Grandparents are a blessing. They often have more time and patience with grandchildren than they did with their own children. They just can’t wait to do all the things they didn’t get to do with their own kids…
…but as newly-minted parents, we have some of our own ideas what we’d like to do. So grandparents, much as we love you, here are a few things we wish we could say, without hurting your feelings.
From breastfeeding to introducing solids, we appreciate the well-intended advice and know that you raised your kids this way and we all turned out just fine.
But ours is also a generation with information (overload, arguably) at our fingertips. We now have access to better information and resources about raising our kids.
While not everything on the interwebs is grounded in rigorous research, some information is, like the importance of whooping cough vaccinations for parents, grandparents and anyone coming into regular contact with a newborn.
So if we ask that you please think about getting a flu vaccination or staying away if you are ill, please respect our request.
It’s an emotional time, so bear with us
Early parenthood is a bit of a crazy, hazy fog. New parents are riding a roller coaster of hormones, sleep deprivation and general panic about being 100% responsible for this small, squawking, completely helpless human child, so forgive us for being a little short-tempered, weepy or spaced out.
Postpartum depression or baby blues is a very real thing and shouldn’t be dismissed. If you notice signs of depression, please say or do something – let us cry, lend a hand, reassure us that we are doing a great job. We may be parents now, but we still need our parents for comfort!
Please don’t compare me…
We all have that friend who just had her baby a month ago, who is now hitting the gym, showing off her enviable figure. And it’s great that there are moms with the energy, support and medical clearance to hit the treadmill again so quickly after birth, but this isn’t possible for everyone. With most of our lives on social media, it’s easy to feel like the only mom in the world who doesn’t have it all together.
So grandparents, please be kind and don’t compare us to Auntie Linda’s daughter who lost all her baby weight in two weeks. We’re already setting ourselves up against really high standards, and we need your support to help us through these early weeks.
…or my baby
What would normally be a harmless observation when it comes to other people’s kids tends to strike fear in a new parent’s heart. Being told, no matter how casually, that Auntie Linda’s daughter’s baby is so much calmer, feeds really well and has put on so much weight is enough to send a new mom into meltdown. She’ll start worrying whether her baby has behavioural issues, has a tongue-tie or whether she has enough breast milk.
Also, comments like “Why is the baby crying again?” and “You shouldn’t rock him to sleep; you’ll spoil him”, creates stress and anxiety. Yes mama, I know the baby’s crying, but rocking him to sleep (and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones) are the only things stopping me from losing my mind at the moment.
Grandparents, repeat after me: Every. Baby. Is. Different. And no matter how perfect a child is (I’m looking at you, Auntie Linda’s daughter), every child will find a way of disappointing their parents…eventually.
I got this (or at least I think I do)
We know mother knows best, but having our own parents constantly stepping in to ‘fix’ things and not letting us find out what works for us doesn’t help in the long run.
We know in the coming days, months and even years ahead, you will see or hear things you may not agree with, but please continue to support the new mom and dad.
If you have concerns, talk to the new parents about it. Don’t go behind their backs to do something they have expressly said not to do, like secretly supplementing breastfed babies while mom returns to work. Many new parents are already unsure of what they’re doing, and something like that would shake their confidence and be a huge breach of trust. We’ll make it eventually…even if we have to fake our way through it!
By Faye Song
Faye Song is a former journalist now working in marketing and communications. She lives in Darwin, where she enjoys the best of Southeast Asia (the food and night markets) and Australia (the workday that ends punctually at 4.21pm), with her husband, toddler and small dog.