am i being a bad parent?

Am I being a bad parent... by avoiding all the in-laws this Christmas Day?

With a new baby around, everyone wants their share. We asked three experts to weigh in.

EACH WEEK, WE hear from a reader who can’t figure out what to do about a tricky parenting situation. To get a balanced take on the dilemma, we ask Irish parenting experts to weigh in.

From choosing whether to push toilet training to allowing a baby to ‘cry it out’, being a parent involves decision after decision – and a whole lot of questioning yourself.

This week, one parent is unsure how to spend Christmas Day; visiting both sets of in-laws with his wife and newborn son, or staying at home as a family of three.

Have a parenting dilemma you’re struggling with? Let us know anonymously here and we’ll share it with our panel of experts. 

This week’s dilemma

My wife and I are torn over what to do on Christmas Day. Both of our families want us to spend time with them on the day as this is our newborn’s first Christmas. We both know that neither of our parents will be happy unless we’re spending the majority of the day with them, but it’s physically not possible to please both.

After wracking our brains trying to find a solution that will keep both families happy, my wife and I are considering staying home ourselves, and we’ll visit our parents with the baby before and after Christmas. Are we being unreasonable by leaving the grandparents out?

What the experts have to say…

You are 100% not being unreasonable. A newborn baby brings huge changes to a family. It changes routines, alters people’s capacities to function in the way they did before and it changes your identity from non-parent to parent. The last thing you need is more stress. If you feel up to visiting someone, then the advantage is you will be cooked for, if not, then staying at home with an easy dinner is another great option.

You could also suggest that each set of in-laws visit you for an hour on Christmas Day in the morning, just for a cup of tea. Short sweet and simple. Ideally they’d bring some food too! In general, you’ll find that you probably end up having dinner with one set of in-laws on Christmas Day and another set of in-laws on St Stephen’s Day. Happy Christmas!

 - Krysia Lynch, Maternity Care Expert at

You’re not being unreasonable. This is a lot more common than you may realise! As new parents, finding that balance between families can be tricky. While you don’t want anyone to get upset, at the same time it’s also important to look at what suits you best with a newborn baby. I don’t know whether you live close by as this may determine a visit to both families on the day, or them popping in to see you with a plan to visit for a longer time before and after like you mention. After this year, the solution may be alternating between families as it’ll get to a time when the kids want to stay at home as they get older!

  - Aoife Lee, Parent Coach at Parent Support.

No, you’re not being unreasonable. I think your solution is fantastic. It was actually what was running through my head as I read it. More important than anyone else’s happiness is yours, your partner’s and your baby’s. Your family has just become three and as joyful and fantastic as this is, it’s also exhausting and often traumatic adapting to becoming parents and getting to know your new baby. It’s important for you as a three to be in your comfort zone this Christmas as you manage the sleep, naps, feeding, witching hours and, most important of all, lap up all the beautiful moments of your first Christmas together.

- Deirdre Holland Hannon, Behaviour Specialist at @deehollhan.

So what’s the final tally? Is this reader being unreasonable?

Yes – 0

No – 3

Have a parenting question you want answered? Let us know anonymously in our survey here or email us on and we’ll put it to the experts.

More: Am I being a bad parent… by ditching my toddler’s bedtime routine over the Christmas break?

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