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Family Feud

by Holly
(England)

Hi Annie,
I'm currently in need of some help! I had my baby five months ago and since then my partners family have turned extremely negative and nasty towards me mainly but also my partner.

Before I gave birth I was very worried that me and my partner wouldn't bond with our baby so I strictly said I didn't want any visitors at the hospital until we were ready. Then when I had our baby we decided to invite my partners younger brother up to meet our bundle as he is a troubled teen and we thought he would feel privileged to meet her first. However when he turned up he had also brought my partner's Mum and Nan! I let that go over my head because then I thought there would be less visitors when we got home.

Well that was that, then before we had left the hospital we were getting nagged that they wanted to see the baby again. I simply replied they could see her when everyone else had met her because I didn't want to be unfair. Is this wrong? From that moment we were getting grief that we had banned them from seeing the baby.

Anyway to cut a long story short I let that go too and when I was ready for them to see the baby again on day 5, I expressed my feelings to my partner's Mum and said I'm not banning people I'm just trying to be fair. We thought that had
been sorted and arranged to meet at least once a week with my partner's Mum and Dad who are separated.

This happened for just four weeks then we lost contact as my partner returned to work and his family lost interest! A few texts were exchanged to arrange visits but nothing occurred.

Two months later it was my partner's birthday and his Mum and Dad asked him to visit them for presents, first he went to his Mum's and came home very upset and distressed. When he calmed down he told me his Mum had told him I was a control freak who had trapped him with a baby so I had a hold on him to not have a life!

Later that day He went to his Dad's to which the same was said. I had to know what I had done wrong so simply sent a text to both of them asking why they would ruin their son's birthday by doing that. Half an hour later they were banging on the door kicking off telling me to my face and after a big argument they left.

Now the Dad has walked away and said our daughter (his grand daughter) was just a baby to him :( and wants nothing to do with her! His Mum is acting like nothing has happened and has contact with us once a month (her decision).

I'm finding this really hard to forgive and forget because all I wanted was to bond with my baby.

Please help!
Thanks Holly

Comments for Family Feud

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Dealing With Family Feud - Part One
by: Annie Desantis

Hi Holly,
There is nothing like family to push our buttons and give us opportunities to learn and grow! Not easy for you at a time when you just want to adjust to being a new Mom, bonding with your baby and of course learning to be a couple with such a major change in your life. But such is life, these things come along when we least expect it.

I'll start at the beginning of your story and give you my perspective. Firstly, having the first few days with just your partner, you and your new baby is a great idea, one that many new parents should do, but don't feel able to set the limits to visitors. It is a very precious and special time and you have every right to want to share this together without other family members or friends.

Your idea to include his brother was a lovely thought, but that put him in a really difficult position of having to be the gate keeper of your boundaries. And of course he caved in to his Mum and Nan coming. And from their perspective, they are simply dying to see their Grandchild - I know I couldn't wait to cuddle mine! But unfortunately they were not able to put their need and excitement on hold and give you and your partner the space you needed to be with your new baby until you were ready for visitors. It is sometimes very hard for relatives to respect the rights of new parents to wait for visitors - and new parents are emotional, overwhelmed, maybe uncertain and are not always feeling centered enough to set limits. Ideally it is good to have a support person to take on this role. Some Dad's do it, but with family that are not good at respecting other's choices without feeling hurt, it is very hard to do.

Having an introduction to the family day, is a lovely idea. And you were right in trying to keep it fair - but that was difficult when the boundaries had been breached already.

Part Two Follows . . .

Dealing With Family Feud - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

It is very sad that nasty things have been said, when people are hurt or angry they say things that really hurt, and it makes it hard to get clear of that and move on to building some kind of relationship. In one sense, your partner's Mother has made a better choice, she clearly does NOT want to loose contact with her Grand-daughter so she has swept the unpleasantness behind her and moving on with simply having contact.

It sounds like the Father is not able to let go his hurt or anger and sadly both he and his little Grand-daughter are missing out on an amazing time.

That said, you have clearly got totally caught up in their stuff. Are you a control freak? If setting the scene for what you want to happen is controlling, then maybe you are a little. If setting boundaries about access to your little family, perhaps. Is this a bad thing? NO! It does sound like you are the driving force behind deciding how your little family is operating, and it sounds like your partner is happy and agrees with your ideas. I suspect that is what his family are seeing, and they are concerned that he is just going along with you and has not chosen for himself. But even so - IT IS NOT THEIR BUSINESS!!

How your relationship functions and how your little family works is between you and him. Basically the various aspects of how a relationship functions is driven by who has the most energy in bringing it to consciousness. It doesn't matter who that is, or even if it is mostly one person raising issues to talk about or
decide. The important thing is that you discuss it and come to some kind of agreement. Many many relationships are running unconsciously and are
basically being driven by reacting against each other. This is not a healthy way to run a relationship. Making conscious choices about how you want to parent, or how you solve conflicts, or how you manage money etc, is a much healthier
way to function.

