Why you now understand what your mum says
The sudden realisation you are now a parent and you finally understand what your mum has said to you all these years
A few weeks or months into your new adventure of being a parent and suddenly, out of the blue, both of you may suddenly recall – you can even hear it echoing in your ears – a parent saying, “You’ll understand when you have children of your own!”
The times when they were tetchy with you, the times they laid down rules you didn’t like, the times they totally embarrassed you – the boot is now firmly on the other foot. But that realisation may not only help you to understand and possibly forgive them, it could help you fine-tune and if necessary better your relationship with you parents now. Sit down and have a think about.
How you relate to them. Do you both get on well with your parents, and with your parents in law? If you do, fine. But take the chance to consider the balance of your relationship. Is it still “You; Child, Them; Parent” or have you moved on to being more equal? In a way, everyone remains a child to their parents for the rest of their lives, but that can feel like a straightjacket. They need to have accepted and respect you now as adults in your own right. And sometimes the younger person is the one preventing that. Act as a child and they will fall into ‘parental mode’. Act as an adult and they should be able to respond.
How you use them. If you’re lucky both sides of the family might delight in offering the bolt-on babysitting service that comes with grandparent status. But more and more silver surfers have lives of their own – they aren’t sitting waiting for you to summon them round at all times. It might need the new parents to take the lead – always ask nicely, never assume help will be forthcoming every time, give the elders the chance to say no.
Who advises who, and how. Tension can arise over assumptions about giving and accepting advice. Yes, your parents might feel that they’ve done this gig, and feel that they have expertise they can hand down. But, we have far more awareness about certain aspects of childcare now. You might, for instance, have very different ideas about rules, routines, rewards and punishments than your parents and need to be able to say “Thank you for your advice. I know you’re being caring and kind but I’d rather you left me until I asked for help rather than offer it uninvited.” Giving and taking advice often casts you in a role – one of you is All-Knowing, and the other the Beginner. It often helps if you can find something they need help with, so that one piece of advice to you is balanced by an equal offering to them.
How you contact them. Some parents assume they can call or call round at any time to their new-parent offspring. If you are going to help your own child understand about rules and boundaries, both important concepts, you may have to begin now with your own parents. You love them, you welcome them. But they don’t have keys, they do accept no means no, you will call them turn-and-turn-about and unannounced visits aren’t always acceptable.
Bounty “Sex & Relationship” articles are written by expert Suzie Hayman. Suzie is agony aunt for Woman magazine, a Relate trained counsellor, and an accredited TripleP (Positive Parenting Programme) parenting educator. She makes frequent appearances on TV and radio and as well as writing 31 books, Suzie writes features on parenting, relationships, sex and couples counselling, for a wide range of national magazines and newspapers