Help, GrandParents! Am I wrong as a Parent?

gonecrazyJuly 29, 2009

Here is the deal. My wife and I are trying to raise our 6 month daughter to the best and brightest she can, but both of our respective parents seem to think were crazy; mine more than hers. We have told them that we want her to eat right, read, not watch most t.v. (only select education programs), and really hope to be able to put her in private school. My mother and grandmother literally laughed when I told them about private school. They acted like I was some weird alien or something. What is so wrong with us? Why are we against the norm when we don't want her to drool in front of the t.v. while watching American Idol and while drinking Coke and eating Doritos? Instead, we want her to spend that massive amount of time that t.v. normally consumes having her read or developing a hobby or studying. Both my wife and I have had crappy upbringings. Not abusive or neglectful, but we were allowed to do whatever we wanted and were given poor eating habits and the such. We also had non-existent dads. Because of this we have suffered. Mostly through making poor choices; we don't want that for her. I understand that were not perfect and are not 100% right in this matter, but we want a different life for her than we had. Maybe we are going too hard in some areas, but it gets frustrating when the grandparents won't help us or respect us; they resist. We say we want her to be as intelligent as she can be with the best education and shoot for the stars; yet they make fun of us. They are basically saying no, what's wrong with a good job down at the mill (hypothetically speaking). Nothing, but why not aim for something higher if you can? My mom tells us were crazy; her mom told us flat out in a friendly manner one time, that our daughter will decide what food she likes and doesn't like. This happend when we were talking to her about not feeding her junk. It made us so mad! Her mom eats extremely fat filled foods and potato chips. We don't wont her letting our child eat like that when she is with her; she thinks were crazy and tells us she won't feed her junk, but the way she says it we know she is lying. This ways on us a lot. We are very stressed about it. So much so that we limit their time with her and supervise a lot(even then we caught my mom trying to feed her real food and her mom trying to give her icing!) This creates another rift because they feel we don't trust them (which we don't). They both live less than 2 miles away, so we generally see them a lot. It would be one thing if we see them twice a year, but their in her life weekly (which is good), so not enforcing our rules for our daughter will undermine us. You can tell from my rambling how frustrating it is. What should we do? We only want what is best. What is so wrong with being abnormal, in a good way?

Also, one other quick question: From a grandparents view, is it o.k. for us to limit our time with the our parents (her grandparents). We both go to school, are trying to find jobs, sell our house and develop some type of consistent schedule; yet almost daily one of the grandparents want to do something. Go here, go there, go out to eat, bring the grandchild over to go swimming, etc... Her mom wanted to take our then, 4 month old child, down on the beach in the 100 degree Florida heat because it would be fun. Another check mark for her I guess; take child to beach. It messes us up because we don't get stuff done that we need too because were too busy running around doing things. Is it o.k. to say no. They make you feel like you really hurt them when you do.

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As a grandmother of 5 allow me to give some advice..
First of all congrats on your daughter and kudos to both of you wanting to raise her in the right way..
Now having said that, you sound like a new parent of your FIRST child. Don"t be so unyealding in your parenting ideas, she is only 6 months old, trust me your parenting ideas will change somewhat as she grows. The important thing to give her is the knowledge she is loved, and the chance to be her own person.. Allow the grandparents to help you in this.. even though your ideas may be diffrent from thiers, they have things to contribute.
By all means keep her safe, and healthy, but do allow for her to enjoy her grandparents.
You might talk to your parents, let them know you appreciate thier help and guidence.. that does not mean you have to take it, but don't cut them out, remember this is thier granddaughter , they love her as well.
It would be interesting to talk to you, in say 10 years to see how you view parenting at that time. Especially if you have additional children.
Reading your post makes my think of my daughter when she had her first child,12 years ago, they had some strange ideas... example; they did not want the little girl to ever feel left alone, as an infant she was NEVER out of my daughters view, she slept with them. when my daughter had to go to the bathroom, the infant carrier was in the bathroom with her. She only fed her homemade baby food, had to be organic veggies,farm grown. They only used cloth diapers, she was read to daily.. only classical music was allowed in the home.
This was thier daughter, and as grandmother I honored thier ways... okay fast forward to now... she has 3 children, a busy Mom, and these ideas seem to change, the second and third child wore disposal diapers, ate commercial baby food, watched spongebob on T.V., and they are know 6 and 8 and vey good kids, all 3 are doing great, well adjusted, doing excellent in school.
When I remind her of her parenting ideas with the first one she just laughs, says what was I thinking !!??
But anyway good luck with this journey,,, your daughter will teach you much along the way..

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 6:21PM
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My children are older now, not babies or children, but I had the same ideas as you when they were little - limited tv, limits on sugary snacks and sweet drinks, breast feeding, etc. And, like you, my mom laughed or ignored some of them.

Fast forward 20 years later, my mom appreciates the way I raised my children and she understands now why I made the choices I did. I am very, very glad I had the rules I did when my kids were young - I was right and I'm glad I held my ground.

None of your choices sound extreme to me - limiting sugary snacks, limiting t.v., wanting a schedule and more time just the 3 of you, no trip to the beach at 4 months old - those are all reasonable choices.

Cheri is right, your parenting ideas will change as your daughter grows. And she is right, your parents have things to contribute as grandparents. But that doesn't mean that you have to raise your children according to your parents' priorities and wishes.

