Setting boundaries are always a good thing.
This past week, I had a long conversation with Channel 3’s Maureen Kyle, the host of Mom Squad, about the delicate boundaries that can be set between parents and grandparents. Below are some of the possible scenarios for boundary setting:
Parents can set boundaries around:
- what kinds of food their child eats.
- bedtime and bedtime rituals.
- types of toys or books to which they want their child to be exposed.
- How long to stay when visiting, whether it’s in their home or not in their home.
These are just some of the topics that can come up when parents, especially first-time parents, set guidelines for the grandparents.
If you’re a grandparent, you may be thinking, “Oh, come on. Who do you think raised you? I know how to handle a baby/child!”
Although this may be true, it’s so important for your relationship with your adult child, who is now a parent, to honor his or her choices and defer to those boundaries.
You had your chance to make your choices (good or bad) and learn from them. Now it’s your child’s chance to do the same thing.
Grandparents can set boundaries around:
- what they are and are not physically comfortable doing with their grandchild, such as running on a playground, carrying the grandchild up and down the stairs, etc.
- the amount of time they can babysit (for example, once a week rather than 3 times a week).
- the number of gifts given for a birthday or holiday.
The key to setting boundaries in a parent-grandparent relationship is to first know what they are and then communicate them. No one can read a person’s mind. Assuming your adult child or parent knows what you want is an error to avoid.
Delivered with clarity and kindness, a boundary can be one of the best gifts to the relationship.