Respecting Boundaries

Important Milestone

While becoming a parent figures very large in your life, it figures large in the life of your parents as well. Becoming a grandparent is a very important milestone by anyone's measure. Of course, just as parenting brings issues, grandparenting does, too.

As a parent, you may need advice, but a grandparent's advice can seem dated or may contradict the words of wisdom in your childcare library. You want your parents to be involved in your child's life but establishing boundaries without causing hurt feelings can be a challenge.

Holding Back

It's important, of course, for you to realize that your parents may also have concerns about holding back from holding forth on how you should care for your child. It can be very hard for the voice of experience to keep silent as you make the inevitable mistakes of inexperience. Be sensitive to your parents' desire to be involved.

Try to offer guidelines for grandparents in a tactful way, letting them know how they can help. Thank them when they act according to your wishes. Show them that you appreciate their presence in your child's life. Keeping the lines of communication open between new parents and new grandparents fosters the right sort of atmosphere in which deep bonds can be formed and where an antagonistic environment is avoided between adult children and their parents.

A Little Understanding

Remember that grandparents are accustomed to being the authority figures and it can be quite hard to step down and be silent while others make the decisions. It may be very challenging for a grandparent to refrain from offering unsolicited advice or opinions. If they blunder here and there, and overstep the boundaries, be respectful and courteous. Thank them for their advice and tell them you will give what they say due consideration.

When they do realize that the decisions must be left up to you, thank them for their silent wisdom and let them know how much you appreciate their understanding. If once in a blue moon, a grandparent lets you know they think that a parenting choice you've made might endanger your child, give it lots of thought. If they've been understanding silent partners, and they feel a sudden need to weigh in, there very well may be a good reason for their concerned interference. Don't dismiss their concerns out of hand.

Keep in mind that you might wish to ask them for advice sometimes, so be nice when they offer you unasked advice, no matter how it grates on your nerves. If you want them to be available for a consultation or to baby-sit, you will need to always present them with a pleasant and polite demeanor. Grandparents need to know they are valued and they have earned our respect.