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The in laws / parents are taking over!
Part 2 of this series looks at your parents, the in laws and sometimes even your wife’s / hubby’s best friend. This all revolves around some tips on setting expectations before the babies arrive. Once again that little word called ‘preparation’ comes into play.
You may not think of it now, but once someone else asserts themselves into the role of a ‘parent’ they find it hard to let go, especially if they are NOT the parent!
Resentment, emotional blackmail, stand over tactics, bullying, straining of family ties and pressure on your own relationship are just some of the consequences you could be faced with of it all gets out of hand, and nobody wants that…..
But let’s step back for a moment….
How could it possibly end up here?
There are a number of reasons that spring to mind, from those who don’t get along with the in laws to the first time grand parents over enthusiastic approach or even the overprotective best friend. Without going into the ‘who’, let’s look at the ‘how’ it got to this….
From the outset, most people have your best interests at heart, a little suggestion here, a thought there while sharing a coffee or at a BBQ on the weekend. Pregnancy is, as it should be, an exciting time for expectant parents. The anticipation, the experience and the joy usually ebbs and flows between you both, unless the dreaded morning sickness hangs around you a little too long.
Once the initial congratulations settle down, there are a few clues as to ‘who’ is really making the decisions for your babies’ future. Now admittedly there are some guys who will treat this as ‘girl’s stuff’ and don’t really mind, yet there is a growing number of expectant Dads out there who really want to get involved but find the door has been closed to them. The reason is also as simple because some of the ladies also think the same as some of the guys, it’s ‘girl’s stuff’.
This is just ONE scenario of many, it may not be your situation but you get the picture. Again, I am just pointing out a few of the signs of what couples may encounter or not even understand…..yet.
It is the insidious things like this that are all innocent now, that grow slowly, even unintentionally, that tend to bite you on the arse….HARD.
Like a garden that is left untended for a period of time, suddenly you are growing more weeds than roses. A little maintenance is required from time to time. Check in that things are ok, pull a few weeds and keep things in check. It’s a lot easier (emotionally) to stop a weed than to have to get in a tree lopper and stump grinder.
At the other end of the scale are the ones who seem to ambush you, the quiet and unassuming that see you through thick and thin. These nice folks seem to think they have a right to have a say because they have invested emotionally in you over the last nine months.
Either way you will hear and see ‘clues’ that things are not quite right, sometimes it’s only a feeling but if it isn’t obvious, we tend to shrug it off.
So what are theses ‘clues’?
Here are a few….
1] Change of language. Where someone used to say ‘I’ it becomes ‘we’ around making decisions. ‘WE have decided the nursery will be painted Antique White”, announces the ‘third party’….hubby looks stunned and the wife is beaming. Now this can be in reverse too where hubby’s mate says,” We are taking the kids fishing two weeks after they are born.”….. good luck with that one fellas.
The WE should be the ‘couple’ having the babies, not the in laws, grand parents to be or friends. Two in a relationship is quite enough, as most of us already know. Run things past your partner to gauge the level of interest BEFORE you announce any little surprises. Try not to upset each other too much before the kids arrive, there will be more than enough time for fighting and stress. 😉
2] Not so nice surprises….. Now it is nice to find grand parents and friends to buy you small tokens of love, clothes a teddy bear, cot sheets, etc. what’s not so nice is the ‘level’ of planning someone has made without your or your wife’s consent. Booking swimming lessons, advanced baby genius classes and laying out the kids future before they have even arrived is like waving a red flag at a bull, setting off the air raid sirens and ringing alarm bells all at the same time.
3] Girls only shopping expeditions. Might sound great in theory, but again, have you checked what you want from each other? This can be the seed for resentment later.
Guys, if you’re interested, speak up…now!
Ladies, if you’re going shopping let hubby know what you are going shopping for….and not 5 mins before you leave.
We all say ‘we’re not mind readers’, so have some communication now. The ladies wonder when the babies arrive why Dad hasn’t got that ‘maternal’ feeling, well if has had no input how could he? He hasn’t carried a child for nine months (fair call), and it’s not like a switch he can turn it on or off. It’s a process,…..the more he is involved during the pregnancy, the more likely he will be inclined to be participate afterwards.
So with these three ‘clues’ now on your radar, the big question is what can you do?
The one thing I have found in common with chatting with ladies and gents is this…. preparation……and lots of it.
