It may be the biggest mommy war of them all. Not breastfeeding. Not vaccinations. Not even the all-out bonanza that is a circumcision conversation. No, the real mommy war comes between a Mom and HER mother the day Granny is told to BUTT OUT on parenting.
You think a screaming toddler in a full-out tantrum in the middle of a grocery store is bad? Hell hath no fury like a Grandma told she doesn't know a thing about the modern kindergartner's psyche! Not only did she raise you and your siblings, but in the first few years of a child's life, she was the one there helping you along. And she isn't ready to give up that power.
In some ways, it's our fault. We do what women have done for generations. We call on our mothers for advice. To find out why the baby wants to be at the breast ALL the time. To find out why the baby won't sleep. To find out why the baby sleeps all the time. You get the picture.
But as your kids get older, you stop needing advice and start getting it. If you just gave birth, and you're wondering if that day will come, it will. Suddenly you aren't "just a parent," you actually feel like one. And the voice that's been whispering in your ear goes from helpful to harping.
I've heard this one a lot lately, especially with a school-age child. Friends with kids say they got them this far, shouldn't it be obvious they're able to DO this? They're frustrated because their kids have reached a stage when things really are different from their own childhoods. Schools don't run the way they did 25, 30 years ago. Usually it's because moms love their own moms too much to just say, "Hey, thanks for the help, but I'm handling it now." They're afraid of hurting Grandma's feelings.
But there's a small sector of grandmothers who don't know when to give up. Call them selfish or narcissistic. Call them women who care too much. I call them bullies. I sat recently watching the new Peanuts movie Happiness Is a Warm Blanket Charlie Brown, and saw Linus move to hysteria when his grandmother laid down an edict that he'd have to get rid of his blanket simply because SHE believed it was time for him to give it up. I won't spoil the ending, but suffice it to say, the little boy knew better than her -- his trademark blanket isn't a crutch, it's a source of security. That's the type of grandma I'm talking about. The one who makes decisions about her grandkids because "I'm the Grandma, and I say so," but doesn't really know what's best for the kids. She may have her heart in the right place, but she's NOT the kid's parent. She doesn't know the ins and outs and dirty details of their life.
That's why moms have to make the hard choice one day. Be calm, be cool, be collected, and be nice, but tell Granny that she's not the one raising your kids ... so it's time to butt out.
Have you reached this stage yet in your relationship with your parents? How have you handled it?
Image via kevindooley/Flickr
Disclosure: I received a screener of Happiness Is a Warm Blanket. All commentary about the movie is my own.