Grandchildren – they are ours but not ours

A child coming into the family, is the apple of everyone’s eye. While a new arrival is a source of joy, differing opinions on how this child should be raised also become a source of conflict. Grandparents feel helpless and often lament, “The younger generation wants to bring up their children based on what they learn from Google rather than from us as they think times have changed.”. Some talk about how much it upsets them when they see their grandchildren being handled in ways which they believe is not good for the child. 

In a family, we sometimes forget that both parents and grandparents love the children dearly and only want what is best for them. The problem arises when they have a difference of opinion on what really is the best. So, what is the best way forward? How could parents and grandparents try to be on the same page and not lose out on the joy of bringing up a child. 

In this article let us look at how we, grandparents could approach this situation.

Consider this case study. My friend Kaveri complains, “We always put a mat and kept our babies on the floor. But my daughter restricts the baby to the bed or baby cot. We keep arguing about this”. 

What is the best way for Kaveri to resolve this issue? 

Explore her beliefs -  Kaveri thinks it's important for the baby to be kept on the floor as she believes that it will help in strengthening of bones and in developing motor skills as the baby has more freedom to move. She could communicate this to her daughter without making it an ego issue where she expects her daughter to listen to her just because she is older and feels she knows best. 

Listen with an open mind -  Now that Kaveri has   understood where her views are coming from its important for her to understand her daughter’s views.  Why is she resisting?  Her daughter feels it is not safe for a baby to be on the floor. She says it’s not hygienic, the floor is hard, and the baby can be bitten by an insect. Kaveri could also encourage her daughter to find out what the doctors or science says so both of them could see how to use that information.  

Arrive at a solution which works for both: When we are willing to understand their views, then the next generation is also more receptive to ours. This helps in creating an environment for healthy discussions.  We can listen to their views with curiosity and without judgement. Then, we can put across our thoughts and experiences and decide what would work best in the present scenario and move forward. It is not about whose view is right but what is right for the child. In this scenario after understanding her daughter’s fears, Kaveri can offer to sit with the child when the baby is playing on the floor and use a thick blanket instead of just a mat. She can suggest that they only put the baby down after the floor has been well mopped. (these are just some ways to meet both their concerns) 

There are many ideas, views, beliefs we modified as we parented our children.  Finally, as parents we had to allow our children to forge their own path. In the same way, we need to let our children take their faltering baby steps into parenthood. 

While we are learning how to be the parent of an adult child, they are learning how to parent a little one As grandparents our role is to support them if they require help or guidance. 

It is the bittersweet truth that grandchildren are ours, but not ours to parent. As parents we gave our children ‘roots to stay, and wings to fly’. Can we do the same as grandparents too?