“A full egg, including the yolk, is what she wanted me to feed my child,” says Indian mother Lakshmi, recalling her mother-in-law’s belief that breast milk is not was not nutritious enough for a four month old baby.
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for up to six months, then a combination of breast milk and solid foods for a year. US-based WebMD suggests that egg yolks are “an easy, convenient way to provide iron and other much-needed nutrients” that can be fed to children at six months old.
Whether this belief is true or not, however, what really annoyed the mom for the first time was the deliberate petting of her nose.
Dina Dimitriou, psychologist, founder of Calm Little Minds, experienced something similar. She says: “In my professional life, I trained as a teacher and psychologist, I have two diplomas, a specialization in child development and two master’s degrees. Yet my family has always had / have an opinion on how I raise my daughters. I remember when I had my first daughter, my mom and stepmom came to help me. I really appreciated their help, but it was difficult – especially as a new mom – to decide what was best for my daughter. Their main objection over the years is about what time my kids fall asleep (apparently they go to bed very early) and because they have a set routine for their week and rules to follow. Over the years, discussions like these have been both easy and difficult to manage.
“Easy when I was in a good mental space to explain the reasons for my parenting choices and difficult when I was tired and fed up with others (even if it was my family), to judge myself. Parenthood is difficult as it is without everyone on the sidelines trying to take the lead. If your parents, in-laws, or partner / ex tend to undermine your parenting decisions, you need to take action. Inconsistent parenting can cause confusion and even power struggles in your children.
The first step, says Dr. Saliha Afridi, clinical psychologist and CEO and founder of The LightHouse Arabia, when it comes to dealing with overzealous parents, is to involve your partner. Discuss and agree on the answers to questions such as:
- What will we do if we are told to do something that we don’t think is right for our children?
- Which rules are not negotiable for us?
- What rules can we get around when we’re together?
- What are the areas in which family members know more and can we allow them to exercise some authority?
- What responsibilities can we give to family members to seek their support in raising children?
“It doesn’t have to be a battle for power or control over who brings up your children and it’s okay to be flexible with certain rules,” says Dr Afridi, as long as you know when to draw the line. So instead of having “no sugar on weekdays” when your mother-in-law is visiting and insists on cooking, it is normal for the child to have some sugar within reasonable limits one day. week. But when it comes to negotiating over bedtime or behavior, hang in there.
Dimitriou explains, “Keep in mind that as parents we know a lot more about parenting and child development. Older generations might cling to their own myths about what is right and wrong.
The worst thing you can do is get on the defensive – it won’t solve anything and just mean a hostile and unhappy environment that the kids will pick up on. Instead, explain the reasons for your choices, she says.
If they’re a little too pushy, remind them that this is your parenting journey, and that you have to make your own mistakes, adds Dimitriou. “If a person is in control too much, you may need to be more assertive in your answers and explain your limits to them,” she says.
Model type behavior
There is of course a line between playing defensively and becoming aggressive. Think of it as the long game. “The way you treat your elders teaches your children how they should treat you when you are older. You don’t have to do what the elders say, but you don’t have to be disrespectful or dismissive, either. Engage curiously with family members, see if there is anything you can learn from them and leave the rest, ”suggests Dr Afridi.
After all, advice is only a suggestion; recognize it and consider it and let it go if it is not what you think is good for your family. “Tips on how you could do things differently, but that doesn’t mean you have to implement it or that what you’re doing is wrong. Yes, it’s frustrating to hear the same advice every time, and yes, it’s annoying that they refuse to see your point of view, but their advice is just that they suggest anything and everything you do. have to do is hear their suggestion with a listen. You don’t have to apply it, ”explains Dr Afridi.
Don’t let anyone intimidate you into something you don’t agree with, experts say. “Children can be negatively affected when people other than their parents interfere with their education,” says Dimitriou. Concretely, children who have no rules to follow and who are easily exonerated can:
- Grow up believing that they are the center of the universe.
- Develop disrespectful attitudes.
- Become powerless because they don’t know the skills they need to function as adults.
- Growing up with an exaggerated sense of entitlement.
- Become irresponsible, feel ungrateful and unhappy.
Trust yourself. “At the end of the day, parenting doesn’t come with instructions. What we can do as parents is educate ourselves, take valuable advice when needed and bring up our children in the way we deem appropriate ”, explains Dimitriou.
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