Focus on the Family, Series 1

There are so many issues to take into consideration when raising a family.  This series will take a look at many of them, one at a time.


You started out by meeting the love of your life.  You married and decided to have children.  When you married your spouse, you acquired more than a husband or wife, you got in-laws, too!


Family sometimes means well but often the advice is unwanted and occasionally unwarranted.


Issue:  What to do with unwanted advice from family members.


What do you do when you get advice from family and even friends that you don’t want?  You certainly don’t want to hurt their feelings and you also don’t want to alienate them.  But, you also don’t want to keep hearing either what you are doing wrong or suggestions as to how you can do things better. 


Family and friends have had experiences unique to them, in regards to raising children.  Sometimes, you really do need their input to help you with raising your children.  It is hard to draw the line and yet still get help. 


Here are a few suggestions on how to stay focused on your family without causing a feud:


1.         First thing to always try is the truth.  If you are having too much input and it is starting to cause uncomfortable feelings, ask to go to lunch or coffee with that particular person.  Go by yourself, don’t gang up.  That will put them on the defensive.  Explain to them that although you recognize they did a great job raising their family, you feel you need to do this on your own.  You realize you may do things differently and occasionally, you may do them wrong, but raising your family, in your way, is very important to you.


After you explain your feelings, be sure to tell you them that you are counting on them when you do need advice.  You respect their parenting skills and you know you will benefit from their advice, when asked for it.


2.         Be quick to correct.  If your extended family members is taking charge of a situation or handling in inappropriately according to your chosen style, stop it right away.  Take the family member aside and be direct with your words.  For example:  Grandpa caught the kids jumping on the couch.  He immediately raised his voice and scolded the children and not the behavior.  Take Grandpa aside and explain that you chose not to raise your voice to the children and only the behavior should have been addressed.  It may hurt his feelings, at first, but he will come to accept his role in the lives of his grandchildren.  His job is to love them.  Your job is to raise them.


3.         Get the support of your spouse.  Before a situation causes permanent harm and if the situation is with your in-laws, get the support of your spouse.  Typically a private conversation will do the trick.  There need not be blamed placed, just a compassionate conversation will usually get the message across.


4.         Write a letter.  Sometimes people are just too hard to talk to.  If that is the case, write a letter.  Take your time and put your thoughts on paper.  Don’t blame or degrade, just ask for their help.  Explain you love them and truly appreciate all of their support, but you are having a difficult time with ____.  Be heartfelt but courteous.


5.         Refer to research or the doctor.  If the advice you have been given is medical related, stick to the “My Doctor said…” line and you should be fine.


6.         Play off the truth.  If your mom is great at not interfering but your in-laws aren’t, complain to your in-laws about something your mom is doing, even if she isn’t.  Hopefully your in-laws will recognize that they, too, do that and will stop.


Whatever you do, remember, that person is a valued family member.  You want to remain close to that person and avoiding the issue will not make it go away.  Deal with it and resolve it.  It may be painful at first for both you and them but it the end, the truth may draw unexpected closeness.

Chris Lowrey commits herself to family and writing. Several of her books have been published and she now holds the position of Editor of Family Time Charm.

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