Many parents of young children will at some point develop a love-hate relationship with the grandparents.
On one hand, the doting folks provide such wonderful support and unconditional love (plus free babysitting) to your offspring. On the flip side, they can’t seem to ever say no to every request put forth by the kids.
One more lollipop? Sure! Another episode of your favourite cartoon? Why not? And here’s yet another new toy!
Before you start losing your cool in front of the family, take a breath and consider these tips.
1. Be honest with your challenges
Let your parents or in-laws understand your main concerns so they will be on the same page–after all, we all want the best for the children. For instance, if your child is having difficulty falling asleep, educate them on the importance of taking away electronic devices or sweet treats by a certain time. Or if you are advocating for a minimalist lifestyle, set a clear limit for the number of toys you can accommodate at any one time.
2. Highlight health and safety issues from the get-go
This is closely related to the previous point. Grandparents need to be aware if the children are taking any medication or have any health problems. If a certain food interferes with a drug, be sure to let them know in advance. Or if your child is on the brink of being overweight, get the grandparents to replace snack options or cut down on offering tidbits.
3. The value of time and experience is priceless
Let the grandparents know just how much junior enjoys going to the playground or the zoo. This may motivate them to channel their budget for toys into a memorable excursion instead.
4. Pick your battles
If junior is seeing the grandparents only weekly or fortnightly, it is safe to say that the occasional no-rules weekend is not going to undermine your authority in the long run. While matters relating to health and safety can’t be compromised, try relaxing your grip in other areas.
5. Identify the negotiator
If the grandparents are not taking any steps to meet you in the middle, it may be time for a tougher talk. Choose the more effective communicator between you and your spouse for the task. Do remember, even difficult conversations can be initiated with respect, love and a good dose of humour!