To go by the Internet’s memes and Tiktok videos, there’s a lot of humor (and a lot of grief) in comparing your treatment by your parents as a child then, and how they treat their grandchildren today.
You’ve probably already noticed how your parents have shed their disciplinarian, authoritative parenting style in favor of a tender, give-the-grandkids-what-they-want approach. This sometimes crosses unspoken boundaries: their well-intentioned but unsolicited advice on how you’re raising their apo has perhaps gotten on your nerves once or twice—or all the time!
With good reason, you feel frustrated because you feel like your parents or in-laws are overstepping. It may seem like they are questioning your parenting abilities, or undermining your authority as a parent.
Some grandparents don’t do it on purpose, but out of love for their grandkids and children. They don’t want their kids to make the same mistakes they as parents, or they see something that their child can improve on when it comes to parenting.
Knowing that your parents are coming from a place of love doesn’t make the quarrels any easier, though. Is it something that you need to deal with for the rest of your life? Perhaps. But changing your perspective, as well as establishing clear lines of communication, may ease the stress and frustrations from both ends. It will also lessen the stress that your child may feel when being caught in the middle!
Tip 1: See it from the grandparents’ perspective
Having empathy for your child’s grandparents is key to understanding the source of the disagreements.
Maybe they forgot your house rules. Perhaps they just wanted to shower your child with gifts and love, then they unwittingly went overboard. Or, at the most extreme spectrum of things, it could be true that your suspicions are correct—they don’t agree with how you’re raising your child.
Reflecting on the triggers behind your disagreement may help you find an appropriate, win-win solution… or at the very least, help put yourself in their shoes.
Tip 2: Don’t make things worse
Maybe the grandparents let your kid get more screen time than you allow them, or maybe they're “helpfully” advising you to send your child to their alma mater instead of your school of choice.
Most parents’ gut reaction would be to get mad at their flouting your rules, or take offense at the comment. When faced with this situation, don’t let things escalate, or blow it way out of proportion. Instead of being defensive or getting upset, take a deep breath and calmly reiterate your position.
Afterward, ask questions that start with “what” instead of “why”, so that the grandparents won’t feel like they’re being blamed for what happened. Instead of “Why did you let her have junk food when I told you that she’s not allowed to have any?”, you can reframe the question to be, “Your apo said that she had more than one cookie, what happened?”.
The key here is to stay calm and communicate your stand.
Tip 3: Stand your ground
Respecting your elders is ingrained in Filipino culture. This covers rules like not raising your voice at them, doing what your elders say without question, and following their advice without question.
This might clash with the way you understand your own role as a parent: you do things differently (as well you should), but you don’t want to disrespect your parents or in-laws by disregarding their advice.
As uncomfortable as it may seem to go against your elders’ wishes, remember this fact: a difference in opinion is not disrespect. You can agree to disagree. You are the parent, and how you guide and nurture your child is what will be done. Any opinions and advice offered by your child’s grandparents are just that—opinions and advice. Whether you follow or not really depends on you.
Tip 4: Set your boundaries
You might have heard that setting healthy boundaries are necessary to have good relationships, but what does that mean?
Setting boundaries means knowing what you’re comfortable with versus what you’re not.
Imagine your boundary as your threshold of pain—there are situations that you can put up with, but when it gets too painful, you know the line has been crossed. Whether with family members, friends, or workmates, every relationship can flourish when there are healthy boundaries.
There’s a fine line between guiding and meddling, and parents often do the latter—all in the name of love.
The unsolicited advice or comments that the grandparents say about your parenting is something you can’t stop, no matter how many times you remind them that it offends you. What you can control, however, is yourself.
Set your boundaries by speaking up when a rule is broken; or if something doesn't sit well with you, walk away from a misunderstanding before it blows up into a major fight, or just say, “That’s not how I am raising my child,” and leave it at that.
Disagreements with your child’s grandparents will always happen, and they do because they all come from a place of love. Your child’s grandparents want what’s best for their grandchildren, and they also want what’s best for you.
Instead of jumping to conclusions right away and thinking that they think the worst of you, listen to their advice and see their actions through a loving lens. Doing this will soften the situation and bring the focus back to what’s important—raising your child to be loving, respectful, and kind. And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
● What to Expect. "Problems With Grandparents…and How to Cope." February 12, 2019
● Psychology Today. "When Grandparents Undermine Parents' Rules." Posted Oct 01, 2020
● Stanford Children's Health. "Let Your Children Raise Their Kids." Retrieved on April 12, 2021.
About The Writer
Maita de Jesus
A mom of one 6-year-old girl, Maita started her writing career as an intern for a popular local women’s magazine back in 2004. Her career has seen her assume leadership positions in several wide-reaching publications: she’s served as managing editor for Good Housekeeping and Total Girl Magazine, and as editor-in-chief for Disney Princess Magazine.
She became a full-time freelancer in 2015, to help focus on raising her daughter as a single mom. In the course of her freelance career, she’s published parenting, lifestyle, and personal finance content for a variety of online portals.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.