What to Do When You and Your Parents Disagree Over Your Children

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I remember how horrified my husband’s mother was when I told her I was going to breast feed our son when he was born.  She had bottle fed all of her babies and had really “bought” into the advertising that had been geared towards women of her generation.  That advertising expounded on the scientifically created formula which was designed for maximum brain development.  She was terrified that I would harm our son if I fed him breast milk.  Besides, how would I know how many ounces he was getting?

Disagreeing over child rearing issues isn’t all to difficult to do.  What is difficult is finding ways to set boundaries with your parents without hurting their feelings or creating more conflict. 

Agree to Disagree

When my mother in law and I had “feeding issues”, I tried to discuss recent research with her.  I brought her information I’d gotten online and I also suggested books for her to read.  I offered to schedule an appointment with our son’s pediatrician so she could discuss her concerns with the doctor.  She politely declined the appointment offer and didn’t read the literature I had gotten for her. 

I realized that we probably weren’t going to come to any sort of compromise on the issue because both of us held very strong views on the subject.  We finally agreed to disagree.  She accepted the fact that I was going to breast feed her grandson, and I accepted that fact that she was going to send me home with a can of formula ever time we visited.   

Stand Your Ground

When I was a child, it was common for a mother to hold her child on her lap on the front seat while someone else drove.  Either that or children sat unrestrained in the back seat while she drove.

I remember the first time my father offered to babysit my children.  I accepted and brought my children to his house.  He and my step-mother were going to take them to the zoo for an outing.  The kids were thrilled and I was looking forward to a few hours of quiet!  I pulled the car seats out of my car and offered to install them in my father’s car. 

My father told me he didn’t feel the need to use “those things”, and that he wasn’t going to be bothered with car seats.  I told him that unless he agreed to use “those things”, the grandchildren were going back home with me.  Seeing that I was serious, he agreed to let me put the seats in his vehicle and he asked for a quick walk through of how they worked. 

If my father hadn’t changed his mind though, I would have followed through and not allowed the children to go on the outing.  The safety risks to my children were too great to ignore simply to avoid conflict with my father.

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

My mother in law feels that children under a certain age need to wear hats when they go out.  When it isn’t too windy or too cold, I usually don’t put a hat on my son.  This upsets her.

For a while, she would send me home with different types of hats after each visit.  Now, when our son goes to visit her, I make sure to put a hat on him.  It makes her happy, and our son doesn’t mind it too much.

The key to dealing graciously with all of the little conflicts is to remember that your parents love their grandchild and just want the best for him or her.  In other words, don’t take it too personally.  

While I sometimes get discouraged when dealing with the conflicts, I have to remember how lucky I am that our son has so many people who care about him.  Somehow, that’s enough to make it all worthwhile.


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