The following is a PSA for grandparents (especially grandmothers):
Disclaimer: Before you read this please know you were a good mom. Our childhoods? MAGICAL. You did the very best you could the only way you knew how, and it was PERFECT. We felt your love every single moment of every single day and we wouldn’t change a thing!
Now, there are a few things we (meaning your daughters and daughters-in-law) need you to know to make OUR lives (and hence, YOUR lives) a little bit easier and more enjoyable.
1. We are still your daughters.
We still need the same things we needed from you when we were little girls. Namely your love, support, and praise. This will never change. You will always be our moms and we will always need you in ways we can’t explain.
2. We do not want your advice.
We know this sounds crazy.
We know you have good ideas.
You’ve been through this already!
You’ve done the teething and tantrums. You’ve lived through potty-training and a child adjusting to kindergarten. You’ve managed that weird obnoxious stage that happens at the end of 4th grade. You’ve muddled through middle school and puberty and high school and boyfriends and driving and applying to college.
But we are telling you . . . YOU HAVE ALREADY HAD YOUR TURN!!!
We desperately need to figure this out on our own. To find our own way. Our own methods.
Our little families are different from yours. Times are different now. We are navigating different challenges.
And maybe this sounds harsh but, it really isn’t about you anymore.
When we call you for advice, we mostly want you to ask questions and figure out what WE think is best and then tell us it sounds like a really great, well-thought-out plan.
Because your advice?
It always sounds like criticism.
We know that’s not true. We know you are well-intentioned.
But somehow, your advice makes us feel BAD. And we already feel like failures nearly every single moment of every single day.
When you tell a story about potty-training while we are in the middle of potty-training?
Or you tell a story about how you handled tantrums or feeding issues or whatever while we are navigating those issues?
Tell those stories to your girlfriends or your sisters or your neighbors, but please don’t tell them to us.
3. Follow and support our rules.
We read a lot of books. And Facebook stories. And Pinterest posts. We know there are A LOT of varied (possibly crazy) methods out there.
We are navigating it all and trying to figure out what works best for our little families.
We need your support here even when you don’t agree.
Breastfeeding until age four? Formula feeding? Baby wearing? Baby-led weaning? The family bed? Cry-it-out methods? Organic foods? Homemade baby food? Store-bought baby food? Teaching an infant to swim? Baby sign language? Montessori preschool? Gluten free? Dairy free? Food allergies? Carseats? Rear-facing carseats until age two? Time-outs? Technology? ADHD? Extreme-child parenting? Free-range parenting? Competition sports for a three-year-old?
Oh, my goodness. WE KNOW.
We are taking in all the rules. All the methods. All the advice. All the studies. All the things we read and trying to make our best-informed decisions for what works for each individual child and our own family.
PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE FOLLOW OUR LEAD.
Don’t throw out all the rules at grandma’s house.
Please don’t feed our children junk or tree nuts because you don’t buy into whatever diet we’ve chosen to follow.
Please don’t give them ice cream five minutes before we come to pick them up for our 6 p.m. dinner.
Please don’t buy them an abundance of gifts if we are focusing on a simple, frugal Christmas.
Please don’t say things like, “Well, your mom doesn’t like this or do that, so I can’t give it to you,” or whisper, “Don’t tell Mommy,” when you pass candy to our two-year-olds on the sly.
Please don’t discipline our children while we are standing right there in the room.
Please don’t try to circumvent our discipline or somehow “make up” for the consequences we’ve doled out to our children.
This undermining makes us feel stupid and awful and unimportant and, well, ANGRY.
We are constantly second-guessing ourselves already and WE NEED YOU TO SUPPORT US AS THE MOMS!
4. Ask a lot of questions.
Those rules? Our methods?
Ask things like, “What meal works best for your family when you come over for dinner?” then give a couple of options.
Say things like, “We’d love to come to a few soccer games this season. Would you be okay with that? Are there any dates that work best for you?”
When we have a new baby ask something like, “What is the best way I can be helpful to you? Would you rather I come hold the baby so you can get out of the house or take a shower? Or would you rather I come help with dinner or errands or laundry so you can snuggle the baby on the couch?”
And when it comes to the holidays, we’d sure appreciate an attitude like this, “I’ve already had my turn. I want YOU to have a special holiday with your little family and make some of your own memories. We’d like to be a part in any way we can. How would YOU like to celebrate Christmas together?”
Follow up with questions like, “What day works best for you?? Would it be easier if we scheduled it on a different weekend? Would you like to exchange gifts or would you rather we just plan a special day together? Is there anything I can bring? Or any help you need?”
5. We need your praise.
If you take anything away from this lengthy rant (that probably has a few women crying), please remember this: on the inside we are still like insecure 12-year-old girls.
We NEED you to see how hard we try. We NEED you to see our goodness. We NEED you to point out and celebrate our successes.
You are our mothers and we need you to really see us and respect our new role as moms.
The very best gift you can ever give is saying something like this, “You are a really good mom. I just love watching you be a mom to your little ones. Your kids are amazing. I don’t know how you do it all. I am so proud of you!”
We’re serious. That’s all we need!
We will cry all the tears over praise like this coming from the women we admire most: our moms.
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