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Over expecting from to be parents, who sets the rules?

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  • February 20, 2021
  • MKB Team

“Being a grandparent means you can be as silly you want to be.” – Unknown


Zeenu Vergheese was a happy new mom but also a rather frustrated one. Living in a joint family, and being a working mom, Zeenu had to face a volley of discontent after returning home from work. Despite slogging all day at her job, and then coming back home to take care of her little one, the elders in Zeenu’s new family still expected her to do more.

Her mom-in-law would complain as to how Zeenu’s child was malnourished because the nanny didn’t feed her well enough. Zeenu found it difficult even when she attempted to take control of things.

Comments like ‘You don’t know what you are doing!’ and ‘You’re doing it all wrong’ greeted her constantly.

It didn’t help that Zeenu’s husband was not as supportive as she would have liked him to be. He was reluctant to tackle the problem that his overbearing parents were causing in the name of concern and well-being, and was not agreeable to Zeenu quitting her job to be a full time mother either.

‘A dual income is important to raise a child!’ was his favourite dialogue. The end result was sad. Zeenu moved out of her in-law’s house with her child. But this situation could have been avoided if only Zeenu and her husband were on the same page as far as parenting is concerned.

Parents should be in complete sync and agreement as to how their kids should be raised, and they should be a firm, united front when anyone, including grandparents, relatives or teachers questions them on parenting tactics. Set the rules as parents, without allowing anyone else to do so. The mistake that Zeenu’s husband made was that he chose to be a non-participant instead of sticking to his wife as a team member. Parenting demands unity in thought and action, and one has to communicate to the older generation that while you might have a different approach, you are still reliant on their support.

Avoid getting angry and say things with a smile instead. Elders will offer their two cents on trivial matters, like if the baby needs to wear a hat or what time bedtime should really be. But losing your cool with elders is just a waste of energy. Instead, listen and promise to think over the suggestion. Just because someone is offering advice, doesn’t mean one has to take it. But it doesn’t hurt to listen with a smile when advice is offered, and do whatever seems best. It
doesn’t make any sense to take away the joy and happiness of having a baby because of a conflict that’s totally unnecessary, does it?

Having said that, it’s also important to be strict and strong if your parental boundaries are crossed. If elders decide to do something for your child that you are not comfortable with like giving the child a bottle of milk when you’re trying to breastfeed or grandma giving him chocolates before dinner when it’s a no-no, it’s time to put your foot down and have a serious conversation with the elders.

All of us have our positives, and playing to the strengths of the elders is important. Grandparents want to help, but most of them don’t know the right way to go about it. They might feel sad and out of place because they feel they are not wanted by you. So, think how you can include them in the best way possible. Someone might have an unusual knack for telling stories for example or be a great cook for babies. Elders are not obligated to help you after all, so take the best that comes your way.

In case you are confused about who is right in a particular situation regarding baby, it’s best to let your child’s paediatrician decide. The doctor’s view won’t be taken lightly by both parents as well as elders.

It is important to have family rules in place as they help create structure and order. A family rule is nothing but a specific, clear statement about behaviours that you expect from your child.

Family rules are important as they help children understand what behaviours are okay and not okay. Following rules at home will help children follow rules everywhere else. Follow through and consistency is important as children tend to forget and break rules sometimes. So, all the family members should know and follow these rules and be on the same page where these rules are concerned.

Here’s how:
Post the rules in the house so everyone can know them.
Talk about what rules would help the family and agree which ones to set       with your partner.
Consult with other adults/parents about the rules.
Ask all family members to be consistent in monitoring and enforcing the  rules.

Now, some parents might not feel a sense of accomplishment because they think that they are unable to do what other parents can do for their children. Here, it is important to realise that not all of us have been blessed with the same level of efficiency and competence. Wallowing in self-pity and comparing yourself to other parents can only lead to unhappiness and depression in many cases.


Remember, having a baby is all about having a good time. So, learn to laugh together and enjoy even when those depressing moments happen which make you want to tear your hair in anguish.

Some of you might not be blessed with a strong family system that takes care of your kids while you are out. But parenting by itself is one of the most difficult tasks in the world, and teaches us rather valuable lessons in life. All that we can do is give our best and enjoy the experience while it lasts.

Write in to us with your views about how to deal with elders while raising your child. We’d love to hear from you!


Published by

MKB Team

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