So your daughter in-law, best friend, daughter, son and/or sister just had their first baby. Congrats to them! Here are a few things for you to remember as the one that you love braves motherhood/fatherhood and forming her/his own family.
- Offer help, but don’t force your way. Parenthood is an exciting, terrifying, magical journey that takes time to navigate. Allow the new family to make decisions that work best for them. You don’t have to agree. Offer your opinion only when asked and always in a loving, helpful manner. Your way and their way may not jive, and that’s OK. You don’t want to alienate your loved ones. It’s their baby and their family. Be respectful of that.
- Be respectful of their space. Don’t pop over unannounced. Don’t invite Grandma or Great Aunt Suzie to come by for a visit without consulting with the new family first. They may not want visitors for a while. Please don’t take it personally. Know your boundaries, and be careful not to cross them.
- Automatically wash and/or sanitize your hands when you enter their environment and especially before you touch the baby. Germs are everywhere… and they FREAK new moms OUT! Help reduce panic and do the new parents a favor….use good hand hygiene. Don’t make them ask or remind you each time. They will appreciate it more than you know.
- Bring food!! It never hurts to bring a comforting meal. Maybe even start a meal train so that other friends and family can contribute as well. With all the baby brain, new parents will appreciate one less chore to deal with. Be sure to check first that momma doesn’t have any dietary restrictions, due to breastfeeding or personal preference. Oh, and wine is always a great bonus, obviously!
- Offer help around the house – cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. Don’t be pushy, but remind the new mommy that a rested momma is a happy momma. She doesn’t have to be a superhero!
- Times have changed! Acceptable child rearing 20-30 years ago may be totally ludicrous now. No doubt you were an excellent mother then and yes, your babies slept on their tummies, didn’t need a fancy car seat and never once ate food labeled “organic”, and they turned out perfectly fine. We get it! But research and safety laws now show that certain methods/techniques/equipment is better, safer and more effective for babies today. You may think it’s all bullshit (just keep that to yourself). Respect all of these things, even if they are completely different from how you raised your children.
- Do offer plenty of support and encouragement! Gentle reminders that they are doing a great job, all things can be fixed and they are rocking at their new roles. All can go a long way to boost morale.
Above all, remember that your loved ones are traveling the bumpy road of first-time parenthood. They aren’t going to get it all right the first time (pretty sure you didn’t either). Love them and support them! They need you now more than ever.