Don’t you love how many people there are in this world that are not just eager – but who seem elated to not just give you parenting advice, but also tell you all the things that you are doing wrong when it comes to raising your kids?
You might think that the people who would be most supportive of your healthy, well-mannered children would be your own parents or grandparents. But many people find out that Mom and Dad, often known, as Grandma and Grandpa (from both families) tend to be the most critical adversaries when it comes to your job as parent. Maybe it’s because they are related to you and feel free to say anything, and we mean ANYTHING that is on their mind about the decisions you are making as a parent that makes them so annoying. Worse, is that as a product of their parenting you learned first hand what TO DO and what NOT TO DO from the hands that rocked your cradle. And you remember some of the idiotic and stupid things THEY DID, yet now they are offering up their opinion and approval rating of how well you parent?
Newsflash for you MOM, YOU WERE NOT THE PERFECT PARENT! Maybe you should revisit your parenting file and grade yourself before you start tearing my parental decisions apart!
Don’t you wish you could easily and politely tell your parents just that and ask them to just leave you alone and keep their well-intended parenting advice to themselves? After all, the reason you have to take a Xanax every night and spent 2 years in counseling, or started drinking WAS because of some of the stupid things they did to you when you were a kid.
And lets be real, the woman who is now standing before you and telling you that you aren’t watching your child closely enough on the swings is the same woman that allowed you and your brother to walk down to the local 7-11 store by yourself at the age of 7 and 11, completely unaccompanied by an adult to buy HER cigarettes. And you also remember your dad chasing you around in the yard with a thorny switch, wearing out your legs as a form of punishment for bringing home a bad grade.
You also might remember your parents calling you names, cursing in front of you spanking you religiously with a wooden spoon, and leaving you home alone so they could run out for the night. Your parents also had no idea you were drinking their alcohol when you were a teen, nor did they ever notice that you were sneaking THEIR cigarettes to smoke on the walk to school every day. How about all those walks to the parks or to school or to a friends house that you took when you were little, without an adult besides you – running into strangers and perverts yet never telling a soul? Remember that time you took a 6 hour bike ride and got lost and had no idea where you were? Well, your mom didn’t know where you were either and when you got home, she told you to wash your hands and face and never once asked where you had been all day. (Great job MOM!)
While many people blame cycles of family abuse as family problems that tend to get passed down from one generation to the next, the opposite is also true. As children, we learn about the parental environment from a child’s point of view from our parents. And they too were learning as they went. And they too, made some pretty big mistakes, and did some things that you would never ever think about doing with your own children. You learned from your parents mistakes. And their mistakes make you a better parent.
But why is it that so many grandparents feel so inclined to offer up advice about parenting to their children – when they didn’t do such a stellar job themselves?
Truth is that experts really believe that in laws and grandparents give this unwanted advice to be helpful. Just like you learned from their parenting, THEY learned too – and they want to make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes as them. Still, it is important as a parent to set limits, because the constant giving of unwanted advice can definitely hurt the relationship. At first, you can try politely telling them “that may have worked for you (keep your snicker to yourself) but I am choosing to do it this way.” Or, you can say, “Okay thanks for the tip,” and then happily continue on. Eventually they should get the message that you don’t plan to follow their ‘rules’ and realize that you have different values for your child. Plus, choosing these avenues of dealing with the problems FIRST are much more polite than saying, “Hey mom – you smoked cigarettes with me in the car and the windows rolled up, I don’t think I want to take your advice about anything.”
Yet eventually it may have to come to something like that. Limits and boundaries have to be set, and have to be honored between grown children and their parents. At some point enough will become enough. Even more important, at some point your parents HAVE to realize that you need their support and praise – even as an adult, rather than their constant criticism and guidance. And hey, look at how good YOU turned out despite the mistakes YOUR parents made. Maybe all of your own mom’s mistakes really have served you well and enabled you to be the awesome parent that you are today!