Becoming parents with your relationship partner is about special moments together, but the rest of your family may change how you feel by criticizing you or even recommending you not to have a family at all.
Is it ok for in-laws to tell you if you should have kids or not, or should they avoid interfering in a decision that only you and your spouse can make?
My friend Diane has been married to her husband Nick for three years. They don't have kids yet, but they're considering becoming parents in the following year.
While Diane's mom and dad were excited to be grandparents and offered to support the couple with anything they might need during the pregnancy and after having kids, Nick's parents were not nearly that pleased.
"We told them we'd waited long enough and that we wanted to have a family. This matters to our relationship and for the long term, too. That's why we got married, so it makes sense to do this soon. I got promoted three times already, and we can easily afford to pay a babysitter and anything else. And I'm going back to work in a few weeks after I give birth, so there won't be any stress about bills in our relationship," Diane said to me.
The problem is her husband hasn't worked for more than six months. He lost his job after their second marriage anniversary and has only had a part-time position for two months since then.
"I'm not worried about it because I earn enough for both of us; he can be home with our baby, that's fine with me. His parents don't like me for it, but I think it's the same as if I had stayed home as a mom. We have a flexible relationship, and I can accept that he doesn't have a job," Diane said.
Stella, her mother-in-law, has criticized Diane on every visit the couple paid her at her house. She doesn't think their relationship will last, and if a divorce happens, she doesn't want to be the one paying to look after their kids since her son doesn't have a good job.
"She told me not to have kids because she won't pay for them; my husband doesn't work. That's got nothing to do with her, and I wouldn't ask her to pay for what my kids want. And it's offensive to keep suggesting my husband will leave me. We have a happy relationship, and becoming parents will only make everything better. I don't get why she's doing this, but it gets uncomfortable to be in her home," Diane said.
Her parents told her she should visit her in-laws less often if they were not supportive. On the other hand, Diane would like her kids to have grandparents, and that's why she keeps trying to convince Stella that being a grandmother would be a positive change.
Unfortunately, Stella is focused on the money issue and wants to be sure no one will ask her to cover any bills. And since she doesn't think her son's marriage will last more than five years, she keeps telling the couple to wait longer until they have kids.
"I'm going to make things work for my career and my relationship. And if Stella doesn't feel like being a grandmother, it's not fair to keep telling us to wait. It's not a decision she can make. And whoever is close to us will help," Diane said.
Nick isn't looking for a job at the moment, so his mom is still convinced there's no way the couple can pay for what they need if Diane gets pregnant. He did promise his wife to apply for some positions, but he gives up and refuses to talk when he gets calls about the jobs he looked into.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Stella to insist on the couple waiting to be parents instead of trying to support them and thinking about being a grandmother? Should the mother-in-law apologize for interfering in her son's relationship with Diane and do what she can to help Diane trust her?