|photo credit: neil reynolds|
Let’s face it, who doesn’t love the convenience of dropping our kids at their grands for that rare Date Night? But when we come to pick them up and they are literally bouncing off the walls, with chocolate stains on their overalls, evidence of their sugar-high crimes, we might not be all that grateful.
With the year-end school holidays coming into full swing, we foresee lots of family time. In light of this, I thought it might be useful to write some of the lessons I’m learning about handling both my kid and her grandparents. I must tell you though, that some of these remain completely idealistic, but we are trying nonetheless.
1. FORM AN ALLIANCE
With your spouse that is.
Before going all hero-style and finding yourself in open disagreement with your in-laws, run through the issues with your spouse first. If you don’t like the way they are disciplining or spoiling your child, your husband / wife should be your first line of communication. They of all people would know best, since they might have been brought up in the same manner. And even if they were not, they are their parents’ child.
Rather than losing favour as a daughter-in-law, or causing them to withdraw their affections from the child, I make it a point to relate my unhappiness to J.G. first. He then decides if it’s a matter worth bringing up and then he brings it up when a similar situation arises. The downside is (1) it might take him a (really) long time (2) that scenario might never repeat itself (3) I might just have to let another ‘one’ slide. But hey, I intend to be their family member for my entire lifetime, so we remind ourselves – if it’s not worth the relationship, don’t fight about it.
2. YOU’RE ON THE SAME TEAM
Never forget even for a moment that they do what they do, no matter how irksome, because they love your child nearly as much as you do. Except that they show it in a vastly different way.
Especially true for first time parents like ourselves, where we take meticulous care of every aspect of our child’s well-being. From obsessively videoing their (every) significant milestones; to recording their food intake and output to the ‘T’. In contrast, those non-organic, high sugar, low-nutrient trash they consume with their grands might appear to us like they want to kill our kids.
It will take some time for them to set in, but the truth of the matter is – they love them too.
Rather than drive yourself into the corner and out of favour with your child, allow with limits the amount of time and number of meals they spend together to a reasonable amount. And because every parent’s tolerance level is different, I’ll leave you to decide for yourself what reasonable might be.
3. ENJOY BOTH WORLDS
Once you’ve decided to drop the kids off, enjoy yourself. Do whatever you had planned to do with a heart full of gratitude, it’s no fun going on a café date with a paranoid girlfriend who’s checking the baby monitor every five minutes.
4. SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
When you become a grandparent, make sure you apply these rules to yourself and not do to your child what your parents are doing to you right now. Unless they are great of course, then, by all means.
Better quality time with their grands than yet another learning enrichment or tuition session.
And I say again RELAX.
Even in the worst-case scenarios (e.g. Happy Meals all through breakfast, lunch and dinner) your child will come back to you alive. That is already a worthy achievement. Stay-home mums, you know what I mean.
As a toddler I had weekly meals with my grandparents. In my primary school years, school took center-stage and so the time I spent with them dwindled significantly. After that, they got older and I started carving out individual time with each one of them. By the time we got really close, they started dying one after the other. And before I knew it, I had no more grandparents to speak of.
No matter how annoying and irresponsible you think your child’s grandparents are, remember that they probably don’t have as such time to spend with them as compared to you. And most importantly, that they love you best by loving your child.
How will you spend family time this festive season?