Monday, May 6, 2013

Setting Boundaries With Grandma...and Grandpa Too!

It’s one of those trips that you take that most in your household really look forward to...the trip to grandma’s house. The kid’s are definitely excited. You....maybe not so much.

It’s not that you don’t like seeing your parents or in-laws, but walking through their door can bring up a tremendous amount of anxiety. The type of anxiety that transforms their house from whatever version of quaint it is actually to that house in which Anthony Perkins resides in the movie Psycho. You might appreciate the smell of fresh baked goodies emanating from its interior, but despite the inviting smell, you don’t want to go in.

Your aversion likely stems from the fact that you know something happens when your parents get around your kids. Any sort of order that you had going with your kids can sometimes be undone within a couple of days of visiting. 

Sometimes, over-eager, well-meaning grandparents let certain rules that we normally enforce slide. They just might give our kids more dessert than we believe is humanly possible to digest. They may wait on our kids, hand and foot and ignore the idea of them picking up after themselves. They buy them things even when their behavior displays that they don’t deserve it. They just seem too doggone permissive. If we are honest, sometimes that just scares us silly.

So how do we deal with grandparents that seem to cross the boundaries we’ve set for our children?

How to Deal With Boundary Crossing Grandparents

1. Have a Conversation

As parents, one of our jobs is to set boundaries. Another job that we have is to communicate those boundaries to others. It is easy to think that our kids are the only ones that need to know the boundaries, but the truth is, grandparents need to know what boundary lines have been drawn as well. They need to know the lines and they need to honor them.

A conversation about boundaries and limits needs to happen, even before a visit to Grandma’s. It might prove helpful to make a phone call to the grandparents a week before the visit so that you can inform them of the rules you have in place regarding dinner, dessert, cleanliness, gifts, etc. Calmly represent yourself and your preferences to them. Additionally, continue to calmly represent yourself to them even during your visit. 

2. Include Them More 

Have you ever gotten the impression that your parents may be trying to make up for lost time with your kids? Like they are trying to pack in as much as they can with them while they are able? If so, maybe this is why they are acting like over-eager squirrels preparing for winter, when in the sight of our children.

Dealing with this issue requires that we spend more time looking at ourselves than we do at our parents. We should begin by asking ourselves questions. Questions such as, “How can mom and dad be included more in our children’s activities and events?” or “Can we make more of an effort to visit our parents a little more often?” 

Having important family members in the presence of our children more often can do a lot to lessen their (our parents) anxiety and our own as well. The more our parents can see us parenting our children, the better.

3. Understand that Your Home is Your Child’s Training Ground, but the Training Must be Tested

What are we preparing our children to do? We are training them to survive without us and we are teaching them how to make decisions on their own. Assuredly, there will come a time when that training will be tested. The results of the test will communicate something to the one being tested as well as to the teacher. As our child’s most influential teacher, how well have we prepared them to make decisions outside of our nest and independent of our watchful eyes? 

How will our children respond to Grandma’s unintentional attempt to spoil them? Who knows! Whatever the outcome, it can lead to some excellent conversations with our kids.

ScreamFree parents never have to fear the Grands. They can see each visit as an excellent opportunity to remain calm, focus on themselves and test the training that they’ve administered. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Girls Gone Wedding

So you’re getting married! Congratulations! Such an exciting time in your life! Now onto planning the big day. 
Planning a wedding can be such a fun adventure. I got engaged 19 years ago, long before the days of endless wedding ideas on Pinterest, Say Yes to the Dress, and Four Weddings. When my husband and I planned our wedding, brainstorming involved looking through the latest issue of Bride’s Magazine. I know. I know. Yes, even admitting this makes me feel old! Today, I’m utterly amazed at the options afforded to couples who are planning their weddings. Seeing all of the creative photography ideas, wedding themes, and cake creations almost makes me want to plan mine all over again…until I remember the endless decisions that had to be made and how I often felt like the planning was a part time job. 
One of the biggest mistakes couple make in planning their wedding is that the couple doesn’t plan the wedding. The bride does. Now don’t get me wrong. Few boys grow up dreaming of their ideal tux and I don’t know of any teenage boy who has a Pinterest board labeled “Wedding Fantasies,” but who is getting married? Just the bride? Seriously! Have you seen any TLC shows about men planning their weddings? Nope. Just women trying on too-expensive dresses or planning a wedding that they hope will beat out three other weddings to win a lavish honeymoon.
Planning a wedding has the potential to set in place patterns that will continue throughout a marriage.  It can become a classic marital bombshell. What I mean is this…the bride takes charge, making most of the decisions regarding the wedding; meanwhile, the groom sits back, letting her control the situation.  Over time this pattern can take root, especially around big decisions (kids, home, etc.). This seemed convenient for both initially. She wanted to plan the wedding; he didn’t care one way or the other. But eventually, that pattern (she takes charge, while he sits back) isn’t so fun. Over time, she grows resentful, even bitter that he’s not more involved. Meanwhile he can’t figure out why she’s so upset; he thought they’d arranged things so that both of them were happy.
Last time I checked, the bride and the groom show up at the wedding.  So why not have the bride and the groom participate in the planning? I realize that many brides don’t like that idea because they have everything already picked out and they don’t want to give up some of that control. And frankly, many grooms might not like that idea either because they don’t really care about the details.  I realize that planning a wedding doesn’t seem like a monumental event that could set your marriage on the wrong course, but why not choose to create healthy patterns from the start? Why not use this time to learn how to negotiate, how to work together on a project, how to blend your lives now?  
Allow me to speak to each of you.
Brides:  Even if your parents are paying for the wedding, this is not just YOUR wedding.  Don’t be a control freak!  Include your groom in the planning. It doesn’t have to be 50-50, but the taste, traditions, and theme should reflect both of you. If he’s overwhelmed by the details, offer him fewer choices. (Which of these 3 bouquets do you like? Would you rather have a round cake or a square one?) 
Grooms:  Be involved. This is your wedding, too, so have an opinion. Don’t sit back and simply show up. Find aspects of the wedding that interest you and express your opinion, knowing that your experience of the wedding will be that much richer.
You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating. Your wedding is one day but your marriage lasts a lifetime, so set your sights on how you want your marriage to look as you prepare your wedding, and who knows…maybe TLC will start calling.