We're lucky if we have parents or in-laws that love and adore our children. We know that having grandparents can be wonderful. But what if those grandparents try to call the parenting shots or offer advice we don't need? Linda Morgan, editor at ParentMap and author of the book, Beyond Smart, has some ideas.
Why do some grandparents seem to think they have all the answers when it comes to raising kids?
Grandparents feel they've spent years mastering the art of raising children. And let's face it, they've been through it, been in the trenches. They feel they've built a knowledge base and they have.
Many parents and grandparents disagree over ways to raise the kids. Why does that happen so often?
Sometimes it's hard for grandparents to recognize that things change. Babies don't - but philosophies, parenting advice and experts all do. The culture changes. Examples - babies sleeping on their backs. Kids can't ride in front seats.
How should parents cope with overbearing grandparents?
First of all, be tolerant. Give the grandparents some credit. They raised you - look how good you turned out. Next, come up with diplomatic ways to deflect criticism. Be direct but polite. As in, thanks, but this is the way we've decided to handle tantrums - or potty training or bedtime.
What can parents do to help foster a positive relationship with the grandparents?
Ask for advice before Grandma or Grandpa offers it. It makes you look inclusive, and makes the grandparents feel needed. Bypass the major matters ( When should we have our next child? ) and head right for the small stuff ( What should we do when he teethes? ).
Let's say your in-laws are popping in more often than you'd like. If that's happening, insist on a pre-visit heads-up and say something like, This weekend won't work, but how about sometime next month?
Yes, things have changed. But the truth is, the world of babies has been around a long time and your parents have been living in it longer. There's that crazy chance they may actually know something you don't.
The grandparent-grandchild relationship can be magical. You need to nurture and protect that even if that means staying quiet when hard to do that, or smiling sweetly when you just know they are wrong and you are right.