Respect And Communication Can Ease This Family Conflict

Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of parenting is dealing with the interference or unwanted advice of others.We’ve all been in a place where we have had our parenting style challenged or questioned.

From our friends and family, to the older woman in the grocery store who feels she needs to tell you how she would handle your child’s behavior, sometimes we just want to be left alone to raise our kids how we see fit!

The stress caused by interference in our parenting, even if just a passing comment from a stranger, can build up and become overwhelming.  And this is especially true when it comes from family – like grandparents.

Being a grandparent is an incredible blessing.  They have raised you (or your spouse) with every fiber of love and care in their being, and now they can’t wait to pass that love on to your children.  But sometimes, grandparents can overstep boundaries and cause conflict within the family.

This conflict can be extremely hard to deal with.  We must preserve our rules and authority in regard to raising our children, but we don’t want to cause hurt feelings or strained relationships with those we love.

There are a few common issues we may face with the grandparents, whether our own parents or our in-laws, but there are ways we can deal with the situation while embracing this special relationship.

Maybe they’re not respecting your boundaries or are overindulging (aka spoiling) your children.

Are the grandparents constantly plying your children with sweets or buying them something every time they ask for it?  We want our kids to follow our rules, no matter who they are with, but sometimes grandparents unintentionally undermine your parenting.

PopSugar reported:

They can’t help themselves. Well, sort of. Grandparents enjoy doting on the littles because now they don’t have to do the hard work of parenting. Before you get too steamed, know that it’s fun to spoil someone you love when you don’t have to reap the consequences of said spoiling.

If your parents or in-laws are going overboard with gifts, sweets – or worse, forgoing all rules in the name of fun — it is helpful to have a conversation about the values you wish the kids to have.  You want them to obey your rules, eat healthy, and be appreciative for what they are given.  Once you lay down the law and let them know it is in the best interest of the kids to minimize overindulgence, things should go more smoothly.

Do you have disagreements about your form of discipline?  During family visits, do the grandparents tend to overlook the kids’ bad behavior and fail to implement your rules?  Or are they overly tough on your kids because that is how things were done when they were parenting?

PopSugar reported:

This is a tough topic to broach with grandparents. For the grandparents who laugh off your kiddo’s bad choices, keep in mind that they may simply feel uncomfortable laying down the law with your child because they’re not his or her parents. They want to be the good guys and be loved by your kid.

[On the flip side] the overly-aggressive grandparent may simply be the mark of personality or generation. You’re going to have to be the tough guy and tell the grandparents that there is to be no spanking, no threats of spanking, and no yelling allowed (although a yell here and there is acceptably human).

Is a grandparent often in a parental role with your children, and feel they can co-parent however they like? 

Perhaps you are living with your parents, either to get on your feet or to help take care of them.  This situation can be especially difficult as there is no separation of space and may create two different parenting approaches in the same household.

If you live with your children’s grandparents, expect them to be a surrogate parent of sorts, especially if they help with everyday care of your child. Occasionally, though, Grandmother may try to run the show more than you would like her to. However, you are the mom first and foremost.

Acknowledge that she does more than the typical grandmother and that you are fortunate for her help and consider her opinion. Tell her nicely that you understand her role as a grandparent may be larger than most but that at the end of the day, you’re the mother and you call the shots.

Keep the lines of communication open at all times.  In this case, you both need to express how you view your roles.  Perhaps the grandparent here doesn’t want all that responsibility, but doesn’t know how to tell you.  Maybe you have put too much pressure on them to help and don’t even realize it.  Or maybe they are enjoying their “second round” of parenting.  You will never know – or reach a compromise – if you don’t talk it out.

Parents’ Magazine reports on author Jill Spiegel’s advice if problems persist:

“If the advice or their actions are making interfering with your ability to parent, or making you feel guilty about your parenting decisions, it’s time to have a serious conversation,” says Spiegel.

“Sit down calmly when your child isn’t around and explain to your parent or in-law that while you know they’re coming from a place of love, it’s important to you and your spouse that they support your decisions.”

Above all, remember that someday you will be a grandparent and you will cherish the role.  Popsugar suggests:

Try to be generous, loving, and grateful for the fact that your children have active grandparents. Don’t sabotage your children’s chances to enjoy time with grandparents who love them even if grandparents sometimes make bad or silly choices, as long as they’re not hurtful.

The most important things to keep in mind when dealing with your kids’ grandparents are to

Respectfully address them, acknowledge generational differences, and keep communication open.

These tips should help to create balance and consistency for your kids. Their grandparents have a special place in their lives, and that is a gift worth working on.

Have you had any of these issues with your children’s grandparents?  What are some of your tips to keep peace in the family?  Leave us your thoughts in the comments.

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