It's not unusual for new parents to have a number of rules when it comes to visiting their young baby, but the reaction of one dad's family have left him wondering if his strict list of requirements went too far.
Posting to Reddit, the dad of a three-day-old son asks if he's "... being an a%$#ole sending an email out with guidelines on visiting our newborn."
He sets the scene.
"Neither of our families are super clear on the whole 'boundaries' deal when it comes to newborns. My parents are very old fashioned and think that letting your kid eat dirt is better than any vaccine, and my wife's just have a tendency to be very me-me-me," he wrote.
"We held off on visits for the first day. I'm a very anxious new parent, so when we decided that we'd have people come and meet our son, I sent an email out to everyone who said they wanted to come visit."
Here's the list of rules:
1. If sick, no visit allowed
2. No children under 18, "since schools are a breeding ground for viruses"
3. Light or no fragrance
4. Advise arrival time in advance
5. Keep it between 9am and 5pm
6. Stay for an hour or less
7. No gifts, "since it'll be a hassle to bring home"
8. Only three or four people at a time.
In the context of this family, it went down like a lead balloon. The new dad himself admits he wondered how it would come across.
"I felt a little overbearing, but my wife read it over and said it sounded fine."
He received a few "snippy" replies but otherwise all seemed well. Then the baby is born...
"My parents show up at about noon, while my aunt is already there with her husband and their two (adult) children. I ask my parents to wait outside for a bit so they can finish up their visit without overwhelming my wife and I, but my aunt is polite and decides to cut her time short. Without asking, my mother takes the baby and undoes his swaddle. My parents are mostly pleasant."
Then things start to get tense.
"An hour later, my parents are still there and my in-laws show up, their grandson in tow. My wife tells them that they can't bring him in. Their grandson starts to cry and my MIL starts to scold us for forbidding children, so my father pipes up saying that we're being too coddling."
"Then, my mother starts up and tells us that we've been very rude and cold and says that as grandmother, it's her right to visit the baby when she pleases and she shouldn't have to 'RSVP' to her grandson's birth. She calls me impolite for sending out a "demanding" email like I did and insists that if I regulate my son [like this], he'll grow up resenting my wife and I."
Family relations completely fracture at this point and they're asked to leave.
"We told them to go, and my mother told me she raised me too well to have me be so rude to my own family. My MIL said that if my wife didn't 'crack down on me', they'd never be visiting again."
And now his wife has capitulated.
"My wife has changed her tune about the whole thing and thinks I was being too combative. I really don't think I was that wrong in exercising my boundaries."
Commenters sympathised and disagreed with the dad in equal measures.
"Your kid, your rules," wrote one person.
Another agreed but said it was OTT.
"I tend to agree with this, but you have to admit that the email is a little bit over the top controlling. I definitely would've felt weird receiving that and would've replied in a snippy way as well."
"Seriously you won't let your son meet his cousin? If you have a second kid are you going to let his older brother meet him/her?"
"Your rules seemed like common sense, to be honest. The rule about leaving by five and only staying an hour seems more like 'We just had a baby and we're tired.' I think you setting boundaries now is good practice. If you give them an inch, they'll take a mile."
A lot of people had a lot to say, which is all fine in the abstract.
At the end of the day new parents will set boundaries that other don't like, and this is just the very beginning of the relationship challenges that occur in parenting life.