I’ve Had A Baby And I Need My Mother (To Back Off)
Your mother is your best source of advice and support when you discover you are pregnant. Once the initial apprehension about telling her the big news is over, you begin to realise that she is a fountain of knowledge on the subject. She has been pregnant, has given birth, and she did a pretty good job raising you and your siblings (if you do say so yourself).
As the months of pregnancy roll by you find yourself being incredibly irritable when the many different opinions are sent your way. Everyone is an expert on how babies should feed, sleep and behave. You want to take all of the advice on board but find your own way of parenting. When the advice is coming from your mother the situation can become a lot more complex. You desperately want and need your mother during this process but some of the advice is unwanted and is driving you up the walls.
According to familyeducation.com “age strengthens the mother-daughter relationship, partially because of the shared experiences like having children”. In the same way there can be some stumbling blocks along the way. The dynamic of this relationship undergoes a huge change when you have your own child. In a way you transcend the “mother-daughter” status and become “mother and mother”. You may feel as though you are equal with your mother whereas she may still feel like the superior person in the relationship. This is the point where opinions and advice shared between the two parties can have potential for arguments.
In those complicated moments where you a want to shout “do not tell me what to do” perhaps you can take a deep breath and consider the below.
– Your mother has probably forgotten that she felt exactly as you do when she was pregnant. Her own mother lended advice and opinions that were not always welcome. Nature has a funny way of making people forget these things.
– She is genuinely only trying to help. By telling you to put an extra layer of clothing on the baby or by telling you the benefits of breastfeeding she is doing it because she wants you and your baby to be as healthy and comfortable as possible. It may not seem that way but it is coming from a caring place.
– Times have changed. We can only share the knowledge that we know. Do not be alarmed if your mother has a resistance to new technologies or parenting ideas. Do not take it personally. It’s unfamiliar and therefore more likely to be shot down when you suggest it.
– Chose your battles. This is a very emotional time for you, particularly after giving birth. Sometimes actively choosing not to say something can prevent a huge argument which will make life more difficult for several days or weeks. In essence, learn to bite your tongue some of the time.
– Remember that your mother looks at your baby as an extension of herself. Seeing her daughter give birth is a profound experience. Encouraging her to be involved and taking some of her advice on board will have an amazing impact on her self-esteem and the bond between herself and you.
– The books and apps are fantastic but there is a lot to be said for good old fashioned “from the horses mouth” advice. You might find some hidden gems mixed between the unwanted advice. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
– Ask for space if you need it. Asking politely and being considerate of your mother’s feelings is important here but it is definitely OK to ask for some time to figure things out for yourself.
– Keeping the peace is very important but your parenting choices are very personal and these choices will carve the personality and health of your little one. Do not be afraid to do things your way, even if it does slightly offend your mother. Your baby, your choice. “Be confident enough in your abilities that someone else’s opinion won’t shake you” (www.thebump.com).