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Unsolicited parenting advice/pushiness

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Hello everyone,

 

DD is just a little over two weeks old and its already started. Small rant-y question ahead:

 

My German husband and I live in perhaps the most working class city in Germany: Duisburg. He was raised here in a working class family but did quite well in school (Gymnasium, Abitur, University) and now works in IT and is fully bilingual, happy with his foreign wife and our home functions nearly 100% in English (I speak German when his Mom or  family visit.) I am also a from a very working class background and much like my husband did very well in school and eventually got a BA and MA in Education. I have been working with children for the better portion of a decade.

 

His family is super small, he is the only child as were his parents. There are no cousins and essentially no living relatives. I personally find the whole scenario a bit depressing...given my Mom is from a family of four and my Dad from a huge Native American family. What my husband does have a is a step brother who DH's Mom basically worships. Step brother is a nice guy overall, married with two small young sons 4 and 6 years old. He left school early and works in a factory. 

 

Well, he comes for a visit and somehow we get on the topic of kita and school plans. And the goes off on how stupid I am for wanting to send DD to the school where I work, yes it's far away from where we live but she would get a private school, bilingual education essentially for free.  He goes on about how my daughter will have no local friends and that it's "wrong" to send he to a school like mine since she will 'just learn English at home."

 

Now, I really had to bite my tongue. His  kids were there. However, as anyone working in education here in NRW can tell you...many of the public schools are simply overstretched to the point of falling apart. My husband and I also agree that the delayed literacy practices and short school days (why the hell do kids leave school at 1:00 PM?) would not fit our family dynamic anyway.

 

If this topic or anything close to it comes up again I am not sure if I can restrain  myself. What is worse is that MIL is already comparing our parenting practices to step brothers'. It drives me insane because we are two very different type of families. I hate being compared to someone who I am nothing like.

 

How can I be diplomatic about this given how small DH's family is? I know I need to shut this down before it escalates.  DD deserves a family but she also deserves to have her culture respected. Ideas?

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I think this one is on your husband. If you say something, it would probably just put them on the defensive.

He should explain to them that all decisions on how to raise your child are yours to make and that he will not accept any discussion on major topics. In this case "hit hard and early" is true, I think.  

Unsolicited advice to new parents is typical everywhere. It sucks but you'd better get used to it. But the family should accept that you will do things your way otherwise you'll be defending how you raise your child forever and ever.  

Good luck! (Sometimes I am quite glad my in-laws are 1000 km away...) 

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11 minutes ago, maxie said:

I think this one is on your husband. If you say something, it would probably just put them on the defensive.

He should explain to them that all decisions on how to raise your child are yours to make and that he will not accept any discussion on major topics. In this case "hit hard and early" is true, I think.  

Unsolicited advice to new parents is typical everywhere. It sucks but you'd better get used to it. But the family should accept that you will do things your way otherwise you'll be defending how you raise your child forever and ever.  

Good luck! (Sometimes I am quite glad my in-laws are 1000 km away...) 

I totally agree with this. Your husband is much more attuned to his family's dynamics, and he should have a word with his mother and stepbrother - politely telling them to stop questioning the decisions that you, as a couple, make about how you raise your child. It will probably be difficult and take some time, but you want to politely establish some boundaries and your husband's support is vital to this. Mentally prepare some diplomatic statements such as "Yes we've considered that, but we've made a decision based on what works best for us as a family." or something to that effect and change the subject if they keep harping on it. You will probably have to do this a lot and it will take patience. 

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What they said and I hope you haven't already gotten roped into the cake and coffee every week with the inlaws.

 

Congratulations on your new little angel! You have something much more important to spend your energy on other than inlaw pettiness.

 

Let hubby handle it. Not your rodeo.

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1 hour ago, NativeFraulein said:

Well, he comes for a visit and somehow we get on the topic of kita and school plans. And the goes off on how stupid I am for wanting to send DD to the school where I work, yes it's far away from where we live but she would get a private school, bilingual education essentially for free.  He goes on about how my daughter will have no local friends and that it's "wrong" to send he to a school like mine since she will 'just learn English at home."

 

Now, I really had to bite my tongue. His  kids were there. However, as anyone working in education here in NRW can tell you...many of the public schools are simply overstretched to the point of falling apart. My husband and I also agree that the delayed literacy practices and short school days (why the hell do kids leave school at 1:00 PM?) would not fit our family dynamic anyway.

