In-Laws: Adjusting to Family Expectations
My husband and I come from two very different families. Mine is more hands off, less traditional and very independent. His is a strong Greek family where traditions are always celebrated, gatherings are large and loud, and you always follow what the mother says. Ever since we got married, I have been doing my best to please all sides. But now that we are expecting a baby, I am learning that in addition to all of my own expectations about what being pregnant and having a child will be like, I also have to face the expectations of my mother-in-law.
For the past few months, I’ve been given instructions on what to eat, what not to eat, not to lift anything, to go to church regularly, etc. Aside from the few instances where I have hid in the garage when my MIL called my husband, I’d say that I’ve handled things quite well. Now that we are less than nine weeks away from the birth of our first child and the very first grandchild (on both sides of the family), I’m beginning to worry about what is going to happen when the baby is born. Will my MIL barge in the delivery room? Will she move into our place for a month? Or will she just be a normal, excited, new grandmother who just wants to help? I’m well aware that the later is most likely going to be the case, but I can’t help playing out ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ scenarios in my head.
I find myself constantly trying to find balance between being true to my own beliefs, being a supportive wife, a proper daughter-in-law, and a new ‘Greek.’ I worry that this balance will only get harder once the baby is born. Will I feel the need to give into every Greek tradition or will I be strong enough to assert what traditions my husband and I choose to follow and which ones we don’t? I don’t want to hurt my MIL’s feelings, but there are certain things that I don’t feel like compromising on – such as the name of the baby if we were to have a boy, baptizing the baby in the Greek Orthodox Church, and not leaving the house for 30 days after giving birth. My husband has done a great job at supporting my feelings and wishes, but I know he feels a lot of guilt from his mother because we don’t see them as much as she would like or that I don’t return all of her phone calls.
Finding true balance between our wishes, my MIL’s wishes and even the wishes of my own family might be something I can’t always do perfectly, but I’m getting better at compromising and learning to pick my battles as we enter this next phase of our life. Has anyone had a similar experience? What have you done to ease the stress of family expectations when it comes to parenthood?
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- Read more posts about family dynamics and posts about grandparents from the Family Room bloggers