Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Parenting with Relies – A mixed bag

Welcome to the May 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With or Without Extended Family
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how relatives help or hinder their parenting. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Photo by Suresh Kumar - Butterfly Photography
For 1.5 years, my parenting experiences with extended family have been rich and varied. I have outlined my three strongest viewpoints on the pros and cons of such interactions.

·         Relatives can teach alternatives ways. This could include care of the baby or toddler such as bathing, feeding/nursing, methods of tying cloth nappies and swaddling, and new ways of supporting a child’s development through song and playtime. Most of my baby’s bedtime lullabies were learnt from my own mother.
·         Relatives can provide a support network. When unwell or exhausted, my relatives have provided much relief looking after my little one as well as myself. It is so important for me to be close to them when I need some help. Another plus point is that I have someone to talk to who has already been there themselves. Becoming a parent is a major life event and opens doors of common ground with other parents.
·         Many grandparents/relatives enjoy the experience of a new addition to the family. The continuity of life is beautiful and essential to many – knowing that a part of their spirit will continue to journey though the world. Some also make wonderful homemade clothes for their grandchildren as shown in the picture (the jumper and the warm hat).

·         Parents can be overwhelmed with not only dealing with a new baby, but also with a possessive grandparent/relative. When some people are around they seem to ‘snatch’ every moment to hold your new child. I often found this made me feel quite discontent and left out. When relatives only start to notice your existence ever since you had your baby (never mind the centuries you knew your partner previously) this really annoys me.
·         A relative’s influence on your child can be negative if the raising styles clash with your own. This makes it difficult for a child to accept one style if it gets disregarded and superseded by another. The fuzzing of boundaries makes the child insecure and demanding. Some grandparents appear to feel it is a God-given right to spoil a grandchild – this is something I completely dislike. For me, I feel I spend much time building a wonderful building only for someone else to come along and knock it down.
·         Parents can be made to feel incompetent and frustrated. Sometimes all the well-meaning but poorly expressed advice can really put a pal on one’s feelings of being a capable and adequate parent.  

No parent likes to be made to feel incompetent or errant about their choices of raising kids. Keeping some distance when relatives get too pushy or want their way too strongly is sometimes necessary. I would tell that person my concerns of exactly what was bothering me and why, and hope they do not get offended (but this does happen infrequently to persons who are not accustomed to open communication).
Overall, it is imperative to keep an open mind to benefit from the experiences of relatives/extended family, and ultimately as a parent let others know to respect your own parenting styles through good communication.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
  • Dealing With Unsupportive Grandparents — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, The Pistachio Project tells what to do when your child's grandparents are less than thrilled about your parenting choices.
  • Parenting With Extended Family — Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy shares the pros and cons of parenting with extended family...
  • Parental Support for an AP Mama — Meegs at A New Day talks about the invaluable support of her parents in her journey to be an AP mama.
  • Priceless GrandparentsThat Mama Gretchen reflects on her relationship with her priceless Grammy while sharing ways to help children preserve memories of their own special grandparents.
  • Routines Are Meant To Be Broken — Olga at Around The Birthing Ball urges us to see Extended Family as a crucial and necessary link between what children are used to at home and the world at large.
  • It Helps To Have A Village – Even A Small One — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how she has flourished as a mother due to the support of her parents.
  • The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego.
  • One Size Doesn't Fit All — Kellie at Our Mindful Life realizes that when it comes to family, some like it bigger and some like it smaller.
  • It Takes a Family — Alicia at What's Next can't imagine raising a child without the help of her family.
  • A new foray into family — As someone who never experienced close extended family, Lauren at Hobo Mama wrestles with how to raise her kids — and herself — to restart that type of community.
  • My Mama Rocks! — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment is one lucky Mama to have the support and presence of her own awesome Mama.
  • Embracing Our Extended Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares 7 ideas for nurturing relationships with extended family members.
  • Doing Things Differently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares how parenting her children far away from extended family improved her confidence in her choices.
  • Snapshots of love — Caroline at stoneageparent describes the joys of sharing her young son's life with her own parents.
  • Parenting with Relies – A mixed bagUrsula Ciller shares some of her viewpoints on the pros and cons of parenting with relatives and extended family.
  • Tante and Uncles — How a great adult sibling relationship begets a great relationship with aunt and uncles from Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy.
  • Tips for Traveling With Twins — Megan at the Boho Mama shares some tips for traveling with infant twins (or two or more babies!).
  • Parenting passed through the generations — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about the incredible parenting resource that is her found family, and how she hopes to continue the trend.
  • My Family and My Kids — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders whether she distrusts her family or if she is simply a control freak.
  • Parenting with a Hero — Rachel at Lautaret Bohemiet reminisces about the relationship she shared with her younger brother, and how he now shares that closeness in a relationship with her son.
  • Text/ended Family — Kenna of A Million Tiny Things wishes her family was around for the Easter egg hunt... until she remembers what it's actually like having her family around.
  • Two Kinds of Families — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how her extended family is just as valuable to her mommying as her church family.
  • My 'high-needs' child and 'strangers' — With a 'high-needs' daughter, aNonyMous at Radical Ramblings has had to manage without the help of family or friends, adapting to her daughter's extreme shyness and allowing her to socialise on her own terms.
  • Our Summer Tribe — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a love of her family's summer reunion, her secret to getting the wisdom of the "village" even as she lives 1,000 miles away.
  • My Life Boat {Well, One of Them} — What good is a life boat if you don't get it? Grandparents are a life boat MomeeeZen loves!
  • Dear Children — In an open letter to her children, Laura at Pug in the Kitchen promises to support them as needed in her early days of parenting.
  • Yearning for Tribal Times — Ever had one of those days where everything seems to keep going wrong? Amy at Anktangle recounts one such day and how it inspired her to think about what life must've been like when we lived together in large family units.
  • I don't have a village — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wishes she had family nearby but appreciates their support and respect.
  • Trouble With MILs-- Ourselves? — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake Half Asleep explains how her arguments with her mother-in-law may have something to do with herself.
  • A Family Apart — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings writes about the challenges, and the benefits, of building a family apart from relatives.
  • First Do No Harm — Zoie at TouchstoneZ asks: How do you write about making different parenting choices than your own family experience without criticizing your parents?
  • Military Family SeparationAmy Willa shares her feelings about being separated from extended family during her military family journey.
  • Forging A Village In The Absence Of One — Luschka from Diary of a First Child writes about the importance of creating a support network, a village, when family isn't an option.
  • Respecting My Sister’s Parenting Decisions — Dionna at Code Name: Mama's sister is guest posting on the many roles she has as an aunt. The most important? She is the named guardian, and she takes that role seriously.
  • Multi-Generational Living: An Exercise in Love, Patience, and Co-Parenting — Boomerang Mama at The Other Baby Book shares her experience of moving back in with Mom and Dad for 7 months, and the unexpected connection that followed.
  • A Heartfelt Letter to Family: Yes, We're Weird, but Please Respect Us Anyway — Sheila of A Living Family sincerely expresses ways she would appreciate her extended family’s support for her and her children, despite their “weird” parenting choices.
  • The nuclear family is insane! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle is grateful for family support, wishes her Mum lived closer, and feels an intentional community would be the ideal way to raise her children.


