Now, it’s fair to say that some Grandparents are truly wonderful when it comes to their Grandkids. They don’t overstep boundaries, they treat the children without spoiling them, and they respect our wishes as parents. However, for some of us, there’s something about the arrival of a new-born baby that sends our previously sane parents or in-laws into a baby-crazed frenzy where all logic and socially accepted behaviour gets thrown out of the window. We’ve come up with a list of Grandparent types that many new parents have to deal with (and for this we recommend deep breaths and copious amounts of wine), and you might spot your beloved parents or in-laws amongst them. And when you find yourself head-butting the wall after a particularly trying visit, just remember, the free childcare is (almost) worth grinning and bearing it for.
1) The Name Doubters
You know the ones. After weeks of pestering, you finally give in and let your parent or in-law know what you are thinking about naming your baby. The response varies from “Oh, that’s unusual”, with the emphasis on “unusual” and a slight tone of disdain, to “You can’t call him that; it’s a dog’s name”. Then there are those who absolutely insist on you naming your child after a family member whose name isn’t exactly one that appeals. It could be worse though, some parents report that even after their baby was born and named on the register, the grandparent in question still passive-aggressively referred to the little bundle by their preferred choice of name.
2) The Sweet Treaters
It’s almost a daily news topic these days about how bad sugar is for our diet. Rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes are soaring, and there are record numbers of children receiving dental treatment for cavities in their milk teeth. And yet all of this seems to have completely passed by some grandparents. We’re not talking about the ones who give your child a packet of chocolate buttons on each visit as that pretty much comes with the grandparent territory. It’s the ones, who whilst watching your child, let them have free reign over the biscuit tin, and then wonder why they don’t want lunch. It’s the ones, who at Christmas, give your four-month old a packet of Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles. It’s the ones who, after a day of ice cream, pizza, crisps, and chocolate, bring out a packet of biscuits and icing paste “for little Tim to decorate and enjoy before he goes to bed”. In fact, we’d go as far to say that we don’t need a sugar tax in the UK, we need a Grandparent tax.
3) The Out Of Date Advisors
Believe it or not, around 30 years ago, many parents were told that breastmilk was dirty, babies should be weaned at four months using only premade baby food from jars, cereal should be added to the baby’s bottles to help them sleep through the night, and that babies should sleep on their stomachs. Oh, yes, and as they will tell you, they didn’t have car seats, their children roamed the streets freely from dawn to dusk, they were fed a diet of chips and cake, and their children “turned out just fine”. Well, that’s all very well, but times have changed, science has advanced and we know a lot more about child development today than what was known back then. So, next time your parent or in-law starts with the phrase “In my day we…” try countering with “Well, in your day smoking was seen as a relaxing healthy habit and look how well that turned out”.
4) The Weight Watchers
Both Mums and their babies can be a target of this Grandparent. Mum’s are asked “So how come you haven’t managed to lose all that baby weight yet?” Whilst babies are told “Goodness me, you are looking very podgy, what has your mother been feeding you?” What’s even more outrageous is that these things are often said by parents who aren’t exactly model citizens themselves when it comes to their own weight. But then, maybe they are simply projecting their own insecurities onto you.
5) The Nap Disrupters
You have just spent the last hour rocking and feeding your colicky baby to sleep when you hear the dreaded knock at the door. Granny has arrived and she wants cuddles now! There is no reasoning with these grandparents. If you try to resist you will be countered with a guilt trip about how important it is that they get a chance to bond with your baby. Of course, as soon as the baby starts screaming he or she will promptly be handed back to you and you’ll have to start the napping process all over again.
6) The Delivery Room Invaders
It takes a particular type of grandparent to ignore the birthing mother’s wishes and insist on being there for the birth. Unfortunately for some, the option to simply not inform them when labour begins isn’t there, as the grandparents might be needed to watch older siblings. If you are giving birth in a hospital, then make sure the staff know who is welcome and who isn’t. If you are giving birth at home, consider getting a lock fitted on the door of the room you plan to give birth in.
7) The Genetics Proclaimers
You are clearly of Viking descent with your blonde hair and blue eyes that is prevalent in almost every member of your family. Your partner has dark hair, brown eyes, and there’s even an Indian Great-Grandmother thrown into the mix. Your son has blonde hair and blue eyes. Your mother-in-law declares that he “must get all of his looks from our side of the family, my great-uncle Jim was blonde with blue eyes”. Because, you know, god forbid, that your child should inherit anything from your clearly inferior genes.
8) The Over-Worriers
It’s hard enough being a new parent with worries over your baby’s health without your parent or in-law adding to the mix. If you’re lucky, the grandparent is a great person to ask for advice when you have concerns because they have seen it all before. If you are unlucky though, then you have the grandparent who insists that you baby gets checked out by A&E every time she sneezes. It gets worse when your baby reaches toddlerhood, because now she can move, and reach things that might be “Dangerous”, turning her grandparent into a nervous wreck.
9) The Baby Snatchers
These are the grandparents that turn up and immediately remove your baby from your arms and then point blank refuse to hand them back over. It doesn’t matter if your baby screams until he is blue, Granny, (or Grandad, but let’s be honest, it’s usually Granny) “will be able to settle him for you, don’t worry”. Take a deep breath, and be firm.
10) The Feeding Inquisitors
For these grandparents, the questions are endless, no matter what you do. And they are all spoken with a tone that screams out “I don’t approve of this and I want you to know it”. There’s “Oh, you are still breastfeeding?” or “Oh, have you decided to use formula?” Then there is “Are you sure he’s getting enough milk?” along with its counter “He’s looking very big, maybe you should cut down on the feeds?” Why are some grandparents so obsessed with what their grandchildren eat?
11) The Competitors
Who knew that Grandparenting could be such a competitive sport? If your parents spend the whole day with your daughter, your in laws will demand a full weekend. If your in laws spent £100 on Christmas gifts for your son, your parents will want to spend £200. OK, so clearly there are some benefits to having this particular type of Grandparent, but the one-upmanship gets tiring after a while.
12) The Just For Facebookers
So, whilst the types of grandparents we have discussed so far can be attributed to simply being over-excited, over-zealous, and wanting to show their love, this last type of Grandparent is something unique, and we think one of the worst. They are the ones who show up and insist on half a dozen pictures being taken of them holding the baby, before promptly handing the baby back and then spending the remainder of their visit talking about themselves and their own “babies”, i.e. their cats (and, no, it’s not the same as raising a baby, damn it!). Half an hour after they have arrived back home said photos will be all over Facebook with saccharin statements such as “I’m so blessed to have this grandchild in my life” and “My grandchild loved spending time with his Nana,” which of course, will be followed up with comments from the offending Grandparent’s friends stating how much they make wonderful Grandparents. No, just no.