Published February 22, 2008 by
With goodwill and a sincere desire for communication, you may very well be able to take the best that your parents and other older relatives have to offer and tactfully teach them the best of what you know, without lowering your standards or sacrificing your values. First, use the many available resources to back up your opinions. We all tend to believe what we read, and women of the older generation held doctors and experts in high regard, so show Grandma the passages in books and magazines that reinforce your opinion.
Quote your pediatrician to her. Share with her the literature you have from organizations such as the La Leche League (International, USA, Canada) and the National Childbirth Education Association. Tell her what you’ve learned from people whose opinion she respects-you neighbor, whose children she always admires, or your sister or sister-in-law. Sometimes simply stalling is a good technique. Thank her for her advice, and say and do nothing more about the matter. Or “forget” to try her method, or tell her you’ll probably “start soon.”
With good humor and consideration, you can probably work things out with Grandma so you at least approach the ideal relationship, in which you are working together for the benefit of your child and in which the child is more important to both of you than each other’s opinions about child care are. Bear in mind that the ultimate benefits of your rapport with Grandma will go to your child, whose relationship with her is priceless.
The bottom line in dealing with Grandma or anyone else is that you are the parent, an intelligent and well informed person, and you have the right to determine what is best for your child and to raise him or her as you see fit. In the end, if you have to, you can remind these people that they chose their ways and you will choose yours. Of course, all this is easier with acquaintances or strangers, who will perhaps surprise you with their audacity in telling you what to do or asking you impertinent questions about the way you are caring for your child.
You do not need to justify your actions to such people; you can avoid confrontations by simply thanking them politely for their interest and going your way. Do be sure that you are actually being criticized before you react. Remember that the more insecure we are, the more we tend to infer criticism when none was intended, and that we all tend to overreact to situations in which our children are concerned. There are few issues important enough to force confrontations with relatives and friends.
But don't forget that Grandparents do have some great experience in the matters, and of course don't forget to celebrate then with your children on Grandparent's Day.