ControverSunday: The Grandparental Units

Happy Mothers Day all!
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And welcome to an other ControverSunday, hosted by Perpetua and badge supplied by Accidents. (I am running out of cute ways to introduce ControverSunday. Sorry.)

This weeks topic via Perpetua’s topic announcement.

“Prompted by an Unauthorized Haircut given to H by a grandparent, Accidents suggested that we take on the subject of how we (do or don’t) enforce our  parenting standards and rules when it comes to grandparents/caregivers. Her question was, do we “micromanage or take a ‘what happens at grandma’s’ approach”?”

Okay, first I am going to say something and hope you don’t all hate me.

I have a very very good relationship with both my parents and my husbands parents. We are lucky. You know those notorious family fights that tend to break out between parents and their adult children while planning a wedding? Yeah, none of that. None. Why? Because both my parents and my husbands parents are very very respectful of us and our want to do things our way. I can’t speak to why my wonderful Mother in Law is so good at this, but I know for my parents, it was because my grandparents had a tendency to butt in a bit too much (okay, a lot) and it really bothered them. And therefore I am blessed with parents who 100% respect our wishes.

Case in point. My Mom send a bunch of books (A LOVES books. Like too much. Like loves them to pieces. See this post) for A’s first birthday. Before we opened them, she said, over the phone “There is one you may find a bit too commercial and not like it, but it was so A I couldn’t help it.” It was a “Cheerio” book where A can put the cheerios in the little spots to complete a picture. So totally cute. But this is a good example of my Mom being very aware of what my husband and I think (we aren’t big fans of uber commercial baby stuff, although we have loosened up a bit after seeing how much A likes cheesy baby stuff).

Anyway, back to my point…. we are lucky enough that we don’t run into too many instances where we have to ask ourselves if we enforce our parenting standards or take a ‘what happens at Grandma’s stays at Grandma’s approach.’

None of the grand-parental units would hand A a big fat candy bar. Or let her stay up until 10pm. Or fail to gently tell her no if she was hitting someone. We are pretty much on the same page. Truth be told, when it comes to parenting, I take the advice of my parents and my mother-in-law above just about anyone elses advice.

Just about the only time I can think of that any of the grandparental units did anything that wouldn’t have been my preference was once when my parents were babysitting A when she was probably about 4 months old. I asked them to try and put her down at 7pm. They took her for a walk in the sling at 7pm and put her down at 7:45 instead. At the time it bothered me a little bit, but in retrospect WHATEVER. SHE WAS 4 MONTHS OLD and I was being crazy for trying to ‘enforce’ a bed time anyway. And it wasn’t like they overstimulated her with a bunch of blink light toys right before bed, they took her for a walk in a sling, which (at that age) was sometimes the only way to calm her down enough to get her to sleep anyways.

Back to the point. We are: L-u-c-k-y. Perhaps at some point we will encounter this challenge, but for now we have pretty much smooth sailing.

I know not everyone has this mutual understanding. I know lots of people struggle with the different opinions of different caregivers. And if you ask my opinion, I think you have to find a balance. Some things are just not a big enough deal to battle over and it is better to take a “What happens at Grandma’s” approach. Some things are a big deal and as the parent it is fair to ask other care givers to respect that. What things go into which category depends on your kid, your parenting values and what your other caregivers believe. I don’t think you can just divide up the issues so easily. Negotiating with caregivers is just an other challenge of parenting.

Grandparents or not, the majority of kids have multiple caregivers: child care providers, teachers, coaches, friends, the baby-sitter, other family members and the grandparents. And with every aspect of parenting, how we deal with that is not black and white. It all depends. Perpetua’s post spoke to the issue of respect. And I think she hit the nail on the head. That is the key. If all caregivers respect each other and respect the parents as the people who should have the final say- then it should go okay most of the time .

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3 responses to “ControverSunday: The Grandparental Units

  1. Lorry May 10, 2010 at 1:10 am

    This made me chuckle: “but I know for my parents, it was because my grandparents had a tendency to butt in a bit too much (okay, a lot) and it really bothered them.”

    My mother had serious issues with her in-laws, and she’s mentioned on several occasions that that’s why she butts out of our lives. Except that she doesn’t. I mean, it could definitely be a lot worse, but I tend to think it’s only not because we’re on different continents. She still insists that I was in complete control of planning my wedding. Uhhhh… yeah….

    So my fear is that I will think I’m being an awesome MIL when I’m not. Because clearly that can happen. Eep!

  2. Perpetua May 10, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Don’t worry, I don’t hate you for liking your in-laws. On the contrary, it gives me hope for our future. 🙂

  3. Megan May 10, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I agree with you and Perpetua that respect is the key issue. My MIL and BIL will say condescending things about Chris and me being “first time parents”, and that bugs me. And when my MIL argues with me, I feel it shows a lack of respect.

    Having said that, I do agree that balance is important. I am willing to let her have more treats with Grandma or stay up late to play with her cousins, but since we live so close and see them so often, it can’t be every time. I can’t do a “what happens at Grandma’s” thing, because she’s there almost every Sunday. So, instead, I take a more easygoing approach, but stand firm on the big stuff.

    It’s exhausting though, I’ll tell ya’!

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