Tips for New Grandmothers and How to Avoid Annoying the New Parents
By: Kelby Carr on: Sun 20 of May, 2007 [14:56 UTC] (9925 reads)
It can be exciting to become a new grandmother, and grandmothers benefit from the wisdom of having been there, done that. Still, that doesn't mean the new mom wants grandma hovering over her with incessant pointers and nagging. Here are grandmother etiquette tips to avoid annoying the new (or, even more so, repeat) mom.
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First of all, keep in mind that parents can now do tons of their own research, are very empowered, and also need to feel a certain self-esteem about raising their babies. It is certainly helpful to offer advice when it is sought. In fact, it's OK to offer it up voluntarily - once. Then, drop it.
It Doesn't Matter How They Did it Decades Ago
Yes, they may have insisted you put babies to sleep on their stomachs, that formula was the healthiest option for babies, and it may have been commonplace to let babies crawl around with exposed electrical outlets.
That was then, and this is now. Do the mom a favor, and read up on the current scientific evidence on what is or isn't good for a baby. You may know lots about how to make a baby happy, but the safety issues have changed dramatically since you were a mom.
Even if you disagree (as is every grandmother's God-given right), respect the fact that the parents will most likely believe the latest studies and the advice of their well-trained pediatrician.
Besides, didn't your mom tell you the same thing when you had your baby? And what did you think of it then?
Father (and Mother) Do Really Know Best
As much as you love and adore your grandchild, no one but no one knows a child like their parents. In fact, it can come off as insulting to a mom or dad if you question that.
Even if you think it's no biggie for the baby to miss a nap, keep in mind that you will not be the one to suffer the wrath of a cranky baby later that night. Even if you think it's no biggie for a baby to start solids at three months (after all, you slipped rice cereal into your babies' bottles right after they came home from the hospital), the parents won't necessarily agree.
They Aren't Kids Anymore
I know it's hard to believe, but your kid (and his or her wife or husband) are actually grown-ups. They were old enough to have their own child. It's time to accept that, and give them space to act like parents themselves.
Be aware when you speak to them how it sounds. Do you sound condescending in your tone, even if the words are technically respectful? Stop for a moment and pretend you are speaking to a peer. You actually are in the parenting realm. They are parents, and you are a parent.
Respect their Routine
It may seem like a minor point, but feeding times, sleep times, activity times and other matters of daily routine take a lot of work to refine. Babies behave best when following a secure routine. So even if you wish your friends could come see the baby right at naptime, it's much easier for adults to adapt to a schedule change than the baby.
Even worse, don't insist on disrupting the baby's routine, and then criticize the parents when the baby is fussy as a result. It's not their fault.
Give Mom and Dad a Chance
Even if you just know (and I mean know like only a mom can know) that something they are doing is wrong, you can bite your lip and keep it to yourself. If it doesn't pose a healthy or safety risk to the baby, does it really matter all that much? Is it worth having mom and dad (already exhausted from sleep deprivation) angry at you?
Mom and dad are new at this game. Even if they have other kids, that doesn't compare to the decades of experience you have. But think back to when your children were tiny themselves? It was more effective to let them learn lessons on their own. They remembered it better, and were less likely to repeat the mistakes. The same thing applies here. Let them learn to parent on their own.
Reasons to Follow Grandmother Etiquette
If you force your unwelcome advice on the parents, they will become deaf to your words or, worse yet, angry and resentful.
Besides, I'll bet you get surprised by the results. If you follow these etiquette rules for grandmothers, I'll bet you actually get to do more of what you are dying to do: offer your sage grandmotherly advice. If it isn't shoved down mom's throat, she will actually have more respect for you and seek it out on her own.