  1. Stopping over from the carnival. Totally with you on the well-meaning advice that is expressed in a way that's, um, less than ideal. This happens to us all the time. It's not that I even completely disagree with what they are saying . . . it just comes across so . . . ugh. Off to check out your blog now :-)

    1. Thanks for checking out my blog - it is an unfinished construction site at every level! Time is very sparse at the moment so I only do the blogger basics :)

  2. Very true! I've appreciated the new ideas relatives have given, and not so much the unwarranted advice. That always feels like thinly veiled judgment. Thanks for sharing your honesty!

  3. Interesting to read your pros and cons of family support. I know where you're coming from as we experience something similar. As well meaning as other people's advice is it can undermine and confuse your own parenting style, or can conflict with it, as it has done with us a few times too. Over all though, family support is essential, as you say. Thanks for sharing your views on this.

    Mine are in my post;


  4. I have so appreciated how my mom has embraced our parenting methods, even though she did things differently (and probably still would). It means a lot to have her support! (and it has been hard to deal with family who are NOT supportive)

  5. Thanks alot for your comments, I can't wait to read your posts over the next 3 days!(so much to do at the moment). Definitely where family is involved, the positives outway the negatives in most cases :)

  6. Well said! I really only have one in law who undermines our parenting, and since he isn't around much, it's easier for the kids to ignore him.

  7. I love that the lullabies you sing to your child were taught by your own mother. That is so special. You're right, communication is important. That is hard for some of us - me - but I'm working on being more open with my family!

  8. Thanks, I find communicating with inlaws much less straight forward then with my own parents. They don't always realize that if I talk openly with them - that is actually a vote of confidence and not criticism!

  9. The contrast you provide here is really valuable. When things from the con list come up, it helps to remember the way relatives enrich our lives, too - and it would be lovely if these relatives would consider avoiding some of the negative things in favor of the more helpful ones ;) I do love learning from the way others do things!

    1. That is so the point! It would make parenting so much more enjoyable and meaningful. But how to make them see the light??!

  10. Good article about parenting. As we know parenting is one of the toughest job in the world. I think many people will find it useful as many them needed such articles. Thanks for discussing with us. Hope you will share such useful tips with us.