Etiquette of home visiting new parents

imagesOn becoming new parents you enter a whole new world. Nowadays, there are guidebooks to help you navigate paternity, baby names, and how to give your slippery new-born a bath, etc..  But as new parents you are also on your own when people come up to you and offer their “personal” experience, or expert” advice on how to parent.  This advice could be contrary to current practices but were how it was done “in the good old days!” I mean, what would you do if your mother insists it’s fine to put the baby to sleep on his tummy (after all, that’s what she did with you?).  These (and more) are some of the dilemmas that may baffle you, but take heart. You’re not alone. Here’s how to deal with guests the first fortnight after giving birth.

When my first son was born, thousands of relatives flew into town to “aid” me. The average visit was a week-long, which meant that by the time everyone left, Myles was nearly 5 years old. (Okay, I’m exaggerating. But only by a little.) My friend Mary Oba, mum to Bisi, 9, and Mope, 7, in Lekki, Lagos, had a similar situation. “My mother-in-law moved into our one-bedroom apartment and stayed for three months when Bisi was born,” she says, shuddering at the memory. “She couldn’t afford a lot of trips as she lives in the USA, so I felt I couldn’t object.  Sure, she helped with childcare and cooked from time to time. But she also destroyed any sense of privacy in my home and controlled my husband and me (she continuously butted into our marital disagreements).”

House guests can be fun, but when you’re recovering from delivery, even the most amiable visitor can drive you up the wall. How can get guests to give you some breathing room, without hurting their feelings?

I would suggest enlisting the help of a sympathetic relative or your best friends. Have them relate stories of a friend who was driven mad by hordes of incoming relatives staying till 1am after her baby’s birth. Such tales should end with ‘I know no one in our family would dream of doing that to Teni and Remi. It’s so inconsiderate.” Or, have them leave in stages declaring, “That they want the new parents to rest and enjoy some time alone to bond with their baby since the mother should be tired after the birth and no sleep.”  Methinks that should do the trick as a hint to those that want to stay all night!


Lola Alli

Author of Nurturing Progressive Achievers



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