Episode 25 - The truth about grandparents
Hey, my name is Patricia Ciavarello and I am obsessed with all things motherhood and helping you keep calm in the chaos of motherhood and life's unexpected moments. I am a mom of twins with a doctorate in business who's world fell apart and had to pick myself up piece by piece. I am not an expert, but I have totally been there, and I am so far from perfect, but definitely not afraid to get real and vulnerable.
I teach you the secrets to motherhood and life I wish someone told me, because as much as we wish there was, nobody hands you a mommy manual. So pull up a seat, get comfy and get ready for me to spill my secrets. This is Real Mom Truths Nobody Tells You.
I am so grateful that you are tuned into this episode of Real Mom Truths Nobody Tells You.
If you're fortunate to have grandparents that are staples in helping and assisting you in the raising of your children, I want to just take a moment and acknowledge and appreciate that because I think that there has been this almost like explosion of conversation around grandparents.
And I feel like a lot of times it leads to conflict and maybe a little disappointment, maybe a little bit resentment. And I think it really calls for a bigger conversation, but I want to start off by saying, if you are fortunate enough to have the support of your parents as grandparents, that is such a blessing because not everybody does.
And I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing. And that's actually exactly what I want to dive deep into because at the end of the day, I mean, of course this is depending on what kind of relationship you have with your parents.
And assuming it's a good one and one that you trust your parents and you have a healthy relationship and not one filled with maybe toxicity or something that would cause you not to trust them, but let's just assume you have a good relationship with your parents for one second.
I think at the end of the day, any parent wants someone that they trust to come in and step in and help when they're not there. And hopefully if you have a really good relationship with your parents, AKA your baby's grandparents, you trust them wholeheartedly.
And you know that they would never do anything to harm your baby or children if you have more than one. And that's true, a hundred percent, I mean, I know personally I trust my parents with everything. And I think that at the end of the day, every parent's worst nightmare is not having that support of their grandparents and trusting someone like a babysitter or someone of that nature and, you know, God forbid something horrible happening.
And I think that's the fear that petrifies most parents. And I think that's also where the frustration comes in because you know, maybe you want your parents, AKA grandparents to watch your baby, but maybe that's not the dynamic that's happening. And that could be for so many reasons, right?
Maybe they just don't have the energy that they used to take care of a baby. This might be something hard to swallow and understand and digest, but maybe they feel like they've raised you. They've done their part. Now they just want to enjoy their life.
And that may sound selfish to you and hurtful because at the end of the day, you trust them, you want them to be involved. You want them to help you, but truthfully. If we're really digging deep into the truth, it's not their burden to carry. Right. I mean, think of yourself later in life. Would you yourself have the energy as you do now?
Maybe right now, you're having a hard time too, you know, chasing after a toddler or up all night with the baby or, If you have more than one child that adds a whole another dynamic, right. And that doesn't make them selfish as grandparents. It doesn't make them mean, it doesn't make them any less than, or that they love your children any less.
It just makes them human. Right.
Maybe, you know, in an ideal world, they want to be able to help you in a way that you need, but they physically can't or are tired, whether it's mentally, physically, emotionally. Right. And that, I think, as a mom can be really tough because on one hand, you trust your parents with everything. Assuming you trust your parents with everything. And you know that if you go out for a date night or a vacation or girls' night, or whatever it may be, that your child is safe and sound with, you know, grandma or grandpa. But if you don't have that support system, if you don't have reassurance, you're trusting the care of your child to someone that maybe you don't know as well, maybe a babysitter, maybe a friend of a friend, or whomever it may be, or maybe you just don't go out at all because you haven't found someone that you feel comfortable enough to trust your children with.
And all of that is, is okay. But I think you know, especially during pregnancy and when you imagine yourself having a baby, you have this vision of your grandparents, or sorry, your parents, rather their grandparents, coming in and kind of rescuing you to be able to have, you know, a night out or freedom here in a way that puts you at ease.
And then sometimes when reality happens and you're put in that situation, it doesn't necessarily pan out how you thought, and it could lead to hurt feelings and it could lead to resentment and it could lead to maybe a little bitterness about it. But at the end of the day, if you put yourself in their shoes and might be a little easier to understand.
