In-Laws watching Your Kids, ugh?


inlawHow to Politely Decline Your In-Laws’ Repeated Attempts to Watch the Kids

You may have a wonderful partner who’s also a great parent, but that doesn’t always mean that you have the same trust when it comes to letting your in-laws babysit. There are a plethora of reasons why some parents aren’t comfortable with the idea of leaving their kids alone with the in-laws, and it’s not always the sort of situation you can discuss with your partner in a calm and productive manner. If your in-laws are clamoring to babysit and you’re just not comfortable with the notion, these tips may help you out of that sticky situation with a modicum of grace.

Facilitate Quality Time

When you actively encourage your in-laws to spend plenty of time with your kids while you’re around, it can help to mitigate some of their anger if they’re consistently passed over when it comes to babysitting. Make sure that your in-laws feel comfortable spending time in your house or with your entire family, including you and your partner. Just because you don’t trust the in-laws to look after your children or aren’t wild about the idea of extended, unsupervised visits doesn’t mean that you should deprive them of spending time with their grandchildren altogether.

Talk to Your Partner

Approaching your partner with misgivings about their parents’ ability to look after your children is a very tricky situation, and one that you’ll need to do with as much tact as possible. Still, you will need to have the cooperation of your partner when questioning from the in-laws becomes more intense. If your reticence is due to advanced age or other practical, unassailable logic, then you may find that your partner is more on-board with your decision than you think. On the other hand, reluctance based on nothing more than a vague dislike or mistrust is not likely to be well received.

Establish a “No Family Babysitting” Policy

While a policy of “no babysitting” when it comes to family is a big commitment and one that will remove a large pool of potential sitters from your list, it may be the easiest way to circumvent a family feud. Explaining that you’ve arrived at your decision because you don’t want to take advantage of the goodwill of family members through free babysitting is likely to be received with a bit more understanding than repeated attempts to dodge requests from your in-laws. It’s not easy to tell your mother-in-law that you’re uncomfortable being separated from your newborn when he spends every weekend with your own mother, after all.

Bite the Bullet

If there’s really no way of finessing the situation so that no feelings are hurt and you’re truly determined to minimize the amount of time that your in-laws spend alone with your child, then it’s time to take the proverbial bull by the horns. Make sure that you keep the conversation as matter-of-fact and non-confrontational as possible, but don’t back down if you feel strongly about the situation. This is where it’s important to have your partner in your corner, though. The last thing you want is for your uneasiness over in-law babysitting sessions to drive a wedge between the two of you, and it’s difficult to blame your partner for getting upset when you’re questioning the safety and security of the parents that raised him. Be ready to cite specific reasons why you feel uncomfortable, but make sure that you never resort to shouting, name-calling or other unpleasant behavior. You may even be able to reach some sort of amicable agreement once everything is out in the open. Just realize that your in-laws are going to be hurt and a bit angry when you call into question their ability to babysit after successfully parenting your partner. This is a great time to discuss the importance of boundaries, especially if the consistent crossing of them is at the root of the problem.

Make Rules

Regardless of how unreasonable they may seem to your in-laws, you’re well within your rights as a parent to set ground rules governing visits. If your misgivings about leaving your children alone with the other set of grandparents are rooted in habits you are ‘not’ comfortable with or things you feel could pose a risk to your kids, address them. You may find that Grandma is more than willing to smoke her cigarettes outside when you ask nicely, or that Grandpa has no problem watching his mouth when the little ones are around.

Thanks to Paul Taylor


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