How to guide your parents as first-time grandparents

In hectic and expensive Singapore, grandparents can be a huge blessing to new parents in terms of the love, support and experience they provide to the growing family. Not only can grandparents be invaluable in helping to care for the baby while you get some rest, they can offer you advice based on their own parenting experiences.

That said, sometimes the advice can be unwarranted, or worse, wrong or out-of-date. How do you avoid conflict and remain respectful to them for their contribution? We explore some possible scenarios and ways you could set some guidelines for first-time grandparents.

When advice is not wanted

The last thing you’d want when dealing with the first week of breastfeeding is having your mum stand over your shoulder telling you that your baby is starving to death and you need to use the formula milk. How do you tell first-time grandparents to back off?

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You could try the following:

  • It’s good to set boundaries for your family even before going into labour. Tell your parents or in-laws that you’ll welcome and respect their opinions, but ask that they refrain from exerting pressure on you to do things their way.
  • Make sure your spouse is actively supporting you and backing you up.
  • Get your parents to see from your point of view. For example, with breastfeeding, invite them along when you see the gynaecologist or attend prenatal classes so that they know about the benefits of breastfeeding and why one should avoid supplementing with formula too early on.
  • To maintain peace, try and accept advice from the grandparents when possible. Be grateful when the tips are useful to show appreciation to your parents.

When parenting styles are misguided or out-dated

While first-time grandparents mean well, they have to realize that their parenting experience dates back to the 80s or 90s, and some practices that were popular then may actually be seen as misguided or out-of-date now. For example, parents used to feed honey to babies—this was later shown to trigger allergies and food poisoning. Your parents may also have been taught to put babies to sleep on their tummies. However, today, experts warn that sleeping on the back is the only safe way to prevent SIDS.

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In addition, popular baby gear that was used back then such as cribs with drop-down sides and baby walkers are now considered dangerous. With regards to these, you may want to educate first-time grandparents by referring them to past cases and news articles, before gently asking them to update their current knowledge about baby care.

When you want things done a certain way

You may feel that it’s important for grandparents to follow certain preferences, but it will be taken the wrong way if you come across as giving orders. For example, if you want your parents to only buy organic food to make baby food, you need to explain why organic food is better and get them on your side.

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Remember that respectful requests and appreciation goes a long way into making first-time grandparents happy and invested into caring for your baby in the best ways possible.

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