Few people can be more invested in your children’s wellbeing than their grandparents. Their support and the sense of safety and stability we have when they take on the role of caregivers is invaluable.
Differing parenting approaches may, however, lead to conflicts and power struggles that could become damaging to family relations over time. It takes communication and respect to keep everyone happy. Here is how to avoid those awkward situations.
Find common ground
Both generations will have their ideal way of doing things, so everyone will need to compromise. Approach the care of your child as complementary teamwork.
‘To the youth, give us your fresh perspective; you are jewels to the old. It has been long since they stood where you stand today. To the old, if you are still here, if you have survived this long, it means you know things. We need you to reveal to us what you know and have learnt’ – Elizabeth Gilbert (Big Magic)
Schedule regular check-ins
Relinquish some control. Give your parents leeway to plan the day and make decisions. For example, granny can take the baby to the park without necessarily running this by you. You do not have to type up a minute-by-minute schedule or treat her like an employee. Make time to sit down with your parents to discuss how your baby is doing and what plans you might have coming up. This will help everyone to evaluate what’s working and determine where adjustments can be made.
Lay down ground rules
Set clear expectations about baby care, for example, specific aspects of feeding, sleep routines, safety and discipline, as well as play activities. This ensures that the household continues to follow a set pattern and there are no (unpleasant) surprises.
Agree to disagree
Do not be critical. Sometimes granny will insist on giving unsolicited advice and it may even seem as if she is completely running your household. It helps to tell her you appreciate her wisdom and parenting skills, but that you’d like to learn your own way much like she did. Let her know that you’ve got things covered. There will be those times when you will just have to nod at her advice to maintain the peace and go on and do what you want to do anyway.
Appreciate your mother’s time and generosity
There are ways to make her feel important and valued. If she needs financial assistance, consider compensating them with an allowance. Some parents will reject any form of payment, so think about other ways to compensate them for their effort such as sending them on a trip or hiring someone to clean their house.
By Thembi Hama