Your in-laws are arriving for the weekend. These are your children’s grandparents and your spouse’s parents. You want everything to go well because they don’t come often and your children have been anticipating their arrival with a lot of excitement. You and your spouse may be excited too, or you may be anticipating the visit with apprehension.
Grandparents play a special and important role in the lives of our children. They provide the continuity of family and next to the parents, there is no one who will love them more deeply. They offer the stories of the past and can often provide where parents aren’t able. Grandparents often have special talents and interests they share with their grandchildren or they’re able to take the time to read the same story over and over again or play a game Mom or Dad don’t want to play.
For those who don’t have grandparents or never see them, children who grow up knowing their grandparents are blessed. They contribute enormously to their grandchildren’s well-being. A study out of Oxford University of 1,500 children showed that children with a lot of grandparent involvement had fewer behavioral and emotional problems.
When we become parents we develop a style of parenting that is unique to us. It works for us and is based on a variety of factors. Grandparents come from a different generation and probably were not exposed to the volume of parenting information that virtually all parents now have access to. As well, there are few stay-at-home moms so both parents working outside the home for most, is the norm. In short, there are some different realities parents of today face that were not present when grandparents were raising children.
Based on what we know regarding the value grandparents add to the lives of our children, and some of the new realities, here are some TOP TIPS and suggestions from Med School For Parents to help you make the most out of the weekends when in-laws come to visit:
1. Try and resist the “my way is the right way” way of thinking. There are many right ways and for the sake of the relationship it is often better to just let go of insisting things be done your way.
2. Give space to your in-laws so they can enjoy time with your children on their own. Allow them to have a relationship that is separate from the one they have with you.
Routines may get out of whack for the weekend your in-laws are visiting. That’s OK. Once they leave, things will resume to normal.
3. Remember grandparents love to spoil. Let them, unless it’s something that is clearly unreasonable or inappropriate. For instance if your in-laws want to give your 6 year old a large sum of money, know that it’s in his or her best interest that you tuck the money away and monitor the spending.
4. Sometimes we can be overly sensitive around what we perceive as judgment or disapproval. Try not to take it personally because it really isn’t about you.
5. Honor the relationship your spouse has with his or her parents. Remember they have an important history that you were not a part of. They also need space to have some time together. Not everything needs to be a whole family affair.