What I Wish My Mom Knew About My Baby
Inter-generational tension can arise when a new baby arrives. New parents are eager to put into practice everything they’ve researched and forge their own new family traditions, while new grandparents are excited to dote on another baby in the ways they already know. This clash of time can strain relationships. While keeping in mind that everyone has good intentions, here are some things new moms wish their own moms knew as they enter the waters of parenthood.
Support my parenting strategies
Part of marriage and starting a family means choosing what parts of your childhood you want to pass on into your own family, and learning from the not-so-good experiences. Grandparents should realize that just as they had to forge their own trail, the new parents are doing the same. Grandma, support the new parents in their endeavor to try various parenting strategies and techniques. It can be easy to assume that you know better, but each child is different and as society changes, be glad that your adult child is intentional in their choices about raising your grandchild.
Safe Sleep Recommendations have Changed
The safe sleep recommendations have changed in the past few decades and many grandparents may not be aware. New parents should let grandparents know that doctors now recommend babies sleep on their backs, not their stomachs. If grandparents contest or shrug it off because, “you turned out just fine,” be firm in asserting that things have changed, and you are following your doctor’s orders just as grandma did when she was a new mom, and you expect grandma to follow them as well.
Don’t tell me if you see milestones first
If grandma babysits regularly, she may be the first to see the first roll-over, the first steps, or hear the first babbles of, “mama.” If this happens, don’t tell the new mom. Let her experience it for her first time, and keep the moment sweet. In the big picture, it doesn’t matter when it happened first and it isn’t a contest, but for new parents it is very important for them and should be respected.
What you think is helpful, may actually not be
Grandma may think that rearranging and reorganizing your kitchen is helpful, and help herself to the task, but what you really need is help with the laundry or grocery shopping. Grandma should be mindful to ask the new mom what would be the most helpful for her rather than assume she knows what’s best. In reality, a newly organized kitchen may be chaos for an exhausted new mom trying to find something.
Both sets of grandparents are equally important
Grandparent memories are some of the sweetest childhood memories. The special treats, activities, or trips stand out as some of the happiest memories of my childhood. Grandparents should do their best to focus on the time they have with their grandchildren rather than how much the other grandparent is involved. Don’t keep score. It is likely that the maternal grandma is the one the new mom goes to for advice. That just makes sense, mothers and daughters are best friends, confidants, and trusted life companions. This should not taint the experience of the other grandparent, and both sets of grandparents should keep perspective as they interact with their grandchildren.
Don’t phrase unsolicited advice as a question
Most new grandparents know better than to offer unsolicited advice, but that often doesn’t stop them from trying to interject their opinions. Grandparents should do their best to bite their tongue unless specifically asked. Phrasing advice as a question, as in, “does baby really need to eat again?” or “are you sure baby should have a pacifier?” is not going to help anyone, or make the new mom very eager to have you around.
New parents have spent a long time preparing for the new baby. They are excited to be parents and raise their child, and will probably make mistakes, just like you did. You may observe something you think should be done differently, but be patient with them. They need to learn. Making mistakes is part of parenting and part of life. It will strengthen them as a family to learn from mistakes together rather than having “I told you so,” or, “you should’ve done this,” shoved down their throats. Let them learn. As you show patience and support, this will strengthen your relationship with them and they will likely be more inclined to ask you for advice.
What important things would you tell a new grandparent?
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