Grandparents are awesome. Most are happy to help out, they love spending time with their grandkids and the bond between grandparent and grandchild can be really special. It’s beautiful to see. However, as useful and as treasured as they are, sometimes they can do things that you just don’t agree with.
The trouble is, parenting styles have come a long way over the years, but to grandparents some of the modern techniques seem pointless and unnecessary. When grandparents don’t respect the parent’s wishes, this can lead to a number of issues when parents discover different rules have been introduced at grandma and grandpas house than they are at home.
The trouble is, it can be difficult to challenge the behavior; especially if the grandparents help out a lot with the children. Many parents also feel like it makes them seem ungrateful if they speak up about something they’re not happy with. However, what you need to realize is that as a parent, you can absolutely set boundaries with grandparents, and doing so doesn’t make you ungrateful.
So, how exactly do you set boundaries with grandparents? Below, you’ll discover some great tips and advice which can help.
Don’t Hold In How You Feel
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to hold in how you feel. Sure, you don’t want to cause tension and you may feel uncomfortable saying how you feel, but you know what’s going to happen if you bottle it up? One day, maybe weeks, months or even a year from now, you may end up having a full-blown meltdown over something really small.
Never wait until you’re just about ready to explode. Sit down and tell them how you feel. You might be surprised to find they have no idea they were making you feel that way and the behavior might automatically stop there. Of course, it might not, but then you can move onto tip number two – ensuring grandparents know the child’s routine.
Sometimes, grandparents do things differently because they have no idea what the child’s normal routine is. You might have even mentioned something in passing, such as “I’m heading off now, I usually give a bottle at around noon”. However, these kinds of things are easy to forget when you’re looking after a baby or toddler!
So, to ensure the grandparents know exactly what you expect, sit down and talk about your little one’s routine. Write it down so it’s easy to refer back to. Include the basics such as nap times, mealtimes and anything in particular you don’t want the child to do while you’re away. That way, they know what is expected and more often than not, they’ll try to stick to it.
Don’t Be Too Strict
While you obviously want some rules and boundaries to be kept, try not to be too strict. After all, it’s normal for children to do things slightly differently at their grandparent’s house. It’s one of the best parts of the grandparent and grandchild relationship that they do special things together that they wouldn’t get to do at home.
It could be they enjoy a little more chocolate at grandma’s house. These treats are something to be treasured and won’t usually impact how the child behaves at home (of course if it does, please don’t hesitate to speak up about it.) Accept that the grandparents are likely to do things a little differently and that’s OK. As long as it isn’t causing serious problems at home, allow for a little flexibility sometimes.
Remind Yourself That The Grandparents Mean Well
Sometimes, the constant suggestions and tips grandparents give us can start to feel a lot like judgement and criticism. However, most grandparents aren’t actually trying to make you feel bad. They genuinely want to be helpful and feel their years of wisdom could benefit you.
So, instead of instantly getting defensive, try to remind yourself that they do mean well, even if it doesn’t necessarily come across that way.
Know How To Handle Crossed Boundaries Tactfully
If you’ve made the boundaries clear but they’re still being crossed, it’s time to handle it tactfully.
It’s surprisingly simple to do this. Take for example, the grandparent who keeps allowing the child to do something you don’t want them to do. Tell them you understand they don’t see things the same way you do and they have a different approach, but you’d really appreciate it if they would follow the way you do things.
Or perhaps they keep giving you advice you don’t really want? In this situation, you can let them know that you appreciate them sharing their expertise, and you’ll let them know if you need any help.
In both of these examples, you can clearly see that the key to handling both of them is to let the grandparent know you appreciate them. You aren’t just dismissing what has been said and that in itself can really help to diffuse and resolve the situation.
You can also invite them to come along to pediatrician appointments or parenting classes so they can see just how much things have changed. Helping them to understand more modern methods can be really beneficial.
Commit To Making It Work
There’s going to be times you just want to give up trying to get your point across and have your boundaries respected. However, it’s important you keep trying to make it work. Persistence does pay off and you need to think about the children.
Children need their grandparents and vice versa. It’s one of the strongest and most important bonds they will ever develop. The relationship between grandparent and grandchild lasts well into adulthood. So, as hard as it sometimes may be, you need to commit to making it work.
Overall, it can be difficult trying to set boundaries with grandparents. It’s important to ensure they know you appreciate, respect and love them, but the parenting decisions are yours. All grandparents really want is to feel needed, so look at ways you can include them without compromising your own parenting beliefs and methods.