Mom’s be­ing a friend, but I need help with my baby

Calgary Sun - - LIFE - AN­DREA BONIOR

Q: My mother and I have al­ways been close, but now that I have a baby, she has not helped out as much as I thought she would. She is still in­ter­ested in hang­ing out, but she acts more like a guest than some­one giv­ing me a hand with her grand­son. Hon­estly, she doesn’t seem par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in him. My hus­band and I would kill for a night out but she hasn’t of­fered to babysit, and I am afraid that if I ask she will say no and it will hurt me even more.

a: Putting off the con­ver­sa­tion won’t make your hurt go away; it likely will en­large it. your mom might be in­tim­i­dated, or torn about be­com­ing a grand­par­ent. Maybe she doesn’t love the in­fant stage or is just is just ter­ri­fied of step­ping on your toes. Or maybe she feels her di­a­per-duty days are over. you won’t know any of this — or whether she’s mo­ti­vated or even ca­pa­ble of be­ing more in­volved — un­til you talk to her. This has the po­ten­tial to be hurt­ful to both of you, so pro­ceed cau­tiously.

Put a pos­i­tive spin on it, and don’t ac­cuse. “Mom, you know you are wel­come to jump in here and hold him/walk him/take him — I wouldn’t mind if you took over a bit. We’re ac­tu­ally pretty ex­hausted.” Her re­ac­tion will open the door to a larger con­ver­sa­tion, but be pre­pared: The hard­est part may be rec­on­cil­ing your ex­pec­ta­tions with her lim­its.

Q: I am with a great guy and we are likely get­ting mar­ried soon. But we al­ways have the same fight: About how he lets his pre­teen daugh­ter walk all over him. She and I have a good re­la­tion­ship but I know she has the po­ten­tial to drive a wedge be­tween us. Till now I have not stepped in, but I know once I am Step­mom I ex­pect things to be dif­fer­ent. I don’t know if he is will­ing to change, or ac­cept that I will have a role in par­ent­ing.

a: you want to marry this guy soon but you don’t know if he’ll “ac­cept” that you’ll be a parental fig­ure to his daugh­ter? This is about more than a re­cur­ring fight. This is an is­sue of ex­pec­ta­tions, roles, bound­aries, re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, philoso­phies on dis­ci­pline — ev­ery­thing ex­cept at­ti­tudes to­ward the In­stant Pot (though that may play in too).

don’t even con­sider mar­riage un­til you can iron out how you both will nav­i­gate rais­ing this child. yes, there are hi­er­ar­chies of “step-par­ents” and “par­ents” and “cus­to­dial par­ents,” but you’re right there in the mix of chil­drea­r­ing. and to not be on the same page about what that mix will look like is un­fair to this kid (and will likely make her be­haviour worse).

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