grandparents and parents with toddlerHaving grandparents involved in your child’s life is a wonderful gift. A healthy relationship with extended family gives a child a sense of security and a greater understanding of her identity. But often, grandparents will have very different ideas on how to parent that you do! Handling these differences can be a challenge, but navigating the waters wisely can help you all to land on the same page.

  1. Assume the best of intentions.You’re limiting screen time, but your mother-in-law thinks a few hours of CNN in the background when she watches her grandchildren is perfectly fine. You have every right to ask her to dial down the 24-hour news of course, but before you speak with her remember that her intentions are not to undermine you. She simply has her way of doing things and after having raised kids herself, it’s difficult for her to see how she could be doing anything wrong!
  1. Invite them to get to know your routine. It’s helpful for grandparents to understand the daily routine of their grandchildren, so that they understand what their daily lives are like, and why rearranging their schedules or introducing activities that don’t work well for your child might prove difficult. You can even invite them to pick up the kids from daycare or preschool, so that they can see what their grandchildren’s lives at childcare are like. This will remind them that your children have lives of their own, and that their routines, likes, and dislikes should be respected.
  1. Define your roles. Talk with your child’s grandparents about how much they want to be involved in your child’s life, and what kind of support they have to offer. This will help both parties to learn not to overstep when asking for or offering help.
  1. Create a united front. Speak with your partner about any complicated feelings you have about your child’s grandparents, their role, and any issues you may be having with them. It’s important for you both to be on the same page when dealing with grandparents and talking about your parenting approach.
  1. mom, grandma and childSpeak up when a line is crossed. This is also known as “picking your battles”. If a little bit of after school sugar annoysyou, but isn’t a huge issue for your family, you may want to consider letting it go. However, other behavior that seems dangerous or may set a bad example should be checked. If your father-in-law doesn’t think riding in a car seat is important, or frequently uses language you don’t approve of, speak up.

How have you handled challenges between you and your partner, and your child’s grandparents? Let us know in the comments!