Los Angeles Times

It all sounds good to baby

- Email questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@ amydickins­on.com.

Dear Amy: I’m a new parent of a 5-month-old baby.

My partner and I love our baby, but we have different approaches. I’m concerned that my partner’s parenting approach won’t be good for our baby in the long term.

We’re both introverts, so making “conversati­on” to promote language developmen­t doesn’t come easily to either of us.

I try as much as possible to talk with baby, narrate what I’m doing, sing, etc.

My partner mostly makes nonsense sounds or says “hi” to the baby.

Soon I’ll be going back to work and my partner will be watching the baby a few days a week. I’m worried the baby will be delayed because of not enough stimulatio­n.

I can’t figure out how to bring this up without it just sounding like criticism.

Am I overreacti­ng and/or overthinki­ng this?

Concerned Co-parent

Dear Concerned: You are right to understand how important it is to connect verbally with babies. Narrating your activities will acquaint your child with human speech and language.

Your partner is also narrating the day to your baby — just using different language patterns.

“Nonsense sounds” mimic the music of language, and your baby will hear these and start to imitate them. Verbal or babble, the connection is the thing.

One way to help your partner with parenting is to encourage them to join neighborho­od groups of parents and children. This might be challengin­g for an introvert, but being around others will expose both parent and baby to stimulatin­g experience­s and lots of opportunit­ies for learning.

I recommend the compassion­ate, common-sense advice of T. Berry Brazelton. Check him out on YouTube, and read his book “Touchpoint­s — Birth to Three.”

Dear Amy: I want advice on how to be an awesome mother-in-law!

Our 30-year-old son has been dating a lovely woman for three years and they are engaged to be married. We are a close-knit family. I have trouble feeling connected to her. I want to love her but I’m not there yet.

She is easy to be around, but I feel like we have very different interests.

I worry that she’s only making the effort to get to know me now, before they’re married, so she can prove to our son that she is worthy.

We are already so tired of hearing about this wedding.

We understand we should pay for the rehearsal dinner and we have offered to pay for the musicians at the cocktail reception.

It’s going to be a giant and very traditiona­l (Italian Catholic) event.

We would rather give them a down payment for a house than pay for this.

I am trying to focus on connecting, so I have asked about us going to look at the rehearsal dinner locations.

The wedding is a six-hour drive. I hate long car rides but I will be a good sport.

Mother of the Groom

Dear MOG: The way to be a good mother-in-law is to be understand­ing, nonjudgmen­tal and open-minded. Try to be available when asked but not interfere.

Every choice this woman makes is followed by your opinion that it is not your taste. Your son has chosen her. You don’t have to be her best friend, or a mother substitute. You don’t even need to be awesome. But you should enter this relationsh­ip by accepting her as she is, and choosing to trust her.

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