A friend asked me, “How do you deal with family members not sticking to your parenting rules when babysitting?” This is a common issue. You know how it is as a new parent. You read every damn book and article there is about parenting because you’re so afraid of messing up and raising a Dylan Roof. So you have all these rules and guidelines that you go by that of COURSE your older more experienced family members disagree with. It happened to me just this past August. We’re at our family reunion and I happened to look up to see my grandmother and her first cousins giving my 8 month old daughter water. I immediately freaked out being that I had just read articles about a family going to jail because they had been giving their infant water and all the harm that water can do to babies under 1 year old. I rushed over and told them that they had to stop. Of course this turned into a conversation of how new moms don’t listen to experience. In this case they were right.
As I read a little more, I came to understand that a little water doesn’t hurt, that child passed away because that’s all the parents were giving them. The question then becomes how do you navigate between what you read and what the people you know have done this before are telling you? What I’ve come to understand is this:
- The research isn’t the Gospel. You will drive yourself crazy trying to stick to and maintain all those “Do’s and Don’ts.”
- The older generation has a lot of wisdom that we shouldn’t write off just because it isn’t in a scholarly journal.
- Grandparents, aunts, and uncles are going to do what they want. They’re going to give a lick of sucker when you’re not looking or allow them to watch more television than you would care for them to. Every instance is not a time to panic. You have to choose which battles to fight. Was it a serious rule that they broke or can you be flexible and let it slide?
- At the same time, if you have chosen to stick to something, those who encounter take care of your child should respect your wishes.
- With that being said, if there are egregious instances where they are totally going against your wishes, SPEAK UP. It is YOUR child who is ultimately YOUR responsibility. Anyone that can’t understand that and do what you ask probably should not be caring for your child. Be respectful but stand your ground.
Look, at the end of the day (I hate that phrase but it always fits so well), we’re all just making this shit up as we go along. No one thing works for all children. Each child is different, even within the same family. Do what works for you and your family whether it’s conventional knowledge or research based. Just make sure that those involved in the rearing of your child are on board with your parenting style and remember don’t sweat the small stuff. By child number two, they’re going to be eating broccoli off the restaurant floor and you won’t even bat an eyelash anyway.