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Grandma, Things Have Changed!

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Here's a reality check for grandmothers everywhere.

Grandmother holding a baby

You've successfully raised your children. Therefore, you (rightfully) feel you have some words of wisdom to pass on to your own kids now that they're raising kids of their own. However, your well-meaning advice can inadvertently cause backlash, insecurity and resentment on the part of the new mother and father, according to parenting expert Jill Spivack.

So how do you help out without shutting them out?

Respecting your adult child's journey into and through parenthood is of utmost importance, says Spivack. "Just as grandparents had to navigate the rocky waters of parenting, their children need to be respected for navigating their own process, which can take some time, experience and minor mistakes made along the way," she explains.

If you have sons, be especially careful when it comes to your daughter-in-laws."There can be a subtle competitive spirit between older women and younger women when it comes to the best way to raise the children, but ultimately, it doesn't serve the new parents well when grandma tries to 'out-do' the new mother," Spivack warns. Creating too much stress between you and the new parents will ultimately not only push you apart, but will reduce access to your grandchildren, so tread lightly.

For example, some grandmothers have a major problem with their daughters or daughters-in-law going back to work after having a baby. But take a step back before you judge. "Some grandparents may disagree with the decisions their daughters make around working or staying home, but they need to realize that their daughter is coming from a very different place entering parenthood, with different experiences under her belt," Spivack explains. "This is different than past generations when roles in our society were much more clearly defined and most women expected their role to be one of nurturing the children, while many men were the breadwinners."

Today, that's just not the case. Most households have two working parents ... and households with stay-at-home dads are on the rise. As long as your child's family is happy and healthy, there is no reason to worry. Good families come in many different shapes and forms ... as long as their situation is working for them, there is no reason to put your two cents in.

With a little forethought and understanding, becoming a grandparent can actually bring you closer to your adult children rather than drive you farther apart. And, in the end, isn't that really the ultimate goal for all of us?

next: You Can Eat Healthy While on the Go
3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Randi January 2, 2009, 8:24 AM

I really wish this article discussed the issue of formula vs breastfeeding. It is a huge battle with most grandparents and parents today on what is best. I find often that when a new parents chooses breastfeeding the group that mostly does not approve or finds it appauling or they keep saying ‘well you did just fine on formula’ is the grandparents.

Miranda January 2, 2009, 3:48 PM

I agree with Randi, while my parents supported my breastfeeding, my in-laws thought it was disgusting, and tried to make me feel horrible when they were around, even though I covered up.

Claire McDonald January 3, 2009, 7:22 PM

Some of us grammy types have to realize that our daughters are the bright young women we raised and in the 20-30-40 years since we raised them, medical science, technology and education have come up with new ideas, thoughts and psychological affects of just about everything. Everytime my daughter has to make a decision on raising her daughters, I feel so fortunate that it’s her and not me - today is a whole different ballgame than when I was making decisions. Young mommies - follow your hearts and minds.

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