Setting Boundaries With Grandma and Grandpa

When a woman becomes a mother, it often happens that she begins to care deeply about things she never thought much about before her baby was born. Whether it’s what her baby wears to bed, how they eat, what songs and routines they like, or when they sleep and wake, all parents are particular about certain aspects of how their baby is raised. While this sort of care is often a sign that parents are passionate about taking care of their little one, it can often induce eye rolls from the other people involved in baby’s life, particularly their grandparents. Which is why setting clear boundaries can be very important, for your sanity!

The thing is, no matter how silly a rule might seem to grandparents or other people in a baby’s life, it’s a parents job to set the rules and the job of everyone else to follow them. If you’re a parent who's struggling to make sure other people you care about follow your parenting rules, check out the tips below!

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{ MORE: Names from the Family Tree: Grandparent and Great-Grandparent Inspired Baby Names }

Make the rules clear

Often, parents start to get frustrated about other people breaking their rules before they really tell them what the rules are. Instead of waiting for the situation to arise, like as your mom moves towards your three-month-old with a spoon-full of mashed potatoes, let everyone know the rules. Waiting until a rule is broken or about to be broken can make people feel defensive. But, if you let them know before the situation arises, they’re more likely to respond positively.

Share the why

Often, grandparents and other caretakers break rules because they simply don’t understand the why. For instance, if you say, “Heat the breast milk by placing it in a bowl of warm water,” your caretaker might think the important thing is that the milk get heated and simply pop it in the microwave. Letting grandparents or caretakers know WHY something matters can be helpful. Try something like, “Please heat the breast milk by placing it in a bowl of warm water. It’s important that it be warm because that’s how Camden likes it, but heating it in the microwave can cause it to heat unevenly and cause burns.”

Talk through their reservations

Sometimes, people know the rules and still chose to break them – sometimes it’s disrespect and sometimes it’s because they feel uncomfortable with the rule. When it comes to grandparents, this discomfort often comes from the fact that things were different when they were raising kids. Try saying something like, “ I know that doctors told parents to lay their babies on their sides to sleep when you were raising kids but now the most up-to-date recommendation is that they sleep only on their back. Even though it feels off to you, this is what you need to do.”

Let them know the rules are firm

Once you set a rule, stick to it. You can be kind as you tell them what you need but it’s important to be clear. “Mom, I appreciate that you babysit for Maggie when my friends and I go out but I need you to only feed her the food we provide. As her mom, I know what foods upset her and as her caretaker, I need to you to trust and follow the guidelines I set.”

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Don’t bend

If caretakers continue to break rules that are important to you, it might be time to reconsider whether your baby can spend time with them. While an ultimatum never feels good, the care and safety of your baby should be your first priority.

{ MORE: Every Mom Needs a Break }

Have you needed to set boundaries to help keep your parenting rules in place? Share your experience in the comments.

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Setting Boundaries With Grandma and Grandpa

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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