 

If this topic or anything close to it comes up again I am not sure if I can restrain  myself.

 

 

I was in a similar boat to you 14 years ago. The decision about schools is a ways too early one to think about at this stage. Regarding local friends my kids play with next door kids and they go to different schools - it is zero problem.

 

Get used to a blue well-bitten tongue. Looking back I lost my temper with mother in law too often and it brought nothing.

 

57 minutes ago, maxie said:

I think this one is on your husband. If you say something, it would probably just put them on the defensive.

He should explain to them that all decisions on how to raise your child are yours to make and that he will not accept any discussion on major topics. In this case "hit hard and early" is true, I think.  

Unsolicited advice to new parents is typical everywhere. It sucks but you'd better get used to it.

 

 

Fresh baby - you are getting used to the whole new thing. Hubby too. try to ease off on the fam visits! Try to ignore their crap.

 

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That is annoying when German in-laws feel the need to explain how things are done 'bei uns' in Germany.  As if I haven't been living here for the past 8 years and quite successfully, I might add.  At least you've got the little one to keep you distracted :) 

Congrats! 

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You might try, 'Well, we're doing this now and it's working.  But thanks for telling us [...]; if there's a problem, we can try it your way.'

I don't know whether Germans still believe 1) a baby should sleep through the night from the start and 2) that the same baby should never get middle-of-the-night feeds.  If your husband's family wants you to do that, turn a blind ear [sic].

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I understand how you feel.  My MIL seems to think that my wife and I am are not doing things right.  My wife has had to tell her a couple of times to shut up and that we are the parents and decide what is best for our daughter, and even once she even boycotted visiting her for a couple of weeks because she was out of order.  Most of the time we just ignore her.  "Yes, ok, ummhhht"

 

In our case it is not schooling but other minor things.  For example:  our daughter has naturally very curly hair.  Anybody who has had to deal with this knows that you brush it and after 10 -15 mins of playing the hair sometimes looks like it has never been brushed!  But Oma doesn't like the hair, complains that we never brush it (how would she know as we brush it in the morning and at night when she is not there!) that we should be using x, y, z, that we should be doing a, b, c etc. etc. etc.

 

Then there are other things where she cannot accept that the world is different now compared to her time.  And other when you can't accept that a child is not a perfect Angel the whole time!  She seems to think that our daughter should always be perfectly behaved at all times and that she is not allow to be moody, or ill, or upset, or tired.  

Just minor unrealistic things such as that!

 

Luckily I don't have to deal wit this most of the time, because when she visits, or my wife visits her, it is during my working time (my wife works part time).  

But I tell me wife sometimes she needs to stand up and make a point when she is totally out of order (like she did by not visiting for 2 weeks), most times to ignore it.

 

Other times I tell her to blame me.  It is easier to blame the other partner (the one who is not the son/daughter of the grandparents), especially if they are not there, and it is the partners job to to simply say "yes, that is what I believe and that is what we will do and nothing you can say will convince me otherwise".  That way, the son/daughter is not to blame and perfect is the grandparents eyes and the other has to suck it up and be the bad person.  (I actually got this advice from my mother!  Who in comparison is the total opposite to my MIL).

 

But it is difficult.  Often the best way to avoid conflict is simply to ignore it.

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42 minutes ago, dj_jay_smith said:

Other times I tell her to blame me.  It is easier to blame the other partner (the one who is not the son/daughter of the grandparents), especially if they are not there, and it is the partners job to to simply say "yes, that is what I believe and that is what we will do and nothing you can say will convince me otherwise".

 

But it is difficult.  Often the best way to avoid conflict is simply to ignore it.

 

 

Yup, excellent strategy. I often take one for the team and let em put it on me. I don't care.

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Great advice so far (though I would note that I would only blame the spouse if the spouse agrees to it in advance, and (perhaps it goes without saying that the blame game only works if the blamed spouse is the one whose parents are the ones judging/offering unsolicited advice; blaming the "foreign" spouse is bad for the same reason posters said NativeFraeulein's husband needs to be the one to sort it out - his family, his circus, his monkeys.) 

