In some cultures, grandparents are thought of as an expert resource for parental advice. Parents in these parts of the world do not hesitate to ask for help from their children's grandparents whenever they feel unsure of their way. A parent who has trust in their child's grandparents is the lucky recipient not only of advice, but of emotional support, as well.
Things are different in most of the United States, however, and a new parent will tend to turn to baby books and doctors before consulting their own parents. We think we need to seek information from experts and somehow don't see our parents as professionals from whom we'd ever seek counsel. Maybe that's because we assume that infant and childcare has made rapid advances and we perceive our parents' experience as outmoded.
Once in a while, a rare young parent can be found who has enough confidence in himself to turn to his parents for advice when he feels the need. In such a case, the grandparents don't have to be shy about offering suggestions even when unasked. They find their child accepts their advice with good grace, or listens first and only then makes his own decisions.
This type of self-assurance is hard to find in new parents. Like every other new experience, there is a tendency to worry about making mistakes. At the same time, earnest new parents can be very sensitive to criticism. It's usual for grandparents to remember feeling the same way when they were new parents, and most will try hard not to push their advice on their children. Keep in mind that this can be a difficult task, since they feel that they've developed good instincts about child rearing, they have tremendous affection for their grandchildren, and of course, they do have strong opinions of how things should be done.
While it takes a certain amount of courage for a new parent to ask for help, offering the grandparents permission to voice their opinions is going to make for a much more comfortable atmosphere than unspoken thoughts and subtle hints. Once the grandparent is permitted to speak up, a parent should give the advice given some thought and if he finds he doesn't agree with the advice he can say something like, "I hear your concerns, and I've decided to discuss this with our pediatrician to make sure that what we're doing meets with current standards."
In this manner, a parent gives recognition to his own parents' feelings and acknowledges his expertise and good intentions. As long as your response is reasoned and reasonable, your parents will feel reassured that you're approaching the problem with logic and consideration, no matter whether you take their advice or not. They will feel better about your ability to cope with future issues, as well.
The best grandparent is the one who makes their child feel comfortable about their job as new parents by praising them whenever possible. This type of attitude can help foster a supportive atmosphere in which parents feel free to ask for help when they feel unsure.
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