Joy. Love. Speechless. OMG. Miracle. Heaven. Awe. Blessed… these are just a few of the responses to a question I posed on my Facebook page — “Describe your initial feelings, in one word, the first time you saw your grandchild.” Over 200 of you have responded to this question on Facebook.
My husband, Shelly, and I were fortunate to be in the delivery room with my daughter, Jenny, when she gave birth to my grand, Michael, named after my late husband, Michael. I remember my first thought… thankful. I just asked my husband how he felt in one word and he replied, “amazing.”
My youngest grand is now thirteen years old. When I think of each of them, twenty-four in all, it is with feelings of love, calmness, and gratitude.
The love is easy to understand. I bet you are wondering why I use the word, calm. I use the word calm because I am exquisitely in sync with all of them. My journeys to visit, my texts, my emails and phone conversations always end on a high note and, “I love you.” I have never had a contentious moment with my grands. Our gratitude is felt by all.
I believe the biggest problems grandmothers have are with their grand’s parents and extended family members.
In fact, last night Shelly and I dined with one of my closest girlfriends and her husband. If I took all of my friends endearing, dedicated and loving grandmother qualities, I don’t believe any could hold a candle to my girlfriend’s. Her time, love and dedication to her grands is beyond anything I have ever seen. Her grands love her so much that they say to her, “Grammie, promise us you will not die.” And she is not the biological grandmother.
I tell you her story to give those who need relief from the pain of rejection and anger you are feeling towards adult children who time and again manage to put a crimp in the relationship between you and your grands.
The latest saga in my girlfriend’s life with her daughter-in-law is unbelievable.
She and her husband bought the apartment next door to their own in order to add space for the grands to spend weekends.
She let each of the little ones pick out their own bed linens. She painted the new abode, redid the floors and more… all of this was done at considerable expense and with great joy.
When it was complete, her daughter-in-law came over to visit. The next day, she phoned my girlfriend to tell her she felt the products she used were toxic and informed her the children could never spend the night in the new apartment. Then the children’s father came over to inspect, he could smell nothing. Then, can you believe, the daughter-in-law asked my dear friend to make a list of all the product brands in the new apartment. My girlfriend sat down and made a list of every product that was used to upgrade the apartment. None were toxic.
I know my girlfriend is not alone. Many grandmothers experience some type of outside negativity from a daughter-in-law.
How can you handle this serious problem? You probably have a son who doesn’t want to see the problem, doesn’t know how to handle his wife and of course wants to, at all costs, keep peace at home. You have the family dynamics between his and her families. Most unpleasant.
If you are a kind and loving mother-in-law and grandmother, like my girlfriend, here are a few tips on approaching your daughter-in-law.
As I always profess to you, I am a layperson with no degrees behind my name except my Ph.D. in life!
- Your goal… to be a loving ‘on the scene’ grandmother! Don’t allow yourself to spiral into a cold war. Why? Your grands — and you — will lose the war.This is important and hard to do: Don’t take anything she says personally. This is more about her actions and less about your actions.
- This is important and hard to do: Don’t take anything she says personally. This is more about her actions and less about your actions.
- Send her a handwritten note inviting her to lunch. There is a possibility you are doing things, unintentionally that may bother her. She may think you are overly critical, she may think you take over; she does not want you to discipline her children. Your goal: you must listen and not cast blame.
- Look into your own mirror. Ask yourself if you are somewhat to blame and if so… please apologize.
- If your daughter-in-law is a bully, your grands will sense the scenario. Carry on with your loving manner. She may win her battles…but you will win your war.
Remember, you are the GRANDmother, not the mother. Your primary goal, through your actions of love and words of knowledge, is to share with your grands messages and lessons that they will carry for a lifetime. That is your legacy. That is your gift. Leave the rest to their mothers.
I get along with my daughters and my daughter-in-law because… I keep my silence. I don’t interfere.
The other reason: I have two lovely daughters and a daughter-in-law. They are not bullies. They are not troublemakers. They are fabulous and I know I am lucky.