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When You Parent Differently From Your Parents | Conflict Danger Zone!

Have you clashed with your own parents ABOUT parenting? You’re not alone!

Back in my day…

Grandparents can add so much joy to our lives. Seeing them play with your children, lights shining from everyone’s eyes, filling the room with love. It’s the kind of stuff people write Hallmark cards about.

With the good, however, can come the bad. Different inter-generational expectations about parenting have been at the heart of many a fractured family conflict. When the health, safety and happiness of your tiny children is all anyone wants to protect, tempers can flare and you can often find yourselves in enemy territory before you know it.

So how do you deal with your own parents (or in-laws) who parent VERY differently from you WITHOUT initiating World War Three?

grandparents parenting differently to you

Access to information

Information about food, sleeping safety, early years education and the VAST arrange of topics to do with parenting is readily available to everyone and anyone.

Consider that your parents may not know how to access new materials or that they may just assume that their way of doing things is still the norm. If you’re concerned about broaching a topic with them, perhaps the best way to do it might be to let someone else (like the author of an article) do it for you.

Your parents may not be aware of information like:
• When you can safely give babies things like honey or water
SIDS safe sleeping regulations
• Appropriate ways to respond to teething pain
• How you feel about ideas like ‘spoiling’ a baby by responding to its cries

They may become defensive and argumentative when you try to tell them otherwise. Presenting them with legitimate information written from a reputable source may be what you need to get the message through.

How much is too much?

Grandparents (if you’re lucky) love their grandchildren and want to spend time with them. That’s only natural, right?

But what if their expectations don’t match with the kind of time that your family is capable of giving?

Being honest from the start about your commitments may be difficult at the time but will save a lot of heartache later. Our lives are busy with kids and work but, for your parents, their time commitments are a lot more flexible. Make sure they know what’s on YOUR plate so that they can adjust their own expectations accordingly rather than suffocate you with JUST TOO MUCH!

Both on the same page

Couples often argue about their respective parents and how much space they take up in their own relationship. They may find their in-laws to be pushy or demanding or too distant or disinterested.

Regularly checking in with your partner about the level of involvement outside parties have on your immediate family may work towards cutting down on some of this conflict. In a perfect world everyone would get along – but in reality we know that that’s just NOT POSSIBLE all of the time.

three generations hands

It’s all about respect

Respect for the children and respect for each other are the absolute cornerstones to a positive inter-generational relationship. Being honest with each other, being respectful of differences of opinion and finding a way to show your own children what healthy adult relationships look like is vital to family success.

It’s often about looking at what you can and what you can’t live with. If your family is focused on a sugar-free diet you are well within your rights to ask grandparents to respect that. You can respectfully request that they find other ways to ‘treat’ your children rather than with food. That’s reasonable!

If, however, there are some issues that you’re prepared to be flexible on then encourage some leniency in those respects. Is it the end of the world if they watch a movie at Nana’s house? Will all of your hard work be undone if they stay up a little past their bed times when they’re being baby-sat?

Emotions can run high

Parenting, regardless of how old your kids are, is fraught with emotion. When it is suggested that we’re somehow ‘doing it wrong’ it can be difficult to then find a happy medium or to come back from past hurt.

When your parents parent differently from you the only way to find a way forward is to establish common rules and keep communication lines open.


when you parent differently to your parents

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  1. 31/07/2017 / 6:48 am

    Good post, Parenting is often so much more difficult than it needs to be. I also think we forget what we did (and our parents forget what they did) so we make up a little subconsciously how wonderful we were…which adds to the problem.

  2. 31/07/2017 / 7:13 am

    My father and MIL don’t agree with my extreme anti spanking and gender neutrality on toys. They are both shocked at my son’s love of My Little Pony. Funnily enough my FIL who is incredibly strict with all his grandchildren said to me the other day – ‘if I’d known you could raise such a well behaved child by just talking to them, I would have tried it years ago!’

  3. Kim
    31/07/2017 / 8:41 am

    I’ve had to limit contact with my parents as they have trouble respecting boundaries with regards to our parenting. It’s been very hard since I got pregnant with my first child and I can see the same pattern now our second is almost due. They’ve always been difficult but I refuse to put up with it when it involves my family.

  4. 31/07/2017 / 9:20 am

    Such a good topic and I could write a post-length response but I won’t …there was little issue with me and my mum & dad but my hub found it really hard at times when they ‘spoiled’ our daughter as he came from a large family where NOTHING was excessive. Christmas times proved a challenge but over time he accepted it and in the end we were similar in giving to our kids and grandkids. However, I did do a LOT of grandchildcare for love and definitely not money and I always followed the parents’ instructions so the kids had consistenty. One thing though is that I know we did not always feel as appreciated for it as we might. That’s life. However, we are very, very grateful to have close and loving ties (even tho we see them rarely since we moved) to those special people who we cared for from babyhood to school age. Great post K!

  5. 31/07/2017 / 9:24 am

    Sadly my parents became the grandparents from hell, when I moved closer to home after separating from my husband when our child was only 6mths old. My parents were very hard on me when I was growing up, so I wanted to find some middle ground with my parenting. The grandparents became the super spoilers, which when you are seeing your grandchild everyday becomes a real problem for the parent. I was continually being under minded and it often felt as they were claiming my son as their own, expecting to be included in all decision making, activities and first rights to time with him. In the end I had to make the hard decision to move away, so that I could rebuild the relationship with my son. Thankfully at nearly aged 18rys the mother / son relationship is super strong and I have a wonderful son that is doing very well and I am super proud of.

  6. 31/07/2017 / 12:37 pm

    We’ve been lucky that neither of us has interfering parents – his mum doesn’t care about anyone except herself, and my mum only visits once a year, if that (she offered advice in the beginning, but after almost 20 years she thinks I do an ok job)

  7. 31/07/2017 / 12:41 pm

    This was never an issue for me as both sets of parents were to old to have any input. However my much older and childless sister did try to tell me that I should have my 6 month old son weaned and my two year old daughter nappy trained. I’ll leave you all to imagine my response to that one!

  8. 31/07/2017 / 1:19 pm

    Despite my claims of otherwise when I was growing up, my parents are pretty reasonable and respectful. My parenting is not all that different to theirs

  9. Caitlyn
    31/07/2017 / 3:09 pm

    So lucky I haven’t had to deal with this!

  10. 31/07/2017 / 4:08 pm

    Such great advice. Time with grandparents is so valuable so it makes sense to put some effort in to making it work.

  11. We’re at the grandparent stage (our little granddaughter is 18mths old) and I am VERY aware of not overstepping the parental boundaries. It’s still easy to make a mistake because so many of the “rules” have changed over the last couple of decades. My DIL tells me when I do something not quite right and I always apologize and try not to repeat the mistake – she’s also fairly tolerant when she knows that what I do is done with the best of intentions. It’s all about being kind to each other and giving the benefit of the doubt, but ultimately the Mum has the last say – NOT the grandmother!

  12. 31/07/2017 / 9:17 pm

    I don’t recall having many issues with either my parents or my two sets of in laws!! But I suppose it always helps to live 2 hours away from them!!

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