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Becoming a grandparent should be one of the happiest periods in an adult’s life. It should be their time to relax and enjoy their grandkids. However, too much pressure or strain can often be put on grandparents to parent…when it should be their time to have fun. This is especially true of in-laws, who can have difficult relationships with their daughters- or sons-in-law without the added pressure of grandkids. These are five phrases to steer clear of when talking to your mother-in-law to ensure she has a positive relationship with you and your kids.
“Don’t let your grandkids misbehave.”
One of the greatest parts of being a grandparent is not having to parent anymore. They’ve already done their job with your spouse. It’s their time to have fun without being burdened with undue responsibility. It is not their job to parent your kid. Consequences and redirection should always fall on you, not your mother-in-law. Let her enjoy her grandkids. Make it your job to be the authority figure and discipline them if they misbehave, not hers.
“Your grandkids should be more appreciative.”
Most grandparents do plenty to bring joy into the lives of their grandkids. Yet, they don’t always get the appreciation they deserve. And simply telling them that they deserve it isn’t enough. Chances are that if you ask your kids to show their appreciation, they will. Have them write thank-you cards for holiday gifts. Make them help out in the kitchen when she cooks. Simply saying “thank you!” when she does something kind is uplifting. She’ll know her kindness and generosity isn’t taken for granted.
“You don’t know what it’s like to be a parent these days.”
Sure, times may be changing, yet your mother-in-law likely has a few parenting tricks up her sleeve. After all, she successfully raised your spouse to adulthood! Brushing off her attempts to help you with your kids can ultimately backfire. You may lose out on some valuable advice. So, if you’re struggling to figure out a parenting problem, she might be more helpful than you think. Don’t discount her wisdom simply because of her age.
“Come spend time with your grandkids! Don’t be selfish!”
Your mother-in-law likely spent lots of her life fretting over your spouse. After raising a kid, she has a right to be a bit selfish with her time. Passing the responsibility of your children’s attention to your mother-in-law likely won’t sit well with her. This is especially true if you do so to temporarily relieve your own responsibilities. Again, it’s your job to raise your children, not hers. Chances are that she’ll be much more enjoyable to be around when she’s ready to treasure her time with her grandkids…and not have her schedule and space intruded on.
“Enjoy them now. One day, they’ll only want to hang out with their friends.”
This statement can be a punch in the face for any grandma. It will make her worry about her future with her grandkids, rather than enjoying the present moment with them. Yes, it is characteristic for kids to spend less time with family as they grow up. However, there’s no good reason to stress your mother-in-law out with concerns that are far off in the future. It’ll only fill her with doubt and despair, and potentially strain her relationship with your children as time goes on.