Discussing "controversial" pregnancy/birth/etc decisions with people...

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I was just wondering what your "policy"-slash-experience is with discussing your potentially controversial pregnancy/birth/parenting decisions with people in your life. I'm planning on a natural birth, cloth diapering, etc and my well-meaning husband has shared some of this information with his mother, which has led to some awkward dinner conversations that I'd rather not have. The other night she told me, "I know someone who had a baby at home and something happened and now he's retarded!" I realize there is a potential for complications with any decision made about birth (and anything else, for that matter), but that isn't really something I want/need to hear from someone who is incredibly ignorant on the subject. How do I deal with this? I'm really tempted to just tell her it's none of her business and stop the conversation dead in its tracks, but that will just make it even more awkward.
I think it's best to read and listen a lot...and say very little! LOL
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I think it's best to read and listen a lot...and say very little! LOL
Originally Posted by spiderlashes5000
I'd rather not sit idly and listen to people who disagree for no reason other than their own ignorance. I'm very careful about what information I give, but I'm looking for ways to deal with people (mostly my parents and in-laws) who have their own ideas about pregnancy and childbirth that don't exactly mesh with mine.
Why not find a few books and articles on natural birth and why you chose that route and give them to her to read. Say "I know you are concerned but I want you to be informed on why I made this choice for my body and my baby." What she does with that is then up to her.

I want to add that as a parent you will always be doing something wrong or that others (mainly grandparents) don't agree with so it's best to discuss with your husband now how the two of you will handle these situations now and in the future. Yes it would be nice if people would mind their own business but IME they don't. Your MIL is already butting in, I can't imagine it will change unless you and DH are on the same page about it and how to handle it.
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The long awkward silence and stare down works well too.
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i don't think your choices necessarily have to be a secret, but rather information on a "need to know" basis. just be more discerning about who you share information with and what information you just have to share.

i mean, you can tell by how flaming topics get just on this site, how passionate people are about their views on childbirth and parenting and how bold and utterly obnoxious many of them are letting others know their ways aren't right.

the last thing you need while pregnant is feeling that everywhere you turn, you have to defend yourself and/or educate people. personally, i wouldn't put myself in that position to begin with. 9 months goes by quickly. make sure your memories are fond and not frustrating.

good luck and congrats!
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I think it's best to read and listen a lot...and say very little! LOL
Originally Posted by spiderlashes5000
I'd rather not sit idly and listen to people who disagree for no reason other than their own ignorance. I'm very careful about what information I give, but I'm looking for ways to deal with people (mostly my parents and in-laws) who have their own ideas about pregnancy and childbirth that don't exactly mesh with mine.
Originally Posted by Like.Australia
But how would they know your ideas to be able to disagree with them, if you don't tell them? Unless you are looking for advice or second opinions (and it doesn't seem like you are), it's not necessary to share that information IMO.
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I think it's best to read and listen a lot...and say very little! LOL
Originally Posted by spiderlashes5000
I'd rather not sit idly and listen to people who disagree for no reason other than their own ignorance. I'm very careful about what information I give, but I'm looking for ways to deal with people (mostly my parents and in-laws) who have their own ideas about pregnancy and childbirth that don't exactly mesh with mine.
Originally Posted by Like.Australia
But how would they know your ideas to be able to disagree with them, if you don't tell them? Unless you are looking for advice or second opinions (and it doesn't seem like you are), it's not necessary to share that information IMO.
Originally Posted by spiderlashes5000
^^ i agree.

and i think most pregnant women can't escape the unsolicited advice from loved ones and even strangers. seeing a pregnant women conjures up memories that make people want to share their own pregnancy experiences, old wives tales, birthing plans, parenting techniques, horrors, etc. most are well-meaning; a few get off on causing unnecessary unease.

with both pregnancies, i got used to smiling, nodding, and saying, "interesting! no, i hadn't heard of that" at most of the stuff i was subjected to, without letting on that i thought they were coo coo for cocoa puffs.
"Dogs stink too, but I like dog stink." ~ rileyb

