Telling Mom to Back Off


#1

I have a odd situation and I’m hoping some people can offer some advice or relay some experience.

I am recently married, and due to circumstances I won’t go into great detail about, it will be a bit of a long distance marriage for a while. I am not concerned about this, as we’ve discussed this and made plans for this, and it’s not ideal, but we’ll survive. It should come as no surprise then that we’ve also decided to hold off on the kids during this time as well. I know that men in the military often leave pregnant wives at home when they are deployed, so a long distance pregnancy can happen successfully, but it’s just something we want to avoid.

So the problem comes in the form of one mother who has come down with a case of the grandbaby-rabies. I know she generally means well, and she’s not too bad (at least yet), but there are times when the comments about babies and pregnancies and if we’re prepared and other related topics become a bit too much. I know that she just loves babies of all kinds (a trait that did not get passed on to me, but that’s beside the point). However, she doesn’t get a vote in this situation, since she’s not going to be in the bedroom. If she was, that’d totally kill the mood and then we’d never have kids. We’ll do it when we’re ready, not when she’s ready. She’s not too bad right now, but I can foresee her, once the long distance comes to an end, calling six times a day to see if my wife is pregnant yet.

So, the point of all this is: have any of you been in a similar situation, and if so, how do you tactfully get your well intentioned, but moderately annoying mother to relax and back off?


#2

I hope this subject is not so sensitive that a note of levity is unwelcome:

While looking for a greeting card for my cousin’s wedding two years ago, I found a card that said on the front, “Congratulations! People won’t be asking you anymore when you’re going to get married.” And on the inside it said, “So when are you going to start your family?” :smiley:

Does it help to know you’re not alone?


#3

You may have to be blunt. She’s just thinking ‘baby’ and you’re thinking, ‘this relates to our sex life’. She needs to be reminded that babies are a result of what happens in private and those comments bother you.

If you put it that way, maybe she’ll get it.

I’m the MIL of 1, soon to be 2. I will never mention grandchildren because it’s none of my business!


#4

I’d say…

“Mom, I know you want grandchildren badly, and I’m sure you’ll be a great grandma someday. You will be the first to know when wife is pregnant, but until then the topic is closed for discussion.”

Then change the subject.


#5

:thumbsup:


#6

or… you could turn some of that Catholic guilt back around… We are doing the best we can to accommodate you but obviously God has not blessed us yet. Please don’t mention this to (spouses name here) as she is very sensitive about this right now.


#7

I don’t mind the joke, and from some people that card would be funny. Also, my family has already started. My wife, parents, siblings, in-laws and the cats are all in my family.

I have thought about sending her pictures of the “new addition” to our family once we adopt a kitten. Just neglect any reference to what species it is before showing her a picture.

I think that may be part of it. I’ve gotten the slightly less tactful advice elsewhere of responding “So, how’s your sex life, mom?” to baby questions. I’d be afraid of doing so because she just might tell me.

I’m glad you understand that it’s none of your business. I know several people whose mothers think they are owed grandchildren. They feel some sort of obligation to have kids because their parents want them, not because they want them. The people I know are all strong enough to know to do it on their terms and be pressured into it, but I also know that not everyone is.

I may have cried wolf on that one though. When she was in her “So when are you two getting married?” phase, I told her that “it’ll happen when it happens, but the situation being what it is would dictate that maybe not for a little while” when in reality I had already bought the ring (which she still doesn’t know), but “it happened” a lot sooner than I was trying to let on. If take the same approach again, she may get the wrong idea. Although, that is probably the best advice.

That seems dishonest in our situation. We’re definitely trying to avoid. Saying, or implying, we’re having problems trying to conceive could bite us back later. I could feign ignorance about how babies are made, and she’d probably understand my point: “Well, we kiss and kiss but nothing yet. I don’t know why God hasn’t given us a baby yet.”


#8

So the problem comes in the form of one mother who has come down with a case of the grandbaby-rabies.

:rotfl: Thanks so much for the laugh! … whew … I needed that …

The truth is, I don’t know of any sure-fire way of getting a grandbaby-bound mother to cool off. They seem to have as strong an instinct to have grandkids as couples do to have kids! But just because you can’t get rid of her longing doesn’t mean you can’t teach her to respect you and your wife and not bring the subject up. Honor her as your mother, and be sympathetic to this very natural thing she’s going through, but try to get her to understand that poking and prodding you about it is only going to make you want to avoid her. Nobody likes to be pressured, even to do something that is good and natural. :wink:


#9

“Mom, I’m saying it for the last time. Drop the topic. If you don’t, I swear you will be the LAST ONE TO KNOW if and when it does happen.” And mean it.


#10

I’m quite hoping it doesn’t need to come to that. I’m reserving that for the six times a day “Is she pregnant yet? How about now? Now?” calls.


#11

:wave: Hello eponymic

Well I can relate, but mine is the opposite. My husband and I would like to start having children sooner than later… but my mother begs and cries for us to wait for 5-6 years… because she thinks babies will ruin my career. :frowning: So opposite situation, but still similar, because It does really anger me… because deciding to have babies is the parents and God’s business… NOT the grandparents.

