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I am a grandparent and concerned about the way my son and daughter in law are raising their children. There doesn't seem to be any structure or any time put aside as family time. They seem to be more concered about appearances like what they have, rather than substance. I would like to intervene and offer advice but I don't want to create a riff between us.


Sharon Buchalter Replied: Your issue is one that I hear so often from concerned grandparents. Since these are your grandchildren, you have the right to be concerned about the way they are being raised. The question is, how much "advice" can you give without causing tension between you and your son and daughter-in-law. One important thing to remember is that every generation brings about change. How we raised our children may be quite different from how our children raise theirs. That being said, you may have some legitimate concerns. Think about the concerns that you have. Which concerns are critical and affect the well-being of your grandchildren. Once you sort these out, sit down with your son and daughter-in-law to discuss calmly. When chatting, do not use accusatory language such as "you are doing this...". Instead, use "I" language, such as "I'm concerned that the kids may not be getting enough sleep. Have you considered this?". Make sure you give them the benefit of the doubt and be sure to point out their good parenting qualities. For example, "I think you guys are great parents- would you mind if I asked you a question?" Be prepared for the fact that your kids may not be amenable to suggestions and they may take offense to being challenged. If that's the case, let it go. By pushing the issue, you may cause a riff between you that is difficult to repair. If you truly think that your grandchildren are in immediate danger, then you need to contact the authorities; however, if it is simply a matter of differing lifestyle choices, then sometimes it's best to let it go. It's a difficult situation, but I'm confident that you can get through it. I wish you the best of luck. Sincerely, Dr. Sharon
Posted On 2009-09-10 07:42:07
Michelle P. Maidenberg Replied: Hello, I wrote some tips on how to facilitate good communication so that you can be heard in a non-confrontative/defensive way. I hope it helps! Ways to Facilitate Effective Communication With Your Daughter-In-Law and Son 1. Organize your thoughts before speaking (i.e., pick and choose your battles, deem what is considered structured time for you as opposed to what might be considered structured time for them, etc.). 2. Practice what you are going to say 3. Speak clearly, avoid using jargon and be very specific about what you are referring to. 4. Use "I" statements not accusatory "you" statements. This conveys judgment and disapproval. A "you" statement does not communicate a feeling but conveys a belief about the other person. They will be less likely to listen/hear what you are saying. 5. Use the four parts of the "I" statement when you are communicating. (a) When you…., (b) The effects might be…., (c) I feel…., and (d) I prefer if…..because the results may be... 6. Talk specifically about your observations and behaviors and detail specific changes you want to see being made and explain why. 7. Convey a trusting, caring, and empathetic tone so that your daughter-in-law and son will be more inclined to want to express themselves (and will feel that you care about their feelings/needs and are not just imposing). 8. Be conscientious of when you speak to your daughter-in-law and son. Express yourself when there is opportunity to have dialogue not when you're half listening to them and them to you. 9. Be sure that your desires/requests are realistic, feasible, and manageable and check in to see how your daughter-in-law and son feels about what you're stating. 10. Be a positive role model - be conscientious of all the things you are asking your daughter-in-law and son to pay attention to. Practice what you preach. 11. Last but not least, make sure to always give compliments and express appreciation when it is due. Your daughter-in-law and son are well-intended and deserve to hear this so the times when you are asking for changes won't seem so daunting to them. Best of luck with your daughter-in-law and son. Best, Michelle P. Maidenberg, Ph.D., MPH, LCSW, CGP
Posted On 2009-07-26 23:26:47
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