Raising Grandparents

Creating a Strong Grandparent ~ Grandbaby Bond | reflectivemama.com

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I live in my husband’s hometown. I’ve made some great friends in this new land, many of them inherited from my husband’s childhood. I try to claim them as my own now, especially because I see some of them more often than him with his crazy work schedule.

Still, when Baby was born, everything changed. I’m one of the first to have a little one, and now when my closest girlfriends are leaving to go out on Saturday night, I’m heading into bed to catch some z’s before Baby’s early wake-up.

My parents and sister live about four hours away in St. Louis (Go Cards!). With FaceTime and texting, we’re able to stay close between visits. I’ve been lucky to see at least one of them in person every couple months or so. Moving away was my call, but it’s still been hard not having them nearby. There’s no place like home when it comes to the art of doing nothing together, getting a helping hand, or just knowing that everyone under the roof has known you since you were born (I like being the baby).

My in-laws, on the other hand, live just 20 minutes away (30 with traffic). I appreciated that distance when we were looking for a house, but now I wish they lived next door. When a breastfed baby’s wakeful period has a two hour shelf life, 20 minutes never seemed so far away.

From the time my husband and I first started dating in 2005, I’d always experienced an easy, friendly, and loving relationship with his parents. Yet somewhere in the past three years of wedding planning, holiday tradition consolidation, pregnancy, and having a baby, I felt like we started walking on eggshells around each other. Not the greatest situation when I’m the gatekeeper of their first grandchild and asking for help isn’t my strong suit.

Did I mention that my husband has an insane work schedule, including most weekends? You know, that prime time for grandparent-grandbaby get togethers. Without him to initiate shared meals or time together, we started to see each other less and less, and I started to feel more and more isolated.

I definitely contributed to my own isolation. I was overprotective of Baby and over-reacted the few times my in-laws babysat and weren’t able to get him down for a nap. I was highly obsessed concerned about Baby’s sleep routines (and my own sad state of sleep deprivation), which only caused me to hole up at home with Baby even more.

Trying to make the best of my new stay at home life (slash keep from going insane), I started reading books and blogs from other at-home moms. On a recommendation from The Butterfly Mom, I borrowed Stay Home, Stay Happy* by Rachel Campus-Duffy from my local library. Unbeknownst to me, it was about to completely change my perspective on the whole grandparent front.

Rachel wrote about the importance of the grandparent-grandchild relationship and how much Baby would benefit from it. She acknowledged that grandparents were going to let rules and routines slide, and that the world wouldn’t end because baby missed a nap {shiver}. Yet the book’s biggest impact on my was when Rachel declared that it was my responsibility to develop and maintain their relationship. Say WHAT?

Shouldn’t that responsibility belong to my husband? They’re his parents! Why wouldn’t it also be on the grandparents themselves? If they want to see their grandchild they should make the effort! They’re the ones who have done this before. I should be learning from them, not the other way around. Don’t they know that they are always welcome? That I always want them to stop by, be it for five minutes or five hours? Oh… They don’t? That gatekeeper metaphor started to ring a little too true.

This whole time I’d been playing the victim, when really I was the power broker. It was time to get my act together.

Fostering a Strong Grandbaby ~ Grandparent Relationship | reflectivemama.comI started texting them pictures whenever Baby did anything remotely cute or interesting. I may have staged a few just as an excuse to connect. Whenever I was near their house, I would call to see if we could stop by to say hi. I started planning my errands so that I would be nearby when they were likely to be home. Then I started calling in advance to make sure of it. It didn’t take long before I was comfortable calling or texting, “We’d love to see you this week! When is good for you?”

It only took about a month of reaching out for me to feel like our relationship was transforming. Egg shells crunched less. Baby quickly learned that his grandma and grandpa were excellent purveyors of songs, games, stories, and love. Grandparents and grandbabies really are meant to be together. A lot. And for me? I’m much happier and connected these days, too.

Do you live near your in-laws or other family members? How have you fostered strong relationships between Baby and family who live nearby or far away?

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20 thoughts on “Raising Grandparents

  1. June Schiff

    You are so lucky to have ester nearby! I do not know her husband but know she is happy and I am certain you will continue to be too. June

  2. Melissa @ Completely Eclipsed

    A strong relationship with grandma and grandpa is so important. I’m lucky that my parents are around all the time, but I’m definitely a stingy gatekeeper with my in laws for sure. Mostly because I can’t boss them around.

  3. Rebecca

    I love the honesty in this post and your realization that you have the power and you’ve had it the whole time. It’s inspiring! I’m in a great place with my in-laws but this post made me want to make even more of an effort to raise them as grandparents!
    Rebecca recently posted…Look Mom! I’m a Grown-Up!My Profile

  4. Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

    What a wonderful and honest post.

    I love how you shifted perspective. Isn’t it amazing how things can change so perfectly?!

    I live very close to my parents and my inlaws. I am spoiled by our closeness and my children will certainly benefit.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the SHINE Blog Hop).

