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RoseRed135

What are some common pitalls for new grandparents/grandparents-to-be to watch out for?

25 posts in this topic

So exciting to have/be about to have a new GC - whether this is the first one or not! Unfortunately, in all that excitement, even the most loving of GPs may make mistakes that end up causing tension between them and the parents or other GPs.

For that reason, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss some common pitfall for new GPs and GP2Bs to avoid. To get started, I've listed a few below. Please feel free to comment on them in a reply, add others or ask about possible "pitfalls" you're not sure of.

ETA: No doubt, this overlaps the "managing expectations" thread to some extent but not entirely.

Edited by RoseRed135
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Here are a few possible pitfalls that seem to be HUGE. But, no doubt, there are others...

1. Expectations surrounding the birth - Now that more people are allowed in Labor & Delivery w/ the expectant mom than just the dad and medical staff  and some people have other family members hanging out in the waiting room, IMO, it's understandable that some GPs just assume that they will be in one of these places (and just as understandable if they'd rather not.) But ultimately, who's invited into L & D is up to the parents, esp the mom2B, who is actually going through the birth process. And some couples would rather not have people in the waiting room though, granted, they can't really control that. Insisting on being in L & D or showing up in the waiting room, even though asked to come, say, the next day, instead, is likely to do nothing but cause (lasting) tensions.

2. Ignoring/Flouting parental wishes -   You (general GP) may think the new parents are over-zealous about, say, avoiding the use of heavy blankets or insisting that people wash their hands every time they go to touch baby. But in most cases, they are probably following the latest info about SIDS, etc., according to their doctor, the latest childcare books or the Internet. Besides, once again, they are the parents and its their call. Disrespecting their wishes or trying to change their minds is another serious error, IMO.

3. Unsolicted Advice -  Few of us like unasked-for advice and new parents are no exception. I know you may feel you have a lot of knowledge and experience to share. But please avoid giving it unless asked and even then, be brief. Especially since there is so much new info, today, as mentioned above in # 2 Also, please accept the fact that, even if they seek your advice,  the younger parents may choose not to follow it.

ETA: Expectations surrounding the pregnancy - Lately, I've noticed that mismatched expectations about the pregnancy is a problem for some extended families, too. For example, the GPs might  want to shout about their coming GB from the rooftops - especially if this is going to be their first! But the parents might want to keep the pregnancy private for a while, only telling a select few about it. This can be frustrating for the GPs. But please remember it's the parents' baby and, more specifically, the mom's pregnancy. Also, please realize that refusal to follow their wishes on this will likely lead to issues that impact your (general GP) relationship w/ the new baby.

Relatedly, the GPs might expect to be told the due date. And they might expect to be told the gender if/when the parents find out. But, apparently, some parents prefer to keep that info private, even from the GPs. Again, I know, this can be frustrating for those GPs. But again, IMO, it's wiser for them to accept the parents' choices. After all, GPs - and everyone else - will know when baby is actually here. :) And at that time, they'll find out the gender, as well. :)

Edited by RoseRed135
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I compeltely disagree w/#1.

If you weren't there when baby was concieved, you should have ZERO expectations of being there when baby is born. And, parents *can* control not having anyone in the waiting room, by not notifying ppl when Mom goes into labour, and registering private.

Everything boils down to, let the parents lead the way. Grandparents had their parenting time, now it's their AC/CIL's turn. Step back, wait to be invited in. Respect them as they find their way through the new, and sometimes overwhelming, even terrifying experience of being new parents.

And, for the love of all that's holy, do NOT complain about not getting the 'grandparent experience' you envisioned. They had a baby to become parents. The grandparent experience wasn't on their radar, and they're not obligated to fulfil anyone's expectations/fantasies.

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19 minutes ago, ImpishMom said:

I compeltely disagree w/#1.
 

I take it you mean the part about it's being "understandable that some GPs just assume, etc..." and what parents are able to control - and not the part about it's being "ultimately... up to the parents, esp the mom2B..." or how the GPs need to respect that.

