Grandparents how to help your Daughter in Law during Pregnancy

There are several ways that grandparents can help their daughter-in-law during pregnancy. Some ways grandparents can help are pretty straightforward and universal, while others are dependent upon individual family situations. It is those individual situations where grandparents have to tread lightly so as not to insult their daughter-in-law without even trying.

Heather’s Story

I could tell the special bond between Heather and my son the moment I first saw her. His eyes sparkled and she blushed when they looked at each other. He was funny, sometimes obnoxious in his practical jokes, an outgoing young man who likes an audience for his singing and his humor. She was shy, soft-spoken, and beautiful, still living with her mother. They were the perfect match.

Fast-forward to a year later, on a warm, late summer day when Heather and her mother were out running errands. Her mother complained of a headache, but thought she would be okay. As her headache worsened, Heather offered to drive, but her mother just wanted to drive on home. In the driveway, Heather saw her mother start to fall as she got out of the car. Heather ran around the car to catch her just as she was falling to the ground. Her mother died in her arms right there in the front yard, of what was later determined to be a brain aneurysm. She would never see Heather’s and James’s first child born in January, 2010.

Grandparent’s Role

In an individual family situations such as this, it is important that grandparents tread lightly, yet let the daughter-in-law know that you are there. If the maternal grandparents are deceased or not in the picture for another reason, then the paternal grandparents must be aware of sensitive emotions with their daughter-in-law.

There are some steps the paternal grandparents can take that will ensure that during her pregnancy, the daughter-in-law will feel that she really does have someone she can count on and turn to when she needs help or advice. Let her know very calmly how much you love her, but you are not trying to replace her mother. If the paternal grandparent comes across as trying to be the daughter-in-law’s parent, the grandparent may find themselves battling resentment from the daughter-in-law.

Offer to help, but ask first! It is rude to just march into the home of the daughter-in-law and start cleaning or re-arranging things in ways the grandparent perceives is better. It is insulting, and tells your daughter-in-law that you think she is not doing things right. Grandparents can offer to take the daughter-in-law to appointments or grocery or to pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy, especially if daughter-in-law is suffering from morning sickness or swelling in feet or legs. Taking her to lunch is a nice gesture and gives her a break, as well as the opportunity to talk and for you to bond with her.

Call often to check on your daughter-in-law, but not five times a day. Most pregnant women remain pretty active these days, so just be sure she knows she can call you anytime, whether she needs advice, some help with housework or errands or just wants to talk.

Planning for Baby

If grandparents ask the daughter-in-law what is still needed for baby, she may not feel comfortable replying, especially if they still need a lot of baby items. It may be better to ask your son or both of them together, so they can discuss what is needed. Any baby items will come in very handy and will be much appreciated, especially if this is the first baby. But make sure to talk with daughter-in-law to avoid duplication.

Another helpful hint is to never say or imply that your way of raising a child is best, or that she is wrong. It is okay to buy the daughter-in-law a book about baby care or raising a child, but make sure it is not too boring or that the title alone can imply she does not know how to raise her own child.

Let your daughter-in-law know you are available to help after baby comes home. Be sure to follow through on that offer, but not make yourself a burden in her home.

A Giant Step Back

One very important rule of thumb grandparents must follow when wanting to help their daughter-in-law is to know when to take a step back. Becoming a grandparent is an exciting time, but it is primarily your son and daughter-in-law’s exciting time. They will need and want their privacy, so respect their privacy and the boundaries of how and when to help your daughter-in-law during pregnancy. You will have a loving bond with your daughter-in-law and she will know she can always count on you when she needs or wants you to be there for her.