Q1] Preparing how you ask?
This is where the saying ‘You reap what you sow’ really takes on a new meaning in the most literal sense.
A1] As in part 1 of this series, get on the same page as a couple. Chat about your dreams, aspirations and the way you want your child brought up. Once you have yelled, screamed, compromised and finally settled on this, you both form a resolve that you can say things confidently and out aloud when your partner isn’t around.
So when a third party says, ‘Let’s go buy the cots.”
You can confidently say, “Oh, hubby and I are doing that next weekend.” (Unless you have both decided otherwise.)
Looking is one thing but buying maybe something else….
A2] Snuff out interference before it begins. Drop subtle, and not so subtle, hints about how YOU as a couple are going to do XYZ when the babies arrive. By saying this out loud it nips thoughts by others in the bud, without even knowing you have done so. The hidden benefit is that by showing your confidence, most grand parents to be can see you have grown up, (yes you will always be their little boy or girl), and no longer require to be mothered or shown what to do. Usually it is a case of ‘they think they know better because they raised YOU’, but the babies are NOT you.
Today things have changed and unintentionally the instinct to help can be over stepped.
Again, setting boundaries by politely declining offers of the extreme kind can be worthwhile.
Now please note, being an impending parent to multiples means you will need all the help you can get! It is your job to redirect the help they want to give, to places you need it to be given.
Remember, you NEED sleep, you only WANT a nanny.
If the families get along, have a cuppa together one afternoon and let them know what decisions you have made. Anything from names you have picked out to asking them to cook meals they can freeze and drop over, to how you’re going to think about how to discipline the kids, smacking Vs no smacking. Ask for their opinions NOW to clear the air.
You’ll be amazed at how much they accede to your wishes and they in turn get things out in the open now. Especially if they were saving something special up to ask or do later. Make it clear this is their one and only opportunity to make requests. After today there will be no more input on family names, why you have chosen to do things a certain way, etc.
You can always decline offers, redirect help and if a nose is put out of joint now it’s better now rather than afterwards when you are too tired to think straight. If they offer to come over and play with the babies all the time, discuss how your taking on a routine so you all get rest. Then ask them not to be disappointed when they do come over and you will NOT be waking the babies up to play, BUT if you’d like to come help fold some washing until they do we’d be really appreciative!
Set up a little white board in view of guests at your place about 6 months into the pregnancy. Write ‘fold a basket of laundry clothes’ at the top. When they ask what it is, tell then it is the ‘Key to Hugs n Kisses’. When they either ask what you mean or give you a blank look, explain to them that in order to get ‘Hugs n Kisses time’, they must complete one item on the list you are drawing up.
Again, by prepping friends and family on your intent, you will see some people either never come over again (yes it will happen!), or if they take it well, ask them to add a small job to the list. It is a simple ‘something for something’ and it usually works well. You get the help you need and they get to hold or entertain the babies while you can actually have a hot cup of coffee or tea. 🙂
Sharing the load can be a godsend!
Now this is not intended to send anyone into the fear of everything going on around you during the pregnancy. It is a simple case of people just not knowing how they ended up in a situation they could have avoided months earlier. Once you know what to look for it becomes quite clear if this even relates to you as a couple.
Inevitably some ladies wonder why their partner isn’t pulling his weight around the place once the babies arrive. To be honest, it’s a bloody hard gig to have twins, triplets or more! The trick is teamwork. Dads, the initial 2 years of your kids’ lives sets them up for what they can learn and achieve.
You are now a ROLE MODEL, a rock star in your kids yes and a super hero all rolled into one. You may not have asked for this, but it is now your responsibility to sow what you want for your kids to get out of life later on. There will be, in the future, time to play Nintendo with the kids, watch footy on a Saturday afternoon but now it’s all about the kids.
Mums, Dad will do his best, stuff up because he does hang the washing out like you used too, and he will still forget to pick up his wet towel off the bathroom floor. It’s a given, but if he can do a feed here and there, take the bins out and do the washing, please let him know you are grateful at least. None of us are perfect but we ARE the parents of multiples! It’s something I remind myself of daily…..after a deep breath and then looking at our boys, then just smiling because they are here with us.
Nobody else can give your kids more than the pair of you. You’ll be tested, you’ll be rewarded, you’ll be ‘doubly or tripled loved’ but best of all you will always be Mum n Dad…..