Edited by RoseRed135
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25 minutes ago, RoseRed135 said:

I take it you mean the part about it's being "understandable that some GPs just assume, etc..." and what parents are able to control - and not the part about it's being "ultimately... up to the parents, esp the mom2B..." or how the GPs need to respect that.

Yes, exactly. I don't find it understandable that anyone makes assumptions about someone else giving birth. Even Dad needs to put Mom's needs and desires first and foremost. Stress has a negative impact on labour, and can directly lead to complications. Ensuring Mom feels safe and supported is, should be, Dad's focus. Not worrying about anything else.

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#3 Sometimes situations warrant "something" being said-Therefore, saying something isn't necessarily one of life's pitfalls for grandparents or anyone else-

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17 hours ago, Komorebi said:

#3 Sometimes situations warrant "something" being said-Therefore, saying something isn't necessarily one of life's pitfalls for grandparents or anyone else-

No doubt, it may be necessary to speak up if you (general) see abuse or serious neglect/safety issues. But both online and off, I've heard of tensions between parent and GP due to frequent and unwanted advice. And in some instances, GPs (or other relatives) have been distanced b/c of it.

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Here's another pitfall it seems a GP2B needs to avoid:

trying to weigh in on prebirth decisions - No doubt, some families and religious/cultural groups have specific naming traditions. And some GPs have set, well- thought out ideas about childbirth (hospital v. birthing center .v. at-home) or  infant feeding (bottle v. breast, etc.). But ultimately, these are parental decisions. And arguing about them w/ the parents-to-be is very likely to lead to tensions between you (general GP) and them that last long after baby is born.

And here are a few more for new GPs to be aware of:

Expectations about visits - It's not unusual for GPs to expect to visit the new baby and parents quite a bit, once they're at home, especially if that's what their parents/kids'GPs did. And especially to help the new mom. But nowadays, it's not unheard-of either for new parents to want to stave off visitors for a week or 2 (or more) or to stagger visitation, w/ one side of the family visiting in the beginning and the other later on. Whether you agree w/ their decision on this or not, please understand that they need to do what they feel is best for their family unit. Trying to promote their own agenda is another mistake I think eager new GPs need to avoid.

"Helping" the parents -  No, that's not a typo or any other kind of error. Basically, of course, it's good to be willing and able to help out. But a problem sometimes arises if the new parents' idea of help and the GPs' don't match. For example, while a new GM may envision taking care of baby while mom gets to rest or do other things, mom might rather that GM do some of those "other things" (i.e. household chores) while she (mom) focuses on baby. Or vice versa (though that seems to be less common). Unwanted help isn't really help, IMO. So better, I think, to ask the parents what kind of help they need or offer this/that and accept it graciously if they decline.

Posting Baby's Pix - Granted, if someone sends you a photo, whether by email or FaceBook, technically, it's "yours" and you may feel you can do w/ it as you like. Not to mention that posts on FB generally carry a "Share" option. But some parents, understandably, worry about safety/security. So it's often wiser to ask the parents before posting/reposting pix of their kids on the Internet.

Announcing baby's birth on FB before the parents do is a related mistake excited new GPs (and other relatives) often make. Sure, it can be hard to wait. But hey, it's their (the new parents') news first and foremost. Some parents may not care who makes that first public announcement but others do. (I know one case where the parents were so upset about other relatives preempting them w/ pix and info about their first child that they told very few people when they were pregnant w/ their second one and swore those people to secrecy till after baby was born and they (the parents) made their own FB announcement!) So I strongly suggest being patient and waiting till the new mom and dad post the news before you make any FB posts about new baby. (Same for twitter, etc. Different here, I think, b/c it's anonymous, but still, please don't post any pix w/o parents' permission).

Thoughts? More suggestions?

 

Edited by RoseRed135
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Avoiding comparisons or jealousy (or atleast don't voice them to parents to be or new parents). 

Avoid Favoritism.  Whether it be to other grandchildren, or to showing a new baby much more attention than older grandchildren (THIS is a huge pet peeve of mine). Or just favoring one gender more than another.

