Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My stepmother-in-law is coming to visit soon. We have a new arrival in the house and I’m dreading a repeat of her baby-rabies that we experienced with the first two.
And really, it’s just one thing that bothers me – the double baby clap. This is where she stands in front of me, claps her hands twice and expects the baby in return. She doesn’t ask to hold the baby, she doesn’t even acknowledge me. She just claps. It makes me feel like a dog.
My husband gets that it bothers me but wants me to just suck it up. I don’t think I can and still have a positive visit with her.
What do you recommend?
The Baby Clap?
“Are you asking me for the baby?” Repeat each time. Maybe the first time say, “Please don’t – I feel like a trained dog when you do that.” The best way to stop the clap is to make sure it never works.
And also keep in mind that you dislike her doing this because you dislike her, and not the other way around. Right? Because it sure seems that way. Maybe reframing it will unlock some motivation to look for things you do like about her, just to make her mannerisms less annoying and her visits less taxing.
I.e., do it for your own selfish reasons. It can feel easier to take it on that way.
Congrats on the new baby.
Re: Clap: Man, that woman had better stop clapping or she’d never be holding my kid. “When you want to hold the baby, please ask to. Never clap for her again. Thank you.”
Nick the Cartoonist, Breaking the Fourth Wall
Re: Clap: The baby clap isn’t directed to the mother. It’s to catch the baby’s attention. And then the baby will reach her chubby arms out to Grandma, Grandma will take her, and Mom will get a break. I’ve seen plenty of older women doing this in the Midwest. Maybe it was a “thing” back when. Are there more artful ways of asking to hold the baby these days? Certainly. But it’s likely a generational or geographic tic. Please don’t take immediate offense; instead, try seeing a grandma ready to love her grandchild.
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