Being a first-time parent is exciting, exhausting, amazing and scary. But what you don't need are overbearing grandparents. If your child's grandparents are questioning your parenting skills and constantly stepping in, assert yourself. Getting steamrolled by "been there, done that" grandparents sets a precedent for your relationship going forward, so end the problem so you can enjoy your new role as a parent.
One of the reasons that an overbearing grandparent can be so stressful is the fact that as a first-time parent, you're probably feeling pretty confused, self-conscious and insecure about your parenting abilities. Having your mom or your mother-in-law step in and critique your parenting choices can make you even more insecure. That's why creating a healthful relationship is so important -- it can have a drastic effect on how you feel about yourself as a parent.
While you might wish you could cut off grandparents until your child is a teen, it's probably not feasible. Instead, acknowledging your child's grandparents can help them stand down. Let your child's grandparents know that you appreciate their suggestions and give them enough grandchild time so they don't feel like they constantly need to insert themselves and their opinions. After all, grandparents are an asset -- in smaller and weaker doses.
You're the parent. You get to decide how, where and when your child's grandparents are around. By setting up designated visits and times to spend together, you can limit "drop-ins" at less-than-convenient times. Setting aside every Sunday afternoon for grandparent time helps put you in the driver's seat and helps keep your calm. If you know that you only have to put up with the overbearing nature for a couple of hours, you might be more willing to do it with a smile.
One of the worst elements of having overbearing grandparents is that it can drive a wedge between you and your partner. Both of you need to be on the same page concerning grandparent involvement and what is and isn't appropriate. Schedule a time to talk to your child's grandparents about your parenting values and techniques. Be firm about issues such as feeding, sleeping schedules and -- in the future -- disciplinary methods. Grandparents should know that the new child's parents are working together and are united as a team, so it's harder to isolate and even bully one parent.
Grandparents remember how their children were raised and probably think it was done perfectly -- or close to it. When your child's grandparent tries to feed early or scoffs at the need for a car seat, remind her times have changes. You can blame it on the American Academy of Pediatrics when she questions why you make your little one sleep on her back, delay solids until 6 months of age or use a rear-facing car seat until age 2. Times have changed and your child's grandparents will also need to change to spend time with your little one.
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