Even though grandparents provide crucially important care and support, they aren't always aware of the latest advances in technology and child care.
The parents who raised us wait to become grandparents. Soon after their children get married, they dream of having another little one to care for, of lavishing love without any attached responsibility. Grandmothers-to-be look forward to expounding their knowledge and experience to their daughters and daughters-in-law.
Times, they are a changin'
Lo and behold. The very girls who are new moms have ideas of their own. The knowledge new mothers have (from books, the internet, friends) is far more, and different from what they had thirty years ago. Today, husbands are part of prenatal classes and birthing rooms. Today, the new mother is home from the hospital within 2-5 days. Today, the new mother won't always permit grandmom's boiled water or rice cereal as a solution to colicky babies.
A wailing baby does not change though
To a brand new mother, overwhelmed by the sweeping changes a baby brings, her mother still remains a rock. A wailing baby still needs to be cuddled, held and burped.
Grandmothers teach us how to hold our babies. Despite stiff knees and rheumatism, grandmothers are still more confident of bathing a baby (or they can correctly supervise the ayah). Despite being aloof in your own baby-hood, proud grandfathers quickly learn how to entertain your baby with wrapping paper and other fancy toys.
And it is still grandmother who remembers a warm compress soothes colic- no amount of reading will provide the little details.
Having a child can bring you closer- you are a parent too. Sometimes, when your views on bringing them up don't match, or when parents have strong opinions that are different from yours, it could give rise to serious friction and resentment. They may disagree with your approach to parenting- they may think you too strict with a small child. Or that you spoil them too much.
Playing catching up
Grandparents must earn the right to voice their opinion. This can be done by establishing a supportive relationship with praise, encouragement and assistance.
Reading up on child care
Grandparents too need to read what their children are reading and discuss it with their adult children to avoid conflict, promote understanding.
- Today, an infant is supposed to be sleeping on her back, unlike the previous generation who believed babies nap on their tummies. This reduces chances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
- The baby on the stomach exercises her neck muscles and is to be placed that way when she is awake.
- Doctors have thrown out aspirin and recommend baby ibuprofen. No more gripe water, there are newer anti flatulent drops (they may not taste as nice though).
- Doctors now say no honey till she is over a year. Grandparents may want to add the natural sweetener to baby food or put it on top of a pacifier to soothe a fussy baby. But honey and babies don't mix.
- Solids are not to be fed too soon. Babies should generally begin eating solids between 4 and 6 months. Starting earlier has been associated with an increased incidence of allergies, hypertension, and obesity.
- Many more vaccinations are given today than they were 30 years ago.
This list includes: Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Haemophilus Influenza Type B, Inactivated Poliovirus, Measles, Mumps and Rubella, Varicella, Pneumococcal, Influenza, and Hepatitis A.
Any local library or bookstore is a good place to begin catching up on the new trends in pregnancy and childbirth. Better still, please your children with your interest by borrowing our books.
Lots of things may have changed, but one thing has stayed the same. We still need our parents. Maybe as a shoulder to lean (or cry) on, or to get clothes and the cot ready, or simply reassurance that the changes we are going through, both physical and psychological, are normal.