So, your mum and mum-in-law don’t get along and their parenting advice drives you crazy.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

So, your mum and mum-in-law don’t get along and their parenting advice drives you crazy. ELISA CHIA has expert tips to improve the relationship.


Samuel Tay is an associate trainer and counsellor at Morning Star Community Services.

My parents and the in-laws have different baby-care styles. How do I agree with one without offending the other?

Listen and show your interest in their opinions equally. But make it known that how you bathe and burp your newborn is just a matter of preference.

More often than not, the details won’t have a big impact on the well-being of their grandchild.

Consider signing up for parenting courses and workshops conducted by paediatric experts. This will give you the upper hand in pushing for your own baby-care approach and, at the same time, reassure the grandparents that you are able to raise your child well.

How can I make everyone get along better? There are always awkward moments at get-togethers.

While the vision of “one big happy family” is appealing, it is common for in-laws to have differences. After all, they do come from differing backgrounds, each with their set of family rules, customs and beliefs.

Re-examine your own expectations and the current situation. Can you achieve a middle ground?

Draw your own boundaries and “rules” during these gatherings, and make these clear to the grandparents. You are the host and it is their responsibility to manage themselves.

Grandpa is playing favourites. My two-year- old daughter is jealous that he’s more interested in her little brother.

Spend time with your daughter and shower her with attention and love.

At the same time, raise the issue with your father amicably. It is likely that he would understand. Suggest strategies to create inclusive play activities where both kids are engaged at the same time.

My little one fusses whenever Grandma tries to hold her. How can I help them bond better?

Some babies are sensitive to being carried by people whom they are not close to – that could be the case here. You should try holding him first while Grandma plays with him. Ease him into her presence. Sometimes, it might be the manner or technique in which she carries him. Strong unfamiliar smells can make babies feel uncomfortable, as well. Does Grandma use scented oils or perfumes?

Both grandmas want to be the babysitter when I return to work, but I feel that my mum would do a better job. What’s the best way to break the news to my in-law?

First, you’ll need your husband to be on the same page as you and support your decision. Other than telling white lies, there’s really little you can do to prevent your mother-in-law from feeling slighted. In any case, be tactful and polite as you do so. Make sure to give her plenty of opportunities to care for your child in ways that utilise her strengths and talents. All Grandma needs is recognition and a sense of contribution.

Why do my folks keep interfering with how I care for Baby?

Whenever you’re frustrated with them, remember this: Grandparents don’t carry hopes only for their grandchildren, but also for their children to be good parents.

If they see an area in which you’re lacking or if they know that you can’t manage the stress of parenthood, they will naturally want to step in. Just acknowledge their good intentions.

My dad complains that I don’t visit him as often now. Can’t he understand that I’m juggling work and a new baby?

Empty nest syndrome and depression in elderly are just some of the pitfalls that grandparents may succumb to. While you are busy caring for your new family, do create opportunities for your father to contribute and bond better.

Tailor these to his strengths and ability levels. For example, if Grandpa is unable to physically exert himself, but is articulate, suggest that he reads regularly to your baby. These small but meaningful activities help give him a sense of contribution, purpose and direction.