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19 Responses to Dealing With Unsupportive Grandparents

  1. Kat @ Loving {Almost} Every Moment

    Great advice! I’ve had to follow many of these with my inlaws–and other extended family members. It was especially hard when we did have to “pull out the big guns” at one point, things are tolerable now, not ideal but better than before!

  2. Jenny @ I'm a full-time mummy  

    Great tips! I find myself nodding and agreeing to each and every one of it!

  3. Olga  

    Thank you for your post, I think its a helpful list for those parents who are struggling with an extended family that is not so supportive. I do think that your first point is the most important one. Often people (not just extended family) don’t have enough information. We don’t have to force our ways on them or even claim that what we are doing is the “right thing to do”. But it is important to take the time and explain why we are doing it.

  4. Crunchy Con Mommy  

    Great tips! I was totally unprepared for the hostility I encountered about some of my parenting choices and a list like this would have really helped when my son was brand new!

  5. Laura  

    Just this weekend, I slipped it into the conversation that I thought it was great that the diapers my MIL grudgingly bought as a shower gift were still in use and had been used so much that they were paying for themselves. Sometimes, it’s hard for the older generations to understand why we would want to do something so radically different from them… and they take it as an insult, as though we think they did a lousy job. It’s hard to get past that sometimes and your list is great for helping with those times! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Rachel @ Lautaret Bohemiet

    “Of course, you might grimace when they hand your child a corn dog, but you need to realize that in your child’s life, a grandparent is more important then not having one corn dog.” I really loved this line. I sound like a broken record when I say this, but I believe that relationships we form (and allow our children to form) are WAY more important than a few non-essential seldom-broken “rules”. To remove our children from grandparents who (to use your example) serve a corndog sends a powerful message, a message that says: my ideas are more important than a person. It tells a child (without really saying it) that what they eat is more important than who they are around and who is allowed to love on them, and that’s just plain tomfoolery. I loved this post!

  7. Lauren  

    What a great list of suggestions! I think I’ve tried most of them at one point or another. Smiling and nodding seems to work for me most of the time, if I’m pretty sure they don’t actually care about the reasons for what I do. I love that your commitment to cloth changed someone’s mind, though!

  8. Justine @ The Lone Home Ranger  

    I laughed out loud at your description of the butter fight because we had that exact conversation with my in-laws. Your list is great for anyone wishing to learn conflict resolution tips with their family, even if a good relationship is present. Family interaction is a dance, and it can be a coordinated waltz or an ugly jig depending on how much planning and communicating is done. Thanks for a great post!

  9. Mama Mo @ Attached at the Nip

    Something I tried (with middling success) was to point out all the things hubby and I were doing the SAME as how his parents raised him. I think my MIL was offended that we chose differently for most things, thereby insinuating her way was wrong.

  10. Gretchen  

    Such great advice! I think alot of issues I’ve run into are simply misconceptions about how things have changed/new information.

  11. Terri  

    My children’s Grandmother (my MIL) and Great-grandparents are our main family members we have around us and who can look after them on occasions. So we’ve pretty much been through all the ups and downs of ideological differences and worked through all the tips you’ve listed. MIL was a nurse her whole working life and APPALLED that we would not vaccinate. She still offers foods we won’t eat and thinks we are insane for co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding etc but her heart is full of love for them so we have to work through our differences with care and diplomacy as much as possible. Our world views are so different that we may never see eye to eye on most things but I realize that we at least need to cultivate mutual respect and the love we have for these little people is the most important thing of all.

    • Chelsea

      I have had similar experiences with both my parents, as well as my in-laws.

      Vaccination is a touchy subject between crunchy and non-crunchy parents, but working through our differences will make us all better people in the long run. not to mention, it’ll set a good influence for the little ones.

      we’ve just got to stand by our choices, and teach our babies that it’s ok to be different!

  12. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama  

    These are such good ideas – not only for family, but for anyone who might disagree with any parenting method. It’s just harder when it’s family, isn’t it?! It’s like we feel like we owe them something more, but really, we’re still the parents, and what we’re doing is not a reflection on anyone else.

