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Notes from a Nanny Granny

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The Blurry Line

RoseRed135

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One of my greatest challenges as a nanny granny has been that of seeing that fine line between GP caregiver and parent. After all, I do/have done many things with my DGC (dear grandchildren) that a parent does. I have often fed, dressed/helped dress and, depending on the schedule, even bathed my little granddolls. And yes, sometimes, when they were infants, I was the one "walking the floor" at night with a crying baby (or, at least, waching them in the baby swing:)). I definitely have not been just a GM who comes and goes in a few hours.

I also have more influence on them, IMO, than I might have, otherwise. In fact, no doubt, they have each picked up certain phrases, habits, even, maybe quirks of mine. (Their mom/ my YDD - younger dear daughter - isn't crazy about this but, I'm afraid, it can't be helped.) Also, as I mentioned in my last entry, I've had an impact on their bond as brother-and-sister (this one YDD appreciates). And as I've said, too, she and I both agree that I'm around them enough that I need to discipline them just as she would.

It's hard, sometimes, though, knowing when to step back. Or rather, I know to step back when YDD is present but, now and then, it's just a knee-jerk reaction for me to say, "No, you can't have another cookie" or "Do you need a time out?" And, to be honest, YDD didn't make it much easier, early on. For a long time, she vascillated between wanting me to take a backseat when if she was there ("Mom, I'll handle it!") and wanting me to deal if she were tired, I guess ("Mom, dooo something!"), even just as I was (supposed to be) leaving! There were periods where she leaned more in one direction and periods where she leaned more in the other.... sigh...

Finally, I called it to her attention. I told her that I thought she should do the disciplining if we both happened to be there but if she preferred I handle it, she needed to let me know. (Not that my DGC are so difficult! Mostly, they're very well-behaved, largely I'm sure b/c YDD is, in fact, very good at discipline.) Actually, she found she was quite conflicted about this and it took her a few days to give me an answer. But in the end, she decided that she would deal with any behavior issues, under those circumstances. Then it was just a matter of my having to remember she made that decision and pull back when necessary - still not always easy but better when I knew her POV.

Speaking of decisions - The one thing I don't get to do as a nanny granny is make any of the major ones. I may make some small, daily choices when YDD isn't there, such as whether to offer the DGC juice or milk, etc. (no worries, I always work w/in YDD's rules, etc.). But the big decisions are all hers (and the dads when either one is invovled). I must admit, though, that being so close to the picture often makes it hard not to weigh in. Usually, I like YDD's choices, but, now and then I disgree. And it has sometimes, been hard not to feel as if I'm "supposed to say something," even if I'm not. I knew how much I resented it when my own DM (dear mom) or MIL did that, yet, here I was, feeling as if in my case, it was "different."

Thank goodness for GP.com and this Community section! Here I came to realize that, if anything, as a GP caregiver, I need to watch the boundaries even more carefully! There were just too many opportunities for overstepping them, inadvertently disrespecting YDD as a parent and causing friction between us! Here, too, I learned how to tell the difference between what really was my concern and what was not. If YDD made a decision, for example, that meant I would have to give more of my time, that made it my issue, too, and I had a right to say something about it. But if she chose to, say, use the nursery school bus when I thought her child should be driven to school, that was not my concern, even though I might feel concerned about it. (Actually, I now think it's great but that's besides the point.) This understanding has probably saved us from a number of arguments and tensions. It's one of the main reasons why I love this site!


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3 Comments


migrant7

Posted

Just stumbled onto your blog, & this subject is a biggie- wish I had time to read All entries on the GP site. I Live with the parents, my son & DIL (& toddler), actually was asked to move from Hawaii to do so (the baby was unplanned), was "on" daily & evenings while they finished college. Am still daily caregiver, asked often to be full time when they do military duties (they've been gone a week this time). It's tricky. DIL & I are pleasant to each other, but much tension, starting w/ the inevitable attachment the infant made w/ me since I was primary. That's balanced now, & since DIL has taken on more responsibility, at my son's suggestion, GD is attached to her. DIL & I had to sit down & air grievances recently, truly airing, no resolutions. She wants control. I pointed out that this is not your ideal family unit, it looks like a commune, & that many cultures automatically include gparents in the mix. Issues abound. Never thought I'd be in a competetive mother/DIL relationship, & had seen My gmother at issue w/ my mother! I am really careful, but they were, & are, flying blind while I have a ton of child development (plus experience) education behind me. Talk about walking on eggs & biting one's tongue; it's more exhausting than the childcare! Yesterday DIL, from out of state, texted my DD who visited here while they were gone (w/ her 2 kids), to stop having mother-daughter moments with the GD (she'd painted GD's toenails along w/ the cousin's)! DD was devastated. I told DD to ignore it; DIL is jealous & conflicted. What a mess; have to calm DD, swallow my own anger at the insensitivity of the remark & delivery, & be prepared for outcome.

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RoseRed135

Posted

Oh migrant, I hear you! And I'm so sorry DD was impacted by this problem, too! Since you and DIL have a pleasant relationship, overall, though, I think there's a good chance all this will work out, eventually, I hope you 2 can come to terms with the various issues between you soon.

 

Meanwhile, I see you've come to talk with us in Grandparents Caring for Grandkids and I'm glad. Many GPs there are facing/have faced these same issues and I'm sure you'll find a lot of support there and maybe some good suggestions, as well.

 

Regardless, bless you for being there for that GD! Especially since you had to relocate to do it - and from such a beautiful state! That was a big step, no doubt! GD and her parents are very lucky you agreed to make it!

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RoseRed135

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Oh, I see you've come into Mothers-in-Law Anonymous, too. Good call!

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