The Role of Grandparents
The number of nuclear families is at an all-time high with the sprawling urban culture in India. These family units generally consist of both working parents busy with their careers and more often than not, the task of raising kids is almost out-sourced to maids or day-care centers. In this scenario, the role of having grandparents is often ignored because parents perceive it as interference in raising kids and prefer to not have someone bossing them around on how to raise their own kids. While the intention is not to humiliate the elders but all they seek is parenting without excess criticism.
Grand Parents vs. Parents
The areas of conflict are generally around disciplining, T.V. watching, playtime, dressing styles, eating habits, excess love, protectionism, gifting toys, study-time, the right amount of strictness etc. All these disputes make one feel how much of lesser burden in handling the kids it would be if there were no conflicting ideas floating around. However, it is important to note that the advantages of having grandparents around outweigh the disadvantages. Maids or day-care centers cannot match the love showered by grandparents. To get the best of this advantage, one should learn to communicate and understand the limits and responsibilities. Below we are listing a few ideas for parents and grandparents to foster this possibility.
- Avoid conflicts with grandparents in the presence of children and keep it for later discussion.
- Make clear set of rules around discipline and other areas and communicate them in advance
- Immediately spot out the instances of interference and discuss them immediately without keeping it for another day.
- Avoid criticism and praise the grandparents when they do a good job
- Trust their experience and make use of their wisdom and make them feel valued
- Foster healthy family relationships and communication through regular family meetings (dinner together etc.)
- Make sure to take their advice in the matters of child’s behavior, health, schooling and career choices.
- Avoid taking sides with children especially in the matters of discipline, education etc.
- Respect the role of parents in raising their own children and take-up an advisory role
- Never criticize parents in front of their children. Keep all conflicting communication for a later time during private conversations.
- Avoid excess criticism and appreciate the parents and encourage them for doing a good job managing careers along with kids.
- Be aware of your own physical limitations and recreational/emotional needs and make sure to communicate them to avoid feelings of ‘being used and not being understood’
- Make your absence felt. Take short vacations, involve yourself in retreats and share the experiences and wisdom back home.
- When parent-child conflict arises, pay an ear to both sides and resolve it with a mutually agreeable solution
In conclusion, communication and mutual respect will make all of it an enjoyable journey in shaping the future of the kid you both care most about.