I'd rather not sit idly and listen to people who disagree for no reason other than their own ignorance. I'm very careful about what information I give, but I'm looking for ways to deal with people (mostly my parents and in-laws) who have their own ideas about pregnancy and childbirth that don't exactly mesh with mine.
Originally Posted by Like.Australia
But how would they know your ideas to be able to disagree with them, if you don't tell them? Unless you are looking for advice or second opinions (and it doesn't seem like you are), it's not necessary to share that information IMO.
Originally Posted by spiderlashes5000
^^ i agree.

and i think most pregnant women can't escape the unsolicited advice from loved ones and even strangers. seeing a pregnant women conjures up memories that make people want to share their own pregnancy experiences, old wives tales, birthing plans, parenting techniques, horrors, etc. most are well-meaning; a few get off on causing unnecessary unease.

with both pregnancies, i got used to smiling, nodding, and saying, "interesting! no, i hadn't heard of that" at most of the stuff i was subjected to, without letting on that i thought they were coo coo for cocoa puffs.
Originally Posted by rainshower
To date, I've shared very little. My husband, however, has shared with his mother that I've hired a doula, plan to have a non-hospital birth, and a few other tidbits. He hasn't just shared out of the blue; she asks things like, "what hospital is Like.Australia having the baby," which is followed up by "but why? who is going to be there then? what is an Abdula?" Ugh. I've asked him to share as little as possible and to play dumb, if necessary, in the future.
Lots of nodding and "Mmmhmmm" while you tune out whatever you aren't interested in hearing.

You are never going to convince mothers and inlaws (who have had actual experience birthing and parenting) that you know best just because you read something in a book. So don't bother trying. Just do things the way you feel is right.

I had a natural birth, breastfed, coslept and all that jazz, while living with my MIL, who had a C-section, formula fed, cried it out etc... I was confident in my choices and let her know that she could support me or stay out of my way. Dare I say I've actually swayed her opinion on a number of things and I've *gasp* actually heard her encourage DH's cousins to breastfeed and delay solids.

I think every new Mom-to-be goes through this in some form or another.


Lots of nodding and "Mmmhmmm" while you tune out whatever you aren't interested in hearing.

You are never going to convince mothers and inlaws (who have had actual experience birthing and parenting) that you know best just because you read something in a book. So don't bother trying. Just do things the way you feel is right.

I had a natural birth, breastfed, coslept and all that jazz, while living with my MIL, who had a C-section, formula fed, cried it out etc... I was confident in my choices and let her know that she could support me or stay out of my way. Dare I say I've actually swayed her opinion on a number of things and I've *gasp* actually heard her encourage DH's cousins to breastfeed and delay solids.

I think every new Mom-to-be goes through this in some form or another.
Originally Posted by mad scientist
Wow. I don't know how you managed that without going crazy. Kudos to you.
I had a natural birth, breastfed, coslept and all that jazz, while living with my MIL, who had a C-section, formula fed, cried it out etc...
Originally Posted by mad scientist
How funny!

***

I love the phrase, "I will take that under advisement" when I have no interest in someone's advice and want to humorously let them know that.
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What about if someone asks you a direct question that you know they will disagree with the answer to?

For example, the MIL asked me the other day if I will be using cloth or disposable diapers. I plan to try cloth and I know she disagrees with it, which she expressed when I answered. I just feel like she keeps setting me up to be put down by her. Maybe I'm just being super sensitive, but I feel like she should shut the he*l up.
What about if someone asks you a direct question that you know they will disagree with the answer to?

For example, the MIL asked me the other day if I will be using cloth or disposable diapers. I plan to try cloth and I know she disagrees with it, which she expressed when I answered. I just feel like she keeps setting me up to be put down by her. Maybe I'm just being super sensitive, but I feel like she should shut the he*l up.
Originally Posted by Like.Australia
How did she respond when you told her you plan to use cloth?

Do you think your MIL is trying to pick a fight/antagonize you? Or is she just making conversation?

I can't imagine a woman so much older than you who is likely long past childbearing would be trying to pick fights with you over this stuff. But I'm sure it's possible.

Without knowing the entire story...if I told her I wanted to use cloth diapers and she said, "OMG, that's crazy! Why would you do such a crazy thing?"

