How to Set Boundaries With Family When a First Baby Comes

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You and your partner are having your first baby and the idea of the unexpected drop-ins is giving you heartburn. When you think about the jockeying that goes on between your parents and your in-laws, you want to run screaming across the Atlantic. Before your little bambino is born, it’s time to establish some loving boundaries with grandparents, aunts and uncles.

The Importance of Strong Boundaries

When you set boundaries with someone you love, you’re not telling them they can’t stop by to visit you or your soon-to-be-born baby. It means that you’re establishing some basic rules that guide when family members stop by, how long they can stay and any decisions they can make for your child. You’re going to be a brand-new mom and this gives you the right to tell your family that they can’t drop by without calling you first. You, as your baby’s mother, can tell family members that your little one’s bedtime routine starts at a certain time and it’s easier for you to get him to bed when the house is quiet. You won’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Just think of a diplomatic way to express yourself. Setting boundaries before the big day might help your parents be more mindful of your need for some alone time with your baby.

Draw the Boundaries

Establishing healthy boundaries with family members will be hard. After all, you lived with your parents and siblings for many years. Other family members were closely involved with your life as well. Now, however, you need to set new boundaries as you become a parent. Remember that you’re in charge of your new baby. Perceive yourself as his parent while you decide how to set healthy boundaries with your family. You and your partner should decide who talks to your family members -- ideally, it should be the adult child of the family causing boundary issues.

Boundaries Help You Get Badly Needed Rest

When you come home from the hospital, you’re going to be excited, scared and looking forward to building the best relationship you can with your newborn baby. You’re also going to be tired and sore. Let everyone know they can visit at set times of the day or week. Then stick to that. If a family member objects and says she can take care of the baby while you rest, smile, thank her and remind her of your visiting hours, according to S. Danyelle Knight, writing for OC Family. If your parents or in-laws persist in their unannounced drop-ins, tell them, “I’m sorry, but this evening won’t work, but why don’t you call ahead next time and we’ll set up a time that does work?,” recommends the Little Rock Family website.

Ward Off the Inter-Family Jockeying

Before your little one makes his appearance, sit down with your parents and your in-laws. Find out what their child-rearing practices are – although you should have a pretty good idea of your own parents’. Once you’ve done this, talk about the areas where you all agree. As you do so, tell both sets of grandparents-to-be what your own expectations are, suggests social worker Joy Banks. Talk to your partner and let him know that you need his unqualified support in this. As a couple and prospective parents, talk to your parents and his about your expectations.