Bridging the Generation Gap

Filed under: Family,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Ronda @ 7:16 am December 19, 2013

I said we were going to do it anyway. My mother was silent. But when my son put up a tearful fight in her presence, she protested again.

“It’s cruel,” she said. “I can’t stand it.” And when, a few weeks later, he was ill and would not drink, sure enough, the first thing she lobbied for was to go back to the bottle. Unsure of myself this time around, I capitulated. My mother took the bottle to him. And even though it turned out that he didn’t want it anymore, she considered it a victory for grandmotherly compassion.

“Look,” my mom said some time afterward, “I’m the grandmother. You put him in my hands, and I’m not going to listen to any ‘expert.’ I’m going to give him a bottle and anything else he wants. When he’s with you, you’ll do it your way.”

Grandmother love. As frustrated as I sometimes am with such debates, I still consider myself a winner in these situations. As a single parent, I want and need my mother to be very involved. Even her disagreements about how I am doing things make me feel secure about her support. After all, how can you lose if your mother loves your son that much?

Grandparent Love
But this is not how the books tell grandparents to behave. Grandparents are advised to play by the parent’s rules. They are reminded that they are not the ones in charge. When they forget, they approach the line that can make grandparenting so touchy at times.

“I know that nobody loves my beautiful boy the way I and my husband do– except my parents,” my friend Paula confided to me. “I welcome my mother’s advice. I need it. But I also rail against being put into the child’s position again. And I want to reserve the right to reject what she says.”

Some call grandparent love the purest love there is. It is a love that is just there — unconditional and instinctive, a deep well for the newest arrival to the family to imbibe. But dealing with the parents of that precious child is not quite as instinctive. It all goes back to the dynamics between parent and child. All the old issues of control vs. autonomy, your way vs. my way and your values vs. my values are dredged up. (more…)