Your Mother and Mother-in-Law – It’s all About Child-Rearing Compromises

mom feeding baby in grandma's lap

A house needs a grandma in it. ~Louisa May Alcott

My mother’s favorite words about my child-rearing philosophy are, “Are you sure you want to do that?” We usually agree to disagree, but I am lucky that she is not the type to overly force her opinions onto me. I feel that I turned out fine, but I can do better as a parent myself.

On my husband’s side, my mother-in-law is more relaxed about our childcare. She understands that our children are our children. We all make mistakes, and there really is no single way of bringing up loving, caring children.

Now Versus Traditional
Most of my mommy friends enjoy a hands-on approach to caring for their children. Many have come out of messy divorces or are single parents to start with. They want their children to have a loving home, where their children’s needs are being met. My mother and mother-in-law tend to see this as being overindulgent.

The grandmas want our children to be independent, even if they are only two and five years old. They are quite set in their traditional childcare ways. My mother, in particular, wanted my brother and I potty-trained and sleeping in our own beds as young as possible, even if it meant strict discipline.

Sleeping
One of the biggest disappointments my mother had when our children were babies was that we practiced the family bed, which means that everyone sleeps together and is a big part of “attachment parenting.” She thought it was a big mistake and that we would never get our children out of our bed. In some ways, she was right. After our son reached the age of two, I started to believe it wasn’t such a good idea after all, because he was waking up every three hours each night.

The solution to a better night’s sleep for the whole family was moving our eldest son into his big boy bed, which is a trundle bed for kids. A trundle bed for kids is a twin-sized bed with a bottom drawer that pulls out to reveal another mattress. It is such a space saver because we can use the lower mattress for sleepovers or for when our younger daughter wants to sleep with her big brother. Later we plan on using the lower drawer as extra storage space.

Staying With Grandma
Even if our ideas are not exactly in sync, our own love and our parents’ love for our children is the same. Our children are always so excited to stay with their grandparents, but we did help them out by creating safe environments for the children. Our parents’ houses were designed for adults who had not had anyone younger than twenty sleeping over for many years.

We stopped by our local baby store for essential baby-proofing equipment. Some basics that everyone needs are:

  1. Electrical outlet covers – which prevent little fingers from going into dangerous outlets.
  2. Cabinet sliding locks – to stop children from opening kitchen or bathroom cabinets that might contain dangerous chemicals.
  3. Doorknob covers – so the children cannot open specific doors unaccompanied.
  4. Baby gates – to keep children in a particular room, or to stop children from going up or down the stairs.

My parent’s house in particular was a problem because they have a swimming pool. Before they installed a pool fence around it, we added door alarms to any door that opened outside, in order to prevent any accidents.

Our Picky Little Eaters
Our daughter is my mother-in-law’s dream eater. Anything you put on her plate, she gobbles up happily. However, our son examines and reexamines everything you put on his plate. I know my mother-in-law thinks it’s a result of our parenting style. When my husband was little, he had to eat everything on his plate, with no questions asked.

Luckily, my mother-in-law decided to just go with it. She happily makes our son’s favorite dishes, like macaroni and cheese, and he has learned to enjoy her home cooking, too.

We might be from different generations, we might hold different beliefs about how best to treat a child, but with a little give and take – and some carefully chosen words when discussing our different childcare philosophies – we have avoided any major conflicts, and we all know that the most important thing to everyone, parents and grandparents alike, is raising two wonderful children.

About the Author
Christobel Edwards is a London-based grandmother who believes in allowing her daughter to parent as she likes. A world-traveler, she is a busy entrepreneur who loves how the Internet is bringing far away places closer.

Happy to indulge her grandchild, Christobel recently purchased a bunk bed with drawers to accommodate her frequent pint-sized guest. The bunk bed holds all her grandchild’s toys and can be used by adults too.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to operate in harmony.

Image courtesy of 150hp via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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  • Rick Magennis May 3, 2012, 10:09 am

    My mother and mother-in-law both have different philosophies on parenting. My mother is more hands off and my mother-in-law is heavily involved and it can become overbearing. My daughter spends the majority of her day with my mom and sees her other grandmother on weekends. My mother is the disciplinarian and has to be the “bad guy” sometimes where my mother in law is very relaxed. In regards to eating my mother does not force the issue of food and my wife’s mother is so concerned about the food she is eating. The tale of the two grandmothers. It should be interesting to see how they act as she gets older.

    Reply
    • Amy LeForge May 3, 2012, 9:33 pm

      Rick, sounds like you have quite the balancing act in front of you. I hope it all goes well.

      Reply