My Parents Are Overjoyed By First Grandchild But Are Too Controlling

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 30s. I’ve been married for six years and have a 1-month-old daughter. I need your advice about my relationship with my parents.

My parents recently visited to meet my daughter and are overjoyed about the birth of their first grandchild.

They’ve always been helicopter parents, but we have kept a healthy distance since I got married and moved out, though it still felt unpleasant when they would contact me. After my daughter’s birth, however, they’ve been contacting me much more often.

They complain about little things when I send them videos or pictures of my daughter and say insensitive things or worry too much about me over the phone. It’s painful, as I have just given birth and I find myself getting depressed, crying and feeling terrible.

However, I can’t just stop letting them see my daughter or sending pictures to them. I think it’d make me a terrible person, incapable of giving back to my aging parents, who are in their late 60s.

I want them to leave me alone, but also want my daughter to grow up knowing she is loved by her grandparents. How can I be kind to my parents?

— U, Kanagawa Prefecture

Dear Ms. U:

You wrote that you find yourself crying and feeling terrible; tears can be a sign of pain and anxiety even without your knowing.

It seems to me that you are emotionally unstable not just because of your parents: your first childbirth and being new to parenting may be causing you immense stress without even realizing it.

They say it’s difficult to overcome postpartum anxiety and worries alone. First, it’s important to communicate to your husband what you’re going through and have him listen.

Also consider temporarily cutting off contact with your parents; you can mend your relationship with them after you get better.

Right now, your own emotional stability should be your top priority.

Additionally, talk to a postpartum counselor or specialist. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from a third party instead of trying to get through this on your own.

There are chat rooms online for mothers going through similar problems, so it might also be a good idea to access them. Don’t struggle alone.

— Tomomi Fujiwara, writer