There are many things that a new mommy or a daughter-in-law won’t tell you she needs or wants from you as she begins on the perilous journey of parenthood…but I gladly will and hopefully spare you some heartache or frustration. I oughta know, I get plenty of letters on how to handle this difficult relationship. If everyone just shares this one post on their social media, we could save the sanity of plenty of new moms!
New Grandmommies (Mother-in-law or mother of the new mommy):
Your daughter, or this young lady who has stolen your son’s heart, is now bringing your grandbaby into the world and is still so very young and impressionable. She is motivated by a desire to do her best and is wading through a bazillion more methods and opinions about this parenting gig than you ever had. You worried about what your mom thought and your nosey neighbor. This new mom is now inundated with millions of opinions, data, research and mindsets way beyond what you ever dealt with while parenting pre-internet. If you thought your Great Aunt Edna was bad, you should just know that today’s mommy blogs and playdates are fraught with tension.
She will come into this new life as wife and mom with her own priorities and ideals that could be completely different from yours. Many of the things on her list of “I’ll never’s” and “it’s wrong to’s” will be marginally important at best. Whether the child never has a binky or is only ever breastfed may be a line in the sand she is willing to draw (among a million different first time parent decisions)…but don’t let that line stop you from reaching out and encouraging her! Even if you disagree, you can keep that opinion to yourself and love her and that baby into oblivion. She may do things differently than you did, but you can bet her intentions are the same: she wants to do the best job she can.
Sometimes, Grandmommies forget what it was like to be new at mommying. They don’t remember how they felt under that sleepless haze of emotional hot mess one week postpartum. And I have seen many a mother and mother-in-law guffaw when her daughter or daughter-in-law begins to throw up walls about when to visit, how to help and what not. Let me tell you what she really needs:
She needs you to keep your mouth shut about what you think she’s doing wrong.
She just needs your love and support.
She does not need you to come over at one week postpartum to “hold the baby.”
In her mind that means she has to clean the house, shower, brush her teeth, put on make up, and find something to wear that doesn’t make her still look pregnant! And for heaven’s sake don’t even ASK if you can bring your friends!
No, no, no and a thousand times no.
She needs help with laundry, or the house cleaned while she naps, or a yummy dinner and you can hold the baby through it’s fussy hour, so she can eat. Actually, feel free to do all of the above!
She doesn’t need condemning or questioning remarks.
She needs your love.
She needs you to give her confidence.
She needs you to shower her with support. Don’t ask how you can help or leave her a message saying, “Let me know if you need anything.”
Think back—remember how you felt as a new mom–and go ahead and DO things without her asking you that will show her your love and support.
You don’t have to agree with her parenting, you just have to love her.
You don’t have to like everything she is doing, but you do have to trust that in time and with maturity, she will grow those beautiful grand-babies into something amazing that you will be proud of.
Give her love and encouragement along the way and watch how she blossoms and opens up to you in response. This is an incredible opportunity to show love and grace to a new mommy and build a wonderful relationship with those grandchildren. Don’t waste it by condescendingly throwing doubt on her every decision or coming across as demanding when she is newly postpartum.
You get to choose whether you want to build a bridge in your relationship or put up walls with your words and actions.
Choose the bridge built on encouragement, love and service.