“Well, that’s not how I did it when you were a baby. But it’s your child, so do what you like.”
Sigh! I was truly OVER hearing yet another passive aggressive order from my well-meaning mother. She’d only been in town ten minutes, but had managed to name at least thirty things that I was doing wrong raising my child. And I was beyond frustrated. I knew that I was a new inexperienced mom, but I had managed to keep the baby alive just fine without her help!
As the years have gone by, my mother and I have found a rhythm. She’s learned to ease up on giving me play-by-play instructions of how to raise my child. And I have learned not to be so sensitive to her criticism and to appreciate her wisdom and advice. But this fabulous mother-daughter parenting rhythm didn’t come easy. It took hard work from both of us.
As I look back and reflect on how my mom and I went from battling over parenting techniques to feeling comfortable with our roles in my daughter’s life, I can see some key steps that we took:
First, I sat mom down and had an open and honest conversation with her. I explained that although I appreciated her advice, her constant nagging made me feel that my parenting skills weren’t up to par.
Then, I explained that there was more than one way to parent. I told her that although she may have raised her children one way, I may opt for another way. Both options were okay as long as the goal was accomplished.
I agreed to be less sensitive to her parenting suggestions. While she felt that she was giving me helpful advice, all I heard was criticism. I needed to change my outlook!
For her part, my mother agreed to respect me as the parent. That meant that she wouldn’t circumvent my parenting rules and try to do things her way.
And, my mother changed the way that she talked to me when it came to giving parenting advice. We both recognized that it wasn’t always what she said, but the way that she said it. Her tone quickly changed from one of authority, to a tone of support. I was happy to hear less “You need to do it this way!” and more “Do you think this way would help you?”
Once we both stopped being stubborn and had some real dialogue, everything fell into place. I was happy to be able to raise my child my way and became more confident in my parenting decisions. And my mother became comfortable in her role as the supportive grandma (not the mama!).
Have you ever had a difference of opinion with your mother when it comes to parenting? How did you handle it?
Words: Yolanda Darville
Yolanda Darville is a mom, writer, and blogger focusing on philanthropy and empowering women. Learn more about her on her blog www.bahamamommyinc.com.