies. By this point, all should be understood. But again, my partner never addressed it, so...
"Our Daughter Is Not A Doll..."
When my daughter was an infant, her grandmother spent ungodly amounts of money on the most fashionable outfits and accessories. Sure, she looked adorable, but with how fast babies outgrow things like this, I started to feel guilty about the money spent and almost like I owed her something in return.
"...But We Appreciate Your Thoughtful Gifts"
Anything bought for our kids is always appreciated. However, there have been times I'd planned to get it myself only to be superseded by an in-law. If only my partner would've said "don't buy that" every now and then, I might've been able to snag my own moment of mommy glory.
"Please Respect The Baby's Schedule..."
From day one, I've been adamant about routines and schedules (sleep!) and from day one, in-laws seem to have their own way of doing things. I understand their desire to implement their own routines and schedules — my own Gram did this with me — but when it throws things off for days afterwards, I'd rather they didn't. Even when I had a detailed list available, my partner never did address it because, you know, passivity.
"...But If You Have To Deviate, Have Good Reason"
Of course sometimes things come up or if fun plans have been made, and that's fine. I just don't want to find out after-the-fact when my baby is fussy from a deviation in the schedule.
"Please Don't Bad Mouth Their Mother..."
I could write a novella on this one. A long, long time ago, my partner should've flat-out said this. He should've put it into the world so that, if the mere thought of doing so had been planted, it would explode into little shards that the in-laws couldn't swallow. Too harsh? What's harsh is hearing a thing from a friend of a friend of a friend that an in-law said about me. I get that not everyone will like me, but still. It really should go without saying that partners need to step up their game in regards to blatant disrespect towards the mother of their children. Can I get an Amen?
"...Or Use Them Against Us"
Our babies will not now, nor ever, be pitted against us in hopes that we might split. Period. The end. Thanks for coming. Bye.
"Please Put As Much Effort Into Spending Time With Our Son..."
Our daughter, the first grandchild, was showered with so much attention we actually did need a little space at times. Five years later, her brother only receives a fraction of it. Without knowing what reasons this could be (aside from previous lack of boundaries), all I know now is, it's never been addressed and because of it, my now 5 year old asks why no one wants to spend time with him. Uh, break hearts much?
"...Or At Least Take Them Both, And Not Just One"
By this point, the only grandparent regularly involved is my mother and she lives in another state. Even still, when she babysits, it's both my kids — not just the oldest. If only my in-laws (whom we live within minutes of) knew how badly our kids want time with them, maybe they'd check their egos and be here.
"We Want You Involved..."
Again, if only my dear partner had made it clear — we want all grandparents around, involved, part of our lives — I wouldn't have to say any of this. But, he hasn't and the only ones hurt by it our the babes.
"...But Within The Boundaries"
Boundaries really aren't that hard. We have two babies. You want to spend time with them. Spend the time while respecting our wishes. Rinse and repeat.
Like I said, it's an uphill battle trying to figure out how to deal with your partner's parents and family. It's his cross to bear, though, not mine — even when I know some of them hate me. But when it comes to my kids, whatever is in their best interest is what I'll be doing. I don't need my partner to tell anyone that.