Last week, my mother casually remarked upon how cautious I am about keeping my child’s clothes clean. She told me that “kids should have a little dirt,” and eyed my pile of muslin cloths and bandana bibs with amusement. I just want to make life easy with these handy inventions! I felt so criticised…
Most parents will feel that their own parents act differently in the role of a grandparent, to how they were with their own children. Inevitably, this is purely because the role of grandparent and parent are usually quite different. Does the benefit of experience mean however that grandparents are always right?
There is no easy answer to this question, and the answer is different from family to family. The best place to start when trying to decide whether to act upon a grandparent’s advice about your children, is to look into your own feelings towards the grandparents as parents themselves. Were you fundamentally happy with the love and support that they gave you? Do you feel that they have the best intentions at heart for your own children? Hopefully the answer will be yes to both of these questions, but if it isn’t, then extra work needs to be done, either privately or via a professional, to resolve feelings from the your upbringing.
Just as everybody makes mistakes, so do grandparents. Learning to assert your wishes to your own or partner’s parents can be challenging, but it is not impossible. If the reason is clear behind your request for grandparents to do, or not do something, then there can be no reason for reproach. Some parents struggle to stand up to their own parents, as they can often still feel like they are seen as a child in their eyes.
Accepting that your child will view you differently to their grandparents will immediately help you to reflect, if you begin to draw comparisons between you. Often, grandparents can seem to be your child’s ‘favourites’, as they may be more indulgent or lenient. It’s best never to take this to heart, or spoil your children to compete with the grandparents. Seeking a balance and understanding between the two generations of child bearers, will promote happiness and wellbeing within the family.