The Grandparent Dynamic

Becoming a parent is weird in many ways.  One of the weirdest, in my opinion, has to be the dynamic with the older generation – i.e. our own parents.  Some grandparents seem to take it all in stride and hand over the parenting reigns, while others seemingly don’t know how to step out of the role of caregiver, and they may even try to expand it.

I have noticed these growing pains emerging during big events.  Either when a new baby is born into the family, or when the stress of holidays rolls around.  Perhaps it has nothing to do with events at all, and it’s really about a difference of opinion or practice that becomes more pronounced during these events.

What do you think, readers?  What makes some grandparents bow out of the parenting game gracefully, while others get more aggressive?  Anyone have insight?  I am particularly curious as to what makes a person step in with the attitude of “I know better than you what is best for your kid.”  For instance, perhaps you have a “no plastic” rule and the grandparent buys a plastic toy for the child even knowing the rule is in place.  What is the thought process that goes on?  Also, is there a way to counteract this behavior?

I am frustrated by this type of behavior.  Suggestions I can handle, and questions are great.  I never mind explaining the reasoning behind our decisions.  I do find it difficult responding to blatant disregard for our wishes, though.  I don’t want to cause rifts – I would rather solve the problem.  So I am bowing down right now to those who have weathered this transition before me, and I ask for your help in making the transition in my own life (and in the lives of other new parents) less painful!

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Comments

  1. I wish mine would bow out gracefully. They don’t understand why we do things different then them.
    On the other hand its good and bad the In laws are so hands off.

    I don’t have any advice sorry.

  2. In my experience (admittedly limited to my parents and my in-laws), it seems to follow the personality of the (grand)parents in question. My in-laws, for instance, think they know better than everyone – especially their own kids – about everything and that extends into how they are about their grandson, right down to the plastic toys. My parents, on the other hand, have always been very cool about letting me make my own choices, and they are likewise hands-off (but loving) grandparents. Mind you, we are parenting a lot more like them than like my in-laws, so that could have something to do with it.

    If you find out how to deal with it, please tell me. Right now we are in a cycle of telling my MIL what she may buy for Sam, having her buy the opposite, us not giving it to him, and thereby making her cry. It isn’t really working.

  3. Did our Grandparents do something or Jack’s grandparents? Our grandparents were “love you from a distance” type. I think its all how they were raised. It could be all how you (or the child of the grandparent) were raised. Did you need a lot of help? I think Mom and Dad would be the “Do whatever parent”.

    I am for some reason a Dear Abby/Margo fiend, and I remember it being covered when the grandma does the opposite of what the Mother of the child requests, but I couldn’t find it… But these are similar. 🙂

    http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/?uc_full_date=20041025

    http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/?uc_full_date=20071013

  4. Ug. Like when I tell my dad “no smoking” around the baby and he takes it to mean “if I’m outside and not directly next to the baby then I can smoke”

    I avoid, frankly. We live close to none of the grandparents and I keep visits short. I figure it’s about how I raise Alex MOST of the time that matters and the grandparents will not ruin him in the course of 72 hours.

    Which was a lesson I had to learn when I went to work when Alex was 5 weeks old and came home and found out my MIL had convinced my husband to give him applesauce and cereal to help fill him up so he would sleep better. I had some choice words in my head, but I more or less let it go.

  5. Ug. Like when I tell my dad “no smoking” around the baby and he takes it to mean “if I’m outside and not directly next to the baby then I can smoke”

    I avoid, frankly. We live close to none of the grandparents and I keep visits short. I figure it’s about how I raise Alex MOST of the time that matters and the grandparents will not ruin him in the course of 72 hours.

    Which was a lesson I had to learn when I went to work when Alex was 5 weeks old and came home and found out my MIL had convinced my husband to give him applesauce and cereal to help fill him up so he would sleep better. I had some choice words in my head, but I more or less let it go.

  6. I try so hard not to get in the way of my kids’ parenting styles….and each of the three is using a different parenting style. I would never give the child something they did not want the child to have. I try to use their methods of dealing with things, even if it is not something I would normally do. I don’t feel I have to agree with their methods to follow them. I raised my kids, they have the right to raise theirs. I feel, as a grandparent, it is my job to LOVE…my kids and their kids. I feel lucky that they all live nearby and I am abl to share in their lives. It is my greatest joy!

  7. I try so hard not to get in the way of my kids’ parenting styles….and each of the three is using a different parenting style. I would never give the child something they did not want the child to have. I try to use their methods of dealing with things, even if it is not something I would normally do. I don’t feel I have to agree with their methods to follow them. I raised my kids, they have the right to raise theirs. I feel, as a grandparent, it is my job to LOVE…my kids and their kids. I feel lucky that they all live nearby and I am abl to share in their lives. It is my greatest joy!

  8. I wish i had advice that worked. We told them the dogs think anything that is plastic is theirs to immediately destroy; but it’s not working.

    I think, though, the kid-having just accentuates whatever relationship dynamic is already in place, so at least you can tell in advance which grandparents are going to be nutty, and which will be actually helpful. Our parenting is quite a bit different from my in-laws and similar to my parents’, but it’s still more often my parents that try to make decisions for us. If i could convince my mom i’m not still a helpless babe-in-arms myself, it might help.

  9. I wish i had advice that worked. We told them the dogs think anything that is plastic is theirs to immediately destroy; but it’s not working.

    I think, though, the kid-having just accentuates whatever relationship dynamic is already in place, so at least you can tell in advance which grandparents are going to be nutty, and which will be actually helpful. Our parenting is quite a bit different from my in-laws and similar to my parents’, but it’s still more often my parents that try to make decisions for us. If i could convince my mom i’m not still a helpless babe-in-arms myself, it might help.

  10. Heather – thanks for the links. And I am amused at your fiendishness. 😉

    Dawn – I don’ think I could let that go. Wow.

    Grandmere – If only every grandparent could do what you are doing. Most of the ones I see either try too much or too little.

    I should have mentioned that this is not limited to grandparents. 😛

  11. Heather – thanks for the links. And I am amused at your fiendishness. 😉

    Dawn – I don’ think I could let that go. Wow.

    Grandmere – If only every grandparent could do what you are doing. Most of the ones I see either try too much or too little.

    I should have mentioned that this is not limited to grandparents. 😛

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