Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Dealing With Grandma

Most new parents feel some sort of criticism from both their mothers and their partners' mothers. Being a new parent is very difficult, and feeling that you are facing the sting of disapproval from the older generation is something that can hurt. If, however, you find that you are stressing yourself out about the disagreements you have with your parents over raising the baby, there are a few options available to you.

First, you can choose to ignore the areas where you don't see eye to eye. There are some parts of parenting that are not worth fighting over. For example, if you are a Darwinian parent, and you believe that your little one will learn by trial and error, that could cause some problems. Many grandmothers are more likely to hover over baby, trying to keep him from every potential danger. Let this behavior go. When Grandma is around, let her hover. It will make her feel better, and it will help her bond with the little one.

Let Grandma spoil the baby while she is there. While that can become a problem if Grandma doubles as the babysitter, it is in general acceptable to allow Grandma and Grandpa to give sweets or hold baby constantly. Allow everyone to be happy. Your little one will understand that there are different rules, but it shouldn't be a major problem.

There are some areas you cannot ignore, though. Feeding is another big area of contention between today's parents and the previous generation. Parents in the 70s and 80s fed their children early and often. They believed that a full tummy was best and clung to the notion that a chubby baby is a healthy and happy baby.

Few parents today believe those edicts. Instead, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests waiting to feed baby solid foods until she is six months old. Whether or not you wait that long, you will probably find that the baby's grandparents think you are waiting too long. In this case, you should explain what you feel that way. Explain that there are concerns about obesity and also about wheat, peanut butter, and milk allergies that may be able to be abated if you wait longer. Give your mom or mother-in-law an article or other written explanation so that she can see the arguments for herself.

Finally, there are some areas where you will have to say simply that you do not agree. Discipline is the main issue that would fall under this category. If you do not spank or do not believe in a certain way of speaking to or disciplining your child, tell your family members upfront. They should understand that your feelings are not questionable. Be clear and firm about it and let them know that their grandparent privileges will be under supervision if they do not comply.

It is rare that you will find yourself in a position where you cannot come to an agreement about your parenting styles. The key is to be firm about what you believe. Do not be inconsistent, and your children's grandparents will respect your decisions.

By Julia Mercer

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