Grandparents can be an important part of your baby’s life, but it’s okay to set boundaries – and stick to them.
From the time you give birth to your new baby, it may seem like the grandparents are breathing down your neck, making sure you’re doing everything right. At first, it seems nice that they are being so helpful. Once time passes, you’re just exhausted, and you clearly aren’t looking for any tips.
If you needed advice, you would ask – right?
Unfortunately, when the grandparents of your new bundle of joy “butt in” to your business, it can get old real fast. It’s best to confront a situation like this as soon as it starts bothering you so it doesn’t interfere with the relationship with your parents.
But how do you kindly tell them you have everything under control?
First, Assume The Best
If your child is still a newborn, you’re likely going through a whirlwind of emotions. One thing your parents say could set you off, even if they didn’t mean it in a bad way.
“Feelings aren’t reliable indicators of someone else’s motivations,” says Dr. Pauline Wallin. “Even if you feel controlled, it doesn’t mean someone is trying to take over.”
Always assume the grandparents offer you help. However, if it’s getting to be too much and you can barely take care of your child without them saying, Don’t you think it’s time to feed the baby? or I don’t think you should be holding her that much, then it’s time to have an open, calm discussion.
Make it Known If Boundaries Are Crossed
When you no longer feel comfortable with the advice being given, it’s time to speak up in a nice way. Say something as simple as: “I really appreciate your advice and your eagerness to help me, but I want to parent in my own way. I hope you will understand.”
This approach will let them know how appreciative you are, but make it clear that you want to follow your own style of parenting.
“Grandparents have two things on their side: they’re your parents, and you’re still alive, so they feel they know all about raising kids. They do really mean well and just want grandchildren cared for in a proper way,” says Cheryl Wu, MD.
Define Your Role
You can tell your parents each time a boundary is crossed. If they just don’t get it and keep nagging you or trying to parent your child themselves, it’s time to define your role.
Sure, your parents know your role, but they may not totally understand that it’s not their place to butt in and take over. Let your parents know in a calm way that because they were such great parents to you that you have the parenting under control with your little one.
You’re commenting on their strength of being a good parent to you so that will soften the touchy subject a bit. Shirley Smith, founder of Talk About Parenting, states that “parents must stand their ground.”
There’s a Time and Place
Although parents don’t want the grandparents judging their every parenting move, grandparents should speak up in different scenarios.
For example, if a grandparent is babysitting and the child is being ridiculously rude, the grandmother can say something like It’s not okay to talk to me that way, but should still leave disciplining to the parent.
Another example is if the grandparents notice a developmental delay. Sometimes as a parent, since you see your child every day, you may not notice something things that could be wrong, such as a speech delay or motor problem. I
t’s important to let a grandparent speak up during these situations as it could ultimately help your child.
No matter how you choose to tell the grandparents in your life to back off, make sure to do it with kindness and love. You don’t want to jeopardize a nice relationship just because of some miscommunication and boundary issues.