I bet that this situation is familiar to more than one: you take your little one to spend the afternoon at the grandparents’ house, and when you pick him up a while later he tells you that he has had all kinds of snacks and has played a good time at the game console. Candy and screens! The two unbreakable boundaries in your house have been overlooked while you were with the grandparents , something that especially bothers you.
What to do in these cases? How to deal with the differences in the way of educating and how to act when other relatives do things with your child that you do not like? We offer you some keys that could help you.
Be flexible with some of the limits you impose on your children
We have already commented on it on other occasions: we parents say ‘no’ to our children too often, without realizing that if the child breaks many of the limits imposed, the consequences will not be important.
This does not mean that children should do what they want and when they want, because growing up without limits causes insecurity, lack of self-esteem and unhappiness, but the limits that we agree with our children should be proportionate, fair and clear, and not abuse them.
To understand it better, let’s go back to the example with which we opened the article and reflect: ” what would happen if my son eats sweets during the time he spends with his grandparents, despite the fact that they are prohibited in my house?”
Well, probably nothing (unless it is an abusive consumption that can cause indigestion). In other words, in this case we could relax the limit and let our son occasionally have sweets when he goes to a relative’s house , which would contribute to creating a more relaxed atmosphere and a more positive relationship between grandparents and parents.
Also, if you think about it, I am sure that you yourself have some emotional memory of your childhood related to this matter (those exquisite cupcakes that only your grandmother knew how to prepare; that special sweet that your grandfather passed you under the table when your mother had forbidden to eat more; that snack of bread with chocolate that you only had when you visited your grandparents…). Let your child also live these kinds of beautiful experiences and forge their own memories!
And it is that what for one family may be a flexible limit (eating sweets occasionally), for another it could be an unbreakable limit (for example, if the child has food allergies, if they have a health or obesity problem, if the consumption of sweets is periodic…).
In any case, and as we say, the limits must be relaxed according to our beliefs and needs . This means that for some parents the soft limit could be in the consumption of sweets, while for others it will be in the time to go to bed, the time that the child watches television or plays on the computer, to name just a few. examples.
But, what if other relatives act with my son in a way contrary to my principles?
´Now, it could happen that the limits that other family members are breaking with my children are contrary to my way of raising and educating (for example, they apply punishments, do not impose limits, are too permissive…).
What to do in these cases?
1) Do not argue with your relative in front of the child
The first thing we must do is remain calm and not insult or speak ill of our family member in front of our child. Nor should we discuss in the presence of the child, although it is advisable to show our disagreement with respect and education .
In this way we will be giving our son an example of the importance of being assertive and saying what we think at all times, while reinforcing certain aspects of parenting that we consider essential.
2) Empathize with the adult
Sometimes we make the mistake of believing that grandparents should educate our children exactly the same as we do, but the truth is that it is not always easy for them.
To begin with, we are different people , with our particular way of seeing the world, our own beliefs and ideas regarding parenting, our priorities…
In this sense, grandparents may be very old, feel overwhelmed or find it difficult to set limits ; they may believe that by being permissive and letting their grandchildren do what they want, they will be happier; they could have been raised with authoritarianism and replicate these behaviors with their grandchildren, or they may not know resources or respectful tools to solve a problem…
It could also be the case that the family member does something that puts our child at risk due to ignorance (for example, traveling by car with the child without an adequate CRS, offering food not recommended for their age or containing ingredients that is allergic, is not aware of the danger that a certain activity may entail…).
Be that as it may (and with few exceptions), what is clear is that the grandparents -or any other relative who is left in charge of the child at a given time- only want the best for your child, although like any other person they can also make mistakes in the way of educating or not acting correctly as a result of ignorance.
3) Focus on solutions
But it is not only about understanding why the adult has reacted as he has done and showing your disagreement, but it is also necessary to focus on solutions so that it does not happen again :
- Review with the adult those unbreakable limits (that is, those that cannot be broken under any circumstances). At this point, those ways of acting that, due to ignorance, may put the child at risk would also enter.
- Relax certain limits.
- If we are talking about completely opposite ways of educating , explain the reasons why you do not agree with their actions and inform them about tools or resources according to your way of educating that they can use next time.
- Offer your help and make him see that he can ask you any questions he has whenever he needs it, because you both have a common goal, which is the well-being and happiness of the child.
Photos | pexels
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