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Ask Rene: HELP! My In-Laws Are BOY Crazy!

Hi Rene: 

I’m a tiny bit frustrated as I write this and I’m hoping you have some words of wisdom. 

Almost all of our cousins and grandchildren are boys, except for one cousin who hardly ever comes to family functions. It’s a very rough and tumble environment, and I was fine with that, figuring that’s just how they were because of the family make-up.

When I became pregnant, we were thrilled, and so were they … at first. Then we found out I’m having a girl. Ever since then, all I hear is, “We never wanted girls.” Or “I just don’t think we could have handled a girl.” Or how’s this one, “A girl wouldn’t have fit in with this crowd.”

Hello? A girl is going to have to fit in with this crowd, because I’m having one! Do they not hear what they’re saying?

I feel any baby is a blessing, and my husband and I are perfectly happy to be having a daughter, but I’m worried his side of the family won’t embrace her. I got suspicious and asked his female cousin why we don’t see her more, and she just said, “Too much testosterone.” That might be okay for a cousin, but I want our daughter to know her grandparents.

How do I cope with their thoughtless remarks? And how do we help our daughter fit in if she’s more the tea party sort than the next great linebacker?

Signed, Mad Mom-to-Be

Dear Mad MTB:

Well, to put it mildly, that sucks. Pregnancy is supposed to be one of the happiest times in your life and to have these people dumping on you, no matter their relation to you, strikes me as all sorts of wrong. But because they are family (and since you can’t choose them), you need a delicate way to tell them to shut the hell up. The way I see if, you have three options:

INDIRECTLY: I’m a true fan of starting at DEFCON 5 and then proceeding if that is ineffective, especially in light of that fact that this is family. So you can start by dropping a few hints. The next time someone says something slick about how great boys are and the nightmare of girls, I would, while still smiling, say something like, “Well, we’ll see.” Or, “You never know; she might be the greatest blessing.” Or, “ Aren’t you a girl?” to the female members of the smart-ass tribe.

DIRECTLY: Some people have no home schooling. They also have no conscience or filter between their brain and their mouth, which sadly, allows open-mouth-insert-foot-don’t-feel-bad syndrome to rage on unabated. These are the sorts of people who don’t understand anything other than pulling back the bit in their mouth. So you may have to just pull them aside, one at a time (still with a smile on your face) and tell them you do not appreciate their comments and if they don’t stop, they won’t hold your precious bundle of joy until hell freezes over. Or she turns 21, whichever comes first. Then avoid them at family gatherings like the Ebola virus, because they are just about that toxic to you.

IGNORE THEM: To be honest, this is the approach I would use and I think is the most effective. People do what they do because they get a reaction, be it positive or negative. The moment you stop reacting, the comments will stop; I truly believe that. So if you can suck it up, vent to your husband, roll your eyes in private, cry in the bathroom or whatever you need to do to cope, I would go for it. Once they learn their comments are landing on deaf ears, they’ll move on. And shut up. But like a star before it burns out, prepare for it to get worse before it gets better.

I do think things will change when your daughter arrives but in the event they do not, shower her with love (which you I know you will do anyway) and make sure she knows it’s them who are messed up, not her.

Good luck, mom-to-be!

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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