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We would all like to live in a perfect pro-natural world where our parents understand our crunchy choices and have no problem with how we raise our children.
There are some families who are lucky enough to be blessed with either pro-natural parents or at the very least natural-tolerant parents
For others, taking the kids to see the grandparents might just mean walking on eggshells and heated debates.
When your kids’ grandparents are less than thrilled that you use cloth diapers, are STILL breastfeeding, do not want plastic toys, or are staying away from canned food, what is the best way to deal with the issue?
Here are some ideas to help when dealing with the anti-natural parenting grandparents.
Dealing With Unsupportive Grandparents
Sometimes the grandparents simply do not know why a crunchy practice is a good thing. Maybe they do not realize that rear facing is the safest and recommended way for a toddler to ride.
Perhaps they don’t know that cloth diapers have come a very long way from when they had babies. Sometimes they just need more information.
Smile and Nod
When Grandma spouts off for the hundredth time that she thinks this new line of imitation butter is so healthy and good for you, just smile and nod. Odds are she won’t listen to you when you explain that butter is actually better than the fake junk.
Don’t Say Anything At All
If they don’t know you do something “crunchy,” they can’t oppose it. Sometimes, if you just know your parents will not understand or agree with your choice, it’s best not to mention it at all.
Yes, perhaps you would love to share about how Junior is not getting his vaccinations like everyone else and why, but if you know this will not be received well, then do not mention it. It will only cause issues.
Sadly, no matter how much research you do, your opinion and conclusions may not amount to much for others. However, often times you can sway them to seeing the validity in your argument just by saying, “Dr. So-and-so discovered…,” or “Actually the AAP now says….”
Prove Them Wrong
When your in-laws think you are crazy for wanting to try cloth diapers and they say that you will never stick with it, prove them wrong!
I had this happen to me. When I mentioned how we would be cloth diapering my daughter, a family member told me that “everyone tries cloth diapers, but they never stick with it.”
One year later, I have proven that I can stick with it, and that person actually sees that cloth diapers are pretty awesome and has even recommended them to somebody else!
Debate the Issue, Not the Person
This might seem obvious, but to those on the receiving side it may not be so clear. They hear, “Well, we are avoiding this,” and interpret it as “You’re a horrible parent for still allowing this.”
The only real way to bypass this issue is to clarify that you do not believe that those who do things differently are wrong or bad parents, but that you simply prefer your way and believe it’s best for YOUR family.
If You Have To, Pull Out the Big Guns
Sometimes you might have an issue that the grandparents just will not drop, or perhaps they refuse to follow a natural living choice that can harm your child (like perhaps your child has bad eczema so you’ve eliminated a bunch of food…only to find out that Grandpa has been sneaking it in on the sly).
When this happens, sometimes it’s best to draw the line. When it’s a real endangerment (I’m not talking about when Grandma puts a disposable diaper on the baby just once), then perhaps it’s time to give the grandparents a cease and desist.
If they can’t follow this rule, then they won’t be able to watch your child anymore. Harsh, but when it comes to your child’s well-being, it’s sometimes necessary.
Times Have Changed
If you’ve ever gotten the quote “But this is how we raised you and you turned out fine” from your parents, you might need to explain that times have changed.
Chemicals and ingredients are no longer the same as they were just twenty years ago. Twenty years ago people were fine with BPA; now it’s been banned from baby products. One hundred years ago people thought lead was perfectly safe; now we know better.
Even with the things that are still deemed “safe,” we are now exposed to them in greater quantities from when we were being raised: Flame retardants are used in everything now; when we were kids, we got about ten vaccines, whereas now kids get around forty.
Times have changed and not necessarily for the better. There is also the fact that odds are you didn’t “turn out fine” — sure, you might be pretty healthy, but who’s to say that your eczema isn’t from something in your childhood? Or your food allergies?
Make Your Spouse Say It
When dealing with the in-laws, it’s best to have your spouse do the talking. This isn’t because you can’t do a good job of stating your case, it’s because your spouse knows your in-laws better.
They can relate in a way that you never can, no matter how close you might be to them. It is also important because your spouse’s parents might get the wrong idea and think that your spouse is just going along with things and isn’t actually fully supportive of the crunchy choice.
Don’t ask me why that may be, but it can and it’s happened to me. You want your in-laws to know that both you and your spouse are on the same page.
Give Them Some Room
You will need to choose your battles. Yes, ideally you would love to strip the grandparents’ home of everything non-natural. However, you need to realize that it’s their home and you cannot change what goes on in it.
This means that if Grandma’s house is full of plastic toys, you cannot tell her to get rid of them. Sure you can explain why you don’t like your children playing with plastic, but don’t keep from visiting just because you hate plastic.
Yes, there are some issues that you need to hold your ground on, but for the more trivial ones (plastic toys, processed food, etc.) it’s best to let the grandparents be themselves, so long as it’s not going to instantly affect your child’s health.
Of course, you might grimace when they hand your child a corn dog, but you need to realize that in your child’s life, a grandparent is more important then not having one corn dog.
We would all like to live in a perfect world where we all agreed on the hot topics. However, for those of us who have to deal with unsupportive parents, it’s nice to know some ways to combat the opposition.