Without a doubt, babies bring families together. Relatives flock and fawn over the newborn claiming that the baby takes after their side of the family. It can be overwhelming, but they are family. Nothing can go wrong with that, right? Well, no not really until they cross their boundaries. Boundaries are more difficult to establish within families, especially for grandparents who just want to spend time with their grandchildren.
So, the question now is, how often should grandparents see their grandchildren?
Grandparents, Please Stay on Your Lanes
It’s not uncommon for grandparents to spend most of their time doting on their grandchildren. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, it’s even endearing to watch them play with kids and try to match their energy. A good relationship with grandparents is even encouraged. However, like anything else, boundaries should be set regarding how involved the grandparents should be in raising the children.
Some parents encounter such dilemmas when grandparents refuse to stay in their lanes. As parents, we want to establish a schedule with our families. Allotting time for work, chores, and bonding with the children. It takes a lot of practice and patience but it works. But, we really can’t force a schedule when the grandparents barge in from time to time, right?
How Often Should Grandparents See Their Grandchildren?
They can be pretty persistent. Demanding for more time with their grandchildren because “We want to see them grow up.” Aside from that, trust that there will be moments where they will insist on their age-old practices when it comes to raising your kids. Of course, they will partner it with the same reasoning of, “It works all the time. It worked when I raised you”. No one can really deny that because of the example used.
Saying No to Toxic Grandparents
Their suggestions and insistence come from a good place; they have good intentions, but it can get really irritating. The instances when grandparents overstep their boundaries are often more persistent among first-time parents. It’s not a rare occurrence when they volunteer themselves to help around the house and to take some matters into their own hands.
Additional hands during the first few months after birth are always welcome. It can lift some pressure and burden from the parents’ shoulders. The problem comes when they refuse to uproot from their tasks. It would seem like they don’t trust you enough to let you do things on your own.
Establishing dominance over your own parents when it comes to taking care of your family can be quite messy and emotionally draining. But it is necessary.
Establish Your Boundaries
How often should grandparents see their grandchildren? In order to have some semblance of routine in your family without fearing that your parents or your spouse’s parents will barge in at any minute, set some boundaries? Set boundaries about visiting, establish some about the extent of what they can decide for your children, and much more. Take note that both parties must be in agreement in setting these boundaries. These boundaries also help them not to be toxic and overbearing grandparents.
The prime rule about visiting is asking for consent. Even if they are older and much more experienced than you in many things, they should ask for permission before going to visit. Asking permission is a necessity because you may have plans and other responsibilities that you need to attend to but will be compromised in case of an ambush visit.
How Often Should Grandparents See Their Grandchildren?
Well, They Can’t Just Visit Anytime
Also, knowing that they will come and visit, you can also have some time to prepare your kids. Some children can be sensitive to these kinds of situations, so it’s better to be careful. Asking for permission is basic courtesy and etiquette.
When it comes to setting up a schedule, it is absolutely up to you. Are you willing to let them visit as often as possible or not. Ideally, allow them to visit when the kids have a lot of free time, such as during the weekends or mornings. Discourage them from visiting at night because it might disrupt your child’s sleeping schedule.
Planning all these is easy but telling toxic grandparents about it is a whole different story. When you’re about to tell them, prepare for the worst. Some grandparents may take it personally and will result in full-blown disagreements. Don’t forget to appease them by assuring them that you need them, their presence, and experience, but not all the time. Explain to them, thoroughly, that you need time alone with your family too. But, if worse comes to worst and they take your request negatively, stand firm with your decision. Sooner or later, they will realize your decision is a must in building a family stronger.
No, I Will Do This My Way
Aside from random ambush visits, some toxic grandparents are guilty of pushing their parenting practices on their grandchildren—often hijacking and overtaking the role of the parents. Yes, their hearts are in the right place but sometimes their ways clash with what you want. They want you to follow what they practiced because it worked before, it should still work now. They have a fair point, but what they don’t know is that there are better methods available now.
If it comes to a point where they override most of your decisions, then it’s best to have a sit-down conversation with them. In your talk, make sure to let them realize that their grandchildren are not their children. They don’t have the same authority over raising them as they did with their own children. The next point to mention and emphasize is that so much time has passed from when they had their own children. They might not realize the implication of the passing of time to the methods of raising children. There are more options now that helps parents raise kids without compromising other aspects of their life.
Limiting their visiting hours can also help in curbing their insistence on making decisions for your family. Having them over almost everyday lets them see your everyday life pushing them to think that they need to step in and “make things right”.
Just like how to set boundaries regarding visiting hours, you also need to be firm with insisting that you have the last say in making decisions, especially when it comes to your children. Even if it’s as little as letting them eat some sweets after supper, you have to have the final say. And your parents and in-laws need to support that decision.
No, You Don’t Speak For Me
Some grandparents and in-laws often take on the responsibility of putting words into your mouth, especially when your child asks something from them. It usually comes in the lines of, “You can eat this treat, I will explain it to your mom later” or “Yes, you can go with your friends, I’ll handle your mom or dad”. It may seem harmless at first but kids pick up fast. When you reprimand them for doing something, they will, of course, seek saving from their grandparents. It will become a cycle when not intervened early on.
When situations like these happen, don’t hold back and remind your parents and in-laws that you have the final say in these situations. You can even claim that what they are doing is counterproductive to how you discipline your children. They might think that a little bit of spoiling from time to time won’t hurt, but it will. It will slowly form their behavior that you have to deal with until they grow older. As soon as you see these circumstances happen, cut the roots right away.
Communication is Always Key
At the end of the day, parents and in-laws are still family. Regardless of how they act around you and your children, you are related by blood and affinity. Your children will need their presence in growing up too.
Having grandparents around and seeing them bond with your children is such a charm to see. It’s nice to see your kids’ experience and feel your parents’ love that showered you when you were a kid. It’s also endearing to see your parents and in-laws beam with happiness because there are babies again. Healthy relationships with grandparents strengthen familial relationships.
When you have too much to do yet too little time to spare, you can always call on your parents and ask for extra hands around the house. You can also count on them to look after your children when you need to spend some quality time with your spouse.
How Often Should Grandparents See Their Grandchildren?—You Decide
You wouldn’t want them to be too attached nor be too detached from your family, so seek balance. The boundaries maintain the balance of a healthy relationship. And the only and essential key is to communicate these boundaries properly. Looking down and belittling their roles as grandparents, as secondary caregivers to your children, will only cause a rift in your relationship. We don’t want that.
Acknowledge that they have an important role to play for the child’s rearing. However, they don’t need to spend all of their time with your time. They need time for themselves and, likewise, you need time for your family too. Assuring them that their help is welcome and needed affirms them. Maybe, it even gives them a sense of purpose again, especially when it was too long since they raised children.
A picture of a perfectly healthy family often extends from the core family, it almost always includes doting grandparents. However, problems arise if there are no boundaries that dictate the extent of their involvement in your family. Luckily, it can be easily avoided and resolved through open communication and heartfelt understanding. Work together with them to establish a healthy and loving environment for your children.