Mother-in-law as nanny: Can it really work?


Let your baby's caregiver know that while you respect the loving care she has provided to her own children, you want to go over the parenting strategies and styles that you and your partner have developed together. Establish that your goal is a consistent and smooth transition for your child. Make this goal a shared one between the three of you. Speak in a cooperative tone and ask for her suggestions and feedback along the lines of your stated goal. If the discussion begins to develop overtones of conflict, simply acknowledge differences in childrearing and bring the topic back to the main purpose of making it the "smoothest transition" possible for your child.

During this discussion, be sure to admire the ways she has parented and any "special" qualities that exist in her relationship with her child. Express appreciation for her generosity of spirit, but do not shy away from giving her guidelines to follow regarding your baby's care.

Explain the ways your child is used to being cared for. Do not avoid the conflicts that you know exist between how she parented her children and your own parenting style, but do not dwell on them. Simply accept that these are different times and different choices. Do not invalidate her views, but do clarify your child's needs as you see them to be true.

It is your place and your responsibility as a parent to communicate in the best interests of your child. Do not fall short of giving clear directives about his care. Bring your baby's care provider the "tools " she will need to help her provide the kind of care to which your baby is accustomed. For example, if you carry your baby in a sling or baby carrier, help her try it on and get used to it, so she can use it if she finds it necessary. She may be more open than you think to doing things differently for your baby as she may quickly recognize that this is an easier choice than attempting to change his ingrained expectations.

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