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Dear New Mama,
Congratulations on your precious new little blessing! I know you're hearing all kinds of advice from everyone right now. Everything you read says something new. Everyone who loves you will want to give you helpful , and even people you don't know will see your precious newborn as a good reason to give you advice. As you're hearing all of these tidbits, some of wisdom and some just born from a need to know it all, it can be hard to know how to respond, to not be hurt or offended or worried by it all. It can be hard not to snap at the well-meaning advice givers that 'I can figure this out on my own thankyouverymuch so leave me alone!' Take a deep breath, say a prayer for grace, and listen with a smile. Then thank them for their opinion, if they persist you can say you will take it home to ponder. Pray and ponder. You can keep the good parts and leave the bad ones. Some advice will be really good and some will be really bad. Something that helped someone else might not help you and vice versa. The best way to weed through it all with a peaceful heart and come out the other side with confidence that you are doing the right thing is to pray and ponder. And most of those advice givers will never know if you take their advice or not.
Then there are the advice givers who are closer to home. Friends and family. They might follow through to see if you followed their advice. They are a little trickier. They can be frustrating. "Did you ever try what I said...?" Usually they can be handled with a sweetly spoken, 'Yes, thank you for telling me about that! We tried alot of things and what we're doing right now is really working well.' Sometimes though you will have to put your foot down. It won't be easy. Keep in mind that while it is important to preserve the peace within the extended family, it is not to be at the cost of the peace in your own home. If keeping your mom or hubby's dear Auntie happy is causing problems between you and your husband or kids, then something will have to be done about it. There's a little something I like to call the honor order. It means who is at the top of your priorities. When you leave your father and mother and cleave to a spouse you begin a new family so your 'honor order' goes from God-Parents-Siblings-etc. to God-Spouse-Children-etc. Your parents and siblings should still be loved and treated with respect, but now your husband and children come before your other family. If you have to warn off an overzealous family member, keep a few things in mind:
-Pray about it first. God may want you to hold your tongue because He very well may want to resolve it without you. Prayer can go a long way toward resolving it without confrontation or paving the way for it to go over well.
-If you feel that you have no choice but to say something, pray pray pray to keep a right perspective. If it involves your husband's family, pray with him about it that it will go well. Pray in private that if it involves his family that he will feel the need to confront the person himself. It tends to go over better and be resolved faster if the spouse that is related is the one who puts their foot down.
-Anything done not out of love is ineffective for good and probably harmful. Do not allow yourself to be drawn into a confrontation with anger in your heart. Pray for a loving attitude toward the person before you say anything.
-Choose your words carefully so that when you are loooking back on it later, if the loved one in question reacts badly, you will not have any guilt over having said something unnecessarily harsh or petty. A clear concience is a great comfort if there is a rift created over this.
-If it goes well, praise God! If not, pray for healing in the relationship and do not cease praying for it until it happens. God doesn't want us to be estranged from our relatives. God wants us to be at peace, not at war, with those He has given us to and has given to us.
Once upon a time, a certain mama (*ahem.me.ahem*) was having her first baby. This mama's MIL wanted to throw her a baby shower and things got heated. You see, the new mama was idealistic, and picky, in addition to having come from an ultra conservative background. The MIL was much more liberal and in her excitement at planning her first baby shower, wanted to make it really awesome and perfect- her way. The mama and the MIL had different ideas about how it should be done and it came down to a confrontation.
Yeah I messed up. I should have prayed about it FIRST, looked at my own motives, spoken out of love and not reacted out of defensiveness, and decided what was really important before I made a stink. Thankfully God can work everything out for good, even the screw ups. My MIL and I are friends again and we've both learned a few things about how to relate to each other. I'm thankfully less picky and bossy. Now I didn't say I'm not at all picky or bossy anymore... Lol! So those of you who know me in person don't think I'm trying to pull the wool over on anyone here. ;) I have alot of flaws and I'm sure not perfect!
So if you take anything out of this story, take this:
Be quick to pray, quick to love, quick to look inward for fault, quick to apologize.
Be slow to anger, slow to speak, slow to blame.
If it comes to it, stand by what's right in a clam loving way, apologize for any wrong you've done, and pray that if there is a rift that it will be healed.