Disclaimer: This article represents the collective voice of this experience, and does not 100 percent represent the experiences of the author.
(A letter from a fed up new mom.)
Dear intrusive mother-in-law,
And yes, that's a complete sentence.
But I get the feeling you may want me to explain this a little more.
So here goes...
Far too often, you feel the need to give me advice. You say you're just being helpful. Even when I tell you, "no, I'd like to do it my way." You retort by reciting your mothering resume. Telling me how many kids you've raised. Constantly reminding me that you have "experience" and "wisdom." Well, can I be frank?You're not helping.
I say this out of love. I say this out of respect for you. And I say this so that we can become the family I envision where we enjoy each other's company and work together to create a positive environment for the kids.
My kids are not your opportunity to fix your mistakes.
You have your own kids. If you want to fix your mistakes, then you should start there.
My kids are my kids.
I am their mother.
I make decisions for their highest good.
I decide how they will be raised.
This is my turn.
You had your chance to be a hands on mother and now it's over. So take your hands off my parenting.
Now is not the time to critique my methods. To question my decisions. To tell me I'm doing it wrong. Because guess what? You raised your children for today's world, and I must raise mine for the future. Yes, I read parenting books. Yes, I talk to other mothers. Yes, I research and study parenting because there may be new insights and ideas that your experience never taught you.
I'm in the game every day and every night. You're just on the sidelines. I know what they need because...I am their mother.
I carried them for nine months. I birth them through my body. I am there where they're scared or sick or sad.
I change countless diapers, clean up their vomit, feed and clothe them.
I am their mother.
So stop with the unsolicited advice. Stop undermining me as a parent. Stop trying to make me feel naive. Stop trying to get your son to take your side. I am his wife. It is our family and we will make decisions together -- without you.
Your advice doesn't feel like help. It feels like control. You don't want our happiness. You want our obedience. You don't want us to be better parents. You want us to be complacent children.
But guess what? We're going to do things and decide things that look CRAZY to you. We have our own ideas and experiences that make up our parenting. Just like you had yours.
But you know what? You are not just a grandmother. You are still a mother. Yes, your role has changed. Embrace it. You don't have to tell your grown kids what to do any more. I know you're well-intentioned. I know you don't realize how your fear gets the best of you sometimes. I know you want to be involved, but don't know how.
Here's a list of ways you can really help without pushing us away.
Offer to babysit.
Every time you nit pick over some petty thing like a stained shirt or ruffled hair, realize we're freaking exhausted.
Is the baby alive?
Is she clean?
Is he fed?
Then leave us alone.
You think you remember what it's like having small children. But it's been like 20+ years so you don't remember everything. It's always easier and simpler on the outside.
Oh! And when you babysit, follow our instructions. No water, just breastmilk. Nap time is on the back. And no screen time. That last one may seem silly but I spent three hours watching Friends episodes last night instead of working on my book. So...your generation didn't get everything right.
2. Tell your story.
Your stories reveal more than your advice ever could. Be vulnerable. Share your successes, failures and struggles as a mom.
We're not going to do it your way. We have our own way, opinions and ideas. Many were formed as a result of the things we loved and hated about our own upbringing.
Hey! There's an idea.
Why don't you ask us about that?
As we grow into great parents, you can grow into a great grandma by asking us what mistakes you made with us. I bet our answers are different than you think.
3. Develop a strong relationship with the kids.
Instead of obsessing about our parenting, focus on this new life that just entered the world.
We'll decide if we spank or don't spank. Choose organic food or regular. Choose montessori or public school.Those aren't your decisions to make. But you can get to know your grandchild and create memories with them that they'll cherish forever.
Mother-in-law -- or should I say mother-in-love. I've ranted. I've complained. I've gotten nasty a few times.
But understand that we love you and we want you in our lives and the children's. But please stop trying to be relevant by criticizing us every chance you get.
How would you like it if we followed you around the house critiquing everything we thought you did wrong?
That sucks. And I bet it would piss you off.
You gave me an amazing man. Do you know how amazing he is?
Please have faith that you did the best you could and we turned our ok. Have faith that we can do this because more than anything, we need your faith in us. And take back your fear. We don't need any extra fear.
Sometimes. We're so scared and we don't know what we're doing. Every day is an adventure. We would share more of that journey with you if you would stop pushing your opinions on us. We're doing the best we can.
Our child needs our confidence -- not our perfection. And no one can make a person believe in themselves more than the reassuring words of a mother. No matter how old we get.
I am their mother.
And you are his.
I bet if we both stay in our own lanes, we could make this a smooth ride for everyone.
P.S. If you ever catch yourself saying your adult kids "never listen" to you, then this letter is for you.