If well meaning (or otherwise!) family want to give advice they really should wait until either of you ASKS for help. However, us nosy Mums find it very hard not to put our 2 cents in and tell our children how we see their life unfolding! And sadly they have done that very destructively and have hurt you both.

Part Three Follows . . .

Dealing With Family Feud - Part Three
by: Annie Desantis

What can you do? You have no way of controlling them, you have no way of even controlling your partner's reactions, though of course you have a lot of influence over him. So confronting them and trying to MAKE them see your situation from your point of view is only going to end in more disharmony. If they could not understand why you would want the first few days just for yourselves with your new baby at the time, they are unlikely to understand now when they have a backlog of resentment or anger - and your interactions with them are also loaded with the energy of your hurt. So neither of you sound like you are able to clear it rationally.

Your job is to make your home a loving and joyful one for your little girl. And you can't do that if you are holding onto the hurt and unfairness of what relatives have said. Take a leaf out of your partner's Mum's behavior and put it behind
you. Some relationships you can work things out by addressing issues, but if both parties are communicating via their hurt and reactions to each other and don't have any process to clear that, then it is better to let it be.

Sometimes you just need to take the relationship as it is - warts, limitations and all. If you tie your energy up into hanging onto the resentment and being unable to forgive the things that were said then you simply tie yourself in knots and that has an impact on your little baby. She will be picking up all your feelings and energy and really what babies teach us - the most important thing is love. This little bundle of joy you have created together is what is most important. Let the other stuff go, and just focus on enjoying this amazing time. They grow up so fast, you have a lot to learn and a lot of adjustments to make moving from being a couple, to being a family. And as your family changes and grows (up or more!) then again, you have more to learn and adjust to.

You have the right to run your family in any way you choose. You, your partner and your baby are what are most important - making those relationships flourish and grow, to be loving and supportive is what is most important. Sure you will have to deal with family events, or visits and your partner will have to learn to let go wanting their approval of the choices he is making in his life. That is part of learning to be a Man, making choices and taking responsibility for them. He had just as much part in creating this baby as you - and clearly she was waiting to come into your lives.

Part Four Follows . . .

Dealing With Family Feud - Part Four
by: Annie Desantis

Concentrate on building support networks with people that are going to respect your relationship, and make sure you have as much close fun time both as a couple, and as a little family. That is the stuff that bonds you, those precious times when you watch her sleeping, when you see her up on her hands and knees for the first time, when she says her first word. You have so many "firsts" to share with each other as your baby grows. Focus on the joy and let go of the family struggles.

When you have contact with family - share your joy - tell them the cute little stories, help them to remember what it was like when they first held their own babies. Find the connection points where you can share moments that are simple and joyful. Focus on building positive interactions and let the past simply dissolve. If you can model that to your daughter, you will give her the best gift in life. Instead of learning about hanging onto hurt and resentment, instead of learning to lash out at someone and to say hurtful things when you feel hurt - she will learn to focus on bringing happiness into the world.

Babies and young children find it much easier to just be in the moment. The wonder of a bright color, a moving tree branch. The feel of sand between the toes, or cold ice-cream on your tongue. Sure they will throw a tantrum when they can't have what they want right NOW - but then it is over and done with. They let it go and move
on to excitedly telling you about the snail outside the door.

If we can stay in touch with the wonder of childhood, instead of reacting from our own inner hurt child - our relationships would flow much easier!

So love your own inner child - who is hurt because she is being judged unfairly.
And remember your relatives also have their own hurt inner child - that felt excluded and left out. That is scared you are taking their boy away from them. See if you can find a way to connect with them on just simple in the moment ways, it may be that your lovely wee girl is the bridge that builds a new and more trusting respectful relationship.

Put your energy into your little family and enjoy every moment as much as you can, it sounds to me like you are a wonderful Mom who is clearly thinking about how to create the experience of being a new family in the ways that work for you. Keep centred in who you are, and don't take on board the stuff from other people. You have the choice whether or not you react back and get caught up in their drama. Or you can choose to take a deep breath, and come back to what is most important. You, your Partner and your gorgeous little girl.

Take care,
Annie D :)

Family Feud
by: Holly

Thank you so much I will take your advice and put it into action :)

I'm not a control freak where he has to do as I want - I just want everything perfect and stable for our baby girl.

Thanks again
Holly
x

Great advice!
by: Anonymous

I am a new mom myself navigating In-Law issues. This article is helpful in keeping mindfulness and intentions on what is truly the most important- my child and creating a positive energy for my child. It is easy to be angry and hate. Tough to rise above but liberating when I can! So important to teach loving tendencies early on!

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