There is a thin line between being interfering and being helpful, and a child's grandparents seem to be constantly crossing that line.
When a child is born, the child's grandparents can be a great source of help, support and encouragement. Grandparents almost always know what to do when their grandchild child is unwell, not eating, not burping, not sleeping, crying too much, sneezing, hiccupping.... and so on. In fact, many women would call their mothers or mothers-in-law before calling their husbands, for advice regarding health issues. But when it comes to advice regarding child rearing, it suddenly seems as though grandparents have it all wrong.
There is a thin line between being interfering and being helpful, and a child's grandparents, (especially if they are your in-laws!) seem to be constantly crossing that line.
If you discuss your child's behavioural aspects with his grandparents, be prepared for advice. If you don't want to hear advice, then don't discuss their problems with them. It would be unfair on your part if you unburden your worries on them, and then when they offer solutions, argue with them about why what they are saying doesn't make sense.
Be prepared to heed some advice. Don't be completely closed to their inputs. After all, they did bring up your spouse, didn't they? And how wrong did they go? If you love your spouse and if he turned out to be a sensible, balanced and nice person, it makes sense for you to at least give their ideas a fair hearing even if such ideas oppose yours. It is always better to have an open mind with regard to child rearing since everything is so subjective.
It is true that you can bring up your child the way you feel is right, but in your strong desire to do this, don't discount good tips. Many mothers, feeling threatened by constant interference from in-laws, make it a point not to heed their advice. This is completely understandable, as it is just a defensive reaction. Instead, if you have a problem with your child's grandparent's interference, discuss it with them. Let them know that you feel a certain way on certain issues, and that you would welcome their suggestions on other matters or when you ask for them.
It is all too easy for parents to critisize in-laws for interfering, but not all understand the emotion behind such interference. True, many in-laws are unnecessarily dominating, but irrespective, if you feel that their ideas do not completely go against your beliefs, you could perhaps give in to them every once in a while to maintain peace, especially if you are living together. Don't refuse to listen to them because you know that your husband is on your side or because you know that you have enough freedom and really can do whatever you want. Instead of simply turning a blind eye to what grandparents feel, discuss it with them and let them know why you feel strongly about doing things in another manner.
Always remember that grandparents nowadays have valuable experience, and make for the best baby sitters. These days, with people staying healthier in their old age, grandparents can participate in various activities with their children. They can tell them stories of the days gone by, inculcate in children a sense of family pride, and increase a child's knowledge about his culture and heritage. In addition, they love your child more than any aayah would. So bear this in mind the next time you are tempted to snap at them for interfering. It is for your own peace of mind.
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- The Indiaparenting Team
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