Sunday, October 23, 2011

Grandma Time

Since our move to our new location, our Grandma traffic has increased. I think it's because of our proximity to Victoria's Cafe, a perennial favorite with ladies of all ages in Huntsville! At any rate, I love it when ladies about my age come in and eagerly search for the perfect gift item. It's really fun to see their excitement about their grandbabies.

I love to engage them in conversation and hear all about the pregnant daughter or daughter-in-law, or the new baby who has just joined the family. Those who are grandmothers-to-be for the very first time joyfully anticipate stepping into this new season of life. They can't wait to be part of that baby's life.

And unfortunately, therein lies the problem for some new moms. Every mother wants the chance to parent her baby the way she feels is best. There is a lot of  information available today that wasn't available 20 or 30 years ago. What your mother or mother-in-law did may not be exactly what you want to do. Perhaps your mother-in-law didn't breastfeed and can't imagine why you want to. Every time your baby cries, she assumes he's hungry and urges you to give him formula. Or maybe your mother thinks you are spoiling your baby by wearing her and picking her up when she cries.

It is extremely challenging for a new mother to get conflicting advice on every side. While you don't want to alienate your mother or mother-in-law, you do want to help her understand your need to parent your way and, if necessary, learn from your own mistakes just like she did. There are several things you can do to reassure her that you want her to be part of your baby's life while simultaneously letting her know you need your space.

  • If you're breastfeeding, give her a copy of an article written just for grandmothers about nursing
  • If you are focused on having an attached relationship with your infant, and the grandmothers don't understand, Dr. Jim Sears has some helpful words
  • Sometimes giving her something meaningful to do can help. Ask your parents or in-laws to focus on the legacy they leave as grandparents by encouraging them to chronicle their lives for your children in a special journal
  • Write a letter affirming her and letting her know specifically how she can help you as a new mother
  • Feel free to send (or bring) her to ANM where we'll gently affirm what a great job you're doing as a mom, and help Grandma relax a little bit.
Whether you're a mom or a grandma, remember that kind, encouraging words are wonderful building blocks for life-long relationships. Be sure to use plenty of them as you interact with the most important people in your life!

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