Our relationship with our parents is not always simple. The same goes double for in-laws. It gets more complex when you're adapting to your new role as parents, and they are suddenly the grandparents.
Grandparents are entitled to their opinions. They've been through this parenting business before, and survived it - and so did we. They love their grandkids, and they love you, and they want to help.
But different families, and different generations, do things differently.
The trouble is that rejecting their suggestions can make them feel as though they're being accused of having done things wrong. We all know how hurtful it is when someone questions your parenting decisions, and probably more so when the person questioning them was the one brought up with them.
This is something we've been managing in our family lately. It's been three years since I had to tell my eldest that his "Grampa Sleeve" had unexpectedly passed away. His wife, my mother-in-law, has understandably been living in somewhat of a state of flux since then. Recently, she's been staying with us while her house purchase was finalised.
Adjusting to another adult in the house was tricky; it wasn't just the usual considerations of bathroom routines and different tastes in food. When there are kids involved, especially if you're occasionally relying on the other adult for childcare, it gets more complicated. Lines get blurred.
I'm sure some of our parenting methods probably made her boggle; some of her suggestions perplexed me. I mean, I obviously appreciate how she raised her son, because I think he's pretty darn nifty. It doesn't mean the same approach is right for our family.
How you handle unwanted advice from the grandparents will depend a lot on the personalities involved, and the depth of feeling associated with the topic at hand. Sleep, food and discipline seemed to be the areas where we clashed the most. I've never been good at handling conflict, so mostly I just smiled and nodded. There were other times where I came around to her view, or at least found a middle ground.
I tried to remember that the advice and critiques were being offered because she cares about our kids; it wasn't a personal attack. I didn't always succeed.
What are the hot topics between you and the grandparents? How do you handle their advice, especially if you strongly disagree?
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