 

One thing I don't think has been mentioned is that NativeFraeulein should consider being very judicious about the kinds of things you mention/discuss in front of these folks. Some people -even those with the best intentions- may take your mention of something as an invitation to inveigh upon it (and therefore feel the advice was solicited, in a way).  If you don't want to hear it, it might help to steer clear. Does it risk stiltifying conversation and/or your relationship? Yes, but if you're weighed down by their unsolicited advice anyway, then your relationship is already suffering. At least this way you can limit the openings your in-laws find in which to insert their opinions (even if they may find others).  

 

If they ask something directly (My favorite: "Why is your baby not wearing a hat (in a heated room)? The baby must wear a hat (at all times, in all seasons, everywhere)!"), then joking about it as a first response can help ("Good American genes - we're impervious to the dreaded Luftzug!").  And if they don't get that message, just shut it down any other way of your choosing.  

 

Good luck

 

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The baby hat has some basis in fact.  My coworker had a very small baby, barely 4 1/2 pounds.  It was August and hot, and the mother dressed her baby in cute onesies: when she took the baby in for its first-week check-up, the baby had actually lost weight.  The doctor said that the baby couldn't both put on weight and generate its own warmth at its tiny size, and said to dress her warmly and to keep a hat on her head.
When I heard that, I was reminded of the visiting doctor who said of my newborn great-grandmother, born in February of 1864 in Indiana, 'Wrap it up and keep it warm.  It won't live.'  So they did, and my great-grandmother lived to 98.

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Best way to get rid of nervig inlaws is when you are ultra fed up with baby duties, to dump the little one them. Often. Then the besserwisser rubbish will stop.

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Hoops old boy, I'm making Jamie's Chicken Cacciatore from his Superfoods book. Says you have to chuck a glass of white in the stew. Mine is a lovely Burgundy, with the father in law's name on the label (could be from the family friend who owns a vineyard).

 

Such actions are risky. One ought to always test before one deploys.

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Oh I see, you must cook a lot.  Regarding your father in law's name on the label, did he win it in a raffle then?

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1 hour ago, katheliz said:

.. when she took the baby in for its first-week check-up, the baby had actually lost weight.  ...

 

Every baby loses weight in the first week!  They should normally be back to their birth weight at about 10 -14 days, but it can be longer.

My daughter took a little longer but it was considered perfectly normal by the mid-wife and doctor.

 

They need to learn to eat and digest the food themselves and at the start the stomach is tiny, so it also has to expand quickly and all this takes a few days.

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Yes, breast-fed babies do lose about 1/10th of their weight before beginning to gain.  Bottle-fed babies - and this was one - have regained their birth weight within about four days.

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11 hours ago, dj_jay_smith said:

In our case it is not schooling but other minor things.  For example:  our daughter has naturally very curly hair.  Anybody who has had to deal with this knows that you brush it and after 10 -15 mins of playing the hair sometimes looks like it has never been brushed!  But Oma doesn't like the hair, complains that we never brush it (how would she know as we brush it in the morning and at night when she is not there!) that we should be using x, y, z, that we should be doing a, b, c etc. etc. etc.

 

 

here's a bit more unsolicited advice: curls want a comb!  A nice, wide-toothed comb, starting from the bottom and detangling snarls as you work your way up.  Looks better and hurts less for the girl, too ;) In 37 years of very curly ownership I have deduced that there is not a brush made that a curl likes better than a comb.

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55 minutes ago, hooperski said:

Oh I see, you must cook a lot.  Regarding your father in law's name on the label, did he win it in a raffle then?

 

Good job I had cleaned up the cooking fluid before I read that.

 

25 minutes ago, katheliz said:

Yes, breast-fed babies do lose about 1/10th of their weight before beginning to gain.  Bottle-fed babies - and this was one - have regained their birth weight within about four days.

 

We used to call it titty time. Breast is best.

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4 hours ago, katheliz said:

My coworker had a very small baby, barely 4 1/2 pounds. 

 

That's what I weighed when I was born. They kept me in the hospital until I got up to 6 lbs. I lost a little first. Don't think it had anything to do with hats but I was in an incubator.

 

My German daughter in law insisted I keep a hat on her daughter's head when we were in the shade in a Biergarten and it was 32° degree outside. The baby was 3 months old and sweating like the rest of us. Reasoning - babies shouldn't get air on their soft spot. Go figure.

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