Dear Doula -
When I told my mom that no one will be allowed to kiss my daughter, she flipped out. I tried to explain it's for baby's safety, but she won't listen and says she's not going to hurt her granddaughter "with a little peck". Now I'm worried she's going to kiss my baby when I'm not watching! What do I do?
Sincerely, No Kisses For You
Dear No Kisses -
I am so sorry to hear that your mother is adding stress to your pregnancy. It's already hard enough to deal with hormones and a changing body, let alone the anticipation of life-changing love for your child. I know exactly how frustrating it feels when family can't - or won't - celebrate that love with you. Since you're about to become a mom yourself, let me let you in on a little secret about motherhood. No mother is perfect. Sometimes, even the best moms can do a little unintentional emotional damage to their kids.
Stick to your guns, No Kisses. You have science on your side! Your baby will receive the best protection if you can prevent exposure to viruses and bacteria. Remember, while kids are basically germ-buckets, babies have no immunities to the outside world. In that kind of vulnerable state, an average cold can become life-changing RSV. Short of wrapping your baby in a protective bubble, you can’t do enough to protect your baby from germs.
That being said, consider your delivery of this standard. When you and I were babies, our parents were given a lot of the best, most cutting-edge information. The same is true now - the thirty-ish years of medical advancements have changed so much! It took me a while to realize that an updated recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics could make a grandparent defensive. If we now say that rice cereal can be a health hazard, how is your mom supposed to feel knowing she fed you rice cereal - in a bottle, no less - for months? Even if you don’t mean it that way, your modern mama lingo might sound a bit like harsh judgment to your mom.
I’m not at all excusing her behavior, by the way! She ought to respect you and your boundaries as a parent. So your mom is being a crabass. I really am sorry, but I’m also here to encourage you to just not put up with that crap. Allow me to offer you a mom pro-tip that hopefully helps you feel bold and brave!
Facing this small confrontation now will prevent more significant battles later on.
Speak with your mother to understand her perspective. The next time she brings it up, ask her why she says that. Her answer might surprise you! Maybe she’ll share some insecurities about her own job as a mother, or her knowledge as a to-be new grandparent. Thank her for sharing this with you. And meet her halfway. It’s safe, I promise! Tell her she’s welcome to kiss the baby on the top of its head or the bottom of its feet. Newborns can’t reach either of those places, so any kissing germs will stay safely away from baby’s mouth.
Good luck, No Kisses! Trust your mama gut and remember that it’s your privilege to protect your baby from germs - including grandma germs from grandma kisses.
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