When I became a single mom, I had no clue how important my own father would become in my daughter's life.
Single Mom Seeking: These days, my 70-year-old dad spends at least one day a week with my kid. They adore each other -- and he's the one who gives her what her biological father has never been able to.
But he's also the one who lets her watch way too much TV and eat A LOT of sugar. While I'm incredibly grateful that she has such a devoted grandpa, our relationship hasn't been easy.
Do your parents play a big part in your children's lives? How do you handle the conflicts?
Take Breanne, a mom in Georgia, who is very grateful to her mother who babysits while she works. Grandma, however, has been known to feed her daughter "piles of sugar behind my back a few times each month. What is returned to me after a visit is a child I hardly recognize. It's something like you'd imagine would happen to your kid if you lost them in the jungles of Borneo for a week. It might have something to do with the fact that my mother sees rules and routine as silly."
Ramona of California finds herself in almost the opposite extreme however, with "two sets of grandparents within one mile of my home."
They are disciplinarians to their core. While Ramona lets her two kids jump on the sofa at home -- "the only thing that helps me keep my sanity is letting them jump around" -- the grandparents reprimand the kids for jumping on the sofa. Another mom I talked to says that she has to remind her father that she doesn't spank.
Parents agree that if grandparents are very involved in your kids' lives, they often think they can call the shots and make the rules. So, what can you do?
Take it easy, say Whitney Moss and Heather Flett, authors of "The Rookie Mom's Handbook."
"Train Grandma and Grandpa to use the stroller, car seat, and coffee maker -- and LET GO!" they say.
"Have confidence that you are making the right choices for your child," adds Whitney, whose kids have three sets of grandparents. "Your mother-in-law may think a bottle of formula will soothe your fussy breastfed baby, or that keeping your baby up past her naptime is not a big deal. If you disagree, say casually, 'Yeah, you might be right, but we're going to stick with our system.'"
"It's hard to stand up for your decisions when you are a first-time parent, but advocating for your child is part of your new job," she says. "Brainstorm with your partner on language you can use comfortably to avoid defending your choices."
Whitney also encourages parents to type up a schedule of your child's routine, including suggestions for food.
Explain that you have this document on hand for all babysitters, so that they don't feel belittled by your micromanagement.
If you have any tips to share about "handling" your own parents, we'd love to hear them!
|Rachel Sarah, a.k.a. "Single Mom Seeking" blogs at SingleMomSeeking.com and co-founded SingleMommyHood.com, the first-ever website to offer "a whole new way to think about life."|