When Parents and Grandparents Collide
Claudia was a little apprehensive when her mother suggested that Claudia bring Evyn over to “Glamma’s” house for the day. Anne and Corwin were ecstatic to become a grandparents, and she wanted to give Claudia a day to enjoy out-and-about alone. Claudia trusted her mother Anne as a caregiver to Evyn. What she was concerned about, were the parenting principles that her mother had mentioned during their casual conversations. Anne didn’t understand why Claudia was always correcting and educating her about Evyn. Claudia didn’t ride in a car seat. She gave Claudia food at 3 months, and Claudia slept on her belly on the water bed because the motion soothed Claudia’s colic. Anne and Corwin raised Claudia and her siblings to the best of their abilities, and they turned out just fine. What’s so different now? What’s all the fuss? Anne didn’t understand it all and if it was important to Claudia, she wasn’t going to lose the opportunity to build that trust over her own ignorance.
Outdated Practices and Beliefs
Recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics come with years of studies and research. Did you know that policies, precautions, and recalls occur when there are a series of incidences of mortality? When there are approximately 8 fatalities surrounding a product or statistic, that’s when a nationwide notification is ignited. Remember the Rock-n-Play recall? The inclined sleep apparatus was like a bassinet on a rocking horse base. How about the Boppy Newborn Lounger? The soft pillow-like saucer. Or how about the recent formula recall? Millions of artificial baby milk were pulled off of store shelves in a nationwide formula recall.
There are differences between a practice, a belief, and a custom. Practice is often conducted because it was educationally taught to an individual. Such as, how to change a diaper, how to feed a bottle, how to burp, cut a baby’s nails, etc. Until there is a reason given to change the way of performance, that is how things will be done.
A belief comes from an upbringing or one’s experience. A known one in the Black community is that if you look at a baby’s ears, you can tell what their skin tone will be. Another example is putting a penny on a baby’s belly to prevent baby from having an outie belly button is a belief. A new parent witnessing their child coughing on their saliva one night. The belief is that laying the baby on the back will continue to cause this concern. Therefore the parents may begin unsafe practices of laying baby on their tummy or not gain any sleep themselves overnight. Putting a jaundiced baby in front of a window to help break down the bilirubin. Unfortunately, windows are now double paned and have solar and UV protection on them. No longer making this belief true.
Customs are curated culturally. These are childrearing actions that have been passed down from generation to generation and are a part of your family’s traditions. For example, not cutting hair before first birthday for good luck. A baby being fussy due to the possibility of “ojo mal”, and having a ritual conducted to fend off that evil eye.
No matter the reason, belief, or custom, check to make sure that baby is healthy, growing, and thriving. The AAP recommendations are made to save lives and keep babies safe. It’s our jobs as caregivers to do the same with information, education, and implementation whenever possible.
Safety Standards Have Changed Dramatically
Do you remember riding in the bed of your Papa’s pick truck? Have you looked through old photographs of your youth only to grimace at some of the safety no-nos of yesteryear? Can you recall riding on the laps of siblings, cousins, and friends on road trips sans child restraints? Yep, my friend, safety standards have most definitely changed over the decades. Depending on the age, mindset, and the relationship of the grandparents, they may or may not be readily receptive to changes in today’s rules and regulations of parenting.
Don’t be afraid to speak up! When discussing the care and wishes of your little one you have that say. Especially regarding your baby’s safety. Take a moment to pause and explain new updates or adjustments to what the grandparent is suggesting. Try being mindful of their thought processes. Navigating how quickly information changes in childrearing is enough to make a new parent’s head spin. Remember, they also love their offspring and want to do their best for you.
Stay up-to-date on the current practices, and enlist a way that you can convey the information that makes you feel confident in relaying that information to the grandparents. Be prepared for questions of “why” and “let me see the studies”, etc, and approach the questions as an authority over your decisions, and also with compassion to their wanting to have a complete understanding.
Feeling Judged About the Choices They Made
Grandparents can easily feel judged when questioned about the choices they have made while they were in the trenches of parenthood long ago. Forget social media shaming, think about how every new report that comes out from AAP or ACOG about infant feeding, sleeping, car seats, activities, etc reminds the grandparents of what “they did wrong”. “We did what we did with the knowledge and information we had at the time.” We as parents have to remember that we won’t have all of the right answers all of the time, and we may not always make the best decisions. With that being said, growth is what’s important. Growing in your confidence, growing in knowledge, and growing in your relationship with one another.
There’s no way to be a perfect parent, but there are a million ways to be a great one. Print out the latest information so that the grandparents are able to read it themselves. Have open discussions about how you plan to raise your child. What actions are acceptable and not acceptable to take with their grandchild. Think about ways to show your appreciation for their help and support, while instilling the proper boundaries and respect for what you want. Above all, we all feel like we’ve falling short in the parenting department in one way or another. Watching you shine in your roles as parents brings back memories of when your parents were raising you.
Hello Grandparents Class
On the 4th Monday of the month, Vegas Family Doulas offers a Grandparent’s Class. A class builds strictly for the grandparents to bridge the gap between the now and the yesteryear. Our Grandparent’s Class is a 2-hour fun, interactive, and engaging course that will provide grandparents a safe place to express themselves without judgment. During the class infant feeding, child-proofing and safety, infant sleep, communication styles, and more are discussed. An antiquated approach to how the guidelines of today’s parenting have evolved from how we grew up; and how your knowledge and experiences aren’t as outdated as you may think.
Promoting to Grandparents, is the Most Rewarding Role
We quite often hear that the role of a grandparent is even better than that of a parent. The love of a grandparent is rooted in generations of memories, stories, and life experiences. It has been statistically proven that grandparents who spend time with their grandchildren reduce the onset of dementia and Alzheimers. Something that’s a treasure. While the wild ride of parenting is never-ending, one thing is true, the child who has the relationships with both their parents and their grandparents is blessed beyond measures.
Claudia and Anne set a date for ‘mommy’s day out with Anne at the helm. They attended the Grandparent’s Class and learned much about communicating with each other, their roles and boundaries, and respect. Claudia felt at ease and went from anxious to excited about spending some time with herself. It was the perfect first Mother’s Day gift.