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?
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.
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.
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