Maybe in an ideal world, they want to help you in the way that you're looking for and just don't have the energy or the patience that they used to, or the knowledge. I mean, look at how long it's been since they've raised you. I mean, things have changed, times have changed, right.
And I'm not making excuses by any means, because I feel like if you're a grandparent and then you're in a position to help I think they know and see more than anything that, you know, mom or dad need a break, need a night out. And if they're able to do that or help in any way, that's great, but they shouldn't be expected to bear the burden.
And I think that's where the disconnect lies is because. You know, they're our parents and they've raised us and taken care of us. And you know, it's almost like sometimes you just assume that they will do the same for your baby. And when it doesn't happen, it's like, wait a minute. What's happening. What's going on? Like, why aren't they helping me?
And I think that it leaves a lot of things left unsaid sometimes when those conversations aren't happening. But if you can look at it from a different perspective and say, you know what? Yeah, it would be great if my mom or my dad could come and watch the kids so I can go out with the girls or I can have a night out with my husband or whatever the case may be, but you know what, I understand, maybe it gives them like anxiety to be left alone with the kids.
Maybe they're not sure what to do or how to handle situations, or maybe they don't have the energy to run after toddlers or, you know, it could be a million different reasons that are unspoken and unsaid, but does that mean they don't love that grandchild? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. And I think there can be this equation of, well, if they don't help me, then they don't love me or they don't love my grandchild.
And that is just absolutely not true. I mean, yes. Could there be some scenarios where a grandparent is just maybe not wanting to be involved or is toxic or you don't have a good relationship with them and you know, you don't want them to be with your children and yes, of course, all scenarios exist.
But more often than not. I bet that's not the case. And I bet that it's simply a product of your life stage versus their life stage and where they're at.
Think of like a parent maybe who just retired and wants to travel and explore the world. I know my parents love to travel. And I almost feel like I'm like living life through them. I'm like, oh wow, they're going here. They're going there. Like, take me with you, you know? But at the end of the day, that's their right. They worked so hard and they've lived their life and they put their time in to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Right.
So to sit there and be bitter about it or angry about it or resentful about it, it's not fair to them because they earned it. Right. They raised you. And you know, another thing I want to point out because times are so different, right. Maybe, you know, way back when, when you were a baby, the situation was different.
Like for example, my family, when I was a baby, it was almost like all hands on deck. Right. Everybody did their part, whether it was my grandmother, whether it was my aunt, whether it was my cousin, my older cousin, everybody pitched in. So the responsibility of raising a child was not just solely on one grandparent or one person.
Right? It was, it was shared at least in my scenario. Right. Whereas now I feel like things are different. You know, one, my grandmother, my aunt, a lot of my family members, like they were at home, they raised their children. They were at home. They weren't busy working at jobs or those kinds of scenarios, they were at home.
So it was, it was a pleasure, right to have a grandchild in the house, to cook for them to, you know, take them out. It, it was a different time, a different scenario. Whereas now maybe your parents are still working. Maybe they're still struggling financially, maybe there are still exhausted and tired from all the countless hours they've put into their career and their jobs and their families.
And maybe they just don't have the energy and the stamina that they did when you were young. Right. So now fast forward to now, most parents, both parents are working, right. And maybe grandparents are working too, or maybe they're not, but at the end of the day, dynamics are different, right? Odds are, you don't have a grandmother and aunt, a cousin or whomever that may be like this group of people, just waiting to say, hey, give me your children. Right. I'll watch them. No. Times are different. Maybe they're working. Maybe they're, you know, busy, maybe they're traveling.
Look, I was an only child, right? So when I say grandparents, like my parents only have me, but what if you're in a family dynamic where your grandparents have several children and they have several grandchildren. Right. So think of that scenario, like how did they divide their time? Like, how did they do for you, what they did for, you know, your brother or your sister. I mean, before you know it, you blink and their entire day, life, week is filled with grandchildren.
