Establishing a healthy relationship with new grandparents
Your little bundle of joy has finally arrived! Other than you and your partner, no one is more excited than the new grandparents. Sweet as it may be, their enthusiasm can quickly turn into a source of disagreements and tension that needs to be resolved for your personal peace, and the healthy upbringing of your baby. Let’s have a look at some common issues and how to prevent and address them.
Prepare the terrain
Ideally before your baby arrives (but even if it has already – late is better than never), communicate with the grandparents about your vision of child rearing. Be sure to mention all the things you thought they did well when they raised you that you would like to implement in your child’s upbringing as well – this will cushion the blow of you wanting to do some other things differently. Even if they object at first, they will have time to think about it and get used to the idea eventually.
Prepare your partner
Your partner is your strongest ally, and it’s very important that they have your back. It is crucial that you agree on the rules and hold that front with both sets of grandparents – yours and theirs. Letting a thing slide for their mom while being strict about it with yours is bound to cause discord and all kinds of arguments.
Pick your battles
It is very likely you will get bombarded by obvious or minor comments, reminders and opinions by the new grandparents. While those can be extremely irritating at times, remember that they are coming from a good place – of care and support. A simple smile and ‘thank you’ will soothe them and make them feel included and will keep the peace.
Take the good, leave the bad, and confront the ugly
Sometimes mother (or mother-in-law) does know best! Be open to accepting good advice, tried-and-tested through generations, even if the tone is a bit preachy. Some bad advice, however, needs to be left in the past – don’t be shy about declining it politely, supporting your stance with new literature if necessary. As for the rude and out-of-line comments or advice, do confront them. Set up a time to talk in private, and let them know as kindly as possible that a boundary has been breached.
To babysit or not to babysit
If your parents or in-laws live close by, babysitting is a great help that can potentially turn into an issue. Some grandparents want to be there all the time (sometimes even showing up unannounced!), and that can quickly become smothering. Let them know that you wanting some time alone with your munchkin has nothing to do with them – you need to learn to take care of them independently, or dad needs some 1-on-1 bonding time. Some grandparents never seem to offer their babysitting services, though. Try to figure out why – maybe they are waiting for you to ask, or are feeling uncomfortable being alone with the baby. You can encourage them by telling them how your little one enjoys grandma and grandpa time.
Be flexible about spoiling
Remember when you were little how much you loved being spoiled by your grandparents? After all, it’s part of their job description! Showering your precious one with gifts is the way they can show affection, especially if they cannot be there all the time to do it in other ways. Remember, it’s you who has the most influence on your child’s upbringing.
Don’t compare their parenting to their grandparenting
Sometimes the strictest parents can turn into the gentlest grandparents. If this is the case with yours, it’s easy to start developing negative feelings. Try to realize that the responsibility of raising a child into a functional adult has been lifted from their shoulders and they might be feeling free to relax a bit more with their grandchild. Enjoy that liberation with them instead of resenting them for it, and remember that one day it will be your turn to spoil your grandchild with care.