  13. Ursula Ciller  

    I can relate to many of these situations. Thank goodness all my little one’s grandparents are not oppossed to cloth nappies (that’s one small step for mankind!). Disposables are an environmental hazard – image you live on a landfill block and are digging up some potatoes in the garden and get a fossilized diaper instead – yucky! And definitely, the spouse is the best agent for sensitive inlaw communications.

  14. Chelsea

    This advice is excellent!!!

    I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve had argumentative conversations with my parents, as well as my in-laws about so many different things.
    More recently, I got upset with my mother for letting my l.o. watch t.v. (he is 5 months old), AND insisting that he drink water. tap water.
    gah. i couldn’t tell you how angry i was. However, i did try my very very best to stay calm and explain why I didn’t agree with either of those things. Needless to say, she was offended, and offered her “but you did these things and are just fine” two cents. After a few minutes of explanation, she decided to just drop it and not let it happen again.

    With many things, I find, it’s best to agree to disagree.
    sometimes, living crunchy is hard!
    but it’s ALWAYS worth the effort.

  15. Sandy Wasserman

    Hi there, I say with sadness after reading your posting and all the comments.Perhaps you’ll want to ban me from your site, consider me ‘the enemy.’ And my daughters and I have had our issues in the past over parenting and other things too. BUT, the flip side is the sense of ‘family’ that I do sense is so missing in your life. So you’ve made a trade-off, which I respect. I am guessing though that in years to come, you will look back and wonder if the issues were: the diapers, the butter, the tv watching or just the desire and right, as the child’s parent to “do it your way.” In the long run, though, would that 1/2 hr of tv, or that slice of bread with (yuck) fake butter really harm your child, or be a memory of ‘grandma’s house?’…or a lack thereof, of memories. I wonder if you have memories of your own grandparents and whether they are perfectly aligned with what your own parents wanted for you. Perhaps your parents’ meddling into your parenting, and your own resistance is a sign of the fact that you both share the same rigidity that you so staunchly wish to let go of. I often wonder about families who do not ‘do battle’ over the small stuff and how they manage to ‘look away’ for the greater, long term good of all the relationships. Genealogy is a lovely social science that’s become a hot interest of late, even more than perhaps even …’slow food’ and ‘scrapbooking!’ And these family trees are best appreciated when there’s love and connection when those names and faces on the tree are still alive.

    • Brittany @ The Pistachio Project  


      I’m sorry to hear that you got the impression that I (or any of the commenters)have a lack of “family”. First, I do not think you read my entire post very carefully, as you seem to have missed the part where I mention that we should allow grandparents some grace in the more trivial areas. As I stated, we might not enjoy letting grandma give Jr a corn dog (or watch t.v or have fake butter) but if it’s not a serious issue then obviously it’s better to allow those things (at least occasionally) for the sake of keeping relationships with the family. So as you can see, family is very important to me. If it was not so, then I would have written a post on how to sever ties with unsupportive family instead of writing the post which I did, which sole purpose was to help crunchy parents have ways of dealing with family when they do not support their choices. Most of my tips, actually make it easier for families to stay together despite their disagreements.There is only one tip that is harsh and would separate a family (the cease and desist one) and that should only be used in life threatening instances where the health of the child is compromised by the grandparent (I do not mean a one time accident either, I mean consistent, blatant refusal to follow a serious rule).

      There is one more point I feel I need to bring up (for you and all the grandparents out there) this post wasn’t written for those with supportive grandparents (obviously they probably have no issues to deal with, at least to the degree which I posted about). This post was written for those who have unsupportive, disapproving, perhaps even critical grandparents. I would love it if all families could not only agree to disagree but have open and honest communication where the crunchy parent would feel welcome enough to share what they are learning about and doing with their family. However, there are many families in which this is not the case, these poor families either are given the cold shoulder, become the outcasts of the family, or at very least are not given the respect that they deserve (whether the grandparents/family agrees with their choices or not). My post was written for those parents.

  16. Karen

    While it’s important to cultivate a relationship with your child and their grandparents, no one should be allowed to make you feel bad as a parent. I found this article helpful as well:
    How to Cope with Exasperating Grandparents – Famlii