When you become a parent, automatically your parents get promoted to being grandparents. With their traditions and unconditional grandparents love, they lay down the foundation for a strong family bond. Here are some ways to get the best out of grandparents in rearing your child.
Establish a Clear Role
The role of a grandparent in a child’s life can be a varied one. While some require a full time commitment, others are just required for a weekend phone chat. A grandparent can have various styles while dealing with your child – from being a family historian, to a mentor and finally to a playmate too. Setting up some basic ground rules for grandparents goes a long way in establishing a successful relationship between grandparents, yourself and your child. The challenge is to tell them to find a balance between being supportive and authoritative.
Take your Spouse’s Help to Set and Maintain Rules
If your view differs from your parents on how to bring up a child then it is best to keep communication channels open and honest. Do not be over demanding and keep your expectations from them reasonable.
One way of doing this is by holding regular grandparents’ family meetings where all issues can be discussed. Don’t forget to compromise and also negotiate while setting up the ground rules. Revisit these rules from time to time to avoid frictions from cropping up.
In cases where you have to leave your child with your in-laws, it is best to involve your spouse as well. This not only applies when the rules for grandparents are being discussed but even for those times when rules are not followed.
It is during his time that your spouse would need to speak up for you and be more assertive with his parents. It is advisable that you remain silent and let him handle the situation. Else it is likely that you will begin to appear as the parent who is the inflexible one.
Listen, but if Required, Defer
There will be times when there is a difference of opinion between you and the child’s grandparents’ nurturing styles. While, it is true that they may have more years of experience, they need not always be right. In such cases, do lend them an ear but do not hesitate to defer.
When the grandparent and child are together, let them know which rules cannot be changed. For instance
- If your child cannot have a certain food because of allergic reasons, then the grandparents cannot give them even a little taste of it. This could apply to other rules like bed time, television watching time as well.
- Explain your disciplinary strategy with your kids. For example, as a parent you might have decided not to use any physical methods but instead prefer other means like time outs.
However, when the grandparent and child are together, try not to micro-manage. If you find that some rules you laid down was modified by them a bit, it does not mean that they disrespect you. Instead it could mean that they used their discretion to handle a situation when you were not present.
Don’t forget that they are grandparents after all. So do let them enjoy their time with your child.
The parenting style of grandparents as parents is likely to be different from yours. In such cases, have an open conversation with them. Instead of saying, “the rules will be followed because I am telling you so”, explain to them why you have made a certain rule pertaining to your child. This will reduce miscommunications.
Also, as a new parent, you might be feeling insecure about small things pertaining to your baby. In such cases, any advice from the grandparent can be viewed as criticism by you. Talk to them about how their comments are affecting you to put an end to the miscommunications.
When grandparent and child are together with, they expect some support from you as well. Here are some ways you can help them.
- When you send your child to her grandparents’ family, explain to her how she is expected to behave. Let them know that misbehaviour will not be appreciated by you.
- Send them with their favourite toy or book. Leave a few there too, if possible. This will keep your child amongst things familiar to her.
- It is best to structure the time that your child is spending with her grandparents. For this, you can plan ahead. This could involve nature walks, outdoor sports, craft work or even baking and cooking.