The therapist is in: Expert advice on family issues and pregnancy


Alice Domar, a psychologist specializing in reproductive medicine counseling, took time to answer your most pressing questions on navigating family problems surrounding pregnancy and impending parenthood. 

Family and mismatched finances

Question: My in-laws are very wealthy and my family is most definitely not. I am pregnant with our first child. Our baby will be the first grandchild for my parents but not my in-laws. My in-laws are not only going crazy about buying things (most of which I don’t like) but my mother-in-law is constantly texting my mom with pictures of the things she is buying. It is making my mother feel so sad that she isn’t able to buy the things she wants for her first grandchild. She also feels guilty that so many of her grandchild’s things will have been paid for by the other set of grandparents. My husband doesn’t understand that this upsets me. What do I do?

Answer: This is a common issue. Many couples have family members who don’t have the same resources as others. You have a number of options open to you. One option is to try to explain to your husband exactly why this makes your mother so uncomfortable. Then he can sit down with his parents and tell them why they need to put the brakes on their buying sprees. If he doesn’t agree, maybe you can send your mother-in-law an email. Simply say that while you appreciate their generosity, it is making members of your family too aware of the discrepancy.

Another idea is to sit down with your mom, and tell her that grandparents can be generous in different ways. Your in-laws can be generous in terms of material things, but babies don’t know or care who bought their crib or stroller. What counts to a baby/young child is the grandparent who snuggles with them, gets down on the floor to play, and reads their favorite book. For the 100th time.

Grandma isn’t excited

Q: It took me almost a year to get pregnant so when I finally did, I was ecstatic and excited. I am now in my seventh month and I’m shocked and hurt that my parents don’t seem very interested in my pregnancy. They have two other grandkids who live a few hours away, but I live in the same town as my parents. I had happy fantasies of my mom and I going baby clothing shopping together. She rarely asks how I am feeling and never suggests doing anything baby-related.

A: There are a few possible explanations for this situation. Is it possible that you are entirely pregnancy-focused? This happens a lot to women who took a while to conceive. They are over-the-moon about being pregnant. But others, who didn’t suffer through the months of trying, can’t match their excitement.

Your parents may have other challenges in their lives demanding attention, including health, job issues, or money worries. They might not want to worry you right now. Finally, maybe this is just who your parents are. Some people are a bit superstitious about pregnancy and are afraid to get excited until the baby arrives. Other parents feel too young to act like a grandparent and are more focused on things in their own lives.

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