Usually a packaged deal.
Sometimes that package is AWESOME.
Sometimes…not so much.
I’ve divided these Grandparent Packages into five personality types.
Use them to steer away from the whirlpools that suck the fun out of family holidays faster than you can say “free babysitting”.
Oh, and I’m not going to tell you what type of grandparent personalities my hubby and I are working with.
I’m not that stupid.
They read my posts.
Description: Spends more money on your baby than you do. Hoovers over him like a Mother Hen. Has 4-5 “Grandma” labeled items in her kitchen, at her desk, and in her closet.
Problem: Forgets sometime she’s not the PARENT. Will slip him foods you’d rather he didn’t have, drown him in gifts, and will wake him from a nap (against your wishes) just to hold him.
Solution: This is perhaps the most dangerous type of grandparent. On one hand, you need (and rely on) her help. On the other hand, having to fight for the right to be the parent is exhausting.
If the issue is regarding your authority (and not gifts), follow my Affirm-Petition-Affirm Formula:
Start by sharing how much your appreciate her help and how much your baby loves her (the affirmation) then follow with what you’d like her not to do or do and why it’s best for your baby (the petition), and then end by sharing something she did that was especially helpful and ask her to hold the baby or play for a little while together (the affirmation).
If gifts are becoming a problem, share that you would prefer she limited it to ___ (pick a number) but if they would really like to give gifts, you have a college fund set up. *wink*
Description: Acts like being a grandparent is the most important thing in the WORLD. Until you need something…
Problem: Since she talks & acts like the “Spoiler” grandparent above, you expect her to help out (and make cookies). But really, the joke’s on you. She makes a lot of promises…and then breaks a lot of promises.
Solution: Really think through what you were hoping for. Then choose to let those expectations go. Decide not to ask, but to wait for offers instead. Then, if she offers, have a backup plan just in case.
Description: Doesn’t act too interested in the baby, perhaps seems to prefer an older sibling.
Problem: This grandparent is either A) not sure how to relate to helpless babies (common with grandfathers) or B) is struggling with the temperament of this particularly fussy baby (common with grandmothers).
If the baby cries while the grandparent is holding her, he may assume the baby “doesn’t like me”. Rather than feel foolish and shameful that he’s been rejected by his grandchild (as he feels it), he will avoid holding the baby in the future.
Solution: Make sure to remind him that this baby is very sensitive to change and struggles being even held by ______________ (insert someone else he knows).
If the baby holds his finger or does ANYTHING without crying, make a big deal about it.
Many times the best solution for this type of grandparent is time. Let the baby get bigger, more interactive. Let her grow out of her fussiness a little. She will melt his big Grandpa heart in no time. Be patient.
Description: Is there any problem or issue this grandparent doesn’t have an opinion about?
Problem: This is a particularly tough type of grandparent for the parents of high need children. The grandparent wants to “fix” your baby as quickly as possible and will freely offer advice or critique as to what’s the best way to do the fixin’.
Solution: Listen to her suggestions respectfully. Try a few (you never know). The willingness to try things shows you’re open to suggestion. You don’t have follow ALL of the suggestions, but give credit where credit is due if a few of them help.
If she seems to be getting frustrated with your fussy baby (or the fact you’re not following every suggestion to the “T”) then it’s time for some distance. Take a walk, take a drive…or go to another part of the house with a closed door for some space.
Description: Doesn’t get to see your baby very often.
Problem: Your child is growing up without any clue that she HAS grandparents.
Solution: Talk about Grandpa Jack and Grandma Marie frequently. Show pictures. You can even use apps that record Grandpa reading baby a story.
Skype.com is a free program for computers, tablets, and phones that let you video chat for free. A weekly visit on Sunday afternoons will regularly let your parents see how much she’s growing, and provide routine your infant will recognize (and look forward to) later.
No matter what grandparent personality types you’re dealing with, make the effort to keep them involved in your growing infant’s life.
Grandparents provide children with perspective and legacy.
They give your child a sense of “I’m a part of something bigger than me”. That inclusiveness is a strong protection during the teenage years.
So when she’s hormonally-confused at 15, trying to figure out where she belongs, she’ll remember that she fits into this legacy. Her generational family.
If you can’t give your kids a relationship with their real grandparents, work on building relationships with older authority figures (other than you) who give her good advice when she hesitates to listen to yours.
P.S. If you have big family pow-wows with Granny and Gramps on Sundays, it sounds like you’ve got a great start on a long legacy for your kids.
In fact, I would venture to guess you have some gold nuggets of advice rattling around in your brain perfect for those who are skipping through more mine fields with grandparents than flowered ones. Share your wisdom with them. Add your tips to the comments!
Heather Gaither is the writer/blogger at the website Incredible Infant. She’s a SAHM of three girls, a couple of male dogs (for the hubby) and four…no, make that three…no, make that two…fish. Hang out with her on Facebook!
If you’re having conflict with the grandparents in your baby’s life, check out her recent post 4-Step Formula for Handling Difficult Grandparents Successfully
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