Babies: 0 - 3 Months

How to tell easily offended FIL to wash his hands?

My father in law is visiting this weekend. FIL also tends to be - um - phlegmy. He?s constantly coughing up phlegm and I?ve often seen him wipe his nose or cough into tissues and not wash his hands. I don?t have this problem with the other in laws. In fact, I?ve seen BIL make faces in response to FIL?s loud, phlegmy episodes.

What complicates matters is that in addition to being phlegmy, FIL is also VERY easily offended. For example, a few years ago we dropped off DD at my in laws so they could babysit. DH politely asked if they would put away small items that she could potentially choke on that were littering the house. FIL became very confrontational and said he felt ?insulted? that DH was telling him how to do things in his own house and that we should have just trusted them w/o instructing them. He went on to say "we've raised kids before. You don't need to tell us how to do things". DH quickly cowered.

I want hubby to ask FIL to wash his hands before he holds the baby. I don?t want the baby exposed to bodily secretions in the midst of cold/flu season. But hubby seems very nervous about asking his father to wash his hands. What should I do? I don?t feel it?s my place to ask. I think DH should do it. What?s the absolute nicest, possible way to ask FIL to wash his hands without setting him off?

Oh and the one other issue - maybe this is overboard on my part- but I don't want FIL to kiss LO on the face. He's the ONLY one who did this at the hospital...but maybe I should leave this issue alone and just deal with hand washing right now. Sigh. 

Re: How to tell easily offended FIL to wash his hands?

  • FIRST of all - Yuck!  He sounds like a peach!

    I'd put some hand sanitizer on the table and say anyone who touches the baby must first use hand sanitizer including you and your DH.  If he gets offended, oh well!  I'd rather an offended FIL than a sick baby.

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  • The one thing I learned when I became and mommy is that my LO comes first no matter what.  If I offend you, oh well! That's my theory! My LO's health is more important that your feelings.  My MIL smokes so I ask her to wash we hand before she hold our LO.  We also have a big jug of germ-x for people to use.  I just leave it out and say something like "we don't want LO to get sick since she's so little! We've been germ-x'ing like crazy!" and she'll get the hint.  And about the face kissing you can say "I've read that LO's can get super sick when people are constantly kissing her face! It's so hard for me not to but I don't want her to get sick!"  

    I hope this helps.  Remember, LO is the most important here. If he gets offended I'm sure he'll get over it but he won't be the one up in the middle of the night when you LO is sick!

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  • Absolutely put sanitizer by the front door!  Put a sign that lets them if they enter, please sanitize. 
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  • I had an experience early on in which I didn't want to offend the person.  Each time I think about it and since then I strongly believe that my baby comes first. You shouldn't stress about a persons feelings. You should only stress over your baby. Anyone who gets upset needs to get over it and respect your wishes if they want to be near the baby.
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  • We have a large bottle of sanitizer in our kitchen and we use it religiously. Make sure that you use it in his presence. If he doesn't use it I would just bring it over to him before the handoff and say "Everybody sanitizes before they get their hands on the baby." Just make it real lighthearted and hope he takes it the right way. If not, just stand your ground.

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  • I would put up a sign so he doesn't feel it's directed only at him. I understand about gross relatives. DH's grandma wiped my 3y/o DD's face with her used tissue...GAG
  • I totally understand about putting LO?s health before anyone?s feelings...although my FIL has this way of holding a grudge like it?s no one?s business. You?re right that it shouldn?t matter. But these things tend to snowball with him and fester.

    I really love the ideas about having a large bottle of hand sanitizer out and making a point of using it in front of him. I?m also wondering if I should enlist DD to give FIL a mini bottle of hand sanitizer as a ?gift?. DD is pretty conscious about using hand sanitizer! LOL!

  • I would keep sanitizer near you and make a point to use it yourself before you hold the baby. That way, when other people around you want to hold him, you can just mention that you're being precautious since it's cold season. I would drop the face kissing thing. I think that might be pushing it.
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  • When my parents were here, my dad would constantly bounce her really hard while holding her and I enlisted my mom to be an extra bad guy and help me tell him not to. He can get pretty testy when being told what to do, so I understand. Is there someone in addition to YH who can back you up? Sometimes hearing it from more than one person can be pretty effective.
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  • Personally, I put one those hanging Hand Sanitizers on his car seat and if someone wants to hold him, they have to use it.  Maybe you could hang one from his crib (or whatever he will be most of the time) so your FIL can see it clearly.  Maybe you could post a reminder note on his crib that says WASH HANDS PLEASE
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  • You can also try offering a choice: "John, do you prefer to wash hands or use hand sanitizer before holding little Oliver?"
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  • So let him hold a grudge, what is the worst that can happen ?  It's not like the world will stop spinning because FIL is mad at you guys.  This is a part of growing up and being a parent, looking out for your child's best interest.

    I know you are looking something to tell him so he is offended the least, however because of his history, he is eventually going to be upset about something.  Might as well learn to let it roll of your back now. 

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