The other afternoon, my husband and I were at the playground with our kids. Two grandparents were also there, visiting, and had brought their granddaughter to play. They were really friendly and also a military family, so we got to talking. And they had some awesome things to say about being grandparents. They were the parents of the son (the little girl’s dad),
and according to them, that made a huge difference. We talked for over an hour.
Here were the gems:
1. The hardest thing is keeping your mouth shut.
Translation/Expanded Thought: We raised kids too, you know! And, we may actually have solutions to your problems, even though it may not be in the latest parenting book (or blog!). But we’re nervous to say anything, especially if you’re our daughter-in-law, because we don’t want to look like we’re criticizing. The mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is already so delicate. But seriously, sometimes, you are just wrong. And we really want to say it.
2. “Watch her!” the grandmother shouted to her husband, and her husband looked at us. “When there’s an accident on your watch, it’s a memory. When it happens on ours, it’s a mishap!”
Translation/Expanded Thought: We would let her run down that hill, put mulch in her hair, get a little dirty, etc. BUT, if we do and you find out, or if she comes back with a scratch or heaven forbid, worse, we’ll get in trouble and then we won’t get to watch her as often, or by ourselves. But we won’t say it. We’ll follow your directions. Obviously, we don’t want her to get hurt either. So we’ll be extra careful to follow the rules…even if we don’t agree with them. (See number 1.)
But…what we really want to say is this: Stop being so overprotective and let her get a little dirty. It’s fine.
3. I’m so glad her other grandmother bought that toy because we really wanted to, but we asked you and you said no, so we didn’t.
Translation/Expanded Thought: We really wanted to buy her that super cute (but luxurious and unnecessary) toy, but you said you didn’t want to spoil her. So we listened because we’re the in-laws and we have to listen. But when the mother’s parents bought it, we were secretly thrilled (and a little jealous that we didn’t get to buy it!) because whereas we can’t cross the line (see number 1) they can. And do. And we get it, but we raised kids too! And just because we’re the in-laws doesn’t mean we have nothing to say!
See a theme here? I did.