Article for New Moms Quoting Jenna

July 29, 2009, 9:51 am

This article is from It refers to well-intentioned mothers, rather than toxic mothers-in-law, but much of the advice is still applicable.

Back off, Grandma!
by Erin van Vuuren

Dealing with a pushy parent? You’re not alone. Get tips on how to deal.

Like it or not, your mom has parenting experience and opinions, and odds are good that she’s going to shove them down your throat share them with you every chance she gets. Not a problem for your fam? Smile and give grandma a hug for us. But if you have unsolicited advice coming out the wazoo, here are a few tips to help keep your cool.

See Through It

It may seem like the lady’s aiming to break you down when she suggests a new sleep schedule or critiques your burping method, but most grandmas genuinely want to help. “It’s her way of being involved,” says Erin Brown Conroy, parent coach and author of 20 Secrets to Success With Your Child: Wit and Wisdom From a Mom of 12. Dr. Les Parrott, cofounder of and coauthor of The Parent You Want to Be: Who You Are Matters More Than What You Do, agrees. “They’ve traveled the road before you. They know what’s coming for you. Sure, times may have changed, but they can’t help themselves,” he says. This doesn’t mean grandma is right or that you have to do what she says. It just means her intentions are probably good. (Unfortunately, “good intentions” can be tough to recognize when you were up all night and your shoulder is covered in puke. But it can’t hurt to try.)

Know Your Stance
First thing to remember: You’re the parents. You get to call the shots with your kids. Be confident enough in your abilities that someone else’s opinion can’t shake you. “You don’t need [her] approval, so don’t behave as if you do,” insists Jenna D. Barry, author of A Wife’s Guide to In-laws: How to Gain Your Husband’s Loyalty Without Killing His Parents.

Aim for Peace
Second thing to remember: The phrase “You’re not the mom; I am” is NOT likely to go over well. Conroy urges that along with setting up proper boundaries, you should shoot for maintaining a positive relationship. “Often with parenting, our emotions jump in,” she says. Keep in mind that you’re looking for peace and respect, not revenge.

Smile and Listen
“Just because you’re listening to [her advice] doesn’t mean you have to follow it. And there’s no need to make stressful waves around this exciting time in your life,” advises Dr. Parrott. “You can listen — to be polite — without following through.”

Brush off the Trivial Advice
Minor comments (“She should be wearing socks”), super-obvious reminders (“Don’t forget to support his head”), and situational opinions (“You shouldn’t have her out past bedtime”) may be annoying, but there’s no harm in them, really. Just let it pass. “No need for confrontation — unless the advice is becoming adversarial and causing you to feel badly or increasingly insecure,” says Dr. Parrott. “Otherwise, chalk it up to a grandmother’s need to help. Confrontation is likely to cause her to pull back, talk about you behind your back, and otherwise not feel like part of the team.”

(Politely) Decline the Bad Advice
A lot has changed since you were a baby, and grandma might not be hip to the newest recommendations. If she starts insisting that you, say, dose your infant with cough meds, don’t snap. Instead, Dr. Parrott recommends a kind correction. His phrase of choice: “I know that’s an idea that used to be very common, but the research today is showing that…”

Confront the Rude Advice
Feeling totally insulted or challenged? It might be time for a chat. Conroy recommends setting up a talk over coffee or opting for a handwritten note (not an email). Go for peace-making phrases like “I know you’re trying to help” and “I really want to make things work.” Then explain to her the specifics of what you need from her. Let her know that you appreciate her advice, but that you’re going to try another way first. “It’s a diplomatic, loving approach,” says Conroy.

Take the Good Advice
That’s right. We said it. Sometimes your mother (or mother-in-law) knows best, and you don’t want to miss a great tip by huffing up and tuning her out. “If you can separate the advice from the way it’s said, there may be something wrapped up in there,” says Conroy. Dr. Parrott agrees, “Be on the lookout for proven remedies and successful tips that have been passed down for generations.”

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You may be quick to blame your in-laws for your marriage problems, but in reality the biggest part of the problem isn't your in-laws, it's your husband's loyalty to them.  When a man marries, he is supposed to transfer his loyalty from his parents to his wife. His behavior plays a key role in how well you get along with his parents.  The goal of this book is to help you gain your husband's loyalty.

If you are in need of hope and encouragement, this book is for you!  Jenna Barry offers hilarious, heartfelt advice about how to have a terrific marriage in spite of difficult in-laws.  As a wife who has personally experienced the despair that comes from having an unsupportive partner, she suggests specific things to say and do to gain your husband's loyalty.  This book won't teach you how to become best friends with your in-laws, but it will teach you how to think and behave in a new way so they no longer have any power over you.  A Wife's Guide to In-laws has over 40 cartoons, two fun chapters written just for your hubby, and worksheets to help the two of you reach loving compromises about common problem issues.

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About Jenna

As a wife of 22 years, Jenna D. Barry (a pen name) has learned how to gain her husband's loyalty through communication, persistence, and a whole lot of love.  She has familiarized herself with the needs and frustrations of other wives by participating in on-line in-law support groups and by talking to marriage therapists, friends, family, and co-workers.


Jenna is the author of the book, A Wife's Guide to In-laws:  How to Gain Your Husband's Loyalty Without Killing His Parents. She has been a radio guest on The Mike Bullard Show and her articles have been published in newspapers, websites, and magazines worldwide.  She writes monthly articles for Hitched Magazine and has been quoted in The Washington Times,, The London Free Press,, etc. She leads a support group for daughters-in-law right here.



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