Mama’s we have all experienced meddling at one point of another in our parenting. It may have been by a stranger, friend and of course family. Everyone feels they need to give unsolicited advice at every turn. Sometimes this advice can be helpful (if delivered properly) and other times it can feel as if your parenting and motherhood skills are being put under a microscope. Of course when you back a cat in a corner prepare to get clawed, it’s just the law of nature. When people continue to meddle in your parenting unsolicited eventually someone will get clawed (not literally, of course) usually by way of their feelings getting hurt. When Bouie and I had our first son in 2005 we were away from home and our parents were so happy to see their first grand. We were elated too although we were a bit nervous. We’d been planning our first trip home to show off our pretty baby boy. We were ready to go back home just as soon as we arrived. I felt like my family had something to say about everything I did. Let me just say that my family is made up of primarily women, enough said, OK! Well everyone wanted to give advice and critique me at the same time and it seemed like I was being picked on for not doing things their way, the way our family had done them for years. I wasn’t putting the diaper on properly, nor did I have my son on enough clothes, and my God where were his shoes, Why hadn’t I packed him 3 sets of outfits instead of two and why didn’t I have him some soap and a wash cloth and it just seemed like they wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t tell if they were happy to see me of if they were getting joy out of picking my mothering skills apart.
My hubby was upset, but he kept his cool and didn’t say a word. I felt like I just wanted to snatch my baby and get the hell from around my family. When we got in the car I cried and cried, like a baby. You know the cry when your chest goes up and down and you can barely breathe, let alone get a word out. For a while I dreaded coming home because it was the same thing every time. I started to build up a bit of resentment towards my family for their meddling. My husband encouraged me to talk with them and get it off my chest. I was apprehensive because these were the women who helped raise me, changed my diapers and all. I didn’t want to come off rude or disrespectful and I didn’t want to hut anyone’s feelings although mine were very hurt. I talked to my mom and I explained to her what I was feeling and how I didn’t like to come home because I was made to feel like an inadequate mother and I hated feeling that way. I thought she was going to be on the defensive, but to my surprise she’d never looked at it from my point of view. She told me that in their eyes this was their way of showing me their love and concern. They didn’t mean any harm and in no way did it ever cross their mind that I may feel like I was being ganged up on or that my parenting was being critiqued. My mom talked to her sisters and it got better. Of course it didn’t happen overnight, but subsequent visits got better. By the time our second child came along we were in a much better place and we moved back home and it all worked out. Now that I have four kids the days of meddling are about 90% gone, but occasionally my mom will go there and I just thank her for being concerned but that I’m good. We usually look at each other and then smile with no feeling being hurt and all being well in the world.
Mama’s if you have someone who is meddling in your parenting and you feel a certain way about it say something. Now I’m not giving you a pass to maliciously hurt someone’s feelings or go off on someone, but I’m sure you can be respectful and get your point across. The main thing you need to express is how their meddling impacts you and makes you feel. You let them know you appreciate their concern and even value their input, but you would like for the nitpicking to stop. I know how hard it is to be a Mama. It is an everyday learning process and it can be difficult to navigate so you don’t need anyone making you feel like you aren’t capable of handling it. Now with that being said, if you find that you need help ASK FOR IT! Happy Monday Mama’s!