Many families are lucky enough to have the support of extended family nearby. Knowing that your mother or your partner’s father is available for Saturday night babysitting, childcare pick-ups, and helping out with dinner on weeknights can be a blessing. But when your child’s grandparent parents in a very different way from you, it can be difficult to figure out how to handle such a delicate matter!
- Remember that they have the best of intentions. You’re attempting to sleep train your child, but your mother-in-law thinks your method is the wrong approach. This can be incredibly irritating, especially when you’re sleep-deprived, and, frankly, a little unsure of the what the best thing is to do yourself! But before you engage in any conversation about the issue, remember that your mother-in-law isn’t trying to drive you crazy. She likely just has her own ideas about raising kids after having done so for decades, and wants to pass them on to you, whether they work for your family or not.
- Get them engaged with your child’s routine. Invite your child’s grandparents to participate in your dinner routine. Ask them to pick up your child from daycare or preschool so that they can observe what happens at school at the end of the day. When they familiarize themselves with your child’s routines, they’ll learn a bit about what works for your child, what doesn’t, and why routine is so important to your family.
- Define everyone’s roles. Have a conversation with your child’s grandparents about how much they want to be involved in your child’s life, and in what ways. This will allow both of you to understand when you’re asking for too much, and when you’re giving too little.
- Create a united front with your partner. If an issue arises, make sure you and your partner are on the same page, so that your child’s grandparent isn’t receiving mixed messages from you regarding your rules, your preferences, and your parenting style in general.
- Speak up when boundaries are crossed. Choose your battles. Is grandpa offering a bit more sugar than you would normally offer? Is grandma offering unsolicited advice? It’s okay to be irritated, and to stand your ground. But remember to really take a stand when your family’s values are challenged. If a grandparent is doing something unsafe, or using language that is damaging or offensive, don’t be afraid to lay down the law.
How do you handle challenges with your child’s grandparents? Let us know in the comments!