Maintaining

Grandparents: Navigating A New Relationship

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on ThePlayhouse.org. Ms. Anwar has graciously allowed us to repost it here.

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Baby is here and Grandparents are chomping at the bit to get their crinkly hands on her. This is a special time for all involved. The branching of the family tree is a time for celebration, yet old family patterns may resurface when you are exhausted and vulnerable with your newborn.

Watching your parents handle your infant can be quite moving; you see clearly how your own first days were sustained in their loving embrace (or their nervousness, or awkwardness…) Regardless of the scenario, it can be quite emotional.

We tend to regress back to early childhood when the parents are around, or we witness our partners do the same. With Baby, there comes a new dynamic; you are the parent now. This is a major shift in the relationship between all parties, and rarely recognized or acknowledged. Your own parents need to learn to respect you as Mama now and to follow your lead. Your in-laws must do the same.

This can be a tricky time establishing the new family roles, and it’s easy to let your relationship with your partner suffer. It’s helpful to discuss this before any drama unfolds; asking for support is always a good strategy. Baby Daddy (or female partner) is not just a son (or daughter) any more. He is a father and must truly embody that role within your own little family, separate from that of the extended family.

There’s a rite of passage that naturally occurs when you become a parent. The hierarchy with your elders has a new dimension: you. And your partner. The baton has been handed over. Now, major decisions about the life of your newborn are yours and yours alone. Advice is essential, their wisdom often unsurpassed — but ultimately you are the Gatekeeper.

Define your roles early on. Start conversations about this beautiful phenomenon. Then, relax and watch the wonderful relationship unfold between your baby and her grandparents. Relish their time together, document and appreciate the unique love they share.

Find gratitude for their generosity, even if it isn’t perfect for you. Relinquish judgment and lean toward their methodology;  maybe you’ll meet somewhere in the middle.

-Gabrielle Anwar

Photo by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash

 

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