Your Baby's Grandparents
A woman's relationship with her parents can be one of the most complicated in her life and almost invariably is different from one woman to the next. Whether you're the best of friends, more distant and frosty, or somewhere in between, the only thing that is true for all women is that your relationship with your parents will get a bit more complicated when they become grandparents.
Your Parents When Baby Arrives
Your parents (and your partner's parents) may well have offered to help out when your baby arrives. There are many positives to accepting offers of help from grandparents. However, you and your partner are the ones who should decide who should be around to help out when the baby arrives. If you both feel you would rather spend the first week or so alone with your baby, then explain to your mother (or your mother in law too if necessary) that you and your partner want to get to know the baby and to get more comfortable with him or her before having house guests.
Assure your parents that you are very eager for them to visit when the baby is a few weeks old, and remind them that the baby will be more responsive, interesting and awake by then as well. There may be some hurt feelings, but these should be temporary as once they are having cuddles with their new grandchild these should be forgotten. What won't be forgotten is that you and your partner are the ones who set the ground rules for your baby - an important concept to relay to parents and in laws early.
How Can Grandparents Help?
If you're quite happy to have an extra set of hands and would welcome a visit from your parents (or in laws) when the baby arrives, then make the most of it! Don't feel guilty about asking for help particularly when help has been offered already.
Grandparents have at least a hundred and one uses: they can rock a crying baby; they can get lunch on, wash and fold laundry, do the shopping, run a hoover around and much, much more. In the early days when you will want to spend more time with your newborn and less time doing chores around the house, this kind of help can be invaluable.
If your parents or inlaws have offered help but are inclined to an overbearing take charge attitude, then make it clear what kind of help you're looking for - for example, help with chores around the house and getting meals ready. That way, no-one's feelings get hurt and everyone knows what's expected of them.
Taking Advice From Grandparents
The expertise that grandparents bring with them is irreplaceable. Whether you feel your parents did a good or bad job, there is always something to be learned from their experiences, even if it's only what not to do. There's no point in reinventing the wheel - or learning the hard way, when your folks have been there, done that and bought the T-shirt!
Being open to suggestion of course puts you in the position of sometimes (maybe even quite a lot of the time) having to disagree. Don't let this stop you from discussing child care with your parents or in laws.
Current guidelines will have changed from previous generations, so be aware of what the current advice actually is. If you disagree with a parent on an issue - explain your point of view. They may come around when you talk about it, or at least understand why you feel the way you do. Even if they don't, your relationship will be better if you are open and share your thoughts and feelings than if you bottle them up.
Spoiling - A Grandparent's Right?
Grandparents have it good don't they? They get to sweep in, have the joy of spoiling a baby, then hand her back before the tantrums and tears set in. They can ply their grandkids with treats and let them miss naps without having to deal with any of the consequences. For many, this is how it should be. Whatever your feelings, they have served their time, parenting you - making sure you brushed your teeth, did your homework, getting up at night when you weren't well. So, now they get to enjoy the special perks that come with the role of a grandparent.
There should, however, be some sensible guidelines agreed upon by all:
If your parents live quite far away and only get to see their grandchildren only a few times a year, then it's only fair they have the opportunity to spoil them when they do see them. You can rest assured that your children won't become spoiled by these infrequent visits.
If your parents live close by and see their grandchildren frequently or even help with regular childcare, then it would be good to set some ground rules that will remain consistent between parents and grandparents to avoid sending mixed messages to your baby. Think about what really matters to you and what you don't mind compromising on.