The support that we get from our parents is of vital importance in raising well rounded children. The sense of safety and stability when they take on the childcare role as opposed to us hiring complete strangers is invaluable, there is no one more invested in our children’s well being than Grandma and Grandpa.
However differing parenting approaches may lead to conflicts and power struggles that could over time be damaging to family relations. It takes communication and respect to keep everyone happy. Here is how to avoid those awkward situations.
Find common ground
Both generations are going to have their ideal way of doing things; you will have to compromise. Approach the care of your child as complementary teamwork. The below quote sums it up well,
‘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. Occasionally make time for meetings where you discuss how baby is doing and what your plans are for the next week. This is a perfect way to evaluate what’s working and what can be improved as well as resolve issues as they crop up rather than leave them to fester.
Lay 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 follows a set pattern and there are no (unpleasant) surprises.
Agree to disagree
Do not be critical. Sometimes Granny will insist on giving unsolicited advice or may seem to be completely running your whole household. It helps to tell her you appreciate her wisdom and parenting skills and that you would like to learn your own way much like she did. Let her know that you’ve got things covered. There will be times of course when you will have to nod at her advice just to maintain the peace and go on and do what you want to do anyway!
Appreciate your mother’s time and generosity
If there are ways to make her feel important and valued, this could help. If monetary remuneration will help, then you may consider giving them an allowance. Some parents will reject payment; consider other ways to compensate them for their effort such as sending them on a trip or hiring someone to clean their house.