YAHALOM SEMINARY Bridging the Gap

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Dear Jido,

My husband and I are expecting our first child, and my in-laws are very excited. They are already planning a visit to meet their new grandchild. But the in-laws want to bring their dogs, too.

I don’t want these dogs anywhere near the baby, but my in-laws are insistent that if the dogs aren’t welcome, then they’re not welcome.

I know my husband wants to see his parents (who rarely visit because of the dogs). But he is terrible about putting his foot down with them, and they commonly ignore my concerns. What can I do?

Signed,

No Dogs Allowed

Dear No Dogs,

First of all, healthy baby, easy time, at the right time.

I assume that what you mean by “planning a visit”is that your in-laws will be coming in from out of town and staying the night (or two or three). Being a dog lover myself I can understand their decision to come with what they regard as all the “members of the family.” Logistically, it also might be difficult for them to arrange to leave their loved ones behind for an extended period of time, and so bringing them along makes the most sense.

To them.

Some of your concerns may be well-founded and others might just be that you are being over-cautious. It istrue that dogs can become agitated by the sounds and movements of a baby. Some dogs have been known to try to move a baby by carrying the baby in their mouths the way a mother dog does with her puppies – I’m sure you won’t allow THAT to happen. Other dogshave hurt babies because the baby moves and sounds like prey. They may also become jealous if your in-laws display too much love and affection for the baby.

On the other side, some parents worry that dogs will pass along germs to their babies. However, germs tend to be species-specific, meaning dog germs are unlikely to make your child sick. In any event, no matter how unlikely you think it is that your in-laws would allow their trusted pets to hurt your infant, you are wise to caution them to keep them apart.

Understanding this, you and your husband must agree to establish some important ground rules for your guests. This might include the dogs being secluded in a separate room or locked outside when the baby is present. At the very least, the baby’s room must be off-limits when grown-ups are not present.

I am sure that your in-laws will accede to your reasonable requests understanding that you are trying your best to accommodate what you view as an uncomfortable situation. Be sure to let them know continually how welcome they are in your home and at the same time be clear that your house rules rule.

Jido