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How Not to Piss Off Your Daughter-In-Law: Growing Together

black father holds his baby while grandma adores them both

They say the only thing better than becoming a parent is becoming a grandparent. I believe you see things through a different lens as you grow older and wiser and knowing how not to piss off your daughter-in-law helps you enjoy your grandchild and child more! One thing is for sure, one day all of this come to an ends. And when it does, a part of us hopes that the things we want to be remembered for, the good stuff will carry on with our grandchildren!

As grandparents, it's crucial to tread carefully, especially when it comes to your relationship with your daughter-in-law. While your intentions may be pure, navigating the delicate dynamics of this new family structure can be challenging. Together I think we can figure out how not to piss off your daughter-in-law, particularly in the context of welcoming a new baby into the world. Likewise, I think hope that this blog helps you and your daughter-in-law grow closer and make many wonderful memories together.

Respect Boundaries

One of the fundamental principles in maintaining a healthy relationship with your daughter-in-law is to respect her boundaries. Understand that she is now a mother, and her priorities may be quite different than yours when you became a new mother. While your excitement to bond with your new grandbaby is entirely natural, it's important to recognize that parents need time to bond, establish their routines, and create a secure environment for their own children and longevity of their family.

Avoid dropping by unannounced or insisting on spending excessive time with the baby or even in their home without an invitation. Instead, communicate openly and ask about convenient times for visits, how you can help them adjust and bond with their baby, and what tasks and chores ou can do so that they can get the rest they need. Respect their schedules and preferences, as this will go a long way in fostering a positive relationship from the beginning.

Offer Your Support Without Imposing or Expecting Anything in Return

New parents often experience many emotions and challenges, especialy during the first 6 weeks after giving birth or bringing home their baby. While you may be eager to offer support, it's crucial to do so without imposing your opinions or taking over. Instead of assuming what the new parents need, ask how you can help. Offer specific, tangible assistance such as preparing meals, running errands, driving them to appointments, sibling care, or providing some extra hands for household chores.

Avoid providing unsolicited advice unless explicitly asked. New parents are navigating uncharted territory, and bombarding them with well-meaning suggestions may come across as overbearing. Be a supportive presence, ready to lend an ear and a helping hand when needed.

Establish Open Communication with Your Daughter-In-Law

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. Establishing open and honest communication with your daughter-in-law is essential in building trust and understanding. Create an environment where she feels comfortable expressing her thoughts and concerns without fear of judgment.

Be an Active Listener

Listen actively to what she has to say, acknowledging her feelings and perspectives. If there are any issues, address them calmly and respectfully, focusing on finding solutions rather than placing blame. Using "I" statements rather than "You" statements can help. For example, "I hear you saying you are tired. Is that correct? Is there something I can do so you can rest?" Instead of, "You're tired. Let me do x, y, and z so you can rest." Clear communication can help prevent misunderstandings and strengthen your bond as a family.

Be Mindful of Traditions

In any family, traditions play a significant role, and the arrival of a new grandbaby often brings a mix of old and new practices. It's important to be mindful of the traditions your daughter-in-law and her partner wish to establish for their family, even if they aren't sure what those are yet. While sharing your own family traditions can be enriching, avoid imposing them on the new parents. New parents often really appreciate the space to create their own traditions and are more likely to carry on some old traditions when they are given that space respectfully.

Respect Your Daughter-In-Laws Choices

Respecting that their choices, even if they differ from your own is a great way not to piss off your daughter-in-law. Whether it's regarding feeding methods, introducing solids, bottles with cereal, sleep routines, bodily autonomy, or cultural practices, support the parents in making decisions that align with their values and beliefs. Being open-minded and understanding that this is not your child to make decisions for will contribute to a harmonious family dynamic.

Foster a Positive Relationship

Building a positive relationship with your daughter-in-law requires effort and intention. Focus on the aspects that connect you rather than those that may create friction. Share stories from your own parenting journey, emphasizing the lessons learned rather than insisting on specific approaches. Commiserate with her. Find the common threads of life that weave your relationship together instead of unraveling it. Complimenting her on all of the things she is doing well will help her be a better mother than reminding her of the things she's not great at! Celebrate achievements, no matter how small, and express genuine admiration for the parents' efforts. In addition, do not create a rift between parents. If one parent is having a difficult time with the other be a listening ear, but stay neutral. Encourage them to talk with each other or seek outside counsel. Building a foundation of positivity and mutual respect will lay the groundwork for a strong and enduring relationship.

Embrace Your Role as a Grandparent

Recognize that your role as a grandparent is distinct from that of the parents and that comes with so much freedom. You don't have to make those tough, everyday decisions you had to make when you had your own children. You don't have to worry with is this decision "right" or "best", you have the joy and freedom to do what the parents wish and ask of you and just enojy your grandchildren. While your love for the grandbaby is boundless, it's crucial to respect the primary caregivers' authority and decision-making. Avoid undermining their choices or asserting your influence over parenting matters. Over time you may find the more supportive you are the more time you get with your grandchildren and the more your daughter-in-law may come to you for advice. And i she doesn't, well that's okay too!

The Beautiful Role Grandparents

Your role is to support the parents. Essentially they are the gatekeepers to your grandchildren. Being a grandparent who is part of the child's life is privledge a not a right in most states. Your role is to guide when asked, not to give unsolicated advice. Respect their decisions and maintain open communication. Allow the parents to find their own path, establish their parenting style, and be there to offer assistance when needed, not to impose your way of doing things. Lastly, soak in the beauty of being the grandparent! A harmonious relationship between grandparents and parents creates a stable and nurturing environment for the child, and ultimately that's what it's all about!

Elizabeth Luke, founder and CEO of The Jacksonville Baby Company sits in a hammock swing, she is wearing a rust color dress, leopard print glasses, and is smiling

Authored by Elizabeth Luke

Elizabeth is the founder and CEO of The Jacksonville Baby Company. Elizabeth and her husband and best friend, Richard are parents to four children. With certifications in Postpartum and Infant Care Support, Childbirth and Newborn Care Education, Lactation Support, and Infant Sleep, she is a wealth of knowledge and has a heart that is passionate about helping parents live their best lives while also ensuring their children are safe, happy, and leading their healthiest lives possible! Get in touch today!


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