DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to my sister's apartment to visit my niece, her boyfriend and their baby girl. I was happy to see the new bundle of joy. During my visit, I saw my niece and her boyfriend argue about whose turn it was to hold the baby. At first I thought it was cute that the young couple wanted to hold the child; however, as time went on, I noticed they became more aggressive, calling each other names that I felt were not appropriate. I did not like their behavior, and I expressed my concern. I suggested to my sister that she should keep an eye on her new grandchild and her daughter. I thought my conversation with my sister was in confidence, but that was not the case. My sister told my niece everything I said, and my niece sent me a nasty email telling me to mind my business. I plan to visit my family in two weeks, and I would like to know how I should address my concerns without being told off. -- Family First, Chicago
DEAR FAMILY FIRST: In the life of a newborn, two weeks can seem like an eternity. Rather than holding onto what you saw during your last visit, be in the present when you visit again. Bring an upbeat, loving attitude to the new family. Offer to be of help in whatever way they need. If the boyfriend is there, be kind to him.
While it is wise to notice aggressive behavior, especially around children and babies, you cannot control what happens with this young couple. Many couples with newborns experience stress and have to learn how to manage it. Rather than rehash any experiences or feelings from the past, do your best to be supportive of the new family. Of course, if you ever see anything occur that could be considered putting the child in danger, say something immediately.