Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, but Bad Family

By Christobel, Wednesday, October 10, 2012

wood fence 389x245 Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, but Bad FamilyPerfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild. ~Welsh Proverb

A new baby is such an exciting time for a family. It is chance to have new beginnings. It is a chance to forgive. It is a chance to foster a new relationship. However, welcoming a new baby can also cause resentment, irritation, and hurt feelings. It is all in how you handle it.

Nearly every new grandmother I have ever encountered genuinely has good intentions at heart. Even when it seems like she is just doing something to annoy you.

Even if you and your mother had a strained relationship before the birth of your child, it is not too late to foster a new and different relationship with her.

As an example, my mother and I did not get along at all. I left for college when I was 17 and never looked back. These days, I talk to my mother almost daily. To laugh about the funny or cute things that my children did- getting to this point did not happen overnight and there have been ups and downs but we have had open communication.

What Changed?

It is not uncommon for mothers to view their children as children forever and have a hard time accepting them as independent adults. After having a baby, I was able to relate to my mother with a common topic: the baby. She was also able to relate to me as a mother. This changed our entire dynamic. We still do not talk about the “dark years” when we were not friends, but focus on valuing each other now.

Learn How to Nicely Set Boundaries

This is a huge one. Personally, we did not have this issue as much because we were so cautious around each other, but often, mothers have a hard time recognizing a new family as a new family.

Mothers have a hard time giving up the role of “mother” especially in families that are really close knit. Learning to tell your mother or mother-in-law that you appreciate her help but you need to navigate certain things as the new family you are.

One of the things that I found useful was giving her tasks that she could do. My mother organized the diaper space for me, sorting newborn pre-folds, covers, and one size diapers. This gave her the feeling of being helpful without becoming intrusive.

Communicate

This is a tough one for me, to explain. I could have communicated to my mom until I was blue about what I wanted or needed but everything was in a constant state of flux. What I thought I would want did not necessarily end up being what I wanted. Avoid setting too many ground rules and keep the lines of communication open.

You Both Want the Same Thing

Remember this: both of you want your baby to be happy, healthy, and loved. Your mother is on your side. Really. If you can get to the place of understanding this, dealing with irritations often becomes easier.

My mother would lay my baby on her lap and gently sway. My baby would fall asleep and my mother would just look at her, drinking in every expression on her face. My mother would then whisper “The angels are talking to her”. That image of my mother and my child is burned in my memory as one of the most touching ever. I could put my baby in the same position and do the same thing, yet be greeted with cries. There is something special about grandmas.

Take Her Advice, Sometimes

Who would have known cabbage leaves in my bra would ease engorgement pain? My mom did, and I am so thankful she shared that advice with me. She also taught me some great ways to swaddle my babies. However, she also recommended putting cereal in my baby’s bottle. Sometimes the wisdom of your mother can be invaluable other times it can be unsafe or unhealthy.

It is not necessary to berate you mom about this. Tell her that you are doing it a different way, and offer reasoning. Your mother did the best she could with the information she had at the time.

As a new Grandma, Christobel has had to learn the art of minding her own business while maintain a strong bond with her grandchild. This delicate balance did not come easy for her, and she seeks to share her wisdom with other families navigating this change.

Christobel is passionate about the environment and dedicated to helping new mothers learn green ways of parenting that will leave an environmentally sustainable world for our children.

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