Grandparents will coddle, coo and adore your progeny into a bubbly froth of happy baby love. They will also elevate the stressfulness of any infant-related situation to prescription-necessitating heights. You don’t have to let it.
While there is a lot of truth to the old saw that grandparents and grandchildren get along so well because they share a common enemy, with these helpful insights you will be well prepared to handle anything Bubbe and Zeide throw at you:
All criticism of your parenting skills masks their shame. Your parents know they messed up. They see evidence of it everyday, from your brother’s decision to give up law school for a life of street busking to your melodramatic sister’s enduring singlehood to the way you, well, let’s not talk about you right now, dear. You’re expecting!
The point is, your parenthood is an opportunity for grandparents-to-be to vindicate themselves. They will justify the choices they made by belittling yours. So remember: it’s not really about you. It’s about them. And, truth is, you probably are doing it wrong. (You’re kids will be sure to tell you all about it in 30 years.)
How you talk to your parents is how your children will one day talk to you. Don’t believe me? Reflect back on how your parents spoke to and about their parents when you were still in short pants and see if the formula holds. Yep, that’s what I thought. Keep it nice.
The loudest, largest, most obnoxious toy that you would never-ever want your child to have. That’s what they’re going to buy your kid.
There are myriad ways to stem the tide of unnecessary junk: Amazon wish lists, baby registries, a compilation of favorite stores and a very strong admonition to purchase gift cards. But the junk will still arrive. It just will.
Say thank you. Let junior play with it. Then when grandpa goes home, and junior goes to bed, throw the crap out.
Don’t argue with your spouse about parenting in front of your parents. Just as your kids will exploit disagreements between mommy and daddy, grandparents also need to be presented with a united front. Any fissure in the fortress invites the jackhammer of intergenerational intrusion. So save the “Dude, don’t hold the child upside down by her ankles” comments for after grandma has left the room.
Thank them. When you’re wiping poop off your child’s neck, while doing the seventh load of vomit-filled laundry in the middle of the night, send mom a text to say, “Thanks. Parenting is hard. I realize now just how much you did for me, and I am so grateful.” Or better yet, write a column to that effect and have it published in a magazine that all her friends read. Your choice. And, again, congratulations!
Mayrav Saar is a freelance writer and mother of three.