Q: My mother and I have always been close, but now that I have a baby, she has not helped out as much as I thought she would.
She is still interested in hanging out, but she acts more like a guest than someone giving me a hand with her grandson.
Honestly, she doesn't seem particularly interested in him. My husband and I would kill for a night out but she hasn't offered to babysit, and I am afraid that if I ask she will say no and it will hurt me even more.
A: Putting off the conversation won't make your hurt go away; it likely will enlarge it. Your mum might be intimidated, or torn about becoming a grandparent.
Maybe she doesn't love the infant stage or is just is just terrified of stepping on your toes. Or maybe she feels her diaper-duty days are over.
You won't know any of this - or whether she's motivated or even capable of being more involved - until you talk to her. This has the potential to be hurtful to both of you, so proceed cautiously.
Put a positive spin on it, and don't accuse. "Mum, you know you are welcome to jump in here and hold him/walk him/take him - I wouldn't mind if you took over a bit. We're actually pretty exhausted."
Her reaction will open the door to a larger conversation, but be prepared: The hardest part may be reconciling your expectations with her limits.
Andrea Bonior is a Washington-area clinical psychologist and the author of The Friendship Fix. For more information, see www.drandreabonior.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @drandreabonior.
- The Washington Post