Carolyn Hax: Mom crosses the line over pregnant daughter who sips

The Washington PostApril 18, 2014 

Carolyn: My 30-year-old daughter, who lives in another state, has informed me she and her husband are ready to start a family and have stopped using birth control.

However, they both drink socially, sometimes fairly heavily.

My daughter has mentioned that her doctor says light drinking during pregnancy is OK. I expressed my concern, once, and sent her some information about the effects of alcohol on a fetus at various stages, including in early pregnancy, to which she didn't respond. And I continue to see postings on Facebook of my daughter enjoying wine, beer, bloody marys, martinis …

This would be my first grandchild, and I don't want to start out being overbearing and opinionated. But I remember how careful I was when I was pregnant and am concerned she may cause permanent harm to her baby, even before she knows she's pregnant. What, if anything, is my responsibility here?

A CONCERNED MOTHER

Overbearing, check; opinionated, check. Your heart is in the right place but your actions crossed the line.

Voicing your concern was a natural response to a mom-to-be who posts cocktail selfies on Facebook.

Sending the article, though, was the shot across the bow by someone who'd rather indulge her own fears than respect a boundary. It warned your daughter that, in your eyes, she's either ignorant about fetal health or too irresponsible to act on what she knows.

Crossing that line once is certainly forgivable, but now you've got to rein yourself in or risk being That Grandma.

It often helps in these situations to have self-calming techniques ready. In this case, I suggest making a conscious decision to trust the daughter you raised, the one who used birth control right up to the point when she and her husband decided together they were ready for children, and who is talking to a doctor about what is and isn't OK for pregnancy.

When you remember "how careful" you were, also remember that was your choice. It's your daughter's turn to make hers.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at washingtonpost.com.

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