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Setting boundaries with grandparents

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So you can have healthy relationships with your parents/in-laws in regards to your parenting!

Bridging the divide between generations can be difficult – but not impossible.

I feel like if we could parent our kids with the boundary setting of a parent, but the lightheartedness and fun of grandparents — that would be the ultimate parenting win.

One of my favorite things is watching how my parents and in-laws interact with Ryaan.

When I watch my mom and dad play with Ryaan and see how much joy he brings them, I imagine them doing the same things with me when I was an infant. But, they had the stress of providing for the family, working long hours, and figuring out this parenting thing just like us. I’m sure they got lost in the motions a lot like we sometimes do.

However, grandparents can tend to be very lenient with their grandkids as they try to be the fun and easy going grandma or grandpa.

As a Pediatrician, I am constantly discussing inter-generational boundary setting with families. I have calmed down many grandmothers who disagree when I say you don’t need to treat every fever. Or disagree when I talk about how to manage fussy newborns. Or disagree because they raised eight children without car seats and everyone survived.

And as a mother, I am constantly personally navigating this to create boundaries for our family, but also welcome my in-laws and parents in so they feel appreciated.

I also think it is important to set boundaries and to consider certain things as you parent your child with the watchful eye of your parent/in-law.

Understand YOUR triggers

Our parents have a way of triggering us, especially after we become parents.

Maybe they commented on your weight, didn’t help you manager your emotions, or did something that you feel didn’t serve you as an adult.

When your parent comments on these things about your child or about you as an adult, it can trigger you due to past wounds. Therefore, it’s important to recognize these triggers exist so you can approach it head-on and recognize WHY things they are saying or doing are making you upset.

Decide what your non-negotiable boundaries are

There are some things you will decide are very important to you in regards to your child. It is important to know them and discuss these with the grandparents, and be respectful but firm.

In situations where grandparents may be primary childcare, we definitely need some boundaries and consistency as it can then seep into your home too.

It’s okay to be lenient with other things, but it’s important to think of the few things that are truly non-negotiables so you can better advocate for these.

It’s okay to pick and choose your battles with the grandparents

Remember your triggers and non-negotiables but also remember that not everything needs to lead to disagreements. It’s okay to let a comment bounce off of you. Let it be said, but don’t absorb the energy and do what you feel is best for your child.

Pick and choose your battles – when you choose your non-negotiables, it can lead to less frustration. and sometimes it’s okay to not say anything or just nod your head.

If they are truly offending you or your family (THINK: if your friend said the same comment, would you be offended?), make sure to discuss this either at the moment or at a later time when you’re calm.

Stay calm and respond

It is important to try not to react and yell to something grandparents say or do. Nobody likes to be yelled at even if they did something wrong.

Try to take a moment before reacting to something you don’t like so you can more effectively communicate. If it means, calmly walking away to regroup yourself. Do it. Come back when you are ready.

And finally – involve grandparents in ways you feel comfortable

As you stick to boundaries, involve them in major or minor decisions to make them feel involved. Involving them in decisions can make them feel wanted. But you ultimately decide if you will take that advice.

Checkout this instagram post where I share about when my parents came to stay with us in October and how we navigated our boundaries and relationships!

PS: I think you’ll love listening to this episode where I discuss avoiding power struggles with grandparents!

Dr. Mona Admin

Hi there!

I’m a Board Certified Pediatrician, IBCLC, and a mom of two.

I know the ups and downs of becoming a mom and raising kids.

I help moms ditch the worry and second-guessing so you can find more joy in motherhood.


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All information presented on this blog, my Instagram, and my podcast is for educational purposes and should not be taken as personal medical advice. These platforms are to educate and should not replace the medical judgment of a licensed healthcare provider who is evaluating a patient.

It is the responsibility of the guardian to seek appropriate medical attention when they are concerned about their child.

All opinions are my own and do not reflect the opinions of my employer or hospitals I may be affiliated with.