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Avoid assumptions on religion. Unless the parents themselves have said they are doing communion,  baptism,  etc. Don't assume that your AC are going to do the same religiously related things that you did. And don't fight with them when they decide not to. (This probably falls under parenting decisions,  but I think it's a big enough one that it needs it's own seperate "pitfall")

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The best way to avoid pitfalls is to respect the parents, and follow their lead. 

You raised either the Mom or the Dad. So, chances are, they're decent folks, with a decent head on their shoulders, b/c hey, you were a good parent, right? So, trust in that, let them lead the way, and take the follower role, b/c it's no longer your time to lead.

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It's confusing sometimes, I think.  My DS and DDIL do not talk to me readily, so all the while I am there, I think things are a-okay...  Until I got a very harsh email from my DDIL.  It seems I've been criticizing their parenting when I come over...  huh???  I have always talked them up, not just to other people but to them as well.

So my caveat is: never assume that things are a-okay just because they don't talk to you about issues.

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On ‎9‎/‎11‎/‎2016 at 1:14 PM, GrannyGabby said:

It's confusing sometimes, I think.  My DS and DDIL do not talk to me readily, so all the while I am there, I think things are a-okay...  Until I got a very harsh email from my DDIL.  It seems I've been criticizing their parenting when I come over...  huh???  I have always talked them up, not just to other people but to them as well.

What a shock that email must have been! Very sorry about that and the fact that DDIL was so harsh. Did she give you any idea of what she saw as "criticism?" That info might help other GPs, as well.

So my caveat is: never assume that things are a-okay just because they don't talk to you about issues.

Good advice! OTOH, I don't think GPs should go around worried all the time that's something is wrong, even though nothing has been said (I know you didn't suggest that). I guess it's just a matter of keeping in the back of your (general GP) mind that the parents might not see the situation the way you do and not being so surprised if they bring up an issue.

 

Edited by RoseRed135
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This is very helpful for me.

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On 9/11/2016 at 1:14 PM, GrannyGabby said:

It's confusing sometimes, I think.  My DS and DDIL do not talk to me readily, so all the while I am there, I think things are a-okay...  Until I got a very harsh email from my DDIL.  It seems I've been criticizing their parenting when I come over...  huh???  I have always talked them up, not just to other people but to them as well.

So my caveat is: never assume that things are a-okay just because they don't talk to you about issues.

Not to defend DDIL, and I am so sorry you are in the stressed situation, trust me I hate those-  But not everyone feels comfortable with face to face communication especially when its someone they are getting to know or in situations when  it might lead to drama or an argument.  I am one of those people I do not like to argue, I am totally content, to agree to disagree.  So for some cases I prefer email communication for many reasons, one is that I am horrible at "improv" verbal communication so I like email in that it gives me a chance to organize, collect and express my thoughts in a clam manner outside of the situation. I do not like to to verbalize my anger or irritation in the moment,  as I know I might say things I don't mean.  

At the same time there are things that I hate about email, because there is no inflection or body language associated with it, and it can be misinterpreted very easily in terms of emotion. When I read an email I always do it two ways, just like I am talking/regular, and then again thinking in a positive voice, and that can change my perspective. DH and I have had many some issues when using email due to one or another taking the improper tone or voice in a statement - now we are fine, but its takes some getting use to. 

 

 

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Thank you for your comments.  Tobias, you can defend my DIL any day of the week.  I adore her, and she doesn't seem to realize that.  I agree with you.  She, like me, HATES confrontation.  So I know she was feeling very frustrated with me to write the email she wrote.  I think part of the harshness is that she (I think) asked my son to talk to me about what was bothering them both and he didn't.  So she was seemingly pushed against a wall, a very uncomfortable place for anyone to be in.

As for the tone in print, even if you try to be clear about things, it doesn't always come through accurately or in the spirit in which it was written.

