As a grandma myself, I have often wondered if I should draw stricter lines. Like many other families, I live with my grown daughter and “babysit” when the parents are working. So many times, my grandchild will come to me for whatever he wants at the time, or to help him with something. It does not seem to bother the parents too much most of the time. There are times, though, that you can almost see the tears of pain in their eyes. Is there such a thing as too close to a grandparent? If so, what should be done about it, if it is affecting the parents? Let’s look at a few tips and share some advice with others in the same position.
Mom and dad are there at the beginning of the baby’s life. They take maternity leave to build the bond necessary with the baby and to enjoy their new bundle of joy. Too soon, however, duty calls, and the parents must return to earning an income. Many times Grandma is the choice to help out and care for the little one. Over time, it would seem obvious that the toddler tends to ask Grandma or want to be with Grandma. Depending on how many hours the parents work, the toddler does rely on the grandma for most things. That is the person he or she sees most often during waking hours. This would be considered common for the toddler who searches out Grandma even when Mom and Dad are home.
When Grandma Visits
The other circumstance would be the times when Grandma comes for a visit. I would imagine that all grandparents choose to dote heavily on the toddler when they come for a visit. What the toddler experiences during those visits is lots of time one on one. Nothing is preventing them from being together all day and playing or doing things together. When a toddler is having that much fun, they do not want it to end. It may appear as though the toddler is shunning mom and dad and wanting to replace them with Grandma. That is more than likely not what the toddler is after.
Silly and Unreasonable?
Those times when your toddler screams and has a temper tantrum because he or she wants Grandma to feed them, Grandma to change them or Grandma to put them to bed can hurt emotionally. At those times, if Grandma is just visiting, it may not be that bad to allow this to happen. However, if Grandma lives there, the boundaries do need to be enforced. When Mom and Dad are home, they are the parents. This is their time to take care of the child, even if they are tired.
Speaking Of Tired
So it has been an incredibly long and tiring day at work. It would be so great if someone could just take over and let you, the parent, rest. Many times, however, this leads to many more of these long and difficult workdays and letting Grandma do the evening routine with the toddler. However, teaching a toddler is challenging, and they need to know that Mom and Dad are their parents and that Mom and Dad do these things.
Let’s look at an example. Grandma is cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, and Mom says that is is bath time. The toddler starts to demand that Grandma bathe him. If Mom gives in and tells the toddler to wait until Grandma is done, that is telling the child it is okay to prefer Grandma over Mom. If Grandma is doing something else, sticking with your routine, proceed with the bath time routine. Seriously, it is a bath; not many toddlers will continue screaming once they get in the bath with the tub toys. So do not give in to the demand, stick with the usual plan.
All The Spoils
Again, let’s face it: grandparents spoil their grandchildren. They dote on them hand and foot; they tend to buy more toys than the toddler may ever play with. This is what grandparents do, that will never change. When Grandma is there, the toddler is old enough to know that with the cute little look in Grandma’s direction, their every whim is handled. So when your toddler sees grandma, he or she does not want to replace you, he only wants the spoils he gets.
A Huge Benefit
In reality, your mother or mother in law likely has much more experience dealing with the stresses of each day. Over time, she has learned how to stifle those feelings of stress when with children. It is common for any child to sense the stress or tiredness in the person with them. Toddlers may negatively react to individuals giving off stress emotions. Moreover, if the parent is upset or depressed, a toddler can sense that.
Parenting Is Not About You
Parents need to remember that they are just that. They are the parents, and they stick to a routine, and they do what is best for the child, even when Grandma is there. When your toddler does focus on grandma, take it as a good thing. That means that your toddler is very comfortable and feels safe with grandma. You will never stop being Mom to the toddler, and they will never stop loving you.
When you, as Mom, have those feelings of negativity, that your toddler loves Grandma more than you, first off discard those. Then continue working on your bond with the toddler. This is not a competition. Mom’s job is to nurture and teach and love her child. Create more moments that you and your toddler can spend together one on one. Even doing daily tasks together increases bonding. It may also help the child learn about responsibilities and how they need to be done before playtime.
If there is truly a major concern, then Mom and Grandma need to sit together and layout the boundaries. Clear the air of any concerns between both.