12 Times When Your In-Laws Just Need To Back The F*ck Up
Complaining about people who love my child and just want to be as involved in his life as humanly possible, seems strange at best and inappropriate at worst. I mean, what am I really upset about? My son's grandparents love him deeply and love seeing him happy and it's a pretty great "problem" to have. However, for as thankful as I am, there are definitely times when in-laws just need to back the f*ck up and let the parents parent.
I technically don't have any in-laws, as my partner and I aren't married. We've been together for over three years, have been living together for almost just as long and have a two-year-old son together; we're just choosing not to get married because, well, why? We don't see the point, and would rather spend the money we'd need for a wedding on our son's future schooling or a downpayment on a house or some slothful trips around the world. Still, we're a family and I consider my partner's parents family, and visa versa. That means, for all intents and purposes, I have two wonderful in-laws that spoil the hell out of my child but, from time to time, want to "help" me make parenting decisions that I really don't need help making.
I know my partner's parents only want what's best for their grandson (and us, as parents) and their attempts at helping all come from a good-hearted, well-intentioned place. Still, sometimes trying to help only hurts, which is why it's perfectly OK for you to tell your in-laws that, in these specific situations (and plenty of others like them) they just need to back off and let you parent.
When You're Talking About Whether Or Not You're Even Going To Get Married
So yes, technically your partner's parents wouldn't be your in-laws if you weren't married, but this is the '50s anymore and the "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage," way of life is long gone. People are having babies before they get married; people are getting married and not having babies at all; people are having babies without a partner in the picture; people are having babies and never getting married.
So, your potential in-laws or future in-laws or your partner's parents that will never technically be in-laws, should have no business inserting themselves into your romantic relationship and/or your co-parenting relationship. What you and your parenting partner decide works best for you is exactly what you should be doing. No, "When are you getting married?" talk. It's not beneficial and it puts marriage as the end-all-be-all for parenting and/or romantic relationships. It isn't. Trust me.
When You're Thinking Of Baby Names
I know, I know. Everyone wants to have a say in what that precious little bundle will be named, especially your parents. There are family names to consider, after all. However, in the only two people who should be making the decision to name your baby is you and your parenting partner. If you're down to listen to some suggestions, I say more power to you. However, your in-laws need to know that suggestions shouldn't magically turn into demands.
When You're Deciding Whether Or Not You Want To Know The Sex Of Your Baby
I get that friends and family members are quick to ask about your baby's sex so they can plan accordingly. However, you don't need to know the gender of a baby in order to buy them things. You can go the gender neutral route, or you can say the hell with gendered clothes and toys and just buy whatever you think is goddamn adorable anyway. I can tell you that being assigned male at birth didn't keep my son from loving the hell out of his pink stuffed animal puppy.
When You're Deciding Who And Who Won't Be In The Delivery Room...
The only people I allowed in the labor and delivery room when I was bringing my son into the world was my partner and my two best friends. No parents allowed. Sorry mom, and my partner's mom, but them's the breaks.
...Or When You're Making Your Birth Plan, In General
I have found that soon-to-be grandmothers are quick to insert their, "This is what you should do when you're in labor," wisdom, usually based off of their own experiences. Sure, sometimes it can be helpful, but it's your body, it's your decision and modern medicine has changed pretty significantly since our parents were pushing babies out of their vaginas and/or having them cut from their bodies.
If your in-laws just don't understand why you want a home birth that's, you know, there problem. If your in-laws think that getting an epidural means you're "taking the easy way out," they can tell someone else about it because you need and should do what's best for you.
When You're Deciding How Long You're Going To Breastfeed...
While we have a long way to go in the way of #NormalizingBreastfeeding, it's substantially better than it was for our mothers, or our mother's mothers. So, it's not entirely surprising that so many of our parents, in-laws included, don't understand breastfeeding in public without a cover or breastfeeding for an extended period of time. Too bad, so sad. Again, it's your body so it's your (and, to a certain extend, your baby's) decision.
My pseudo mother-in-law couldn't understand why I was breastfeeding for longer than two or three months, and would consistently ask me why I felt the need to continue. Eventually, I simply told her because that's what I've chosen to do, and we left it at that.
...Or If You're Even Going To Breastfeed
Again, no one gets to decide this but you (and your baby will probably have somewhat of a say, as well). Whether it's your partner or your partner's parents, you and you alone should choose whether or not you use your body to sustain another human being. If you don't want to, you don't want to and no one (including the parents of your partner) should judge you or shame you for using formula.
When You Let Your Kid Play With Toys Society Tells Them Aren't "For Their Gender"
I've had a few, um, heated conversations with my partner's parents about what is and isn't appropriate for our son to play with. For example, one afternoon while visiting grandma my son put on some of my necklaces and played with them. My partner's mom said he had to take them off because, "He's a boy, and boys don't play with jewelry." I quickly corrected her, and told her that my son can play with anything he wants as long as it's safe. Our society's obsession with gendering every little thing was not going to keep my son from being happy and playing with something as harmless as a necklace.
When It's Time To Visit
My partner and I live far away from both our parents, so I understand that it can be hard for grandparents to spend that much time away form their grandkids. However, we're a family of three so traveling is expensive, whether we take a plane or drive clear across the country. We want to have our kid visit his grandparents as often as possible, but sometimes it just isn't possible and we could both do without the impending guilt trips when we call and let our parents know that we won't be "coming home" for the holidays.
When You're Disciplining Your Kid (Or Deciding Not To Discipline Them)
Everyone seems to have their own idea regarding discipline, and what is or isn't appropriate. My partner and I are attachment parenting, and we don't believe in spanking our child. We talk to him, not down to him, and we get on his level and have calm conversations (even though he is a toddler) because he is still a human being and he still deserves respect. I tell my son "sorry" when I make a mistake, and I give him as much body autonomy as he can handle while making sure he's physically safe.
Not everyone agrees with this style of parenting and that's OK, but when it comes to disciplining or not disciplining my son, my partner and I are the only ones who any kind of say. My kid's grandparents have no business spanking my child or telling me that I need to spank my child. They're job is to spoil him (and, thankfully, my kid's grandparents are really, really good at that).
When And/Or If You Go Back To Work
I know that our parents — and especially our parent's parents — lived in a different time when gender stereotypes were far more prevalent and sexism insisted on keeping women at home with the children, and men out of the home and at work. While I can't imagine how different the current family dynamic may seem to so many parents of years past, I do expect those parents to respect the fact that things are different, and progress has been made and mothers can and do return to the work force (if they want and when they want).
So, there's no reason for your in-laws to have anything to really say about whether or not you return to work after you have a baby. That decision is yours (and your partner's, to a certain extent, as I believe financial decisions for the family should be made together) and there's just no need for any kind of outside input.
Basically, Anything That Has To Do With Parenting Because, Well, You're The Parent Now
I am thankful for the support and guidance I have received from my partner's parents, and I really do consider them a part of the family even though I am not married to their son. After all, my partner and I have been together long enough, committed to one another in the same way, and are a family regardless of whether or not we wear rings and signed a piece of legal paper.
Still, my thankfulness ends when my pseudo in-laws overstep their bounds. Thankfully, this happens very rarely, but when it does both my partner and I are quick to remind both of our parents that we aren't the children anymore. We're the parents, taking care of our own child, and they're the grandparents now; they get to spoil the sh*t out of our kid and, when we give them that friendly reminder, things usually go back to "normal."