Anyways… not much advice, but I empathies with you…


#12

As a grandmother myself, I think it is up to you to remind yourself that couples do have babies as a reflection of their love and God’s love, and it is a very strong and natural instinct to want grandbabies (or “grands” as our family calls them). Somehow I can’t help but think that there could be more sympathy offered since she is your mother and the Ten Commandments do indicate that honor is due both mothers and fathers. And I don’t think it is “guilt” to simply indicate that God is the author of life, and He as yet hasn’t chosen to bless you, but that you will be sure to let your mom know the “happy news” when He does.

Somehow I think that’s a lot better than an old movie about this very thing that I saw many years ago. (No I can’t remember the name of the movie.) Evidently the mother had kept asking when her married children were going to start their family (pointedly saying that she wasn’t getting any younger). Anyway, she asked the question AGAIN at a family dinner, to which the exasperated husband asked for the table to be cleared so that he and his wife could accomodate the mother! The mother had such a shocked expression on her face! I bet she never asked again. :smiley:


#13

:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :stuck_out_tongue:


#14

The irony of this is that my parents were married for ~5 years before they tried to have kids. I can see her not being so, um, patient with me.

I’m strongly of the belief that people should have kids because they want to have kids, not because somebody is pressuring them into doing so. The opposite should be equally true. You shouldn’t be pressured into not having kids because somebody else thinks it wouldn’t be prudent.

Can I be as intrusive to ask what your career is? I’d be willing to bet that having kids will be as detrimental to your career now as it will be 5 years from now. It’ll never be “the right time”, but if you do it on your terms, when you want to, things will probably work out easier for you.


#15

Being blunt worked for us. I’ve been through the trying to conceive time with mom asking when, oh when is she going to have grandkids. We’ve also had to have the “we’re discerning adoption, but feel that for right now it’s not the best decision for us” talk too, after we found out that we can’t have biological children.

It’s wierd, isn’t it. Something just trips in 50 year old women’s heads that they had better have a grandbaby RIGHT NOW. Doesn’t always make for marital harmony if in laws are trying to get in the middle of a husband and wife decision. Being blunt may be painful at the time, but it’s better to just get it over with and hopefully move on.


#16

I do agree with you that we do need to honor our parents, but that doesn’t allow them the right to get in the middle of what is a personal decision that a husband and wife must make together. The potential grandparents need to respect their children to do what is best for them, to do what it is that God wants of them. DH and I have been on the well intentioned receiving end of comments like yours and trust me, nothing is more painful than to get that sort of added pressure and guilt from someone who doesn’t truly understand the situation.


#17

Well, you might do some research and find that movie I mentioned, then give it as a gift or watch it together! (I believe that the name of the woman who played the wife was something like Christine Lahti or something and the husband might have been played by Billy Crystal.) Whatever. It was humorous.

And no, I can’t understand why you would think that my comments were just “well intentioned” instead of the truth. Also, truly the only “pressure” is what you have decided to make of it–you can simply say that when God decides on “parenthood” for you (and that includes both adoption or conception/pregnancy), you’ll let her know, or you can hurt feelings by purposely not understanding the almost “biological clock need” of the poor woman who wants to share her love with her grandchildren before she’s put in a rest home where she won’t be able to do much more than watch. It’s your choice and no one elses.


#18

I am so glad to have a grandmother’s input on this thread, because this perspective should not be overlooked. While nagging someone about something that is ultimately their decision is probably a poor way of relating, it’s my understanding that the desire for grandchildren is both God-given and very strong. It would be cruel to speak so bluntly as to dishonor her. However insistent she may be, she is still an elder and a spouse’s mother, and disrespect would be just plain wrong.

That doesn’t mean you have to give her every detail of the situation (if you are trying) or every reasoning (if you are not). You simply need to explain to her how sensitive you both are about the issue and how you’d like her to respect you in turn by not bringing it up every five minutes. If she is a reasonable person, surely she can understand that.

A little bit of humor helps sometimes, too! My own mother (also a grandmother) often exhibits behavior typical of the character “Marie” on Everybody Loves Raymond. Once we pointed that out and she started watching, we all got some really good laughs, and it helped to ease the tension of some rather frustrating situations. Now when she says to me, “I just put all the clothes that were on the floor into the washer, because obviously if they were on the floor they’re dirty!” I say, "Thank you very much, Marie!" :wink:


#19

:cool:

That does sound fabulous! I could have used that back when we were still trying but not having success. Every month was a giant roller coaster ride b/t wanting to get pregnant and the massive mood swings that accompanied the big signal that it wasn’t happening this month. Mom would ask and ask and ask. She talked about grandkids, on and on and on. It was so hard–I was really depressed, the added pressure was too much to bear. I would have LOVED to have said that. The funny thing is, after I finally told her that she had to stop asking, it was a good thing. She talked about how they experienced secondary infertility after having me. It was a great bonding time for us.

No, the pressure from parents can be a very real thing; trust me. In our case, telling her that we would let her know wasn’t enough. There were several instances where she nagged at me, started crying, started making this about her. It was too much and I had to be blunt and put a stop to it, for the sake of our relationship. I wasn’t rude, I tried to be as kind about it as possible, but enough was enough.


#20

Thank you! I should have just waited for you to post. It’s not that grandparents shouldn’t have an interest in their future grandkids, it’s that they should be respectful of their children and not bring it up all the time. :thumbsup:


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.