This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Dear Carolyn • I have a baby on the way and a set of unhelpful in-laws who have offered to help when the baby comes. We have not accepted this offer, but instead suggested they visit a few weeks after the baby is born and stay in a nearby hotel for a few days. Their tone indicates they are not thrilled but they aren't fighting it. I also think we need to indicate that we'll have daily visits with them (one or two a day) but they won't be at our house for most of their waking hours. My husband said that he's mentioned there are restaurants and theaters in walking distance from their hotel and this should be indication enough. I disagree and would like him to be direct with them BEFORE the baby comes. Thoughts?
Dear Parameters • How, exactly, is their help unhelpful? A baby is a big deal and you are in charge, but a baby is also a big deal with grandparents. The more compassion you can bring to your limits, and the more you can arrange things to draw out their strengths, the better this whole relationship will go.
Dear Carolyn • To answer your question: They are unhelpful because they have health problems, mobility issues and one is very impatient around kids. Neither cooks. Helping to them would be holding the baby, not helping around the house or running errands.
Dear Parameters • Got it. That does leave a few chances for helping out, though. Holding the baby, for one, is lovely for them and the baby and gives you a chance to take a hot bath. They can do laundry if the units are on the ground floor and fold it if they aren't. They can plan, order and clean up after delivery meals, or they can reheat and clean up after meals you or others have prepared ahead of time. They can take pictures. If they have decent computer literacy, and if you aren't set up for this already, they can check out and set up a photo-sharing system that allows them to watch their grandchild's progress when they aren't able to visit. It's not much, but each one of these gives you a break and gives them a way to matter.
Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.