Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My son and daughter-in-law just had a baby, our first grandchild, which is wonderful. A lot seems to have changed since my kids were babies, and it’s hard for me to keep up.
I formula-fed my kids and that worked out fine, but my daughter-in-law insists on nursing even though the schedule is really intense. We had to get a shot for whooping cough, the baby can’t co-sleep on mom . . .
I could go on and on, but it just seems so much more than I remember. I think you are going to tell me my role as Grandma is to say nothing and let them parent however they want, but is there any way to tell them that babies aren’t that fragile and maybe they are making this harder than it needs to be?
Questioning: Nope. I’m sorry. The easiest way to make their job easier is to boost their confidence, so no correcting unless they ask or there’s imminent harm.
And not imminent harm as you self-justify it afterward when your input is received poorly, but imminent harm as a review panel of disinterested veteran parents would agree constituted imminent harm.
Consider this, too. You see this as “so much more,” but I doubt you were all casual coolness when you were new at this. You’re seeing with eyes of a pro, which your son and daughter-in-law will have themselves soon enough.
And this: Babies “aren’t that fragile” until they are.
And: Breast-feeding is hardly radical, whooping cough has reemerged as an issue and co-sleeping has some casualties, all presenting risk-benefit calculations that new parents must make for themselves (while emotionally jagged and sleep-deprived and managing the baby learning curve). Maybe these particular parents are overfussing, but clearly they’re being conscientious — and isn’t that the better way to be, thoughtful and present? Unless they go deep into the woods, hold their hands or hold your peace.
More from readers:
●Things have changed, Grandma. What you describe are all the current recommendations from the medical community. Be grateful your grandchild has loving parents who are doing their research!
●From one grandmother to another: Your role is to love the baby and support the parents as best as you can. Believe that they are following doctor’s orders and suggestions and making the best decisions that they can because they also love their baby and want to raise him/her to be a well and happy individual. You can answer questions as/if they ask them, but please remember that things have changed in the world a lot since your children were born.
— Grandmother of two
●I really, really hate hearing, “. . . but I didn’t do it that way, and my children turned out fine.” It always comes from someone well-meaning, who thinks parents “these” days are too crazy. Yes it is so much more, because we KNOW more. And yes, your children turned out fine, but co-sleeping, whooping cough, etc. have killed children. And knowing that, we could never forgive ourselves if any of those things happened to our children. So please respect our decisions even if they do seem like “making it harder.” Part of parenting in this day in age is figuring out that balance.
Write to Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at wapo.st/haxpost....Read more