And I'm not saying that's a bad thing. It's beautiful if they can do that, but to expect them to do that is almost as unfair to them because they're human too. And maybe they just want to live their life and maybe they just want to relax and watch TV or have quiet in their space or their home, or maybe they're still working and, you know, the time that they have free, they just, you know, have things to do for themselves or want to hang out with their friends. And I know, trust me, I know this is hard because at the end of the day, you ideally love and trust your parents more than anybody you would ever bring into your home.
But it is unfair to have those expectations and to put that burden on them. But if they can help in any way, whether that's emotional support, whether that's company, you know, like even if you're taking care of the kids together, but they're with you and you're enjoying the time together, whether that's financially. Maybe they could help if you can't afford a babysitter, maybe they could help you have one, when you need a date night or you have special occasion, or you just need a break, whatever that may be like help from grandparents can take so many shapes and forms aside from the traditional of them of actually watching your children.
There are so many alternatives that they can still be there and still support you. Whether that be emotionally, physically. You know, whatever you may need in that moment, but it doesn't have to look like this cookie cutter approach us to what we're used to. So I want you to just give them some grace and understand it from their perspective.
And also I want you to maybe think creatively for yourself and say, okay, this is my situation. This is where I'm at, and this is what I need and what can I do to get me there? What is it that can help me in this moment? Right. And maybe that's, you know, having this conversation with yourself and understanding your parents' perspective, or maybe it's finding a different solution.
You know, whether it's trying to figure out how to find some finances so that you can get a break or finding that person outside of maybe your family that could help you or that friend, maybe that has children that you can say, okay, you know, like on this day, like maybe you bring me your kid and then maybe on that day, I'll drop off mine and we can give each other a break.
And, you know, whoever it is that you trust enough to allow yourself the freedom to think outside the box. And look with any new babysitter or caregiver, like there's a trust curve, right. You're not just going to be like, okay, bye.
You want to vet that person and feel that person out and, you know, do your due diligence and have cameras and take all the precaution necessary. But I promise you, there is a solution to every frustration. And you know, maybe it's having an honest conversation with your parents.
Maybe it's talking together to figure something out. Maybe it's not your grandparents, but maybe it's like an older cousin that has the energy and needs the money and, you know, wouldn't do anything, you know, to harm your family. Maybe it's them helps you instead of your grandparents, maybe it's a friend's old babysitter who just left or maybe it's a play date with another family that at least gets you talking to another adult human being while also keeping your kids busy and giving you that emotional support.
There are so many creative solutions to getting that reprieve. And maybe it's a bath at the end of the night to just melt all the stress of the day. Right. But I want you to think of yourself 30 years later, 40 years later, and picture yourself talking to your children and think of yourself would I have the stamina and the patience and the energy that I do right now to take care of my children's children. Like, think about that for a minute, and that doesn't make you mean, and that doesn't make you selfish, and that doesn't make you unloving. It just means that maybe the life stages are different now.
Back then people had children so much younger, so our grandparents are older. Right. And that it's just getting like older and older for us. Right as we have children later, we'll be older grandparents. So think about that in terms of what your life will look like when your children have children and will you have the energy to " start all over" or take on that responsibility?
And I think that once you come to that understanding, you can have empathy and compassion for your parents without the expectation or entitlement of them being responsible for taking care of your children. I think that's where the true understanding comes. And once you can understand that, it truly sets you free both emotionally, but also starts your gears working creatively to try and find solutions for yourself that work for you and your family.
But there's one thing I can promise you is. Your grandparents or sorry, your parents and your children's grandparents, whether they babysit don't babysit, whether they are over your house once a week, once a month, once a year. One thing that I can promise you that is most likely to be true is that they adore you and your grandchildren.
Well, actually their grandchildren, right? They adore you and their grandchildren more then they could ever put into words. And that has no equivalence to, you know, what their babysitting may look like. Because at the end of the day, I can guarantee you that they would give you and their grandchildren the world.
As always, I promise to be here for you and serve you and cheer you on every step of the way and spill all the secrets of motherhood and life I wish someone told me. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Real Mom Truths Nobody Tells You podcast. Until next time, keep on celebrating you, because you, my friend, you are so worth it.
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