Written by: Cally Worden
Grandparents, by definition, have a wealth of parenting experience under their belts. And some just love to share it with you. When this is done occasionally, sensitively, it can be extremely useful. But sometimes Grandparents can be a little overenthusiastic, driving new parents nuts with their unsolicited advice and opinions. If you are suffering under interference, from pushy Grandparents then read on for some hot tips on how to deal with their meddling, while hopefully, preserving your relationship for the future.
Assess Their Motivation
It’s true that some Grandparents love to stir things up, but many are simply trying to help and would be appalled at the thought of maybe causing you distress. Try to remember, your parents have been in your shoes. They know what you’re going through and know what challenges lay ahead. It’s parental nature to want to protect your child and in most cases, that’s what is behind the advice they are dishing out. It doesn’t mean you have to like it, or put up with it. But understanding what’s behind their interventions may help you to respond a little more kindly. Do consider this – otherwise you may be in danger of blurting out a frustrated, hormone-ridden tirade of abuse that you may later regret.
Know your Position
Being confident in your own beliefs on how to cope with any given situation with your child, will help you to formulate and articulate a measured and calm response when the Grandparents butt-in. You are your child’s parents; it’s up to you how to manage things. Trust yourself, knowing you don’t need the approval of your parents to get you through, even if it would be nice to have. When you’re a new parent you may be feeling vulnerable and not confident at all. If this is you, try voicing this to your parents, explaining that while you value their advice and it’s great to know they are there for you, you’d like to try and work things out yourself for a while.
Avoid Antagonistic Responses
When you’re tired and emotional, it can be difficult to remain calm and reasonable in the face of interference. Your feelings may be bubbling under the surface ready to burst out at the first hint of criticism. Be aware of this. Try to remain objective when talking to your parents. You are aiming for peace, not all out war.
Smile and Wave
Grandparents often have a habit of dropping trivial advice into conversations ‘Make sure you support his head’, or ‘It’s too chilly for only one layer’. In these situations, it’s likely that your parents are re-living their own role as parent when you were little, they are simply verbalising what would be going through their heads at any given time. In these instances, just let it go. With this and any other advice they care to offer you, you don’t have to take it. Listening, acknowledging and then doing it your way anyway will make the Grandparents feel good for having contributed, ensuring you don’t risk souring relations by being overly blunt in your response.
Be Assertive, but Kind
Of course, we’re not suggesting you have to bite you lip and take whatever they throw at you. But there are ways of saying things – being assertive is one thing. Being cruel and abusive is another thing altogether.
Keep an Open Mind
It may pain you to admit it, but sometimes the advice from Grandparents is sound. They managed to raise you didn’t they? So, they must have got some things right. Do listen to what they have to offer; try not to reject it all out of hand just because you think they are interfering. Why shoot yourself in the foot when you could learn something useful? And, if all else fails and you know you’re about to blow, then take a time out. Send the Grandparents home and make a bit of space for yourself until you’re ready to face the onslaught again with a smile.