I'm being a bit of a rogue by being on here.  On Saturday, I fell and bonked the back of my head really hard on a concrete floor.  I missed my grandson's 2nd b'day party.  <sigh>  I'm not supposed to have screen time until I'm better but did not want y'all to think I wasn't coming back or that something had offended me.  It takes a whole lot to offend me, and no one on here has. :)

So now, I'm going to have to sign off for a few weeks. :(  I'll be back once my head is better.  Thank you all for understanding.  This is frustrating to have to stay off of screens, especially the computer screen!  I mean, I just GOT here!!!!  Oh well.  Y'all will see me again; it just might be a while,

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1 hour ago, GrannyGabby said:

As for the tone in print, even if you try to be clear about things, it doesn't always come through accurately or in the spirit in which it was written.

Totally Agree! Hope you feel better!

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So sorry about your fall...feel better soon.

 

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1 hour ago, GrannyGabby said:

Thank you for your comments.  

I'm being a bit of a rogue by being on here.  On Saturday, I fell and bonked the back of my head really hard on a concrete floor.  I missed my grandson's 2nd b'day party.  <sigh>  I'm not supposed to have screen time until I'm better but did not want y'all to think I wasn't coming back or that something had offended me.  It takes a whole lot to offend me, and no one on here has. :)

So now, I'm going to have to sign off for a few weeks. :(  I'll be back once my head is better.  Thank you all for understanding.  This is frustrating to have to stay off of screens, especially the computer screen!  I mean, I just GOT here!!!!  Oh well.  Y'all will see me again; it just might be a while,

When you do come back in and see this GrannyGabby, I want you to know that I'm glad you appreciate our feedback. And thank you for letting us know.

Meanwhile, so sorry about your fall. (And sorry you missed GS' bday party, too.) Please take care of yourself and know that we'll be here for you when you return. Till then, my thoughts and prayers (if ok) are w/ you...

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If parents ask you to get updates vaccines- then get them! If you are unable or unwilling to do so accept that you may be unable to meet baby for quite some time. 

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5 hours ago, msmamallama said:

If parents ask you to get updates vaccines- then get them! If you are unable or unwilling to do so accept that you may be unable to meet baby for quite some time. 

Welcome back, MML! Long time no see! Thanks for coming in and offering another significant tip for new GPs/GP2Bs!

Some things have changed since you were last here. For that reason, you may want to read the following GP.com thread (even though you didn't "just join"):

 

Also, some of your options have probably changed/improved:

 

And since the latest guidelines were posted and, occasionally, updated since after you last posted, you might want to check them out:

 

Whatever you do, glad to have you back! Enjoy! :)

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Of the three ideas expressed I think number three is the most important. It is natural to want to act out of concern but that doesn't mean the time is right to act or say something. This is a time of high stress and especially the mother is going through a life altering experience. It may be best to hold thy tongue. If the advise is important just be sure it is important to the parents and child and not just you.

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I think the most important thing grandparents can do is to follow the parents' lead. It's up to them who is in the delivery room. It's up to them how long visitors stay. EVERYTHING is up to them and you are not a priority in the slightest. It sounds harsh but it's true. 

One of my biggest pet peeves with each of my children's births was my MIL's insistence on "helping". Instead of coming over and helping with dishes or laundry (which I couldn't do after a cesarean) or playing with her older grandkids, she would come and hold the baby for two or three hours. One time she called on her way to ask if she could bring two of her sisters who were already in the car with her. Another time she called to see if she could stop by and I didn't answer the phone because baby, 2 y/o and I were FINALLY all able to take a nap. When she didn't get an answer she proceeded to pound on my door until I woke up. When I answered the door, obviously just having been woken and holding a sleeping newborn, she pushed past me, took the baby out of my arms waking her in the process, and sat on my couch for two hours with the baby.  THIS IS NOT "HELPING"!

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Welcome, New Member! Sorry for your bad experiences w/ MIL! :( But glad you came in to share your thoughts w/ us! :)

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I think it is a good thing to remember when told by an expecting couple, "No thanks" or "Wait to come visit" to do so.  Getting off on the wrong foot can last a lifetime.

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