Grandma-to-be Carolyn Hax posts baby news without parental consent


Dear Caroline: My son married his high school girlfriend six years ago. The couple tried to get pregnant through various means for three years and are finally expecting our first grandchild. We are all wildly happy.

We have had ups and downs with this couple. We took them on trips and hosted them and their friends throughout high school and beyond. When they got married, they lived with us for nine months with their big dog to save for a house.

This Thanksgiving, they announced the gender of the new baby. We had a great afternoon and headed home.

I was so excited to share with my friends, who know how long we’ve been waiting. I posted a few photos on Facebook (of myself) announcing how grateful I was to be a grandmother.

Within minutes, I received a text from my daughter-in-law to delete the message. I did, but I was very upset. I texted my son asking why I couldn’t post and didn’t hear anything until the next morning. I got the most snobbish and hateful text from my daughter-in-law stating the reason was that it wasn’t my place to post, and why would I do this without asking, etc. I was so upset that I took two Ambien to shut out the noise and get some sleep.

My husband is now acting like I’m crazy and seems afraid to offend anyone other than me.

I am no longer happy and excited. I see a future of walking on eggshells and staying on a path assigned to me by a woman I have loved and supported since she was 16.

miss the joy: You don’t “miss out on joy”, you seriously miss the point.

Making a public announcement on social networks of any pregnancy that is not yours and without the permission of the future parents is only a massive and forbidden refusal.

To announce a pregnancy in this way when it occurred after years of struggle and intervention? I feel your disappointed enthusiasm, but I really, really feel the horror of the couple. They are happy, yes, but they are also brittle at present. I can say this without even knowing them because that’s how people are when they feel their pregnancy is fragile — like they don’t have control — and people tend to think that when it’s takes years and “various ways” for the pregnancy to take. These three years have been full of difficult news for them – whether the news was the disheartening “not pregnant” or the devastating “no longer pregnant”. Their joy is cautious, and you threw the caution of a moving car.

So damn it. I understand that not everyone understands the unwritten rules of fertility struggles or social media outbursts. But after making the mistake of posting news that didn’t belong to you, you took your correction as an invitation to focus on the severity of your hurt by your daughter-in-law, not the severity of your shock.

So sit down for a moment. Let your fury at my unsympathetic response bring out the worst of its heat. Then think, really think about the position you’re putting the couple in with your ad. Consider how worried they are likely to be, rationally or otherwise, about the viability of this pregnancy due to their struggle to conceive – perhaps until your daughter-in-law delivers. Consider the added weight of knowing they will have to update and feel the eyes of dozens of people now if something goes wrong.

Consider that you may have been seduced into such recklessness by wanting so badly to keep your own share of their joy.

Then, when you are at least able to understand the general form of their legitimate frustration with you, apologize to them. First for overriding your message, and second for pushing back, intemperately, when they asked you to take it down.

And then, if this is a really productive soul-searching session, apologize for letting their heavy mix of joy, relief, and apprehension focus on you and your feelings. (And, uh, about a retroactive count of everything you did for those two. You were generous, so you own a piece?)

But it is optional. As long as you make the initial apology for overstepping, you can do the rest of the accountability work privately in your own mind, without a detailed statement of remorse; they will enjoy the benefit regardless of their future relationship with you.

The good news in all of this? The joy is there for the feeling, where you left it when you got carried away. “It’s about them, not me” – not to the point of absurdity, but to the point of occasional discomfort, yes; just flash that pass at the door and you’re in. Joy City. Just don’t post whisper about any child, ever, without parental consent.

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