Dear Miriam,

My husband and I are due our first baby in early autumn. It’s the first grandchild on either side, so there is a great excitement. Thankfully, all is going well so we are starting to look at what buggy to buy etc.

This is where my issue is. My husband is an only child and his mother kept most of his baby stuff, i.e. cot, pram etc. She has been talking about how excited she is to pass them on. I know she means well, but I don’t think she realises how much things have changed, and in any case, I’d really like for us to buy our own new things.

I don’t want to insult her though. What’s the best way to handle it?


Dear Mam-to-be,

First of all, congratulations on the impending arrival. It’s a very special time. I’m sure your mother-in-law does mean well, but I imagine that even if you wanted to accept the gesture, guidelines have changed so much in recent years that much of the older equipment is simply no longer safe or suitable for a baby born today.

Modern equipment is also much lighter; I can only imagine trying to wrestle a 30-year-old-plus pram into the boot of the car, compared to the options available today.

This line of reasoning might be the best way out of this situation without bruising any feelings; though I would leave that particular job to your husband, as I’m sure you have enough to be doing. That said, there might still be a way that some safer, but just as sentimental, items might be passed on. For instance, she might have a piece of handmade knitwear that your husband wore as a child that will have stood the test of time or a favourite book or teddy that might just need to be cleaned up.

Alternatively, she might like to buy a new, less expensive piece for the baby – like a bath – to still feel involved in the preparations, but without over-reaching.

I hope this is helpful and wish you the very best over the coming months.

Readers write

Hello Miriam,

I read this column with interest and I agree with your advice (“I don’t want to ask my sister-in-law to be godmother”, published 18 May edition.)

Our son is almost 18 now and his godmother is my sister-in-law, who, similar to Jennifer’s sister-in-law, is unmarried and has no children.

Over the years, we felt that being godmother to her nephew has made such a difference to her and she continues to be very supportive and kind to him. I recommend that Jennifer focuses on the positives of selecting a family member to be godmother and to go with her husband’s choice. I expect she will be pleasantly surprised.

Hi Miriam,

I have just read the letter from the lady who does not want her sister-in-law to be godmother. It is possible to have two godmothers. When my daughter was christened 30 years ago, I wanted my friend and my husband wanted his mother so we had both. Another one of my daughters had a baby two years ago and her sister and her partner’s sister were both godmothers and they have been very good to her. I love your column: sometimes it makes me smile, but sometimes it gives me a good laugh.

Note from Miriam

While I am not an expert in canon law by any means, I understand that where there is more than one godmother chosen, usually only one can be registered as an “official” godmother by the church, while the other stands in an honorary capacity.

But that does not mean that they can’t play an equally important role in the child’s life.

Indeed, this may be a solution to this conundrum; it’s best to chat to the parish priest directly to explore this option, if so. Thank you for getting in touch.

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