Updated: Mar 9
In the article and Live mini-training video, Extended Family Stress and You, we discussed four ways to fight extended family stress for yourself. In this one, I am going to give you just two ways to fight this stress for your kids.
Like everything I talk about in Connect Point Moms, it all starts with you! You can only give what you have, so you need to first take an honest of account of what's happening with you.
#1 What's going on with YOU?
Some of us have difficulty spending time with our parents now that they are grandparents because it triggers uncomfortable childhood memories. Watching your kids interact with your parents may remind you of the difficult parts of your own upbringing. When your parents treat your children COMPLETELY different then they treated you, you may feel jealous...or like you're doing something wrong...or just confused! I mean, come on, how many of our own moms were like, "You get what you get and don't even THINK about throwing a fit!" with us...but will now wait on their grandchildren hand and foot? I know my own mom has a routine with our youngest when he stays the night with them that includes him not having to lift a finger as every personalized meal or snack is brought to him. AND cleaned up after him. REALLY? Is this the same woman? I truly don't harbor bitterness about this difference, but do sometimes fall into the "comparison trap" when around other family with kids. This can range from: Wondering if your sibling was even raised in the same family as you because she raises her kids entirely differently than you are raising yours...to wondering why your sibling seems to have a better handle on this parenting thing than you do!
Either way, it's always wise to check-in with yourself by asking questions like these:
When my kids and I are around my parents, how do I feel?
Do I feel jealous of how they care for my kids versus how they cared for me?
Am I comparing myself, my parenting, or even my kids themselves with others?
Now, you will have to make a conscious realization that God gave YOU these kids to raise, that was not a mistake, and that you are only responsible for THEM - not anyone else’s. Here's a comforting verse for me when I feel afraid of not being good enough, or not believing how much you are LOVED:
Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
#2 Recognize priorities and set boundaries
Only you (with the help of your spouse, for sure) can determine priorities for YOUR family unit. Fighting a losing battle over how much ice cream Grandma dishes up might not be worth the energy. But if Grandpa continues to bring over copious amounts of large toys to add to an already overflowing toy box in your small space, you are going to have to have a conversation about how difficult this is for you to store them...and for little Johnny to have space to play with them! You may begin by saying how much you and your family appreciate these gifts, then explain that since your space is so small, would he be willing to gift books or small puzzles instead?
Figuring out what is important to you for your family may include:
The type of content of movies or video games you will allow. For example, in our home, we are willing to allow our teenagers to play video games or watch movies that contain some "violence" or "curse" words but are much less willing to compromise on them viewing sexual situations.
How much screen time you can live with. Let's face it, kids are spending WAY TOO MUCH time inside on media and NOT ENOUGH time outside in physical activity. While the cousins all may enjoy video gaming for hours on end, are you willing to bend your typical standards? Will media time with the cousins allow for them to bond better...or will you insist they play outside together?
Which types of food (and how much) will you be willing to allow before saying, "OK, that's enough pie" because you know you are looking at cleaning up puke in the middle of the night tonight.
Remember: Many problems can be avoided by simply breathing and seeing the best in others! It IS possible to show love while maintaining your priorities and boundaries!
#ConnectPointMoms helps you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can be PRESENT with your children in the moment you are in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate and connect with them!