Thursday, May 2, 2013

Grandma Rules

Nicholas turned one today!
by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC
One year ago today my oldest daughter gave me the most amazing gift ever, my first grandchild! I've thought a lot about this marvelous first year of Nicholas' life. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching my daughter be a mother. I love hearing the little voice she saves just for Nicholas. Her face lights up just talking about him. This year has given me a wonderful new appreciation and respect for her.

Here at A Nurturing Moment I work with a lot of young moms - some younger than my daughter and some older. I see many amazing grandmothers come in with their daughters and grandbabies. Most of the time, the grandmother is incredibly supportive of the daughter.

Sometimes, however, I will see a mom who is truly upset because her mother (or perhaps it's her mother-in-law) doesn't think she's doing a good-enough job. I decided to address this issue with a few "Grandma Rules" because it is heartbreaking for the new mother. She really longs for her own mother's approval. Sometimes it's so bad that the new mother feels she has to put some distance between herself and her mother (or mother-in-law.) That just leads to more hurt feelings, misunderstandings and perhaps ugly words.

Grandma's Role

Whether you like it or not, if you're the grandmother, then your job is to support and encourage the mother. Maybe she isn't doing things the way you would do them. SO WHAT??? This is her baby! You had your turn at being a mother, now it's her turn. She is the expert on her baby, not you! Your job is to support and encourage her. If you disagree with something she's doing, it's fine to gently make a suggestion, but then leave her alone. You raised her to be the woman she is, so have some confidence in her abilities!

After 24 hours of labor, Sarah got her epidural and felt great!
I love my daughter very much, but she certainly is not my clone! We have very different views in several areas:
  • Childbirth: I am a huge advocate of natural, unmedicated birth. I had a bad epidural experience and three amazing natural births.  Sarah, on the other hand, was all about getting that epidural. She woke up in labor at 3:00 am on May 1 and had progressively stronger contractions throughout the day. We headed to the hospital around midnight. After a horrible night of labor (with her mother who was there to support her snoring loudly on the pull-out bed next to her), she really needed the relaxation the epidural afforded her. It was her choice, and she had the birth she wanted. I was thrilled for her!
  • Breastfeeding: I'm a IBCLC and nursed all my kids at least two years. Sarah wanted very much to breastfeed, but because Nicholas  was 7 weeks premature, they didn't get off to a good start. But boy could she pump! She pumped religiously for him for 4 months. At that point she was just ready to be done. I told her how proud I was of her for giving Nicholas 4 months worth of liquid gold. 
  • Nicholas was just 3lb. 6oz. when he was born
    and spent 5 weeks in the NICU.
  • Nighttime Parenting: From the time Sarah was 6 months old (and we discovered Dr. Sears) we co-slept. All of our babies were in our bed and we loved it. Nicholas slept in his parents' room for the first few months after he came home, but then they moved him upstairs to his crib where he slept through the night quite well. There were certainly nights when he was in their room, but he seems to really like being in his crib. My daughter is the expert on her baby and knows what he needs.
Nourish Your Relationships

Grandmothers have several very important relationships to nurture.

Spouse:  The first and most important is with grandpa, if he's in the picture. Those who are blessed enough to have made it 25+ years in their marriage need to continue cherishing and building that relationship.

Child: The next critical relationship is the one with your own child. If your daughter is the new mother, she is probably really longing for your support and affirmation. She needs to know that you think she's doing a good job. Remember when mothering was brand new for you? Remember how uncertain you were? Even when she's grown the most important thing you can give your daughter is unconditional love and affirmation.

I love being with my daughter and grandson!
Maybe you didn't breastfeed, but you can still support her in her decision to nurse her baby. If you feel like she's making lifestyle choices that are truly dangerous (drug use, ignoring her baby, etc.) then you absolutely need to confront her and intervene if necessary. But feeding method and parenting style are NOT in the category of dangerous lifestyle choices.

If your son is the new dad, you need to recognize that your daughter-in-law probably has a special bond with her own mother. Allow her to invite you in; don't push your way in. Be there to support and encourage, but don't try to manage their lives. If you do, you may find that you cause serious damage to your relationship with your son.

Grandchild: This is the fun, wonderful relationship where you get to indulge, love and maybe even
spoil your precious grandchild just a little bit. However, be mindful of the boundaries his parents have set. If his mom doesn't want to start solids until he's at least 6 months, then don't try to sneak in a little rice cereal just because you think he's ready for it. If she doesn't want him to have sugar, then don't give him a cookie when he's at your house. If you make an effort to do things her way and respect her parenting method, it will make things much easier on your grandchild. He won't be confused as he gets older.

Grandbaby snuggles rock!
Don't ever say anything negative about either of his parents - even if they're not together any more. Growing up as a child of divorce is hard enough without having a grandparent spouting venom about one of your parents! Your job as a grandparent is to love your grandchild, give him a safe home away from home, and support his parents in all you say and do!

If you follow these simple "Grandma Rules," you'll find yourself surrounded by children who really appreciate you and grandchildren who absolutely adore you! After all, Grandma Rules!!

3 comments:

  1. tracy.rose@healthline.comMay 6, 2013 at 9:02 AM

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  2. I really wish my mom had read this a loonnnnng time ago. Heck, I wish I could encourage her to read it NOW, without her thinking I'm griping at her. Great post, Glenni. You are so awesome and Sarah and Nicholas both are so blessed to have you as Gigi!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Brandy...maybe you could just let it be up on your computer screen when she comes over ;-)

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