I love my husband’s family, I really do, but that doesn’t mean I want to hear their unsolicited advice about how to raise my daughters, either. His sister is the worst. She has no children of her own, yet always seems to go out of her way to tell me how she thinks I should do this or that. She’s never been married. She has no children. She really is just spouting random things she read on the internet as if it were the most expert advice ever. It’s really starting to cause a problem in my marriage. My husband doesn’t understand how annoying it can be and thinks I’m overreacting. I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t need to hear how I should let my baby cry, or I’ll spoil her. What do I do? I really am at my wit’s end.
Being a parent is hard enough, so I completely get why you are frustrated at being bombarded with unsolicited advice from your in-laws.
The good news is, it sounds like they are coming from a good place and genuinely trying to be helpful. Try your best to remember that their advice isn’t meant as a criticism or a personal attack on you, they probably really think they are being helpful.
But as you pointed out, you don’t need other people to tell you how to raise your own children. They are your children. So the first bit of advice I would give is to pretend that you appreciate their great advice and even ask them about it. If, for example, your mother-in-law suggests something, you could ask her if that’s what she did when your husband was a child. This shifts the focus away from you and your parenting and puts the attention back on them. People love to talk, so it’s a great way to make her feel like she is being heard and that you care what she thinks, even if you don’t.
When it comes to your sister-in-law, since she’s not married or doesn’t have any children, you’ll have to be more creative. You could ask her where she heard about it and if she could send you some articles about it … That whatever she suggested sounds great, and you would love to know more about that technique.
Dealing with your in-laws isn’t always easy, and at times it can feel like they are judging you or overstepping their bounds, but if you push back too hard, your husband can feel like you aren’t being fair and not giving his family a chance. So I completely get where you are coming from. It is, without a doubt, very frustrating.
Sometimes, it’s easier to smile, say thank you, and pretend like you love whatever advice they give. Ask them a follow-up question, and then move on. That way, they feel heard and appreciated, and you can just ignore them.
Every person has their own ideas about raising children, and they all want to seem to tell mothers these ideas. But in the end, it’s up to the mother to do what she thinks is best for her child.
Still, it’s not worth the drama it causes to tell those people off, so you really are better off by pretending you care what they think.
Do you have a question for Tracy? Click here to ask Tracy!
Ask Tracy’s advice column is for entertainment purposes only. Tracy is not a love advice specialist or medical professional of any kind. The advice given here is intended to be taken with a grain of salt and is based on personal life experiences, not professional training. The reader is advised to use his or her common sense when it comes to adhering to this or any sort of romantic advice. If you are having serious relationship problems, you are advised to seek real help from a doctor, not someone you meet on the internet.