Moment of Clarity: Help for Pushy Grandparent
We understand. Sometimes, problems with romantic relationships, friendships, career or family life get you down. And we want to help. That’s why JET is working with therapist, Jinnie Cristerna, who will take your questions and offer some sage, sanity-restoring advice every Tuesday.
You can submit your own question via our contact form and don’t fret, we’ll keep your name and identity confidential. First up, we have a question from a reader we’ll call “Frustrated Parent.”
My mother always undermines me when it comes to my kids. They don’t listen to me and have started to disrespect me in public. What should I do?– Signed, “Tired of the Grandstanding”
Jinnie’s Response to “Tired of Grandstanding” aka how to deal with a pushy grandparent:
Dear Frustrated Parent,
This is a VERY common challenge for many parents. There are several ‘thoughts’ about how you should handle situations like these but in the end, as the parent, it is your call.
Instead of me telling you WHAT to do, it is more helpful for me to walk you through HOW to think about the problem so you can determine what works best for you. In order for this to work, you have to understand a simple and basic rule of human behavior: “The behavior of others that bothers you is the behavior you also do.” Let’s begin!
We’ll start with the easy one first – children. Pick one behavior your child(ren) does that bothers you, for example – ignoring your instruction. Now that you have identified one behavior, apply the basic rule above.
Using the basic rule, ask yourself the following: Do you ignore your kids when they want to talk to you or express themselves? If you do, then they are simply behaving the way YOU taught them. Marinate on that one for a minute. The solution here is simple: Model the behavior you want – treat and talk with them the way you want them to behave. If you are consistent, you should begin seeing changes within 30-60 days.
If you don’t then go to the next step, involving your mom.
This will be more difficult, but worth it. Again, apply the basic rule: Have you, at any time, undermined another person or disregarded their role? The answer to this question is usually, “Yes, but…” Look, there is no need to explain or defend your actions, we have all stepped in and undermined someone for one reason or another. Chances are we stepped in because we “thought” or “felt” what was happening was wrong for one reason or another. This is probably the case for your mother.
The first thing to consider is why your mother may be stepping into your parenting affairs. For example: Is she trying to be a good grandmother and can only feel like a good grandmother if you are a bad mother? Is it hard for her to see her grandchildren get punished? Does she think she knows best? And, so on. Write down what comes to your mind on a piece of paper.
Then, identify the feeling(s) associated with each reason – do you feel angry, sad, anxious, unworthy, hurt, embarrassed, etc. Now it’s time to talk with her. Before you talk with her, be prepared for her to be defensive and/or caught off guard. Share with her how you feel when she does specific things that undermine you as a parent. When she talks, it is important that you are open to understanding her experience and point of view or else things will go bad fast.
The conversation won’t be easy and you will probably need to have several smaller ones later, but it will be worth it. At the end of each conversation, let her know that you love her and, together, try to identify one thing each of you can agree to so you can raise your children while supporting each other.
I hope this was helpful … Pleasant Journeys!
Do you have a question for Jinnie? Submit it to us via the contact us form. You can also learn more about our “Moment of Clarity” JET therapist via:
Her site at International High Achievers.