However, keep in mind a few things - whenever you talk about the way you want to raise your kids differently - many grandparents would see that as a criticism of how they raised you, their own child. Before you phrase things, think about how they might come across to your parents as implying that their methods were lacking. Also, be sure and make it a point to mention to your parents what they did right. My mom and I have different ideas about television, putting coke in baby bottles, etc., but my mom is also the person who taught me that when things look hopeless you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and work as hard as you can to change things. That is a gift she gave me infinitely more precious than riches or even education. Be sure and tell your parents what things they taught you that you will pass on to your children.

Another suggestion that worked for us is that I told my mom that my husband wanted those rules. My mom simply ignored my rules if they were my rules, but she thinks my husband hung the moon and should have whatever he wants, so she (sometimes) listened if she thought it was my husband's wish. She did whatever she dang well pleased if it was just something I wanted. If my mom was particularly stubborn, my husband told her himself that he wanted it that way.

Another thing that works well (with grandparents and babies) is to redirect. If your mom wants to take the baby somewhere, tell her no, now is not a good time, but this weekend would be great, how about then. Or if she wants to give the baby icing, tell her no, but baby loves sweet potatoes, why don't you give her that. Grandparents love to see "firsts" - first bite of chocolate, first time at the beach. Tell your parents, no, you can't take her to the beach this year, but when she's 2 you can take her and be there for her first time.

You are being more than reasonable to limit tv, unhealthy snacks, limit visits to less frequently than daily or every other day, and set the expectation of higher education for your children early. Your mother is right, your daughter will express preferences of her own one day in education, food, hobbies, etc. That is still no reason not to set your standards high. If you are raising your daughter significantly different than the way you were raised, it will take years for your parents to change their minds. But when they see your daughter as a teenager, healthy and maintaining a healthy weight, doing well in school, winning awards and doing whatever extracurriculars (sports, violin, girl scouts, dance, whatever rings her bell), trust me, your parents will tell you you did your job well.

I want to address something else cheri mentioned - her daughter's desire to use organic food, use cloth diapers, read to her children daily (I heartily endorse the part about reading to your children daily, by the way). The drive to be the best mom she could possibly be was strong in cheri's daughter, and even if her daughter changed her ways, she still probably has a strong drive to do her best. That drive should be honored, respected, and as much as reasonable should be indulged by grandparents. The realities of life will knock some practicality into the heads of young parents - let them have their dreams and give it their best shot.

When my oldest was a baby my mother-in-law told me this, "In every young mother's life there comes a time when she has to look at her mother and say, 'Mother, you raised your kids the way you wanted, now it's my turn to raise my kids the way I want'." Be loving, be kind, include and affirm the grandparents, and let the grandparents have their way when it isn't important to you. But stand your ground with kindness on the things that matter. Everything you're asking for is reasonable and healthy for your child.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 1:57AM
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I don't disagree with you. I admire your plans for a good selection of healthy foods that will make up your child's diet. I love the limiting tv plans. I love that you will raise your child to develop her potential by reading to her, exposing her to fine music, thoughtful child rearing, intelligent parenting, and good schools.

My children had no living grandparents, so I never had to deal with your set of problems. How I wish my own parents had lived to meet them. But I had much the same routine as you plan, which often became more flexible as the next child was born or we were rushed. We avoided empty calories, and they have no weight problems. When they were in elementary school, I limited tv, and they did better in school and were kinder to each other. We never used bad language, and so they do not either. We talked of when they would go to college, not if they went. We put them in public schools here as they are better than the private schools, and encourged them to take AP classes, advanced courses, extra classes, develop their musical skills and set high standards for themselves. I enrolled them in scouts, after school classes and youth sports.

Today they are in their 30s and doing well. All of them have their bachelor's degree, and one has a master's and a law degree. They are wonderful friends to each other and a delight to be with. My brother and my sister delight in their company too and comment that my husband and I must have done things right.

I am a grandparent now of a toddler. His parents have approached parenting much the same as we did, but some things are different, and I honor those wishes and actually ask my daughter how she wants me to do whatever. When things are difficult for her, I will offer my suggestions either from my personal experience or from something I learned elsewhere. I learn from her and she learns from me. Our goal is a happy, well-adjusted toddler.

There is more than one way to approach parenting successfully. I think you will need to work out a balance to keep the grandparents in your child's life. First of all, be careful how you explain what you will be doing differently so that it does not come across sounding like a criticism of your parents, even though their parenting may be what has motivated your plan. They will hear criticism even where you do not intend to communicate that, so be gentle and thoughtful in what you say to them. The world won't come to an end if your child is in the same room as they are when they watch their tv show. To some extent, your child will learn that some things may be done differently at the grandparents' home than what is done at your house. Grandma may bake cookies and give some to your daughter even if she doesn't eat her vegetables at dinner!

You will do a good job, even if grandparents do things differently some times.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 3:48PM
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Be careful of the restrictions regarding TV and food. My sister did that, she was so strict the kids went the other way to the extreme just to shock their Mom. She wouldn't buy them a bicycle, wanted them to work and earn them, well they stole them. What kind of work can a kid do at 9 or 10 years of age. children have to have some of what their friends have or they will feel cheated. I think the private schools are a great idea. If I had it to do over I would have gotten a job so I could put my kids in a Catholic or private School.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 6:31PM
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