I'd probably say, "I know -- what am I getting myself into??" And I would chuckle and change the subject.

I can't see her criticisms of your position on this issue becoming too serious. It's not like you are telling her you plan to smoke crack or something. LOL
3b (with 3c tendencies) on modified CG


Last edited by spiderlashes5000; 03-06-2012 at 02:17 PM.
What about if someone asks you a direct question that you know they will disagree with the answer to?

For example, the MIL asked me the other day if I will be using cloth or disposable diapers. I plan to try cloth and I know she disagrees with it, which she expressed when I answered. I just feel like she keeps setting me up to be put down by her. Maybe I'm just being super sensitive, but I feel like she should shut the he*l up.
Originally Posted by Like.Australia
How did she respond when you told her you plan to use cloth?

Do you think your MIL is trying to pick a fight/antagonize you? Or is she just making conversation?

I can't imagine a woman so much older than you who is likely long past childbearing would be trying to pick fights with you over this stuff. But I'm sure it's possible.

Without knowing the entire story...if I told her I wanted to use cloth diapers and she said, "OMG, that's crazy! Why would you do such a crazy thing?"

I'd probably say, "I know -- what am I getting myself into??" And I would chuckle and change the subject.

I can't see her criticisms of your position on this issue becoming too serious. It's not like you are telling her you plan to smoke crack or something. LOL
Originally Posted by spiderlashes5000
It was kind of an eye roll and a "tsktsk" I-should-have-known-disapproving noise. I just feel like my decisions are constantly up for debate with her, and really, they just aren't. If she wants to offer advice, fine, but it really bothers me that she asks me things with full knowledge that she isn't going to like my answer.
U should talk to ur husband and let him know u don't like her questioning u about ur decisions.

When ur pregnant it seems that ppl feel like they are supposed to put n their input and u are supposed to follow. But we know that's not true. You can nicely let her know that while u respect her concerns, you got this. U don't want her saying things to sway ur decisions when u and your HUSBAND have discussed them. And when she does her tisk tisk disapproval thing say something like, "Yup, I said the same thing" lol.

In a not so obvious way, make her seem kind of stupid when she asks you questions to which she doesn't want/already know the answers too.

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if your mil bothers you that much, when she starts "staging" those kinds of conversations with questions, just say "you know, i'm just going to wait and see what happens to work best for us."

that way, you can end the discussion with that, you aren't lying, you aren't being rude. and when you use that exact wording with every one of her "questions," she'll remember and will get the picture. as long as you say it nicely, she can't accuse you of being anything other than a respectful dil who just hasn't made up her mind yet about diapering, feeding, sleeping, vaccinating, disciplining, childcare, college ...
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"Dogs stink too, but I like dog stink." ~ rileyb

To date, I've shared very little. My husband, however, has shared with his mother that I've hired a doula, plan to have a non-hospital birth, and a few other tidbits. He hasn't just shared out of the blue; she asks things like, "what hospital is Like.Australia having the baby," which is followed up by "but why? who is going to be there then? what is an Abdula?" Ugh. I've asked him to share as little as possible and to play dumb, if necessary, in the future.
Originally Posted by Like.Australia
This is why I suggested that you need to talk to your husband and come to an agreement that you are BOTH comfortable with in these situations. It sounds like he wants his mother more involved and you don't. If you don't address this now it will always be a problem between the two of you. You both need to share your feelings on how to deal with MIL. You on how you want her to butt out and maybe him take a firm stand with her, and him on why he wants to give her the info in the first place.

I'm saying this from experience. I have a very difficult MIL and the first few years after I got married/had kids were hell sometimes. I just couldn't see why my husband wanted such a close relationship with such a condescending, judgemental mother. It took therapy for us to work it out after 3 years and lots of hurt feelings. Talk about it sooner rather than later.
High Priestess JessMess, follower of the Goddess of the Coiling Way and Confiscator of Concoctions in the Order of the Curly Crusaders

We talked about it last night and he understands why I want to provide only limited information. I think he's on board now. We'll see how the next family gathering goes.


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