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom recently posted…SHINE Blog Hop #7My Profile

  5. normaleverydaylife

    I love this! I hope my future daughter in laws will want to foster a relationship between us and our grandchildren. I’m sure it means so much to your in laws that you’ve done this! #shinebloghop
    normaleverydaylife recently posted…The Ups and Downs of SummerMy Profile

  6. Kathy Radigan

    I loved this post! It really brought me back to my days as a new mom. My father-in-law and I had started to have a very nice relationship before our first child was born but I really had to work to keep it up once my son came along. I’m not great at asking for help and my FIL is very shy. I learned to drive late in life, I had always lived in NYC and never needed to drive but when we had our son we had moved out to the burbs and driving was essential. One day I called my FIW and asked if he could sit for my son when I took lessons. I took lessons three times a week for about three months. My son loved getting to spend time with his grandpa and we developed a stronger relationship. We now have 3 children and he is so close to them and has always been there for me and my husband. He now lives in an assisted living community that is walking distance from us. Our 15 year old walks and visits him on his own at least a few times a week. It’s wonderful to see their relationship! I’m so glad you developed a relationship with your in-laws. Your children are really going to benefit from it.
    Kathy Radigan recently posted…A Mother’s Summer Bucket ListMy Profile

  7. Jen

    oh, i really wish. i really, really wish. my mother-in-law is such a ball buster (to put it lightly). No matter how hard we’ve tried to make a normal relationship, it always ends in discomfort. BUT great insight for people with normal-ish relationships with in-laws. this idea of victim/power broker is a good one. (came to you via SITS)
    Jen recently posted…My World Cup Runeth Over: Take Aways from World Cup 2014My Profile

  8. Pam Garrett

    I’m so happy that your child’s grandparents feel included now. Grandparents rock! I say that because I am one. :-) (stopping in from SITS Sharefest) Have a great week!

  9. MB

    This is a great post! Even though I get along very well with my MIL, and she lives close enough to spend time with my kids and babysit (a godsend), every once in a while, an issue pops up. I know with many of my friends that in-laws can be a thorn in their sides. It’s wonderful, though, that you have managed to work on building a strong relationship with them, and your child will benefit so much from it. I actually should be more proactive about seeing my own mom more (she lives a few hours away), partly so my children can build a closer relationship with her before it’s too late.

    When my father passed away, my mother made sure to keep up our relationship with our dad’s side of the family including my grandmother. She did get along with them, and they lived in the same town, but since they were not her blood relatives, she probably could lose touch with them.

    I think a lot of other moms will really benefit from your experience and attempt to improve their relationships with the grandparents. It’s so worth it.

  10. Louise

    I’m so glad the eggshells now crunch less (love that metaphor).

    My parents are very close by, so they see our kids all the time. My mother-in-law is an hour out of town, so we need to make the effort to see her more (and we should).

    This is a nice reminder to me that I have a role there too and not just my husband. We are hoping to have her up for a weekend soon – I may call to remind her and put the kids on….
    Louise recently posted…Work, Wife, Mom … LifeMy Profile

  11. Beth Newcomb

    I really enjoyed this! My husband and I actually live with my parents in my childhood home, so my son gets a lot of Grandma & Grandpa time. I think it’s so wonderful! And I’m always appreciative of a small mental break. :)
    Beth Newcomb recently posted…The Manly Mondays Series: What Men Want Women To KnowMy Profile

  12. [email protected]

    What an honest post! I love it. So glad you found a way to incorporate grandparents into your baby’s life. They really are an important part of a child’s life. Thanks for linking up with Mommy reality this week.
    [email protected] recently posted…That Day I Met The Grumpy CatMy Profile

  13. Celeste @Leapfrog and Lipgloss

    (Go Cards, indeed!!!)

    I too love the honesty of this post. If we could get through that first year without all the sleep-deprivation I swear this stuff would come to us mommies without the need for books, but since that’s not a possibility for most of us, thank god we have them!

    Thanks for linking up with #mommyreality :)
    Celeste @Leapfrog and Lipgloss recently posted…A ‘Lil #Giveaway AND Cynthia Rowley Beauty Limited Edition Birchbox ReviewMy Profile

  14. [email protected]

    I really love this post. I think so many of us forget that it’s up to us to form these relationships for our children (at least at first), and how significant these connections with grandparents and other family members can be. Thanks for the important reminder! And thanks for linking up at the Manic Mondays blog hop! This week’s hop is live at http://mommyatozblog.com/Get-Linky/. Hope to see you there!
    [email protected] recently posted…S is for . . . Shameless Book PlugMy Profile

  15. Leilani

    I can totally relate to everything you said here! I also live in my husbands hometown and and his parents and his grandparents and his two aunts live just minutes away. At first it was a little awkward, but I’ve gotten much better at treating them like they’re my own family. It’s such a great help, seeing as how my parents live 14 hours away. The kids have really helped me grow closer to my husbands family. Sometimes I still pull the, “they’re your family, why am I in charge of gift ideas” card, but I actually probably see them and know them as good or perhaps better than my husband does now, because like your husband, he works a lot and doesn’t spend the time with them like I do. Thanks for sharing this! It’s reminded me of how fortunate I am to live by family!
    Leilani recently posted…8 Tips for better summer photos of your kids! Photos of Summer Friday, week 6My Profile

  16. Nikki

    This is such a great post! I live in the same town as my parents and my in-laws. I was definitely more protective than I should have been in the beginning. Both of my boys are a little older now and love spending time with their grandparents.
    Nikki recently posted…What You Wish Wednesday No. 14 + FeaturesMy Profile

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  18. Molly Young

    I love my in laws!! they live out of town but we try hard to make them an important part of our children’s lives by sending photos, videos and Facetiming as much as possible!
    Molly Young recently posted…Sawyer’s Home Water Birth Story {Part 2}My Profile

    1. farrahudell Post author

      Yes! I try to keep my toddler away from TV and technology, but Facetiming with his grandparents and other relatives is a must! It has especially been a really great way to keep in touch with my mom.


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