Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
I know what you’re thinking. I can see it in your face, your eyes. I can even hear it in everything you’re not saying:
It would be so much simpler if I just listened to you, did this your way instead of mine. After all, you raised three successful children and I’m new to this whole parenthood thing.
You are, without a doubt, the experts.
I know it was different when you were raising kids. Fifty years ago you had to turn to your grandparents, your parents or your neighbors for advice. There was no internet. No Siri to look up growth charts, symptoms of food allergies or what the latest research on punishment says.
I know it must seem like I’m floundering at being a mom. I’m tired. I’m stressed. I’m constantly looking things up t, and almost always uncertain if I’m doing the right thing.
Why don’t I just ask you, or better yet, let you take over?
Well, I have my own ideas about parenthood. My own notions about what a mother-son relationship should look like. What my baby’s childhood should be. How to get through the lack of sleep and the tantrums. How to deal with hitting and screaming and throwing.
I know you’ve done it all before. Your way. With your child.
But this is my child.
He can play with the knickknacks on the coffee table. He can throw his food off the highchair and pet the cat a little too roughly. He can leave his toys in the bathtub, the hallway, the kitchen, and anywhere else in the house. It’s not hard to clean up, and I really don’t mind it.
He will learn to control his emotions. He will learn to channel his anger into something less aggressive, less violent. He will learn to keep his curiosity and hands in check.
I know you did things differently when mom was a baby. I know your rules were different than my rules, and that’s okay.
That was your child.
I have to do what I think is best for my baby, and maybe more importantly, myself.
Even if my way keeps me up at night for hours, or has me cleaning and cooking after a full day’s work.
I know you’re just trying to help. You see me struggling, trying to establish boundaries while still letting my child explore. Trying to be a woman, a wife and a mother all at the same time. Raising kids is never easy. You know this. You’ve done it before.
Trust that I want what’s best for my child—just like you did.
Trust that if I’m not good at something the first or second time I try it, I’ll figure it out—just like you did.
Trust that my way of raising my child is just as valid as yours—just like your parents, and your grandparents.
Trust that even if I don’t follow your advice, I’m listening and learning—just like you did.
Know that I respect you, even when I disagree with you. Know that just because I raise my child differently, I don’t think you’re wrong.
Please respect me, even when I disagree with you. Please know that just because I raise my child differently, I’m not wrong.
You have made me everything I am. I love you for that. And I’ll never stop teaching my son all the things you taught me, with my own unique parenting flair.
Keep making suggestions.
Tell me stories about how you raised mom, about how you handled her terrible twos and got her to brush her teeth every night. Tell me how you dealt with her attitude as a teenager, what it was like when she first introduced you to a boy. Tell me what it was like when she left the house and started a family of her own.
Tell me how joyous it is to help care for your great-grandchild, and watch your granddaughter become a mother.
I love you. And I’m listening. I hope you can listen to me too.