Having grandparents mind your children while you and your spouse are at work can be a little tricky at times. On one hand, your parents think they know better when it comes to parenting (they brought you up after all). But on the other hand, times have changed and parenting styles cannot be more different today.
To avoid being caught between upsetting your parents when you disagree with how they care for your children and overly comprising on how you want your children to be raised, the following are some important pointers to note to maintain harmony across generations:
Communicate your rules
It is not difficult to understand why your parents do not like to be told what to do or not to do. Yet, it is important that you ensure household rules are met when it comes to caring for your children during the day.
This is why you need to convey rules and expectations to your parents. Let your parents, or parents-in-law for that matter, know that as much as you respect the way they care for your children, you have your own set of expectations as well.
Simple rules like no sweet treats before meals or no screen time in the day can be communicated before hand. Remember our parents never had most of the peripherals we use today. So if you have a certain way of sterilising milk bottles, let it be known to them too.
Of course, it can be difficult laying ground rules for your parents to follow. But this ensures that the care taking arrangement is a more enjoyable one in the long run.
Knowing that grandparents tend to pamper their grandchildren, you and your spouse have to learn to give and take along the way. At times, you will have to turn a blind eye when your parents sneak in a snack before meals. Acknowledge their effort and let them feel appreciated anyway. Sometimes, all they need is a gentle reminder.
Pay your parents for helping out
Your parents will spare no effort to help mind your children even if you do not pay them. But going the extra step is one way to show that you recognise their contribution towards your little family unit.
This amount could be on top of the allowance that you are perhaps giving them every month. If your parents are on pension and do not accept a cent from your spouse or you, consider paying them in kind. This can be in the form of gifts or paying for their year-end holiday. It can also be through simpler gestures like buying their favourite food when you knock off from work.
Avoid showing unhappiness towards your parents in front of your children
Children have an acute sense of awareness towards their surroundings. If you are unhappy about a certain thing your parents did, do not confront them in front of your children.
For example, if they have fed your children a sweetened drink you have advised against, speak with them after your children have gone to bed.
Outwardly confronting your parents in front of your children gives them the wrong impression that they can speak in the same manner to their grandparents. This undermines your parents’ authority in the house when you are absent.
After a day at work, our attention tends to gravitate towards our children when we get home. But instead of placing our focus solely on them, we should also turn our attention to our parents.
Show concern by asking if they are tired or if there is something you can do to make them feel better.
If your children are older, teach them to be considerate towards your parents as they are older and may need help at times too. This fosters empathy in your children as they also learn to care for elderly at home.