We all know there are countless benefits to children having a healthy relationship with their grandparents, but some aspects of that relationship can cause a bit of strife between mom and dad and grandma and grandpa.
It is no surprise that when kids are with their grandparents they are much more likely to get what they ask for (the word “spoiled” is often used). This can be a good thing, as kids feel special, but it can also step on parents’ toes and strain that relationship if it goes too far.
How do you make sure your parents (and/or in-laws) are not undermining your authority?
According to Chantal Côté, registered psychologist and founder of Pyramid Psychology, you set up boundaries. It is “OK to [set boundaries] and it is possible to do so in a respectful way,” she says. “Keep [your] children's best interest and well-being at the heart of decisions.”
“Have conversations with grandparents about most important non-negotiables when it comes to times together with grandparents and children,” says Chantal. Stick to your guns and make sure they know that other rules are fluid, but these must be followed in order for them to spend time with your children.
“Be okay with ‘no,’” says Chantal. “Set up requests and invitations for spending time together with the understanding that if it doesn't fit for the other person, that is okay. Parents have boundaries, as do grandparents, as do children. Keeping that in mind can help everyone have their voice heard in a more equitable way.”
The key to feeling good about letting go is open and honest communication, according to Chantal. “Listen to understand - if something is bothering you in grandparent/child time together, pay attention (there's a reason) and see if you can bring a little curiosity to understand why your parent/child is behaving in that way,” she adds.
“If something is working really well, keep it going. If something isn't, don’t be afraid to think outside the box of what the relationship can look like.”
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