DEAR ABBY: I think you came up short in your reply to "Dreading September," the woman expecting twins. She is concerned about having to deal with both her controlling mother-in-law and a potential visit from her sister-in-law's family immediately after the children are born. You advised her to accept her mother-in-law's love, reassure her, and tune her out. As for her sister-in-law, you said she should have them put off the visit until she has a firmly established schedule. Good advice -- but it's directed at the wrong person.
As the father of triplets, I know this situation and can tell you that without her husband's close involvement, she will surely be jeopardizing her relationship with these people.
When my children were born, my parents also wanted to immediately come for a visit. I loved them, but they had always been "high maintenance" guests, and Mother had an opinion on everything. It was very difficult telling them they could not come see their grandchildren until we had established a routine, but it had to be done. Even when they came, six weeks after the kids were born, I insisted they stay in a motel. They didn't like it but accepted it because it came from me.
This woman's husband needs to get a spine and put his priorities in order. His wife and children come first. HE needs to be the one to gently but firmly, and repeatedly if necessary, tell his mother to back off. He should also tell his sister that they cannot come for a visit right away. If they hear it from him, they'll be mad, but they'll get over it. If they hear it from her, they'll hold it against her forever. -- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT IN N.Y.
DEAR BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: I was surprised by the amount of mail that was generated -- and several other parents of twins echoed your sentiments. Read on for more comments:
DEAR ABBY: Your advice to "Dreading September" was sound. When I became pregnant with twins, my husband was elated. In fact, he was so excited he invited a steady stream of family members to visit anytime. After three days of constant distractions, I was exhausted. Nights are very long with twins, and I needed every quiet daytime moment to care for myself, eat and rest.
My OB gave me some wise advice. She said that what my babies needed most was a healthy mother. And if I didn't focus on recovering from childbirth and adjusting to parenting twins, I'd wind up in the hospital myself.
The best I could offer was ONE HOUR in which everyone could visit together. Sound controlling? You bet. But the babies are the first priority -- and they need Mommy! -- LUCKY TO HAVE TWINS IN L.A.
DEAR LUCKY: Your twins are lucky to have a mother who has her head on straight. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I would like to tell "Dreading" that she's wise to plan ahead for her rest and well-being after giving birth. One way to defuse self-appointed advice-givers is to mention that she is interested only in receiving suggestions from mothers of twins!
Organizations such as La Leche League and the Mothers of Twins Clubs are good sources for parents. -- JUDY IN STOCKBRIDGE, GA.
DEAR JUDY: Thank you for the reminder. Several readers mentioned twins clubs, and there's even one for parents of triplets. Those who want to learn more about twins clubs should write: National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, P.O. Box 23188, Albuquerque, N.M. 87192-1188, or visit the Web site: http://www.nomotc.org/.