My very popular post, What Moms Want from Grandparents, prompted me to flip the question and ask what grandmas want from moms.
For inspiration, I turned to Karen Rancourt’s book, Ask Dr. Gramma Karen, Vol. 2: Savvy Advice to Soothe Parent-Grandparent Conflicts. At the end of her book, she provides a list of Dos and Dont’s for Grandmas and Moms. These guidelines are suggestions to help young moms articulate their expectations and to provide a format for sharing and discussing them.
Karen summarizes her advice for all young moms interacting with the grandmothers in this way: Lighten up! Do not treat every interaction a grandma has with your baby, or slight deviations they make regarding your rules, as life threatening. They’re not! Lighten Up means to keep things in perspective.
Advice for Young Moms Interacting with Grandmas
- Explain your views, but don’t try to get us to agree that you are right. Let us agree to abide by your rules when we interact with your children.
- Help us understand your parenting preferences and practices. Invite us to read the books and view the videos that have influenced you or to come along with you to hear speakers you’re interested in.
- Figure out what’s really bothering you, why it’s bothering you, communicate it constructively, and if necessary make appropriate apologies. Don’t freak out over an extra dessert when it’s probably about some bigger issue.
- Let us make the rules and boundaries for the grandchildren in our own homes. With routines like naps and bedtimes, we’ll abide by your rules.
- Be aware of and sensitive to the rivalry or jealousy that can develop between your mom and your MIL. It’s natural to feel one of us is getting special treatment over the other.
- Be specific about what you would like us to do when we offer help. That way we’ll have more success at getting it right.
- When we babysit, write down all the information we’ll need for nap time and bedtime routines. Be sure to include emergency numbers.
- Help us purchase appropriate car seats for our own vehicles and show us how to install them. Do the same for strollers and other equipment you want us to use.
- Suggest activities for us to do with the grandchildren. Let us know if you want us to attend a special activity and give us printed directions and details for parking and restaurants.
- Help us to be connected if we’re long-distance grandmas. Let us Skype, share photos and videos, and phone calls. Plan things for us to do together when we visit. Tell the grandchildren about our hobbies and interests.
- Show us respect and gratitude. We’ll appreciate it and give it back to you.
We grandmas are not trying to take over your role as parents. We just want to be part of the team and support you in all the hard work you do to raise the grandchildren. If we share our ideas about what we want in our relationship, we’ll build mutual trust and respect and the grandchildren will be the ultimate benefactors.