Ask Amy: New grandmother pushes family’s boundaries – The Denver Post

Dear Amy: My husband and I recently welcomed our first child.

On my side of the extended family, our baby son (“Samuel”) is the fifth grandchild, but on my husband’s side, he is the first.

I am trying to be sensitive to the excitement and extra attention a first grandchild receives.

My mother-in-law, “Joan,” has been to our house for a visit of a week’s duration each month since Sam’s birth. Each time she visits, I am more hesitant to welcome her back.

Joan is blatantly disregarding the parenting strategy my husband and I have adopted in favor of her own techniques. She does this against our specific instructions and without discussion.

My husband has stepped up and politely addressed our concerns multiple times with Joan. She either apologizes (without any change in her behavior) or tells him that she prefers to do things her way.

I am ready to toss manners, along with any future invitations to visit, out the window, but I do not want to start a family drama centered around our child.

How should I approach the situation?

– First-time Mom

Dear Mom: Don’t wait until you lose your cool. Talk to your husband and develop a plan for communicating with his mother – together. This presents an opportunity for you two to offer a united front regarding behavior that seems to bother both of you.

Boundaries must be drawn. After you draw your boundaries, you should patrol them — respectfully, but firmly and consistently.

Essentially, you will be training your mother-in-law on how to treat your family. If you demonstrate some leadership now, you will have the opportunity to establish a healthier and more respectful relationship moving forward.

If you don’t like the pressure of handling an extra person in your household for a week every month, you should take steps to reduce either the frequency of these visits, or their duration.

Also, for perspective, ask yourselves: Five years from now, which aspects of these visits will you regret the most? Try to take the longest view — are there childrearing matters where you can be more flexible? Are you so bothered by her overwhelming presence that you are missing opportunities to learn from her?

Then, you and your husband should outline the basics: “Mom, we don’t expect you to do things exactly the way we do, but you must respect our choices for how we’re raising ‘Sam.’ This is important to us.” And then every single time she deliberately subverts you, you’ll have to remind her and tell her, honestly, how her behavior makes you feel (disrespected and frustrated).

Express your honest hope that you can work things out, because you genuinely want to support her having an active and positive relationship with her wonderful grandson.

Dear Amy: My ex-husband remarried after we broke up.

Even though he has a wife and a baby, he still calls me every day. We continue to see one another and have rekindled our sexual and emotional relationship.

I’m confused. I’d like your ideas on how I can pursue him, even though he’s not necessarily available.

– Back in Love

Dear Back: You don’t have to pursue your ex-husband, because – according to you – you two are already involved, physically and emotionally.

If you are asking me for ideas of how you can break up his marriage, it would be unethical for me to offer them, and unethical for you to try.

I suspect that your ex-husband might not be as involved and committed to you as you may think. Engaging with you in this way may simply be his way of fleeing from his current responsibilities.

Dear Amy: You ran a question from “Desperate Daughter,” who was struggling with her father’s drunken rantings and ravings on Facebook.

I know these posts were offensive, but I agreed with your assessment – that the biggest issue was her dad’s alcohol use. I want to share my own family’s story.

I have a family member who used social media in a similar way – posting offensive and incendiary rantings and ramblings on Facebook.

The unintended consequence of his behavior was that people in his social media circle saw the tenor of his posts, and several reached out to him privately, urging him to take a closer look at his drinking.

Confronted with the truth, he decided to admit his alcoholism. He got help and is currently sober.

– Grateful for Ranting

Dear Grateful: Surely, this was the best imaginable outcome flowing from your dad’s upsetting behavior. I’m happy for you all.

Dear Amy: My husband and I recently welcomed our first child.

On my side of the extended family, our baby son (“Samuel”) is the fifth grandchild, but on my husband’s side, he is the first.

I am trying to be sensitive to the excitement and extra attention a first grandchild receives.

My mother-in-law, “Joan,” has been to our house for a visit of a week’s duration each month since Sam’s birth. Each time she visits, I am more hesitant to welcome her back.

Joan is blatantly disregarding the parenting strategy my husband and I have adopted in favor of her own techniques. She does this against our specific instructions and without discussion.

My husband has stepped up and politely addressed our concerns multiple times with Joan. She either apologizes (without any change in her behavior) or tells him that she prefers to do things her way.

I am ready to toss manners, along with any future invitations to visit, out the window, but I do not want to start a family drama centered around our child.

How should I approach the situation?

– First-time Mom

Dear Mom: Don’t wait until you lose your cool. Talk to your husband and develop a plan for communicating with his mother – together. This presents an opportunity for you two to offer a united front regarding behavior that seems to bother both of you.

Boundaries must be drawn. After you draw your boundaries, you should patrol them — respectfully, but firmly and consistently.

Essentially, you will be training your mother-in-law on how to treat your family. If you demonstrate some leadership now, you will have the opportunity to establish a healthier and more respectful relationship moving forward.

If you don’t like the pressure of handling an extra person in your household for a week every month, you should take steps to reduce either the frequency of these visits, or their duration.

Also, for perspective, ask yourselves: Five years from now, which aspects of these visits will you regret the most? Try to take the longest view — are there childrearing matters where you can be more flexible? Are you so bothered by her overwhelming presence that you are missing opportunities to learn from her?

Then, you and your husband should outline the basics: “Mom, we don’t expect you to do things exactly the way we do, but you must respect our choices for how we’re raising ‘Sam.’ This is important to us.” And then every single time she deliberately subverts you, you’ll have to remind her and tell her, honestly, how her behavior makes you feel (disrespected and frustrated).

Express your honest hope that you can work things out, because you genuinely want to support her having an active and positive relationship with her wonderful grandson.

Dear Amy: My ex-husband remarried after we broke up.

Even though he has a wife and a baby, he still calls me every day. We continue to see one another and have rekindled our sexual and emotional relationship.

I’m confused. I’d like your ideas on how I can pursue him, even though he’s not necessarily available.

– Back in Love

Dear Back: You don’t have to pursue your ex-husband, because – according to you – you two are already involved, physically and emotionally.

If you are asking me for ideas of how you can break up his marriage, it would be unethical for me to offer them, and unethical for you to try.

I suspect that your ex-husband might not be as involved and committed to you as you may think. Engaging with you in this way may simply be his way of fleeing from his current responsibilities.

Dear Amy: You ran a question from “Desperate Daughter,” who was struggling with her father’s drunken rantings and ravings on Facebook.

I know these posts were offensive, but I agreed with your assessment – that the biggest issue was her dad’s alcohol use. I want to share my own family’s story.

I have a family member who used social media in a similar way – posting offensive and incendiary rantings and ramblings on Facebook.

The unintended consequence of his behavior was that people in his social media circle saw the tenor of his posts, and several reached out to him privately, urging him to take a closer look at his drinking.

Confronted with the truth, he decided to admit his alcoholism. He got help and is currently sober.

– Grateful for Ranting

Dear Grateful: Surely, this was the best imaginable outcome flowing from your dad’s upsetting behavior. I’m happy for you all.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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