Having a baby may open a world of new feelings about your own parents. Have you felt a new sense of connection? A feeling of loss about family and loved ones not around you? Worries because you want to parent your baby differently than your parents did you? Your feelings are all important. The transition through the 4th Trimester often includes seeing things differently, perhaps including longing for and attachment towards your own mother or loved ones during this unique time in your life. In many cultures, women in a family spend time with the expectant and new mother in the weeks, months, or years after a child is born. Mothers can be comforting. Mothers can be challenging. There can be very difficult power dynamics at play as well. Memories or current presence of parents/grandparents can bring joy, anxiety or sadness. Sometimes it is everything all at once!
Some women can also feel very sad when their supports leave after spending time with them in the early postpartum period. Others may be upset when parents make decisions to not be available to help when needed. And, honestly, some women may love their parents but wish they WEREN’T there for a visit. It can be complicated. Becoming a mother can connect you more intensely with the different generations in your life. It can also bring feelings of joy and sense of greater concern for all mothers and children in the world – opening our hearts in unique ways to a larger sisterhood.
Things that might help
- Think about how you’d like your family to be engaged in your life – both your family and your partner’s family. What would be helpful? What makes you worry? Share this with your partner or a friend and brainstorm strategies for how to manage interactions.
- Talk to each other. Seek out the parenting stories of those around you, now that you have new perspectives. Photo albums are another way to understand the experiences and the people around you on another level.
- Utilize technology! Phone video cameras offer direct connection to loved ones far away. It may be helpful to schedule time around your daily rhythms, so you go into a chat feeling well.
- Share pictures – many social media apps have instant sharing and commenting. You might turn off notification so that when you do have an opportunity to rest, you are not distracted by the ping of new comments.
- Note down thoughts you might like to share with your family and others during a future visit. A journal or blog offers opportunity for reflection, during the time you are writing and looking back at your thoughts over time.
- Spend time writing down good memories you have of your parents (or the people who raised you) and things they did that you wish to do for your own child. Write down what you want to change.
- Read the “My Village” section on families on our site.
- Did you find yourself having a challenging time working through parent issues? How did you cope? Let us know.