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5 Helpful Tips for Setting Boundaries with Grandparents

With all the excitement around a new baby, setting expectations and boundaries with grandparents is sometimes challenging. These five helpful and effective tips can help.

It’s sometimes hard for your parents to form a new relationship with you when you become an adult. These challenges become more present when you have kids of your own.

Having your parents or in-laws around can be a blessing, but boundaries are necessary to prevent them from unintentionally trying to take over.

It can be hard to control what your parents do with and around your baby. You love them; telling them to “back off” can seem harsh. Sometimes, it doesn’t even work.

Is it okay to set boundaries with grandparents?

Absolutely! Boundaries – in any relationship – are necessary to help protect one or both sides of the relationship. This goes for the grandparent/parent relationship, as well. While boundaries are not always well-received, they are always important.

While there are many instances when boundaries will be set and respected, there will also be times when boundaries are tested and must be re-communicated. That doesn’t mean they aren’t important or inappropriate to set.

Read next: How to Set Boundaries With Family After Baby is Born

Tips for setting boundaries with grandparents

Here are five helpful tips for setting boundaries with your baby’s grandparents.

  1. Create a schedule
  2. Explain why you are doing something
  3. Find creative ways to say “no”
  4. Be specific when asking for help
  5. Trust your instincts

1. Create a schedule

When you bring home your bundle of joy, chances are family members, or friends will be impatiently waiting for the opportunity to welcome them to the world. While many people will wait their turn, grandparents sometimes need help understanding the concept.

If you and your parents or in-laws want them over for advice and help, go for it! However, you don’t have to let them intrude on your space if you want time alone with your partner and newborn.

As a compromise, you can schedule when they can come to see the baby and when you need privacy. You could even let people know ahead of the birth so you have breaks in the blur of early newborn days.

By giving a set time window to grandparents, you can set expectations and avoid “drop-ins” that last for hours.

2. Explain why you do something

As research progresses, ways to keep your baby healthy, happy, and safe evolve. With the latest scientific evidence, you can make the best choices for your family and your newborn.

However, some grandparents may think the “new ways” are ridiculous or feel they are attacking their parenting. Just because “you turned out okay!” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take extra measures to protect your little one.

It’s nothing against your parents — they did their best with the information they had, and you’re doing the same. One day, your child might know even more and make changes that make your grandchildren safer.

Calmly and directly explaining the reasoning behind each difference can demystify them and create more understanding around the change. Mention what science believed when you were a baby and how the research evolved since.

3. Find creative ways to say “No”

“No” is a complete sentence, but constantly saying it can strain your relationship with your parents. That doesn’t mean you need to give in to their desires when you don’t want to, but you can often dissolve tension by finding different ways to deny their requests.

Use creative or sugar-coated ways to turn down visits, offers, and advice. Starting with “That sounds great, but…” or “We appreciate the offer…” are ways to make saying no easier on everyone.

Other ways to say no include, “We can’t today, but another time,” “We have another commitment,” “There’s no room on our calendar,” “The baby needs some alone time with us,” and more.

If the conversation makes you nervous, consider texting so you can review your message before sending it. Changing how you say no can make the word seem less harsh for sensitive grandparents.

See Also

Related: The Best Newborn “No Visitors” Signs After Birth (And Why They’re Great)

4. Be specific when asking for help

Be specific about your needs when you’re willing to accept help from grandparents but fear they might overstep. Assigning a task to your parents can give them something to focus on that benefits you.

Grandparents often want to help, but their version of doing so can get invasive. Asking for them to make a meal, do dishes, hold the baby while you shower, and do other tasks can help give them the satisfaction of helping out and taking care of things you want them to do.

When you’re recovering from birth, it’s easy to feel things get out of control. You can make life a little easier by stating your needs and what you want your parents to do and not do.

5. Trust your instincts 

As a new mom, you’ll get a lot of advice — some of which will contradict what others say and what you know. While staying educated and listening to trustworthy sources is essential, your maternal instincts will kick in.

You know your baby best and can often tell their needs better than their grandparents. You’ll hear many things you “should” try to help your baby, and your parents might think they know why your little one cried.

However, don’t let unsolicited advice discourage your mothering abilities. Don’t hesitate to reach out when you want advice, but trust yourself when caring for your little one. 

Final thoughts on creating healthy boundaries with grandparents

Grandparent relationships are special, and when you have a positive relationship with your parents, your child can benefit from it.

Setting boundaries early on helps preserve your mental health while keeping strong relationships with your parents, partner, and baby.

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