Sunday, May 27, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: In-laws' unsubtle hinting bothers couple

Q: I am a new mom of a baby girl. My in-laws are having a second child, their first was a boy. They have started making statements in earshot of us such as, "We're just glad there's both sexes in the family so we won't have to buy new." This has happened so many times now I suspect it is on purpose to set the expectation.

I know a lot of people wouldn't care but, honestly, I just don't want to share my daughter's clothes yet. We want to have more children and I'm not ready to hand them over even if I'd get them back. But my husband and I also have higher incomes.

Can we refuse?

Don't Want to Share

A: You always "can" refuse. You can also decide that comments made within earshot don't constitute a request for anything, except perhaps attention. Do they actually do that, say things to "set" an "expectation"? Or do you think that because you do so yourselves?

Anyway, if you are asked outright by grown-ups using their words, then you can get (mostly) what you want and still be a good sport if you say straight out that there are things you want to hold onto for sentimental reasons, but you're willing to share others — because surely there are some basics you aren't particularly attached to?

If it's the whole load that you don't want to share, then so be it — you are of course entitled, and technically they should respect that and not judge you for it.

Still Don't Want to Share: Just to follow up, they do the "in earshot" thing all the time and openly admit to it — as in, they've even said out loud to me in the past that they want something from someone else and are going to start setting the stage by hinting about it.

Carolyn: It's really the same answer: when they ask directly, you are free to say yes or no based solely on what you want to do.

If they ask only by hinting, then it's okay to proceed as if you haven't been asked.

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