One of the trickiest parts of parenting is sometimes dealing with the people who love our children almost as much as we do: grandparents. Setting boundaries and insisting Grandma and Grandpa follow the house rules often leads to stress and hurt feelings. Here are some ways to have a peaceful relationship with grandparents.
Of course, they want to see their grandchildren; however, parents and kids need some time with just each other. If your parents or in-laws are coming over too frequently — especially if it’s unannounced — let them know a schedule that works for you. Do this with any situation in which you aren’t seeing eye to eye.
Keep in mind that your parents may have to set boundaries for you, too. It’s easy to fall into the trap of taking advantage of their willingness to spend time with your kids. Remember that they have their own lives, too.
Chose your battles, then let them have a little fun — they’ve earned it!
What issues are you most passionate about? No TV? Lights out at 7? No solid food before age one? Hold your ground on what’s really important to you and then let Granny and Gramps spoil the kids a little. After all, isn’t that one perk of grandparenting?
Emphasize with their position and show appreciation.
They love your children. They love you. They only know how to parent one way, and if you’re doing it differently, they may feel rejected.
Don’t forget to let them know you appreciate them. Being criticized for how they care for and show affection to your child is a tough pill to swallow, especially when they are helping you out. “Thank you” and “I love you” both go a long way.
Don’t expect them to change who they are. When you love someone, you accept them, warts and all. In some cases, that might mean your little ones’ first words are of the slightly vulgar variety because your mom has never been able to control her potty mouth. Your child is going to encounter people with all sorts of quirks. There’s no need to expect Grandma and Grandpa to be perfect.
Remember “parent” trumps “grandparent,” but only play that card when absolutely necessary.
In her essay “Our Baby, Not Yours,” writer Barbara Graham talks about the struggles of falling in love with a grandchild and reconciling that she’s not the one calling the shots. The bottom line is, you are the parent, and you have the right to call the shots regarding your child. If you need to take a hard stand, it’s better the grandparent hear it from her own child. If the conflict is with your in-laws, let your partner take the lead.
Sensitivity and clear communication are key to ensuring everyone feels respected and on the same page. And if you aren’t on the same page, sometimes being in the same chapter is good enough!